God of War: Ascension Interview – Kratos’ Guilt, Combat Mechanics, and Multiplayer
Set just before Chains of Olympus and the original God of War, God of War: Ascension shows a more humanistic side to Kratos (who in past games was mostly brutal and merciless) and players will get to know the choices, the trials and tribulations that molded Kratos into the God-killing warrior he becomes in the God of War trilogy. With the guilt of killing his family fresh on his mind, Kratos not only has to defeat his enemies but battle insanity as well.
I recently had a chance to talk to Aaron Kaufman, Community Manager for God of War: Ascension at Sony Santa Monica Studio where he talked about Kratos’ humanistic side, the new combat mechanics (especially fighting with bare fists), and the multiplayer suite that’s new to the franchise.
Check out the full interview after the break.
JTM Games: Like Chains of Olympus and Ghost of Sparta, God of War: Ascension takes place in Kratos’ past. Could you talk about the game’s story and how the Kratos grows as a character?
Aaron Kaufman: With God of War: Ascension, the story takes place six months after Kratos was tricked into killing his wife and daughter by Ares, the God of War. Where Kratos is now is he’s been cast to a titan-sized prison which is guarded by these evil beasts called the furies. We actually recently revealed our first fury, her name is Megaera. The furies are really evil creatures that Kratos is going to have to go up against.
Essenstially what Kratos is trying to do in his journey is figure out how he can break that blood oath, that bond with Ares and with Olympus. Of course we all know where ends up in the beginning of God of War 1. So this is the story before Chains of Olympus, Before God of War 1, and it’s a story that’s really going to explore the more humanistic side of Kratos. The Kratos, the man you’ll play in this game is not the same man that you see in God of War 1 and onward; the tragedy of his family is still new and he’s still dealing with it, so how would you deal with this kind of tragedy? What limits would you push yourself to seek revenge? That’s the side of Kratos that we’re going to explore and we’re really excited to showcase a more somber, humanistic side of Kratos; a side that’s not always angry and not always about brutality. But he’s going to be battling with those demons inside of his head.
JTM Games: Speaking of battles, could you tell us about the changes, enhancements, and additions that you made to the combat in God of War: Ascension?
Aaron Kaufman: With singleplayer in God of War 3, there were a lot of new things that were upgraded from GoW 2 and 1 but with Ascension, players are gonna find a lot of commonalities, but they’re also going to find things that are very refined and new. So for example, we’ve added our new “World Weapon System” which allows Kratos to steal weapons from certain enemies and use them to his advantage as a secondary sub-weapon.
What’s really cool about that is Kratos now has a tether mechanic so he can use the Blades of Chaos to chain enemies and swing them around like a tether ball but at the same time he can be using his secondary weapon whether it’s a spear, a sword, or a hammer and be using that on enemies at the same time. He can then swing the enemy around and knock them out using his assortment of weapons; so there’s definitely a lot of diversity in the combat with that system.
We’ve also got our new “Life Cycle” mechanic which is a power that Kratos will take on that allows him to manipulate and bend time to solve certain puzzles. For example, in our recent demo, Kratos has to put together a destroyed structure using the power and figure out what’s the right way to put it together so that he can climb up it. But what’s cool about that mechanic as well is that Kratos can use Life Cycle to freeze enemies in mid-air and slow them down and use all of his different weapons and skills he has to attack them while they’re frozen.
One final thing that we definitely don’t want to go unnoticed is that Kratos can now attack with his BARE HANDS! This is a new mechanic and something that got us scratching our heads thinking “Why didn’t we do this before?” Because it feels so impactful; there’s something that feels so powerful and menacing about Kratos’ fists and feet, when you kick or punch the enemies and you see them fall back. We’re finding that God of War fans are really digging that a lot.
JTM Games: Let’s switch gears for a bit, could you tell us about God of War: Ascension’s unique multiplayer feature?
Aaron Kaufman: Essentially what you do in God of War: Ascension multiplayer is you are going to pledge your alliegance to one of four gods. These are Hades, Ares, Poseidon, or Zeus; and each one of these gods represent a different class system of powers, weapons, armor, items, feats, perks and all kinds of different things that you can earn to customize your warrior. And the way that you earn those different things is by going into battle, earning experience points, having team victories, defeating enemies, and all these things that you’re going to do will earn you XP which will allow you to unlock all the armors, weapons, items per your god.
You’ll go down this unlock tree and basically before every battle, you’ll decide “how do I want to customize my warrior, what kind of fighting style do I want to bring into the battle?” So we think the players are gonna have a lot of diversity there; we’re going to see a lot of different fighting styles.
JTM Games: Could you talk about the multiplayer game mode that you’re showing off here today?
Aaron Kaufman: What we’re showing here today is probably we would call the premiere mode of multiplayer and that is the Favor of the Gods. The way this mode works is it’s the Trojans vs. The Spartans and they’re at war; the gods of Olympus are essentially treating the Trojans and Spartans like their pawns, chess pieces that they can manipulate. The Spartan and Trojan warriors are battling to earn the favor of their god to become the champion of Olympus.
In this mode, it’s four vs. four, team-based, and the first team to earn 5000 points will win the match. And the way you get points on our maps (which are multi-tiered, multi-dimensional, they’re not flat) is by controlling certain control points which will earn you favor. You can also earn favor by unlocking chests and of course by killing enemies. The different ways that you kill enemies will determine the level of favor that you get.
One other major thing in multiplayer and this mode in particular on the map that we’re showing today there’s a big boss called Polyphemus. The first team to get to 4000 points, the gods will drop down the Spear of Olympus, and whichever team gets to that Spear first will be able to use it to kill Polyphemus. Now Polyphemus is a gigantic Titan on the map it’s unlike anything you’ve ever seen in multiplayer ever. He can smash you to a pulp and he’s always trying to throw guys out of the way so he’s really one of those enemies that you want to destroy rather quickly.
With all these elements combined, we’re really happy with the way multiplayer is turning out and we think fans are gonna be very excited and of course we’ve got our multiplayer beta which we’ve recently announced will be coming out later this year. We’re really looking forward to it.
JTM Games: What are some of the multiplayer maps and environments that players will be battling in God of War: Ascension?
Aaron Kaufman: The main level that we’re showing off today is Desert. we definitely have other maps small and large in the game. And Desert isn’t the only map where you’re going to see a big boss-type battle on. We can’t reveal any of the other maps or environments just yet, but if you guys know our God of War team, then you know that they’re gonna be as epic as the one we’re showing off here today.
JTM Games: When will God of War: Ascension hit store shelves?
Aaron Kaufman: God of War: Ascension is coming out on March 12, 2013.
Like Aaron mentioned, what really interesting about God of War: Ascension is the refined combat system that not only allows Kratos to fight bare-handed, but also allows him to pick up weapons dropped by his fallen enemies, (swords, spears, and others) along with the new tethering mechanic (think Mortal Kombat’s Scorpion) that allows him to chain up one opponent to the side while attacking another at the same time. These new combat mechanics allow for unlimited stylish combinations mixing picked up random weapons with Kratos’ own arsenal.
Oh and let’s not forget about the fully featured multiplayer that’s unique (and a first) to the God of War franchise. It’s definitely one of the PlayStation 3 games to look forward to next year.
In the meantime, check out these God of War: Ascension screenshots: