God of War: Ascension is the earliest game in the series, chronologically, so far. It takes place six months after Kratos is tricked into killing his family and despite not being a numbered sequel, it’s still being developed by Sony Santa Monica, who developed the main God of War trilogy. Directing the game is Todd Papy, who served as senior designer on God of War and design director on God of War 3.
Papy says that Ascension will show a different side of Kratos, similar to the PSP God of War games. The game will show more of his family and will also illustrate his ambition, his desires, and his last ties to humanity. Since the story takes place well before Kratos’ war against the gods, he’ll be a little less buff than in the main trilogy, although he will still be using the Blades of Chaos.
With regard to how the game plays, Santa Monica say their goal for Ascension is to take everything from the previous games and make it “feel better”. Part of these changes involve streamlining. One specific example is the quick-time events for opening chests. In previous God of War games, you had to tap the Circle button rapidly, as Kratos struggled to break a chest open with both hands. Now, he’ll just smash the chest in without the extra effort. Similarly, how Kratos scales walls has been sped up, too, and is inspired by the Uncharted games. Singleplayer will also consist of new elements entirely but these haven’t been revealed so far.
God of War: Ascension will also have multiplayer modes for up to 8 players. In multiplayer mode, you get to customize a character and align him with one of four gods: Zeus, Hades, Poseidon and Ares. These four alignments essentially serve as classes, each with their own equipment and skills. For example, an alignment with Zeus may mean more lightning skills. Six different body parts can be customized for multiplayer, including your helmet, gauntlet, skirt and boots.
Santa Monica say they feel God of War singleplayer doesn’t translate well to multiplayer, so the focus for multiplayer modes is different. One of the modes shown off in a recent livestream showed two teams fighting each other—a Red team and a Blue team. Both teams had to battle for control of two points on a map while a large cyclops remained chained in the background. Once one of teams managed to capture both points, the cyclops was pulled over to one side and they received the Spear of Olympus to kill him off, making them the winners of the match.
You can battle other players in different ways in God of War: Ascension’s multiplayer modes. You can either do damage directly using the various weapons—hammers, tridents, and other weapons aligned with the four gods were shown—or you can set off traps scattered around the map, such as a spike trap, to hurt other players. This was done in order to give players who aren’t good at competitive multiplayer ways to aid their team. The game will keep track of performance, though; the best player on the winning team will get to deal the finishing blow to the cyclops.
You can watch a recording of the entire Q&A here. God of War: Ascension will be released for the PlayStation 3 in 2013.