Unreal Tournament 3 Multiplayer Hands-On - The New Multiplayer Modes, the Hoverboard, and More

We went to Epic to get some serious hands-on time with the PC and PS3 versions of this gorgeous multiplayer action game.

The year 2007 is a huge one for shooters, featuring big-name games like Halo 3, Crysis, Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare, and Half-Life 2: The Orange Box. However, one shooter that's been flying under the radar a bit is Unreal Tournament 3, the latest edition in Epic's multiplayer combat franchise. That's partly because Epic has been relatively mum about the game, working quietly in its North Carolina offices over the past year. Imagine a game that's even more graphically advanced than Gears of War, but with a much larger scale, allowing up to 32 players to battle it out together on the PC. Thankfully, we got our first serious hands-on with the game recently at Epic, and this gave us a chance to check out various multiplayer modes and explore what's new, improved, and cool about the latest Unreal Tournament.

Unreal Tournament 3 represents a departure of sorts from its predecessors. While the early UTs were billed as sort of the blood sport of the future, Unreal Tournament 3 will usher in a single-player campaign about an intergalactic war and featuring characters that look like they were from the casting call for Gears of War, another Epic game. But while Gears of War is a very tactical game about using cover, Unreal Tournament 3, just like its predecessors, is about lightning-fast run-and-gun gameplay where you'll do a lot of killing and dying, but you're always able to respawn within seconds to continue the fight.

Unreal Tournament 3 will introduce a single-player story while ratcheting up the multiplayer action.

Though Unreal Tournament 3 will have a single-player story, the game is still built around the idea of intense multiplayer battles, either against computer-controlled bots or other players online. (While the PC supports up to 32 players, the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 versions will support up to 16.) There will be a number of modes in the game, ranging from simple deathmatch to team-based games such as capture the flag, vehicle capture the flag, and warfare. Deathmatch is pretty self-explanatory--it's every player for him or herself in the race to rack up kills--so we'll dive into CTF, VCTF, and warfare. Capture the flag is a familiar mode in most games. Each team has a flag that it has to defend while at the same time trying to capture the opposing team's flag. Unreal Tournament's twist on this is to toss in the translocator, a device that lets you teleport over short distances, which makes it possible to dash into a heavily defended room, grab the flag, and then disappear in the blink of an eye. While the translocator isn't a new development in Unreal Tournament 3, it still plays a huge role.

Unreal Tournament 3's multiplayer really starts to differentiate itself when you get to vehicle capture the flag, which is just what it sounds like. VCTF is capture the flag on larger maps that support a wide array of vehicles, and that allows for a much more epic struggle. There are some caveats regarding VCTF that are particularly helpful. For instance, if you grab the flag you can't get in and drive or ride in a vehicle. Instead, you've got to carry it on foot or use the hoverboard, the new piece of equipment in Unreal Tournament 3. The hoverboard replaces the translocator in VCTF and warfare games and it is basically a hovering skateboard. The idea behind the hoverboard is to get you back into the action quickly, because there's nothing worse than finding yourself on foot in the wrong corner of the map, away from all the action. In UT 2004, that meant hoofing it for a minute or two, but in Unreal Tournament 3 you can hop on the board and zip around in style.

You die fast in this game. Thankfully, you respawn just as quickly.

The hoverboard is a welcome addition to Unreal Tournament. However, it is easy to get carried away with it, and you have to consider two key things. First, while racing around on the hoverboard you cannot use your weapons. Second, if you're hit by even the slightest weapons fire you'll be knocked off of the board, which is pretty much a death sentence because it takes several seconds to get off the ground, leaving plenty of time for your attacker to finish you off. Using the board is very much a risk/reward proposition, but there are some additional benefits to riding it. For instance, you can "grapple" onto passing vehicles, letting them tow you around the map at higher speeds. Thus, while a flag carrier can't ride in a vehicle, he could jump on his board, grapple a teammate's ride, and zip back to safety. This even works for flying vehicles, and there are maps in the game that are designed so that it's faster for the flag carrier if he can be airlifted across a divide.

