God of War: Ascension has online and offline multiplayer battles for up to eight players. There are a variety of multiplayer modes, customisable avatar warriors, armour and weapon types to unlock. Eurogamer's Johnny Minkley saw it in action for a God of War: Ascension preview, published today.
Multiplayer "combines the brutal gameplay and large-scale battles that God of War is known for to create a competitive experience like never before", Sony said. According to game director Todd Pappy it's a "fresh twist" on competitive gaming.
But the game has single-player, too, this time with a "revamped" combat and weapon system, "promptless" mini-games and new puzzles. Sony mentioned "fluid, life-like characters, dynamic lighting effects, and world-changing scenarios".
Pappy told Eurogamer Ascension's campaign is "just a little bit shorter" than in previous God of War games. "We've mapped out everything and given time estimates. It'll be pretty damn close."
And lead combat designer Jason McDonald insisted that single-player has not suffered as a result of the addition of multiplayer. "We didn't want to sacrifice single-player for multiplayer, neither did we want to tack [the latter] on," he said. "We're definitely going full force with both."
As for the story, Ascension sees players assume the role of Kratos as he tries to break the blood oath that binds him to Ares. Since this is a prequel, we get to see a younger Kratos, one driven mad after bring tricked into killing his wife and child. In the game Kratos "seeks to break his bond and gain the clarity to seek revenge on Ares for his part in the death of his family". Helping is his signature double-chained blades.
Possible horde mode
Customization is a major focus in Ascension, Papy tells me. When the multiplayer mode begins, players go through trials as a tutorial and face off against an enemy they have no chance of defeating. In order to gain victory, players must sell their champion's soul to one of four gods: Zeus, Hades, Ares, or Poseidon. This decision allows players to try out different weapons, armor sets, and perks, inspired by the god of their choice.
"Once you chose your allegiance, you can customize how you want to look," Papy explains. "There's actually six different places you can customize your armor: boots, skirts, gauntlets, chest piece, shoulder piece, and helmet. You can do what you want." Like other persistent character multiplayer titles, Ascension allows Champions to evolve with new items, looks, and even specials and combos over time, each with a tilt based on the god selected for your character.
Papy tells me the multiplayer will only have a light story element, so it doesn't appear that the tales told during that part of Ascension will weave themselves into the mythology of Kratos. While multiplayer is focused on competitive modes with co-op partners, the Sony Santa Monica team is still thinking about new modes to include. "We're assessing a 'Horde Mode,'" he responded when asked about modes strictly crafted for co-op play. "We have a great cast of A.I. and if we can possibly get to use those in a 'Horde Mode' then we're going to try, but it's something we're still assessing."