Last week Sony gave PSN+ users in Europe and the Americas access to a preview of the new God Of War games multiplayer mode. God of War has never had a multiplayer mode before and Ascension is the first in the series to add it, is it a welcome or pointless addition? In this preview we’ll look at the the game modes that are currently available in the beta as well as how the mechanics of God of War translate to a multiplayer environment.
The first thing the multiplayer does is dump the player into a basic arena and introduces them to each of the allegiances that the player can possibly take. Whilst you’re not bound to these choices you can choose one from the get go and trial the play style. Each faction changes the play style of your character by offering different abilities, weapons and the types of magic you can unlock. You’re immediately introduced to all the basic mechanics that you can use. The combat isn’t too dissimilar to the single player, you hack, you slash, you run around hitting people and you can finish off people in a gloriously decadent manner if you so choose to, as their intestines spool out of their body. The grab mechanic can be used to pull other players towards you, but when the player is stunned you can use the grab mechanic to finish them off in a brutal manner, gaining your team extra points.
Every match type is a standard 1 v 1 team match style, with one side playing as Sparta and another as Troy. Each team has to get to 8000 points before the other team (or the mode limit, if it is different in other modes), apart from killing each other, you can also increase your teams score by collecting items, smashing open chests filled with orbs or performing certain tasks. An example of one of the map specific extras is in the Team Favour of the Gods mode, half way through the match the Gods will choose to intervene in your fighting and drop a spear from the sky. The first team to grab this spear and kill the Cyclops Titan on the map is granted extra favour.
The menu interface is pretty simplistic, you choose from a series of options when you first load up the game about what you wish to do, such as equip armours, join a specific game type or quick play. When playing I found Favour of the Gods showed up most frequently when choosing quick play. The two different game modes included with the beta are Team Favour of the Gods, a variant on the Capture the Flag game type featuring a bound beast that each team has to keep back, whilst capturing the other teams flag, utilising traps and killing opponents. The deathmatch mode is essentially the same with the flag capture removed, Favour of the Gods is played in a map called “Forum of Hercules”. This is a simple round arena with a few environmental hazards, such as spikes in the ground, arrow traps and thorny walls. In both maps there is the added threat of an extra environmental hazard, in the Team Favour of The Gods mode it is the Titan Cyclops Polyphemus that will smash down on players or Hercules who will drop down and attack every player with a shockwave, knocking them back and potentially off the map.
Weapons and armours on the whole seem to be the standard “increases base stats by 10″ type, since characters have stats that determine their strength and defense I hope there is some degree of balancing between higher level players and lower level players, to prevent lower level players from not being steamrolled by higher level players too easily. Weaponss are unlocked through several methods, such as collecting so many of certain items or killing in a certain manner several times in a match as well as passively being unlocked whilst the player levels. Overall the weapons and armours bolster the characters but you can equip skills and magic in order to change how your character handles. There are separate skills for each weapon, the starting skills you receive are for a sword and hammer. The sword skills are quick hit successions aiming to stun the player, where as the the hammer skills are more like charge shots and area of effect damage.
You seem to have the standard array of swords, hammers and so forth. Some are fast, some are slow. The standard skills available to your character are fairly satisfying to use and can be chained together fairly easily with the standard commands and as you launch people up in the air.
The maps themselves aren’t overly complex, each has a series of choke points and intentionally draws combat towards the centre of the map in an attempt to pull players together. From the two maps shown the Desert of Lost Souls map is the more complicated of the two, with Forum of Hercules being a small circle that player fights in essentially. The level has two tiers, the bottom one contains a few traps and allows you to fast travel to the other end of the map quickly, as well as gather power ups and extra favour from chests. The architecture of the map isn’t too complicated with it just being a series of ramps leading to other platforms. Anything that looks interesting is hiding in the background and is inaccessible and with the isometric view, hard to see.
My main issue with the beta so far is I am concerned that whilst you can level characters in each faction, whether the game itself will have any lasting appeal. Whilst the formula is essentially faithful to the God of War style of battles, with lots of individual players on the screen and the forced quasi-isometric view and a large amount of skills firing off, things can get rather confused looking. On top of this the combat essentially boils down to whoever gets the first hit in, whilst it’s all about combos you have only one escape mechanic if you get trapped by more than one person, although you do have a form of quick dash system which means you can keep other players at bay. It’s an interesting addition and a nice attempt and is good to drop into briefly but doesn’t from first glance seem to have the staying power to make it a staple console multiplayer game.
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