It’ll probably be another few days before the bulk of Uncharted 4 owners rip themselves away from the stunning campaign to sample its fantastic multiplayer offering. Before making that leap (with grappling hook in hand, of course) you may want to take a minute to learn about Naughty Dog’s new approach to multiplayer content.
The biggest change over previous iterations is the existence of microtransactions. Love them or hate them, they allow developers to monetise their products beyond the tradition DLC model. It’s an increasingly popular approach to selling gamers additional content, especially among online titles.
One criticism commonly levelled against microtransactions is that they give a statistical advantage to paying customers. In truth, that’s rarely the case, though it’s easy to see why some players get a bitpanicky. With Uncharted 4, however, the premium add-ons available are purely cosmetic, unlocking a bevy of customisation options for your characters and weapons.
These are all paid for using Uncharted Coins, a currency that can only be bought using real cash. Coin bundles start as low as £3.99 for 500, going all the way up to £39.99 for 10,000. To nudge you toward buying more at once, the more you spend in one go, the more coins you get for your money.
To be honest, even a moderate stack of coins won’t get you much when perusing the game’s multiplayer store. Individual skins and costumes usually cost two or three hundred coins each, and if you want to go a bit more exotic, there are a handful of more expensive options to choose from. However, whether you’d actually want to pay 500 coins for a shirtless Lazarevic skin is another matter entirely.
As in many free-to-play games, Uncharted 4 also sports a secondary currency that is earned through play. These relics can be saved up to buy a selection of chests from the online store, each containing random appearance items, upgrades, and boosts. It’s worth mentioning that these same chests cannot be bought with Uncharted Coins, and this effectively splitting the marketplace in two. On the one hand you have randomised loot through playing, and on the other paying real money for specific items.
Relics come from a variety of sources. Chief among these are the daily challenges that Naughty Dog wheel out every twenty four hours. Although you only get one new challenge every day, they pay out rather handsomely – we’re talking 350 relics or more, if you’re lucky. Winning matches will also bag you some, though the current rate is only 10 per game. The Uncharted: Fortune Hunter app is another great way of relics that we’ll discuss in a future article.
The great thing about relics is the relatively low cost of each randomised chest. 150 relics will guarantee you a random cluster of gear for your avatar including hats, face items, taunts, and weapon skins. On the other hand, you can spend 200 to unlock modifiers for your buddies and mysticals. Although modifiers bump up the cost of loadouts, they often yield bonuses that can be used to positive effect.
So far, Naughty Dog seems to have struck the right balance with its microtransactions. Sure, some of the prices could be lower, but there’s always a chance you can unlock some cool new loot whenever cracking open a chest.
It’s hard to argue that as gamers we won’t benefit in the long run. Although this method of monetisation will rub a minority up the wrong way, it allows Naughty Dog to provide key content, such as maps and modes, for free in future. Uncharted 4 steps away from the more convention notion of paid map packs and will instead be providing new multiplayer maps and modes for free. By supporting the game through microtransactions, the studio is sidestepping the common pitfall of dividing its player base, and that can only be considered a good thing.