The God of War series is synonymous with its hack-and-slash gameplay, Greek mythology, and, most notably, its single-player campaigns. God of War: Ascension will officially be the first God of War title to feature a separate multi-player campaign. Recently, I had a chance to try out the beta version of that feature, and here are my thoughts.
First off, players take control of a muscular man with a shaved head wearing a war kilt in an Olympus-type monument. The player walks up to see the gods Hades, Zeus, Poseidon, and Aries; however, only Zeus and Aries were available in the beta. The players have the ability to change allegiances at any time between matches and still retain their weapons and armor.
Speaking of the weapons and armor, the main weapons wielded are mixed between large hammers and swords, as opposed to the chain-strapped blades players have grown used to seeing on Kratos. Combatants are also given lower-body armor, upper-body armor, and helmets that have boosts and weaknesses of their own. All weapons and armor are built up over time as the player progresses, and players can purchase boosts for their warrior with relics. The boosts range from extra health given on every kill to extra magic use.
Three modes are available in the beta; four-player “Favor of the Gods”, eight-player “Favor of the Gods”, and eight-player “Capture the Flag”. The eight-player matches are split into two teams of four, and the “Favor of the Gods” mode was for those that don’t play well with others. “Favor of the Gods” is basically a death-match where players try to kill each other or the opposing team. Opening treasure chests, gathering secondary weapons, and doing anything else they can also helps accumulate points toward winning. You have to manage all of this while also trying to avoid environmental hazards and traps sprung by opponents (in some cases teammates). “Capture the Flag” is the standard game mode, with the elements of brutal and bloody combat thrown in.
Only two maps are available for the beta: The Desert of Lost Souls and Hercules’ Forum. The Desert of Lost Souls has been heavily featured in pre-release materials and also has a giant Cyclops chained in the middle of it. Hercules’ Forum is most remembered from a boss battle in God of War 3. The Desert of Lost Souls is available for both team matches, while Hercules’ Forum is only available for the four-player “Favor of the Gods” mode.
So far, based on the beta, the graphics look up to par with what you would expect from a God of War title. Combat, on the other hand, is going to make the player rely on both offense and defense. No longer is a well-timed block enough to parry an attack, but a combination of holding down L1 and X is used to parry some attacks. One issue I noticed was that some of the more powerful attacks and magic could not be blocked or parried. This issue might be worked out when the game does come out, or they could be pushing the player to work on dodging, blocking, and parrying even more for defense. Initially as I was playing, it was obvious who had put time into the game, as they were a lot more powerful than my character. However, after a few hours of leveling up and working on timing, I slowly got better with each match.
With that said, multi-player modes aren’t much of a selling point for me, much less for a God of War game, possibly because I’m just not a big proponent of multi-player games. What is presented in the beta looks like God of War, has the same lore as God of War, but it doesn’t feel like God of War. I always felt God of War was the hack-and-slash action/adventure game centering on Greek Mythology. I think what is missing most is the feeling of an epic battle with a giant menace. Granted, Polyphemus being chained and brutally killed in one of the levels is fun to play through, but that’s secondary to what is actually happening.
This isn’t to say it’s not fun. In fact, I can’t remember the last game in which I had so much fun watching my character be disemboweled by my opponent. It definitely doesn’t feel like multi-player was tacked on for the sake of having a game with multi-player modes; it feels like the developers are working on this alongside the single-player campaign. Plus, that is only a taste of things to come. Another weapon class is soon to be revealed, as well as a fourth mode in multi-player and more maps based around locations made famous throughout the series. Keep an eye out for God of War: Ascension when it is released March 12, 2013.
It’s your turn now, nation: did you get a chance to play the God of War: Ascension multi-player beta? If so, what did you think of it? Let us know in the comment section below, and stay tuned to New Gamer Nation for more news and first looks on your favorite games.