God of War: Ascension’s First 30 Minutes: Hands-On Preview
With the shield and sling, the total of world weapons comes to five. Two were available during the hands-on time I had with the game, and I was able to mix them in with Kratos’s standard attacks. “The world weapons all have tactical differences,” McDonald said. “If you pick up one, you have to drop the other, and we wanted them to have a strategic flair.”
If it sounds a bit like the Ascension multiplayer experience that players have been able to try in Sony’s beta for the game over the last few weeks, that’s because it is. In fact, notably, combat in single player feels almost exactly like combat in multiplayer. The controls for Kratos have been reworked slightly, adding a physical kick attack to the circle button (it’s also the button for using your world weapons) and making throws and grappling more prevalent, just like in multiplayer.
Also as in multiplayer, you’ll be able to utilize those throws to your advantage against enemies. This is called “tethering,” and as Director Todd Papy put it during a short video demo, the ability will allow you to “weaponize” the guys you’re fighting.
Just like multiplayer, you’ll see enemies getting stunned a lot more. This previously was a part of God of War and always led to a grapple move for instant kill potential. Now, however, grapples are a little different: Kratos can still tether an enemy to take him out when he’s an inch from death, but stunned enemies can be grabbed from a distance and used as battering rams. You can also snag a bad guy with one Blade of Chaos, while smashing his buddies with the other, and certain attacks will swing the other guy through the air like a morning star, making him a part of your attack. Weaponizing is actually a big part of your strategy, as you’ll often need to use enemies against one another, and different enemies offer different effects when you smack them into their buddies.
Balance in combat feels as though it’s been tweaked a little to reflect the multiplayer formula, which isn’t a bad thing. “We’ve revamped a few things for freshness,” McDonald said. “In multiplayer, it’s all about offense and defense, and there’s a little bit of rollover between the two. It’s a little different though, because Kratos overcomes things a little differently than you do in multiplayer.”
That said, your multiplayer strategies will probably become a part of your single-player play. There were a few instances in which I was able to apply multiplayer’s “rock, paper, scissors” approach to combat and apply the correct move against an enemy — like tethering a guy who was blocking my attacks, for example. Those are skills that are developed out of dealing with other players in multiplayer, translating to the single-player experience.
After all that new combat, the rest of the level translated into Kratos doing a lot of what Kratos does, and it will probably make many players happy to know that Ascension’s first 30 minutes didn’t feel remarkably different from any other bit of God of War I’ve played. This largely seems to be a result of the game easing players into the new mechanics, but it also stays very true to the existing formula, while making solid, working tweaks.