We experienced VCTF on a map called Suspense, which is set in and around a high-tech suspension bridge. The goal is for each team to capture the opposing team's flag three times in order to win, but doing so can be awfully difficult. The primary approach to either side's base is the bridge itself, which is a fairly open and narrow kill zone where your vehicles and infantry can get chewed up quickly. It's possible for infantry to run or hoverboard up the cables to reach the upper support structure of the bridge, where sniper weapons and amped-damage power-ups await. Yet perhaps the most potent weapon up there is the Longbow AVRIL, an antivehicle rocket launcher that can lock onto and track vehicles. The high perch makes it easy to knock out tanks below on the bridge, as well as various air units that are flying about. The only limitation is that the AVRIL comes with a small amount of ammunition, and there's no way to replenish your supply of rockets.

Vehicular Manslaughter

The next VCTF map that we played showed off some of the environmental elements in Unreal Tournament 3. Sandstorm is so named because there's a blinding sandstorm that kicks up randomly throughout the battle, reducing visibility to almost zero. This can be a boon if you've got the enemy flag and are racing to safety, but it can be disastrous if the sandstorm hits at the wrong moment. Sandstorm is also notable because it's a great showcase for all the Necris vehicles in the game. The Necris is the new faction in Unreal Tournament 3, and its vehicles could be described as a blend of the machines from The Matrix movies with the Martians from War of the Worlds. Sandstorm is shaped like a horseshoe, so to get from one base to the other you can go the long way via land, or you can use air vehicles and grapples to ferry troops over the much shorter divide.

The Unreal Engine looks better than ever.

The most "epic" multiplayer mode in Unreal Tournament 3 has to be the new warfare mode, which is an evolution of the onslaught mode that appeared in UT 2004. Onslaught was about capturing a network of nodes; doing so made the enemy power core vulnerable to attack. Warfare improves on onslaught in a number of ways, from the addition of the hoverboard, which makes the huge maps a lot easier to navigate, to the introduction of other elements, such as off-node control points that you can capture in order to give your team an advantage. For instance, one node might give your team access to air vehicles that it otherwise would not have. Yet perhaps the biggest new feature in warfare is the introduction of the orb, a special sphere that can break the stalemates that often occurred in onslaught.

Each team in warfare gets its own orb, and no, you can't capture the other team's orb and use it for yourself. The orb is critical, though, because if you carry it and touch a vulnerable enemy node you'll instantly capture and fortify it, a process that previously took several players a couple of frantic minutes to do. Even better, in order for the enemy to take that node back they must first destroy the orb and then destroy the fortifications around the node. This makes it possible for one team to quickly seize nodes; imagine if one part of the team were busy taking a node the conventional way. As soon as it fell, another part of the team could instantly convert the next node, potentially opening the enemy base up for a quick raid. On the other hand, if your base is under attack, your orb can be used to instantly capture and fortify the adjacent node in order to protect your base. If you kill an orb carrier it'll reset in about 12 seconds, forcing the other team to have to pick it up again at its spawn point. Of course, having their orb laying next to one of your nodes isn't a good thing, since an enemy could rush in, pick it up, and touch the node. So you can sacrifice yourself to detonate the orb prematurely, which causes it to reset.

Epic says it won't include a warfare map in the demo because there's no single warfare map in the game that captures the variety of this mode. Some maps are symmetrical in that the geography for both teams is essentially identical, while others are asymmetrical. The perfect example of this is the Islander level, which is set up so that one team has all the vehicles, while the other team occupies the high ground and has defensive turrets and barricades to prevent the attacking team from steamrolling them. The easiest way for the attackers to destroy the barricades and clear the way for their vehicles is to seize a shaped-charge explosive that's located in the middle of the map and use it on a barricade.

