God of War Ascension Multiplayer Beta Impressions

I guess you could say I wasn’t surprised when I first heard that God of War was expanding with multiplayer.  It seems like more and more traditionally single player games are adding in a multiplayer side whether from publisher pressure, extend the life of the game or incorrectly thinking that it’ll bring in the Call of Duty style player.  I figured God of War was trying to do the same thing.  Still, reading more and more articles about it led me to want to give it a shot, especially when I heard “Power Stone” being thrown around to describe it.  I recently got my hands on a beta key and finally got to dive in.

Full impressions after the jump…

First, let me just say that even in beta, the game looks visually impressive so if you’re worried about the graphics taking a step back after God of War 3, I don’t think you’ll have any need to worry.  The game kicks off with an unknown character being warped to Mount Olympus.  It’s here that you pick a deity to follow and are given four options (only 2 unlocked in the beta). For me, I sided with Zeus mainly because I wanted a change of pace from the combat heavy Ares option.  Zeus turns players into a sort of battle mage so I figured I’d try my hand at that.  After a tutorial battle introduces you to the combat moves and some advanced techniques, you’re taken to the main menu where you can customize your character and jump into matches.

Fan of the franchise will be relieved to know that the control scheme translates very well to the multiplayer side so you won’t need to rethink anything here.  You have a light attack, heavy attack, grapple, block, dodge and counter.  Magic and Special moves can also be used to help augment your carnage. Fans of the franchise will also enjoy the fact that once a character is stunned or at a certain point in health, they can perform a brutal kill, with the camera panning in to show off the violence.  The map in the beta is also littered with traps which if you’re not careful can take out allies as well.

gowa_beta

The only mode in the beta is “Favor of the Gods” either on a team or a 4 person free for all.  It’s basically like Domination from Call of Duty or a reverse Conquest from Battlefield.  Both teams fight to control 3 spots on a very vertical map and gain “favor” until a score is reached.  In another cool touch, a giant cyclops dominates the upper part of the map causing havoc for players that go near.  A spear is thrown down near the mid-point of the match by the Gods and can be captured and used to slay the cyclops in a very cool (and violent) cut scene.  The gameplay is fast and brutal so you’ll constantly need to be on your toes.  Thankfully, quick respawns help keep the action moving.

While the game is well made already, I just really couldn’t get into it.  Here’s my main issue with the beta so far.  Newcomers are constantly playing catch up and start very much behind the curve.  As you gain experience and rank up, you start to gain access to armor, weapons, magical abilities, and perk like relics.  Obviously, at lower levels, you only have the most basic of items and you’re matched up with people at all kinds of different levels and much better gear.  For newcomers who are trying to get their footing, this can be very frustrating and even a turn off.

I know this is only a beta and it’s not fair to judge a game based on such, but with each playthrough, I just can’t seem to get into it.  It’s well made and I have no doubt that Sony Santa Monica will knock this out of the park.  My biggest concerns are the fact that it’s very much unfriendly to newcomers or people late to the party.  I feel like it also doesn’t do too much new to stand out amongst the other multiplayer games out there.  It’s a fun experience even if you can stick with it through the rough early stages but I just don’t feel like it’s one of those things that begs to be played every night.  With that said, I’m still going to play it and see if things change for me.  I mean, I want to like it.

Still, it’s just a beta so judgement will have to be held until the full game releases.  Who knows, perhaps my fears above will be fixed in some unannounced modes like Combat Training in Black Ops II.  There’s still some time before Kratos returns this March.  We’ll have to wait and see what else Sony Santa Monica has up their sleeves.  I remain hopeful.

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