We got our hands on a beta of Ratchet: Deadlocked's multiplayer modes and had an opportunity to see how they were coming along. The multiplayer game has had some upgrades since its inception in the last installment, Up Your Arsenal, although for the most part the gameplay has remained the same. Instead of three modes, you'll now be treated to five, which include deathmatch and capture the flag from the first game. Siege has been changed slightly and is now called conquest mode, and there are two entirely new offerings: king of the hill and juggernaut. Of course, anyone who has played online multiplayer shooters will find all five of these gameplay scenarios familiar. What is compelling about these particular versions is the incorporation of the Ratchet (and Clank) universe by including unique weapons, items, and environments.
As in the previous game, deathmatch and capture the flag are self-explanatory, typical takes on these two modes. In juggernaut, one randomly chosen player will be the "objective," although he or she will be much more powerful and shielded and therefore tougher to take down. The person who manages to kill the juggernaut will assume the position and then attempt to get as many kills as possible before dying. The king-of-the-hill objective is to gain control of a randomly selected glowing area by being the first person to stand in it. Keep other people out and stay in control until the time limit is up, and your team has won the game.
Of the game's five modes, conquest is the most complex and consequently the most compelling. The objective is to take over nodes that are placed all over the map. Two teams vie for control of the node majority and must attempt to maintain possession of previously captured nodes, while aiming for those owned by the opposition. What makes this mode particularly interesting is that capturing a node opens up map upgrades for the team. Players are given the ability to vote for which upgrade they'd prefer, and once the voting has concluded, the upgrade that the most players selected is given to all of the players on that team. Upgrades include having additional turrets to guard nodes or having access to the teleport system, among others. It's absolutely essential to have a strong team when playing a game of conquest. You must quickly capture all of the initially unclaimed nodes, get the most efficient upgrades, and evenly guard your territory while attempting to gain new ground. Players can communicate via the USB headset to coordinate attacks, although that's only as effective as your teammates are.
The version we spent time with has four maps and a few different selectable characters. The locales vary from an alien landscape with a wide-open green field, to Return to Blarg, which is a more typical Ratchet-styled environment, with tunnels and a few different levels of walkways to be navigated. Aside from picking up weapons and weapon packs from corpses, you'll find items that upgrade your character, like charge boots, which will facilitate jetting around the environment quickly. Most of this will be familiar to those who played the multiplayer portions of Up Your Arsenal, and although the items and weapons have all changed slightly, they function in very much the same way.
Of particular note among the weapons is the tesla mine launcher, which places land mines in the environment that activate and chase opponents when approached. These mines are some of the most lethal weapons in the game, especially when placed strategically. You'll also have the option to turn on vehicles on the maps, and these too are particularly effective against opponents. Each level has a different type of vehicle, from the buggy to the spider-shaped tank, although the aircraft is by far the most deadly.
Ratchet: Deadlocked gives you the opportunity to shape your experience a number of different ways, with a slew of multiplayer game options to select from. You can turn vehicles and weapons on and off and set different time limits and point requirements in all the modes. So far, we've had a good time jumping into games and running through the levels, which are almost perfect in size for eight players but are a little large if you can't scrape together more than three or four players.
The multiplayer is coming along nicely, balancing the right amount of Ratchet (and Clank) humor with a serious shooting game. Although many deathmatch games boil down to two players jump-strafing and shooting the default weapons at each other, there are enough options and mode choices for you to have a variety of gameplay experiences. We look forward to seeing what further versions bring to the game in the upcoming months.