Unreal Tournament 3 looks incredible thanks to the latest version of the Unreal Engine, the same one that powers Gears of War and many other games. However, the version found in Unreal Tournament 3 is more evolved than the one used for Gears of War, which makes sense since it has had a year more of development. As with prior games in the series, Epic will ship Unreal Tournament 3 with the latest version of the Unreal editor, which will let players and community members make their own unique mods or levels for the game. These user creations can be played on both the PC and the PlayStation 3. For the latter, user-made content can be made on a PC and transferred to a PS3 using a memory stick. In terms of consoles, the game will be PS3-exclusive at first, though an Xbox 360 version has been announced. (User-created content presents clashes with the closed nature of the Xbox 360; Epic says that it's talking to Microsoft about the situation.)

The PC version will come first, followed by the PS3 game. Xbox 360 owners will have to wait a while, though.

Epic is keeping the system requirements for the PC version very modest, though if you want the game to look its utter best you'll probably want a relatively powerful system. One a low-end machine the graphics look comparable to the last Unreal Tournament, but on a high-end machine all of the impressive gloss just pops out at you. We also got a chance to check out the PS3 version, and it looks just as good as on a high-end PC. Performance was smooth in the instant-action match that we played, and the controls mapped solidly to the Sixaxis.

When Epic announced it was changing the name of the game from Unreal Tournament 2007 to Unreal Tournament 3, it said the reason was that because it felt the game represented the "next generation" of Unreal Tournament. The gameplay has certainly evolved and the engine is just beautiful to look at, and we're excited at the possibilities here. Unreal Tournament has always been a great multiplayer game, but the idea that players will soon be able to make and share custom content for a console opens up a new avenue for gaming, and it could help breathe life into the modmaking scene. The PC game will ship this November, and Epic is working to get the PlayStation 3 game done as quickly as possible, but the release window for that hasn't been announced yet. Finally, the Xbox 360 game will come at a much later date.

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168 comments
thenephariouson
thenephariouson

R6 Vegas 2 on 360 will totally dominate this game online, ill get it though : )

mikewalsh69
mikewalsh69

this will have the best online of any ps3 game. till warhawk 2

akuma7703
akuma7703

PC, 360, then PS3. In that order.

thenephariouson
thenephariouson

ill probly get this but wont play it half as much as Rainbow 6 Vegas 2 which is due in March

DeltaCobra
DeltaCobra

If you had PS3, 360 and a descent dual core 3.2 7800gtx, what would you get it on?

OnlyTbone
OnlyTbone

wow, this is gonna be awesome. the online community will be great on live with this. I hope they have clan options. Next big shooter I'm buying probably. Just gotta get that cheapest 360 they have now since i have a hard drive already.

motherboop
motherboop

The PS3 isn't infested with young gamers. I've found online to be very enjoyable.

mikewalsh69
mikewalsh69

it looks good but to bad i have to wait for it in europe

thenephariouson
thenephariouson

the 360 will have a massive online community, will not suffer with over complex '6 motion' controls, and will have amazing graphics now the developers are finally using its full capacity (COD4 etc), so itll be worth the wait.

Bone3593
Bone3593

PS3 supports the mouse controller and uses sixaxis motion control. But it has half the amount of people online as the P.C version. I don't have a good P.C or a PS3 so I guess I have to wait for 360 version to come out!!

thenephariouson
thenephariouson

collaspedasd , Personally, i think Unreal is better than Quake but thats just my personal opinion, however when it comes to wheather you get it on PS3 or PC...... well thats a no-brainer, its gotta be PC!

collaspedasd
collaspedasd

ya unreal is better than quake and should ii get ps3 version or pc version and why does pc have 32 player online and consoles only have 16

thenephariouson
thenephariouson

ive only got a 360, but have to agree the PC version is definately the way to go! i just have to settle for second best : )

GEMINIVice
GEMINIVice

This is the only FPS I plan to get in the coming months. I'll see some of you online once it's released.

