I came to Sony’s E3 booth hoping that Playstation All-Stars Battle Royale would be a fun (if unoriginal,) multiplayer brawler. It wasn’t. Instead, I found myself repeatedly playing the demo for God of War: Ascension’s multiplayer, which seems like it will be the fun, innovative, unpredictable multiplayer arena fighter than Battle Royale should’ve been.
Like most people, I was a bit skeptical when Sony announced that the next God of War game was going to have a competitive multiplayer aspect. A lot of previously single-player only franchises have tried to tack-on a multiplayer element into their games over the last few years (Dead Space 2, Bioshock 2, etc.,) with varying results, and I think a lot of people assumed that GoW’s multiplayer would likewise be yet another half-assed online mode slapped onto a series that never needed it.
Let make this clear right now: God of War Ascension’s multiplayer is definitely not some half-assed add-on that was developed as an afterthought. As excited as I am to play through another one of Kratos’s adventures, I think I may spend more time playing this game’s multiplayer. It’s fun, it’s deep, and it cleverly incorporates all the elements that you love about previous God of War games and successfully makes them work in a multiplayer setting.
The game’s controls were identical to single player God of War: players can mix up light and heavy attacks to create combos, and also have access to special attacks and magic abilities. The goal in GoW multiplayer is to get a higher score than the other team, and points can be earned through a number of ways: capturing points, killing CPU controlled monsters, finding treasure, or simply killing your opponents. The sheer variety of things to do in each stage to earn points meant players were constantly doing different things: while a lot of people simply ran around the stage fighting the other team, smart players earned more points by capturing/defending control points on the map, while other players fought over the chance to land the killing blow on a massive Cyclops that would periodically destroy parts of the arena.
I was surprised how balanced the fighting was: like a good fighting game, every attack your opponents could throw at you had a proper counter: light attacks will simply bounce off of a player who’s blocking, but throws or heavy attacks will cut right through their shields. Likewise, those same throws and heavy attacks can easily be interrupted by a flurry of light attacks or a quick special move. The game also has a limited use combo-breaker that allows you to snap yourself out of an enemy’s combo if you’re getting ganged up on (similar to Guilty Gear’s “BURST” maneuver, in a way.)
Though the demo didn’t really give much in the way of customization options, Ascension’s developers have stated that the game will feature a level-up system that will allow players to customize their fighter’s play style, weapons, and appearance.
To put it in simple terms that most gamers will understand: Ascension multiplayer was like Power Stone mixed with God of War’s combat mechanics. If that sentence doesn’t make you want to go out and buy this game right now, you might as well stop playing games all together.