God of War: Ascension is the first God of War game to offer any competitive online experience, although Kratos won’t be playable in the multiplayer portion. It definitely mirrors the God of War gameplay we have come to expect.
Choosing A God
When you first start multiplayer you will be ask to align your character with 1 of 4 Gods, which can be changed if at any point your character returns to the area. Within the Beta we were allowed access to only two of the Gods: Ares, who gave your character boosts in melee damage and other strength focused abilities, and Zeus who improved elemental damage and gave players magical abilities. The other two Gods available are Hades and Poseidon, though their abilities were not shown during the Beta.
Focusing on weapon damage, I decided on Ares as my God of choice. From here you are then taken to the customization menu for your character. Here you can choose to customize armour, weapons and even abilities. Sadly no appearance options for your character were present, so the basic “Jason Statham lookalike” seems to be the basis of our character, although this is only the Beta so this could change. Some unlockables had certain requirements, for example ‘Opening 5 red chests’, so XP and levelling won’t be your only aspect of unlocking better gear.
‘Favour of the Gods, 4 Player or 8 Player’: Favour of the Gods is very similar to Domination from the likes of Call of Duty, but with a twist. Your team tries to hold locations in this 8 minute struggle to earn God Favour, while you can gain extra Favour by opening chests around the environment and by conducting kills, even setting traps to hopefully kill your enemy combatants. The twist is that there is a massive Cyclops (in the map we were given) lurking around the edge of the map that can attack players. Half way through the battle a God will Intervene, allowing you access to a weapon that can now attack the Cyclops. If your team conducts the kill on this God, your team will win automatically even if you were, up until that point, heading for defeat.
‘Capture the Flag, 8 Players’: After hours of trying I could not get a game within this mode.
You character is offered a tutorial before he enters the arena. My advice would be to try it out and see how the combat within multiplayer works. Heavy attacks (assigned to the Triangle button) are powerful but slow your character down considerably, while light attacks (the Square button) are of course not as powerful but give your character the advantage of speed. Holding L1 during these attacks will add an extra boost to the amount of damage they accomplish, while holding L1 alone will allow your character to block. But, pressing X at just the right time with L1 held down can cause your character to parry. Parrying is crucial to a strong game; they will send your opponent off balance and allow you to cause a lot of damage. Once your opponent is stunned (almost completely out of heath) pressing R1 allows your character to instigate a takedown. These brutal, but beautiful, kill animations will astound you.
As you would expect from any God of War game, the graphics are impeccable. The lighting looks amazing and even during combat you will enjoy the attention to detail in which every character moves. The awe-inspiring Cyclops that we have seen in trailers is extremely detailed. Even his death scene, although gruesome, is also strangely beautiful in a graphical sense. The first Cyclops death scene that you witness in the game, caused me to cringe slightly at the attention to death-detail, but it screams God of War.
Contribution to Matches
Well, in God of Favour I found myself still earning the highest amount of Favour for my team even though my combat was as smooth as an elderly person’s forehead. Capturing locations and opening chests are both extremely good ways to help your team get close to victory. So if you can barely swing a sword to save your life, don’t think multiplayer will kill you repeatedly without making a contribution. You might still die a lot though.
During my entire time with the God of War: Ascension Multiplayer Beta I never experienced lag. At times there were around 4-5 combatants fighting within a small area; swords were swinging, powerful moves were being conducted, and traps were being set off. Yet gameplay never slowed down once. This is quite impressive and Santa Monica have done an awesome job in that respect, for only being a representation of the final product and still have it run so smoothly is astounding.
The combat is God of War, fans of Kratos’ adventures will be right at home. For those who found no challenge in harnessing the true Spartan abilities, will now finally find themselves challenged in ways the hardest difficulty setting could never accomplish. Each battle with an opponent is strategic, use your parrying and blocking to your best ability and you can turn the tides in any fight. Go in all swords swinging and you will die, re-spawn and die again. There is an in-depth system to combat and those that use all the abilities available correctly will find themselves sitting atop the leaderboard.
Almost every menu I encountered in the Multiplayer Beta was slow, clunky and didn’t get me to where I needed to go quickly. Trying to customize your character felt like a chore to me. Where some multiplayer suites allow you to see all your options and unlockables quickly, God of War felt like they tried to make the menus stylish, but in turn took away functionality. The slot machine-like menu that is in place just doesn’t explain much about anything you are looking at and when it does, well, the font is so small I found it a personal struggle to read. Maybe this is because your character takes up two-thirds of the screen perhaps? A possible change could be to cut down the character models appearance, allow us the ability to preview, and change the menu system to a grid-like structure for easy access.
Where’s my information?
Every time I died I wanted to know more information about who killed me, what character class they were using, what weapon types used and of course what level they were. Yet all I found was a message letting me know who killed me. Maybe this is just me but I like to find out who and what I was up against when I died. Even on the end game menu we were only told everyone’s final tally of Favour, Kills, and how they had earned the Favour. I feel like letting players know more about their opponents would be a very positive addition, maybe even allow players to reconsider what loadouts and choices they have for their character. Encouraging players to try-out different abilities, choose different Gods, etc.
Favour of the Gods
This is only a minor issue towards the game mode. As I have stated the killing of the Cyclops on the map allows your team to win, even if they are being slaughtered. But when the God Intervenes giving players the weapon to kill the Cyclops, well, the game is 100% interrupted. No matter what you are doing, you could even be mid-battle, it will showcase a cut scene showing the weapon coming into play from the heavens, and this is the problem. Many times I found myself hindered by this interruption, nobody likes their battles taken out of their control and this was a big cause of that. I found myself in one battle, the God Intervened, and when I returned I had been hit off the map into the gap below. Maybe the player before me was taken from the cut scene quicker? Maybe the cut scene started for me earlier? Either way it cost me a few lives in my time with the Beta, which is something that could cause players to stay away from the multiplayer.
Remember how I mentioned that every character has a “Jason-Statham appearance”? Well that becomes quite an issue. In the fast paced, 4-man battles that can occur on the map, it is very easy to lose your character amongst the carnage. Everyone looks so similar, if not from the appearance then from the armour variants and very similar weapons on offer. Maybe there is an extended amount of choice in the final game, or hey, maybe I have been given the worst reaction times. But losing my character in these scuffles was an issue for me on multiple occasions.
The God of War Beta has great qualities, many of which come within battle, but ultimately it is just really fun. I found myself getting better with each game I played and found myself enjoying my experience more and more. But it is not without its problems; for a multiplayer suite it feels like they have focussed so much on combat and making it lag-free and smooth that they have forgotten the finer details that make multiplayer so unique, such as the interaction between players and the ease of creating a character. There are many great qualities to take away from this short Beta, the impressive absence of lag is certainly one of them.
Could I see myself putting an extended amount of time in the Multiplayer? Sadly, no. Although it is fun and offers a great experience, I feel like there is nothing there to keep me playing for a long period of time. However, this is only a Beta and the full multiplayer component could end up being quite in-depth. But for now, those wondering how the multiplayer is doing, should know it is in truly capable hands.
Jamie Briggs manages Analog Addiction where you can find all his latest reviews, interviews and features and also like them on Facebook. Also follow his daily life on Twitter @AnalogAddiction and their videos on YouTube.