OatmealKing
OatmealKing

jaredrichards3 The ps3 version will look sweet but i want to use keyboard and mouse on this one, so i reckon the pc version is the way to go. Plus there will be less "little kids" online with the pc (ever played halo online ..ha) """" actually the PS3 version will look the best on a nice tv....and i have found out that there is more little kids on the pc then on a nice peace of equipment like the PS3.....hands down....ty ,,

thenephariouson
thenephariouson

BlueyesCyclone i gotta say i agree, having servers that host all formats can only be good thing for us game playing public, unfortunately, i have heard from a very reliable source that MS are trying to corner the market with 'Cross Platform Gaming' by only intergrating 360's & PC's as Sony are the main competitor, thus giving MS the alleged 'upper Hand' in this area, however personally i couldnt really care less to be honest as Shadowrun was a complete nightmare with slow server discovery times and bad lag (mainly due to there being such a wide variety of PC types. I think its a bit of a shame as it would bring us all together no matter what platform you have.

BlueyesCyclone
BlueyesCyclone

Merikov i don't understand whats the big deal about cross platform gaming. did we all forgot about final fantasy 11? you know that PS2 game that played on the same servers as PC players without issue way back when? (played for 3 years). yea... its easily done. i hardly think microsoft has a monopoly on this so called "innovation" Thats true and its been done have the PC PS2 and 360 all on the same server. I love Final Fantasy 11 because of that. I'm able to play with people on the PS2 and 360 i have it for my PC. So why not just do it so we are all playing on the same server.

BlueyesCyclone
BlueyesCyclone

Not a Contradicition at all One for the PC for my Sister to use cause she isn't aloud to play on my 360 and my PS3 one for the 360 thats for my Brother to use cause i don't want him playing on my PS3 and the PS3 for me. Of course i will have a go on all of them and see which one i like the best thats why i'm getting all 3 of them.i'm sure there all the same in content will the PC and the PS3 is but thats my reason why. To that point i don't need to explan my self to you anyway even thoe i did its my choice.

thenephariouson
thenephariouson

I have loved games since my ZX Spectrum 48k (rubber keyboard) which is a long time, throughout all the systems i have have ever owned, the dumbass 'mines better than yours' debate has always surfaced among 'adolecsent' gamers / d$ckheads (Commadore64 better than ZX Spectrum, Amiga better than Atari ST etc), all modern systems contain great power and are the cutting edge of public domain technology, we simply expect so much more than ever before, you should simply enjoy whatever system you have and be thankfull. BlueyesCyclone "And unlike some people on here i'm not a fan boy I love the Wii the PS3 and the 360 i have all of them i a gamer i will be getting this game for my PS3 PC nad 360 to see wich one is better". WHY? bit of a contradiction i think!

Merikov
Merikov

i don't understand whats the big deal about cross platform gaming. did we all forgot about final fantasy 11? you know that PS2 game that played on the same servers as PC players without issue way back when? (played for 3 years). yea... its easily done. i hardly think microsoft has a monopoly on this so called "innovation"

BlueyesCyclone
BlueyesCyclone

First thing i didn't write what other people wrote on this fourm sorry if i speilt it wrong. that takes to long and i can't be assed to do that really. i only read the first page of comments. second i took bits of facts from a UK PS mag didn't take it from some one else so think before you speak. Question are you one of thoes people that check to see what other people have wrote to see if they've said anything bad about the consoles there fans of and will write a reply to defend it cause if you i'm not saying you are but if you are thats sad. And unlike some people on here i'm not a fan boy I love the Wii the PS3 and the 360 i have all of them i a gamer i will be getting this game for my PS3 PC nad 360 to see wich one is better. Thats just me if people think thats stupid then let them. I work hard for my money and what Guidingstar said is so true there all really good consoles they all have there good and bad points and people need to stop acting like stupid fan boys and grow up. Nintendo Sony MS must talk about how all this fanboy staff is just funny when they meet up once a year lol

