June 8, 2012 by Paul Curtin
The idea of multiplayer in a God of War game has been pondered over by many fans on forums for years. Nowadays every game seems to have a multiplayer component added, and singleplayer purists have been very vocal about keeping multiplayer out of Kratos’ one man (or god) show. Even with most hardcore fans not wanting it, Sony Computer Entertainment is bringing Kratos back with some friends in the upcoming sequel. We got the chance to play a couple rounds of God of War: Ascension‘s multiplayer at E3 this year in a very impressive and unique multiplayer experience that’s sure to silence most naysayers once they get their hands on it.
Before starting our match, each player had some time to play around with a character customization screen. Since Ascension‘s multiplayer doesn’t allow anyone to be Kratos, each player has to be another one of the gods. I got to be Achilles, and before the match there were numerous customization options like being able to switch between two different sets of armor, weapons, and special powers. With Kratos being out of the picture in multiplayer, players are supposed to make a name for themselves by fighting for the respect of the other gods by winning matches and in doing so, unlocking more items and abilities.
Our demo was on a map featuring a very visually impressive giant cycloptic beast called Polyphemus in the background. Throughout the match, Polyphemus, who was in shackles, was shown constantly struggling while being pulled around the map and even trying to smash his first down on players within his reach. But Polyphemus wasn’t just one-eyed candy in the background; in the Favor the Gods mode we played he became the final objective at the end of the game for huge bonus points.
Because it’s not just a straight deathmatch and more about earning points for your team, there were various objectives throughout each map in Favor of Gods that force players on both teams to spread out and race to each goal, all while killing one another along the way. While FTG still took into account kills, the main objective was to capture three zones on the map. There were also other ways to rack up points, such as finding and simply opening chests scattered throughout the map or setting off traps like spikes and fire pits while opponents are fighting over top of them.
After capturing all three points for complete dominance over the other team, a spear dropped down from the sky, offering whoever got to it first and pulled it out from the ground the ability to use it on the cyclops, triggering a gruesome cutscene that fans of the series will love involving the slicing the beast’s face in half and plunging the spear into its eye. The team who kills Polyphemus doesn’t win the game as he’s more of a last chance for a team to make a comeback with the real goal being the first team to 5,000 points or the team with the higher score when time runs out.
Playing God of War against four other players is surprisingly balanced with teamwork being the key to victory. Someone who is good enough might be able to take down a whole ‘nother team, but with everyone we played being so new, ganging up on loners and chaining up attacks was the best tactic. The same basic controls that the previous games have used are back with a mix of standard and strong one-button attacks and multi-button combinations to really devastate opponents. The classic and simple hack-and-slash controls allow for newcomers to easily catch on fast and for fans of the series to pick up right where they left off a couple years ago after the last game.
Along with the return of the basic controls are some new features like the ability for each character to choose from a list of specials before a match. Specials allow players to preform unique abilities like teleporting and calling down spells for tons of extra damage once building up enough rage. Players can block standard attacks by pressing L1 and when getting hit with a spam of attacks or teamed up on hit L2 in order to push back enemies and heal themselves.
God of War: Ascension‘s multiplayer was one of the most fun games we played at E3 this year, and it should be interesting to see how competitive it becomes when everyone finally gets their hands on it because the unique hack-and-slash gameplay mixed with fighting game elements with teams of real players is something that hasn’t been done like this before.