Uncharted 3’s Cursed Treasure System

Not many will agree, but in my opinion, Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception is the best multiplayer game going. Having poured hours into the online component of Among Thieves (even buying every little fragment of downloadable content) I was cautious of how Naughty Dog would handle the online experience in Uncharted 3, especially when trying to compete against the likes of Battlefield and Modern Warfare.

The original multiplayer experience was simple, clearly following a “pick up and play” design philosophy that didn’t require meticulous levels of weapon/character tweaking, and though remarkably diverse and complex, the maps were easy to navigate yet gave every match its own unique appeal. For the most part Drake’s Deception left the multiplayer’s core mechanics practically untouched.

Purists weren’t too happy with the inclusion of more perk-like “Boosters”, weapon mods, and the Medal Kickback system, but for others including myself, such inclusions only seem like a natural evolution for the Uncharted series.

Now, I could sit here and bang out paragraph after paragraph about how much I love Uncharted 3’s competitive multiplayer all day, but I’m not going to preach to the crowd. Despite gnabbing top spot on my list of favourite online shooters, there has been one issue with Uncharted 3 (and a fairly minor one, depending on your viewpoint) that has bugged me ever since I first jumped into the multiplayer servers post-launch.

For a power-selling franchise centred around lost cities and artefacts of immense intrigue, the one thing I didn’t imagine Naughty Dog slipping up on was its promising “Treasure Set” system.

[drop]The concept is a simple one; fell an enemy in either competitive or co-op multiplayer and there is a chance they will drop a treasure. Such relics and artefacts belong to a groups or “sets,” each comprised of 2-4 collectibles.

Grab every treasure in a set and you will bag yourself one of the game’s rare multiplayer weapons or a custom appearance option for one of the playable avatars.

On paper it’s brilliant idea, and one that Bend have mimicked in Golden Abyss’ singleplayer campaign to great effect. Treasure sets offer a diversion from the constant stat-tracking and XP hoarding, the unpredictable random drops instilling even the most casual player with childish glee.

So, how has Naughty Dog fumbled what seems like a fairly simple mechanic? Well, firstly there is the acquisition and availability of treasure. For most, the entire purpose of the system is to acquire the best-looking loot for your avatar of choice; when you carpet bomb an entire team or ledge grab that pesky sniper, you want your enemy to remember who put them in their place.

It’s remarkable then that Naughty Dog has tied all but three of its customisation sets exclusively to the co-op “Hunter” and “Arena” modes. When gunning down hordes of “chokers” and heavies, no one going to care if you happen to be wearing Eddie Raja’s golden glasses as long as you manage to haul your ass to wave 10 without getting in their way.

Bar the most common treasure sets, your going to be spending hours on end gunning down AI drones to unlock new items. Not only do co-op enemies drop treasure less often, unlike the competitive modes, there is no Treasure Hunter perk, dampening your chances even further. Uncharted 3’s otherwise superb online co-op becomes a mindless shooting gallery, each half-hour run usually turning up 2-4 treasures.

The solution to this problem requires little thought: spread the treasure sets between both competitive and co-op components. Simple. Why should players be forced to sit through fruitless session after fruitless session? I’m not even that obsessed with the treasure system, but when I invest an hour of my time and walk away with squat, that time feels wasted.

This isn’t helped at all by the presence of duplicate treasures. Sure, every treasure icon you tap on shouldn’t be another relic ticked off of your wishlist, but if you come across a duplicate you should at least get some sort of reward; it shouldn’t simply be discarded without as much as a small cash bonus.

The frustration of picking up duds could be remedied with the previously-suggested method, though why not go a step further? This week Bend launched the Black Market for Uncharted: Golden Abyss, allowing players to put out requests for treasures they were having difficulty in finding. Such a thing wouldn’t really gel with Uncharted 3, especially due to the fact that the Black Market copies items, it doesn’t trade them.

In an ideal world, duplicate treasures would tally up and players could swap with other plunderers, adding another dimension to Uncharted’s unique multiplayer.