guidingstar
guidingstar

i think its funny that so called "Gamers" call them selves gamers when all they do is complain! grow up. "MMMY SSYSTEEEM ISS BEETER THAN YOURS!!" that sounds like a whiny child. if you where a true gamer (whether you play 2hrs a day or 20hrs a day) it wouldn't matter what game you where playing or what platform it was on, the only thing that matters is that your rocking the **** out of that game!! i'm not rich, i go to college, i go to work and i have all three of the new systems including a PC and every time i get online with the ps3 or the 360 all i here are a bunch of spoiled kids bashing one or the other systems. each system is badass its just that there different than the other. say something constructive enstead of bashing something you have no clue about especaily when it hasn't come out yet. being BIASED you'll miss out on some of the best stuff. PS. my gamer tag on 360 is EXSTREAM24 if anyone wonts to get some gaming on halo3 ;@ )

AJ-2K7
AJ-2K7

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

thenephariouson
thenephariouson

'BlueyesCyclone' "o and the PS3 might be playing oline on the same sever as the PC so we might playing against PC gamers on there PC now thats cool." lmao, sorry to p$ss on your chips but that will never happen as MS are already working on 'Cross Platform Gaming' (PC & 360) e.g. 'Shadowrun', it is mS's intention to merge both systems together online as the both use Windows Vista, however this will take time as there are still PC users using 98, XP etc, but next year will be really interesting.

thenephariouson
thenephariouson

'BlueyesCyclone' You really do need to check your facts before covering everyone in total sh$te, yes the 360 maybe a port, but its a port of the PC version and not the PS3 version (Thank God), as the 360 & PC are both using the same envioroment etc, they have no reason to remake the 360 version as they've already done it (PC version), all they'll do is modify the game for the 360 e.g textures, frame rates, control system etc, and thats it, other wise they would simply be making the game twice. next year you will see more and more 'Cross Platform' games (360 / PC) as they use the same OS (Vista) as this is further developed and more people start using Windows Vista they will be very closely tied, as for the PS3, well........ thats it. So you can keep your Blu-Ray (that is already losing out to HDDVD), as for storage i have a standard 20GB 360 drive i also have a 600MB external SATA Seagate Barracuda drive plugged into my 360, if that runs out i simply get another one, and so on.

AJ-2K7
AJ-2K7

this looks great!!! i cant wait 4 it on ps3. the graphics are amazing and the new hoverboard should be great. i hope its better than gears of war cos i dont have a 360 and they all rub it in my face

thenephariouson
thenephariouson

The graphics will be excellent on all Formats, and although the 'Resolution' of a PC monitor will always be better than a TV (HD or not), this is easily translated into "Better Graphics", whereas when your running round at 100 miles an hour the human eye really does give a sh$t that there may be a few extra 'Texals & Pixels' here & there..ooooOOOoooooo. Its all about how it plays & how much FUN it is, which is what its all about, so look at the games you were playing 10 years ago and be thankfull!

BlueyesCyclone
BlueyesCyclone

God think of all the content you can download for this game on the PS3 since you can upgrade the HDD with a Laptop 2.5 Sata 600GB HDD. I've got a 250GB Sata Laptop HDD for my PS3 got so much stuff on my PS3 bring on UNREAL TOURNAMENT 3 for the PS3.

BlueyesCyclone
BlueyesCyclone

I just want to know will the PS3 have up to 32 players online Cause Resistance Full Of Man, Has big maps and has up to 40 players online . So the PS3 can handel that many players. And its a good thing Sony went with the Blu-Ray Disk we get the same content as the PC. Ok so its a Time Exclusive. And the Ps3 will also Support keyboard and mouse just like the PC Very cool . The PS3 Graphics will be just as good maybe even the same graphics as the PC running everything on very high. Just wanna say thank you sony for not makeing a closed in system thank you sony for BLU-RAY DVD. with all that space. The 360 will not support mods but you never know they might find away round that one. The 360 will not support keyboard and mouse and the 360 will be a port of the PC which means same graphics or downgraded who knows. And thats the Facts. o and the PS3 might be playing oline on the same sever as the PC so we might playing against PC gamers on there PC now thats cool. THATS THE FACTS BABY ! I am a Not Fanboy just to let you know i have all 3 consoles. Facts = All true.

