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God of War: Ascension Multiplayer Preview

by Diogo Miguel January 7, 2013

The latest trend for developers is adding multiplayer to video-games that have always been about the single player experience. Recent examples include Dead Space 3 and even Tomb Raider. It is understandable that such a trend exists, considering that the biggest sellers of recent years focus heavily on multiplayer. The upcoming God Of War Ascension is getting the multiplayer treatment. Will Sony make it a memorable affair though? Get a brief glimpse at what to expect in this hands-on with a recent closed beta.

The multiplayer for God of War doesn’t exactly offer the typical online experience. It’s expected considering the fact that God of War has always been a single player focused video-game. There is a lot to learn, so it’s understandable that players must go through training when booting up the multiplayer.

The whole process consists of picking a God to ally with and then learn how to fight. This is an important choice as each God will reward players with different skills. It’s quite interesting since it means being able to focus on a certain play style. Each God favours a very different play style that will ensure each player can play in a preferred way.

For a tutorial though, it does go on for quite a while. There are a lot of combination attacks that make use of the various skills. It is all explained thoroughly but the player is bound to lose interest at some point. It doesn’t feel as natural as being taught the basics along the way or in short bursts.

Once the tutorial is out of the way is is possible to check out the various features available in the beta. Customisation is one of the strong aspects of the God of War Ascension multiplayer. The system works by rewarding players with points that are then spent buying new items and armour. It almost feel like playing a role playing game since armour will affect the performance of a character in battle. It’s reasonable to think that it is feasible to equip different armour before each battle, so as to ensure that the character is suited to face whatever challenges await.

Perhaps the only odd part of customisation is the apparent lack of character physical customisation. It makes it feel less special to not have the ability to have an unique character. Specially when everyone looks so similar while in a match. Perhaps it’s a feature that will make an appearance in the retail version. It’s not exactly a deal breaker, but it makes it more meaningful to fight with a custom character. Specially when it comes to a multi-payer video-game that allows the player to choose how to play, and what skills to unlock.

One of the modes available in the Beta is Favour of the Gods. It consists of a group of players fighting to the death. The player that manages to get a certain amount of points wins. It might seem like the typical death-match experience, but there are some clever ideas introduced. One of them is the fact that more points are earned by meeting objectives.

It’s quite a frantic multiplayer mode that will keep players on their toes at all times. There is certainly potential for it to become one of the favourite modes, once the retail version is released.

The other mode available is a standard Capture the flag mode. Anyone who is into playing multiplayer video-games will know what this mode is about. Each team must get the other flag from the enemy and bring it back to the base. Oddly enough though, both team camps are rather too close to each other. It made it far too easy for enemies to capture a flag since distance isn’t much of an issue.

Hopefully it is the case that flag locations will change after being captured in the retail version. Perhaps even just putting both team camps further apart will result in a more competitive match.

It was possible to play in one map for each of the two modes. The map use for Favour of The Gods felt too small. It consisted of an arena where players could easily reach each other. It was exciting to fight constantly without holding back. However, playing it a few times made it feel like there wasn’t much to enjoy. The small nature of the arena doesn’t leave much room for strategies and matches end up being very similar.

The map used for Capture the Flag is much bigger and consists of two floors. Most of the action took place in the second floor, since that is where the flags were placed. However, it felt less constrictive to have a bigger map to explore.

Both maps had traps set up that players can use to their advantage. Some of these traps are used to perform trademark God of War style gory finishing moves. Some of them are automatic and will often catch players off guard. It’s a great idea since it means that players never know what will happen.

Hopefully the rest of the maps will focus on different areas that will make the various modes available more enjoyable. There is certainly potential but it feels like these maps aren’t doing the best job of showcasing the features that the development team wants players to experience.

What the game does really well though is the controls. The tutorial may make it seem daunting to get adjusted. However, the various button combinations work exceptionally well in battle. Skills make use of a a bar for different button combinations. It’s necessary to let each bar recharge fully, before performing the skill. It’s always exciting to pull off a complicated combo just in time and kill an opponent.

Experience is earned at the end of each match and it contributes towards levelling up. It means being able to use better armour and equipment. It feels like the sort of multiplayer that will reward players for playing it for many hours.

Visually it doesn’t exactly stand out as one of the most impressive titles. However, it is necessary to consider the fact that this is an unfinished version of a product, and will hopefully look better in the final version.

The God of War Ascension multiplayer is certainly crammed full of ideas. However, it is never easy to see them. It feels like the potential is there to make it an excellent experience. But it isn’t possible to always see it because of various factors like the maps used to demonstrate the various features. Hopefully the public beta will unlock more content, such as one or two maps, so players can get a proper feel of the multiplayer.

There is no denying that the development team has some challenges to get through, in order to make it a memorable experience, but it’s looking pretty decent for the time being.

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