PlayStation Plus folks have a lot to look forward to with the beta release on Tuesday. Here's what to expect.
Digitalchumps.com received an early Christmas present this year with a beta key for God of War: Ascension's multiplayer side. I'm sure the beta was only a taste of things to come, but what I saw looks absolutely promising.
Choose your path
When you load the beta up for the first time, you'll find yourself on the peak of Olympus being asked to choose your allegiance. It's split between Poseidon, Zeus, Hades and Ares. Depending on who you choose to form an allegiance with determines how you're going to shape your warrior for the multiplayer experience. You'll have access to certain weapons, armor, powers and power items depending on who you go with as your God.
So, in honor of his return, I decided to choose Ares.
Once chosen, you're taken to a typical multiplayer screen, where you get to, as they say in Call of Duty, choose your loadout for your warrior. A very simple menu system helps you to equip your warrior with armor, weapons, leg wear, helmet and speciality items (magic, power, treasures). Much like the CoD MP loadout options, you get a limited time to choose afferent ones while you wait to play the game.
What we found fascinating about this is that there are so many different combinations to prepare your warrior, that OCD players that love doing this are going to be in absolute heaven. For a simple system, at least from the outside, it's very complicated and intriguing. I honestly couldn't imagine this amount of loadout depth for a game like God of War. Most of us, and you know this is true if you're honest with yourself, think of a brutal button mashing experience when you think of how the gameplay is in a typical God of War. So, it's nice to see a bit more depth and thought put into a first-time multiplayer experience for God of War: Ascension.
Anyway, let's talk about the modes that were available for this beta.
Team Favor Rush (Desert of Lost Souls map)
This is the big one for the beta release. This is a 4-on-4 match that could be compared with Call of Duty's domination mode. You're given three specific points that your team must capture. You capture these points by standing in a specific area and waiting for the domination meter to fill up. Once filled up, the area becomes your team's point and you can either choose to stand and defend it or move on and hunt down enemies.
Now, each point is stretched across two levels. The bottom level is a very tightly knit area that features only one capture point. It's a small portion of some ancient city that features an area to climb up to the second level, or a portal to jump into and get to the second level. The bottom level also features a booby trap that players can activate that unleashes a large set of spikes that can be set or activated immediately. If a player gets caught in these spikes then they die instantly. Be warned though, if you activate the spikes and your teammate is in their path then your teammate will die. I can't even begin to describe to you how many times I killed my own teammate (by accident).
The top level is a bit more interesting and definitely spread out more. The two capture points are on the far left and right of the level, and feature a fire trap. The booby trap here brings flames from the cagy floor surrounding the capture point. Again, you can set this to go off when enemies step on it or you can just set it off when someone's on it; same rules apply as these spikes.
What makes this level particularly cool is how there is a gigantic chained cyclops (Polyphemus) guarding the entire level. You have to be careful of him as you're capturing points, as he can smash you or knock you off the save point (which causes you to lose energy). To get rid of that cyclops, Zeus sends down a spear from Olympus that embeds itself in the middle of the second level. If your team can get that then you can get rid of that pesky cyclops in the most nastiest of ways (enjoy that one).
Now, there are special weapons that appear during the levels that you can pick up and use for a limited amount of time. One such beautiful weapon is a large hammer. This thing will go yard on someone if you can swing it properly. It's good for knocking people off the levels to their death or just the **** out of them. It is quite cool.
One thing that hasn't been talked about much in this preview is the scoring system. Basically, as you kill people and capture points, and chests (treasure chest, not human chests), you gain points. The first team to 8000 or the best score in the allotted amount of time wins the game. What you do in the game, how you kill and how you finish at the end (score-wise) dictates the amount of XP you get. The more XP the more weapons, armor, power and abilities you can unlock.
Forum of Hercules
The other level unlocked for beta is the Forum of Hercules map. The name of the game here is a complete free-for-all. It's a four player game that pis you against three other players. It's definitely a very contained area, more so than the bottom level of the Desert of Lost Souls map. If you need a visual of it then look back on God of War III and find Hercules arena; it's the same exact level.
This one is a bit more chaotic, as you have to decide who to gang up on or who to help. When I played this one, I basically tried to avoid the initial confrontation when the game started and pray on the weak once they beat up the other guy. It's quick and it's fun. One thing to watch out for in the game is when Hercules decides to intervene, which he does periodically. Avoid the edges at that point.
Much like the Desert of Lost Souls, you will have weapons appear during the gameplay (spears, swords, hammers, Kratos' chains) and you have the same point system with chests available as well.
Helluva lot of fun to be had on this mode.
So, to say the least, things are shaping up quite well for the multiplayer portion of God of War: Ascension. I think that Santa Monica is doing a great job bringing a very solid multiplayer experience to the action series. Can't wait to see more of it.