Some will always argue that these harsh barriers must be retained. “What’s the point in having these rare treasures if every Tom, Dick, and Harry can also share in the spoils?” they will say. Easy answer, it’s all about giving the player choice, and considering that drops are completely random, their rewards only reflect patience and an abundance of lost time, not skill or even an admirable measure of dedication.

The likeliness of Naughty Dog changing the system isn’t very likely. Every time the team posts a number update on their official blog, they are met with a legion of vocal players asking when the system will be “fixed,” yet since November, there has been little movement. For me, the system’s implementation is beguiling and frustrating, and though it may sound melodramatic, I’ve come to resent Uncharted 3’s co-op play. All men dream, but not equally, especially when that very last treasure seems to be forever out of reach.

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26 Comments

  1. I feel the same way, I feels crap after investing time into getting treasures from co-op only to get the same treasure or nothing at all. I would like to get more of the customisable options though, not sure I’d stop using Talbot with his Pimp hat.

    • Actually, for those with duplicate treasures, you can share them for a $500 cash reward if you connect PSN to FaceBook.

      I have a group on FB for doing that called “Uncharted 3 Treasure Share!” (the Open group 100+, not the closed one)

      You can get tons of money by sharing your duplicate treasures.

      • “but if you come across a duplicate you should at least get some sort of reward; it shouldn’t simply be discarded without as much as a small cash bonus.”

        Actually, for those with duplicate treasures, you can share them for a $500 cash reward (per click, up to $5000 per treasure) if you connect PSN to FaceBook.

        I have a group on FB for doing that called “Uncharted 3 Treasure Share!” (the Open group 100+, not the closed one)

        You can get tons of money by sharing your duplicate treasures.

  2. I love the multiplayer too, it’s the best going in my opinion. Unfortunately I don’t play it all that much because I am rubbish at this and it gets really frustrating being shot down every two seconds. *I WILL IMPROVE!*

    • Join one of the meets. :) Helps to be with a group of people.

      • Surely being with a group of people is the definition of multiplayer isn’t it? :P

        Silliness aside though, it is true – Playing with like-minded others helps a lot as you can see how they operate, discuss what loadouts they find useful etc.

      • Yes indeed plus it isn’t as bad when you lose if your with a group of fun people.

  3. I posted about this on the ND forums.

    There should be customisation unlocks in competitive for people who don’t like co-op (me). There was in the beta, so why not the full game?

    • Also, I’ve been slogging through co-op arena to try and unlock some of the customisation options, and in 20 hours I’ve playing, I’ve managed to unlock 3 things.

      3. In 20 hours.

      • It’s a real pain in the ass, isn’t it? And like you said, there were custom unlocks in the competitive section of the beta, so why did ND change?

  4. I have to agree with those above; but I still love the multiplayer.

  5. Also, why has TSA registered none of my points since yesterday? I’m on 149 and it’s just stopped…

    • I would rather know why the avatar and points total has disappeared from the top left corner? Otherwise I think the points are still counting up.

      • Points don’t register for logging in at the moment, had to make some cutbacks to avoid us breaking the servers – hence the missing gravatar. They’ll be back soon.

      • Ah ok, cheers for the update.

  6. I wouldn’t know. I rented this and couldn’t get online – assume its some online pass thing. Guess I’ll never know how good it is so will stick to buying those games where I DO know they’re good.

  7. Yeah, random loot’s a bitch

  8. And I thought I was just the unluckiest person playing online…
    It’s too hard to try to complete the treasure sets, I’d hate to see what amount of time somebody with every treasure would have logged.
    I think there should be specific sets per map, rather than mode.

  9. should have just made it available in both with them being dropped by kills AI or otherwise. Then people can play however they see fit. I am not into competitive but love the co-op dearly _ everyone’s a winner there

  10. My copy of the game won’t log in to the server, disappointed I can’t experience this.

    • And you have downloaded the online pass from the store? (there’s a code in the box, if you bought the game new)

      • Of course, I redeemed both the online pass and my special edition code before I tried to log on the first time.

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