The God of War video game series is often considered to be one of the biggest and best gaming franchises of all time, and for good reason. From the original God of War on the PlayStation 2 to the recent God of War: Ragnarok, the series has won a plethora of awards while introducing gamers to revolutionary action mechanics and a surprisingly heartbreaking story. There is one game in the vast God of War library that doesn’t get the same level of praise or attention that the others do, and that’s God of War: Ascension.
God of War: Ascension was released on the PlayStation 3 in 2013 and was the last installment in the series to be based on Greek mythology before the series shifted to a focus on Norse mythology. It served as a prequel to the whole series and followed Kratos just a few months after being tricked by Ares to kill his family, giving fans an earlier look into his life than any other game.
The games and spin-offs before Ascension all followed a single story that met its natural end with God of War III. The Gods were all taken down and Kratos no longer had a reason or a foe to continue his fight. The world was now free from the Gods’ control and Olympus was no more. It was a perfect end to the series. Ascension being released after this certainly hurt its chances of getting as much attention. Fans felt ready to move on at that point.
The series was then rebooted in 2018 with a new game simply titled God of War that focused on Norse mythology which received universal acclaim for its story, art direction, and new combat system. This only further buried Ascension. On top of that, while Ascension took place during a vital point in Kratos’ story, it didn’t add anything too important to it. All of this led to fans not caring about Ascension as much as the other several God of War games, which is truly unfortunate because it’s actually a really entertaining game.
God of War: Ascension introduced some brand new combat mechanics. The World Weapon system allowed Kratos to temporarily use weapons dropped by defeated foes, like Cyclops clubs or Satyr spears. Kratos was also able to grapple enemies to hold them in place with one of his blades while attacking them with the other. Perhaps the most interesting update to the combat system was the elemental-based attacks. While using Kratos’ iconic Blades of Chaos, four magical disciplines can be acquired and equipped. These included the Fire of Ares, Ice of Poseidon, Lightning of Zeus, and Soul of Hades. Each of which allowed Kratos to use elemental attacks to damage enemies in new ways and interact with the environment in ways like none of the previous games allowed. These new elemental abilities helped to provide a unique gaming experience, which is impressive seven games into the franchise.
What made Ascension stand out the most from any of the other games in the series was that it was and still is the only God of War game to feature any sort of multiplayer mode. The multiplayer, which was online only, was positively incredible. Not only did it have an addictive “just one more game” feel to it, but was one of the most unique and creative online experiences in any video game, and there’s still nothing quite like it today. Each match was played with up to eight players who competed as ancient Greek gladiators in a handful of different game modes. Players also chose an allegiance to either Zeus, Ares, Poseidon, or Hades, which greatly changed their character’s play style depending on which God they were devoted to. It was overall a creative multiplayer experience that needs to make a comeback of sorts in a newer God of War game.
Considering it’s been quite a while, finding a multiplayer match might be tough, but it’s still worth trying to find folks on Reddit or other social media platforms to get a game going (assuming the online is still active at the time you’re reading this). The single player campaign will always be worth playing through, though. If you’re a God of War fan who somehow missed the opportunity to check out Ascension, definitely give it a shot. It really is one of the most interesting and unique games in the franchise.