previews\ May 23, 2012 at 11:15 am

First Look: God of War: Ascension Multiplayer

When Sony invited us out last week to a press event for God of War: Ascension, we were kind of curious as to what we would see.  The opening chapter of what made Kratos into the madman he’s since become through multiple adventures?  Perhaps a little something to show us how he got so pissed off to begin with?  Nope, neither of those.  Instead, Todd Papy and his team at Sony Santa Monica rocked us when they showed us something we weren’t expecting in the least – multiplayer.

That’s right, for the first time in a God of War game, Ascension will be introducing an online multiplayer factor.  Usually, the games are known for being a one-man affair, with that one man being Kratos, the mighty God of War himself.  But not this time.  Instead, you’re actually taking control of another warrior, one of eight random battlers who will hit the open map and try to make a name for themselves, merely for the sake of being a dominant champion.

When Papy opened the demo for God of War, it started out typical enough, with one single warrior facing off against an angry Cyclops.  However, the battle soon grew bigger with the addition of a second player carrying a war hammer, one who would help turn the tide that would eventually lead to the defeat of the Cyclops.  From there, it was a matter of running through a nearby temple into an even larger, multi-level map, one with enemies and switches strewn about, and a big, bad-ass monster lumbering in the background.

So here’s the objective of multiplayer.  You’ll want to fight with the opponents, who are guided by other players, to the point that you kill them, activate the switches by turning the cranks (which in turn drag the chained behemoth in the background closer to a nearby platform), and then eventually perform a final kill on the large monster, using a weapon that randomly lands in the map.  In this case, a large spear that is capable of ripping the beast’s lower jaw, before you finally land the fatal blow right in its eye.  Um, OUCH.

Though the multiplayer engine is still quite early (the Sony Santa Monica team has quite the task on its hands converting a single player engine for online play), it does show some superb potential.  First off, random weapons will drop throughout the match, either providing an advantage or disadvantage to your team, depending if you can acquire it quickly or not.  Secondly, each player on the battlefield is controlled by a human (or, if the lobby isn’t full, a rather sharp AI), making your battle a bit trickier as you try to kill the monster and win the match.  Finally, this is just one variation of the multiplayer that Sony will introduce the game…not to mention one map.  A variety of modes are likely to be introduced, probably around E3 time, and the final count will be around seven maps for multiplayer, including five large maps and two tighter-spaced ones.

That’s not to say that God of War: Ascension won’t contain single player.  It’ll still have a campaign where you guide a young Kratos through what will eventually be his rise (or fall, depending on perspective) into the role he’s known for today.  But the focus of the presentation was on multiplayer, and while there are still questions to be asked, consider us intrigued.

Look for more impressions from the multiplayer component – as well as single player – in the weeks ahead, leading to the game’s early 2013 release.

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