Acidrain1988
Acidrain1988

ps3 has keyboard and mouse support, so i guess ill either spend 400 on a ps3 or 2000+ on a computer..... and the ps3 will last longer (gaming wise)

Nomerinos
Nomerinos

its beter then the pc version its very slow on the pc

jaredrichards3
jaredrichards3

The ps3 version will look sweet but i want to use keyboard and mouse on this one, so i reckon the pc version is the way to go. Plus there will be less "little kids" online with the pc (ever played halo online ..ha)

dutch777
dutch777

anoher awsome game, next gen is starting to pick up the pace at last.

daveg1
daveg1

the ps3 version will look just as good...gs surely you mean its jaggie has less texturing a lower res and a sluggish fps!

AnubanUT2
AnubanUT2

Another thing .. for all you people who are getting it for the 360 and not for the PC ... you just don't get it do you ... it is not just about the graphics folks although on a PC the game will be superior to any console version. What you are missing though is the ability to create mods and for us modders there is nothing that can compare to UT and the tools it gives you for creating great content. The MSU showed that and look at all the great content that is available for UT2K4. So please stop comparing the versions. There is a REAL difference for us PC gamers (though of course I have a 360 and I love it ...Halo 3 and Gears of War could not be more amazing games ... and who knew that Gears would hit the PC so soon?) and the modding is the key. If it weren't for the mod tools I probably wouldn't get it for the PC ... I would probably prefer to play it on my 52" HDTV ... but my 22" Widescreen LCD monitor on my PC looks fantastic as well. TBH I will probably get the game for the 360 when it comes out ... that is how big of a fan of the series I am.

AnubanUT2
AnubanUT2

Anyone who thinks that the Source engine is better than UE3 really doesn't know much about engines. Sorry Source was amazing 3 years ago when it first debuted but it really shows its age now against the other newer engines. The facial animation system is still great however, that is the one main aspect where Valve was truly next gen and way ahead of the pack ... even now that is the one area that can compete with todays newer engines. CE2 is definitely the most advanced engine around ... yet the engine being developed for Alan Wake is even more technically advanced ... since it is really taking advantage of what DX10 has to offer ... something that UE3 is not really doing yet. Once Epic gets that part of the equation down though in say UE3.5 or UE3.x then I think they can regain the "best gaming engine for technically advanced gaming" title.

thereeldeal007
thereeldeal007

Meh ,u wait till the x360 version comes in MAY 08, rite now it's coming for pc and ps3 only soo that many copies get sold for the ps3, than when the xbox version is out,ppl r gonna make a rush for this and then again more copies get sold.U SEE, THIS IS A MARKETING STRATEGY.

BlueyesCyclone
BlueyesCyclone

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

thenephariouson
thenephariouson

I agree its the best 'Multiplayer' based FPS (of this type), it wipes the floor with sub-standard MP FPS's like Halo etc, and the Unreal Engine is very good, but theres no way its better than 'Source' or 'Sandbox'. Regardless of the technical BS, i cant wait to get my hands on this.

xnight_ninjax
xnight_ninjax

Unreal hands down is one of the best multiplayer games out there. i dont know about the whole single player thing but this will beat out any multiplayer game hands down.

mr_sok
mr_sok

Half-life 2 may be better than UT but the Unreal engine beats the source engine hands down.

thenephariouson
thenephariouson

i dont care wot has caused the 360 delay, it will look & play brilliant regardless!

corb77
corb77

Have to admit i cont wait for this game too lol :) its gonna rock!