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God Of War: Ascension

Sony Unveils God Of War: Ascension's Multiplayer

When news of God of War: Ascension’s existence leaked, many wondered what they’d see when Sony officially spilled the beans on the prequel. I attended a recent preview event in Hollywood for the game, and there was no shortage of chatter and predictions amongst journalists before the presentation began. Would the game take place before Kratos’ family died? If so, would he still have his trademark Blades of Chaos? What antagonists can he take down after slaying so many gods? When the presentation came to an end, we still didn’t have answers to these questions. Instead, we were shown a glimpse of the game’s new multiplayer mode.

Game director Todd Papy took to the stage to begin the demonstration, and it was clear that the team planned on teasing the crowd with some misdirection. The familiar image of Kratos’ face graced the menu screen, and the camera pulled out to reveal his body without his trademark ash-covered skin. He carried a large sword in lieu of his traditional blades, and pulled a mask down over his face. Suddenly, a cyclops burst out of a nearby door and began swinging his club wildly at Kratos. A battle ensued that resembled those of past games, with Kratos slashing at the creature’s legs while evading the swings of his club. Another masked human appeared and began fighting the Cyclops, revealing what everyone in attendance assumed to be a co-op mode. The duo teamed up to bring down the beast, with Kratos gutting him from the front while the other slashed his neck from the back.

Once the cyclops was dead, the two humans ziplined down to another battlefield. Numerous combatants swiped at each other with swords and hammers while the massive one-eyed Polyphemus (Poseidon’s son, a cyclops who was featured in Homer’s Odyssey) struggled to free himself from chains in the background of the arena. It didn’t take long to realize that what we were watching was a full-on multiplayer battle, with two teams of four eviscerating each other in this mode known as Execution – essentially a spin-off of Domination modes in other multiplayer games.

Combat was as dramatic as we’ve seen in God of War’s past, with the camera zooming in on brutal kills that split enemies from shoulder to stomach. When the character we were watching had a chance, he ran to a set of blue-tinted gears and rotated them until they turned red. After repeating this process with another set of gears, the glowing Spear of Olympus plummeted from the skies onto the battlefield. The red Spartan soldier grabbed the spear and began throwing it at the blue Trojan warriors, then worked his way towards Polyphemus in the background. On his way there, he was forced to dodge fire and spike traps that were sprung by the opposing team.

Once the Spartan reached Polyphemus (who Papy refers to as “the Megalops”), he began slashing at his giant fingernails until the beast lurched forward in pain. A Spartan soldier then leapt onto the beast’s face and slashed down across his lips, splitting his mouth in two vertically. At this point, the rest of the Spartan soldiers threw chain blades into Polyphemus’ single eye and pulled him closer to the edge of the platform they were standing on. The final image of the demo was of a Spartan soldier leaping towards the cyclops with a spear, ready to plunge it through the beast’s massive eye.

Considering the tease at the beginning of the demo, many questions were presented to Papy. While the demo began with the image of Kratos, the future God of War will not be included in multiplayer. Papy explained that he didn’t want online play to consist of a team of green Kratos’ going up against a team of yellow Kratos’, and he also didn’t want to give a single player the benefit of having control of him. “Nobody wants to be Robin, and we would have had a bunch of Robins,” said Papy.

Players will have a chance to level up their character and align themselves with a god. Your choice of worshipping Zeus, Poseidon, Ares, or Hades will determine which unlocks, perks, and special abilities your character gains. As you progress through the ranks, you gain access to more abilities and items, including customized armor sets. Papy explains that there won’t be any female combatants in the game, as they “do not look pretty” with the traditional combat equipment that multiplayer characters will be adorned with.

Sony Santa Monica is planning on featuring approximately seven multiplayer maps, with five large, unique environments (such as the Polyphemus stage we saw) and two smaller arenas. Split-screen support and drop-in/drop-out play is not included, and the player will be able to slightly alter the mostly fixed camera. The team says they’re more concerned with quality than quantity, so they want to keep the number of modes limited so as not to segregate the player base.

This first look at Ascension was intriguing, but there was a sense of disappointment in the crowd after they realized that we wouldn’t be learning anything about the single-player portion of the game (although Papy did confirm that the game will include one). Bringing multiplayer modes into a third-person action game presents different challenges than FPS titles, which was made more than apparent in the awful online play of Ninja Gaiden 3. On the other hand, Sony has always ensured that this franchise meets a high bar of quality, and we have to imagine it expects the same from multiplayer. Gauging the depth and fun factor of Execution after one brief demo is difficult, but it left us eager to learn more about God of War’s multiplayer debut.

  • Personally, I like multiplayer - I think this will work well (unless it ends up as a silly button masher). I just hope it goes split-screen. We have all these controllers, I want more split screen.
  • Never played God of War, is this going to be like how people felt about Mass Effect Multiplayer.....or Dead Space 2 Multiplayer?
  • I won't buy it for this exact reason. what a joke....
  • i hope that cyclops doesn't break from his chains!?!?!
    EDIT: WAIT A SEC! Polyphemus is supposed to be blind! Odysseus stabed him in the eye!
  • Sounds fresh and exciting.  I'm glad it is not just another enemy wave-based multiplayer.  I'm tired of those.

  • Stinks that they didn't show anything about the single player but this sounds very intriguing. I think that co-op, if used seamlessly and is streamlined, can be a engaging, fun experience. Pledging yourself to a God? Thats cool too. And I guess I speak for many when I say that I really wanted to see what happened at the end of God of WarIII but at the same time, am looking forward to how this prequel goes. So far, it looks like itll be taking ques from Troy and The Odyssey.
  • Mod

    sounds fun :D

  • Hopefully they dont put too much effort in the series or the storyline could get a little sloppy from then on.

  • Oh dam, i don't know if this will be any good... Dam it it doesn't have splitscreen. Well i still love GOW for its singleplayer :)
  • When I read the title I thought this was a late April Fool's joke. Guess not... This just seems kind of weird.
  • The dude with the mask must have the biggest pair of nards in history for his legs to be that far apart with out being cocked at an angle.

  • Of all the games to pull multiplayer out its ass, GoW is one of the last I would have expected. I need to see for myself before I get excited, but the prospect seems interesting enough and Sony is known for having all their first party titles have a certain bar of quality to them.
  • I find it kind of sad they decided to exclude female combatants just because they "do not look pretty". Seems like a stupid excuse. I must say that cyclops looks fantastic. And I wouldn't mind trying out the multiplayer. I like the idea of following a specific god for different abilities and equipment.
  • so is multiplayer mandatory now for every single new game? Geez guys, everyone feels like they have to compete. All I can say is it better be damn polished.
  • This completely took me by surprise. A GoW game with multiplayer? I just hope the single player is as good as ever.
  • I was joking with a friend about this getting multiplayer and we came to the conclusion that it possibly couldn't. Now I know otherwise.

    To be honest, I'm not sure how I feel about this. I'll wait to judge it until I see it/play it, but GoW just doesn't seem like a game that should have multiplayer thrown in. Maybe they'll prove me wrong, though.

  • The customization could be really cool but I wonder if the game modes will be fun.

  • I'm curious to see how this will turn out. But I'm pretty skeptical about it.

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