God Of War’s multiplayer started as “two Kratoses against each other”. It didn’t work
In a recent interview, God Of War: Ascension‘s lead combat designer Jason McDonald has explained some necessary changes required to make the multiplayer work.
Speaking to Gamasutra McDonald talked about the need to balance the multiplayer combat that required changes to the single player move set online. “For Kratos, we always try to give him moves where you can link combos. We don’t care if it’s fair for the AI. They’re going to get hit like 20 times by one move; so be it. We don’t care. But in the multiplayer, it’s not so good.”
The problems with Kratos’ moves became apparent the moment Sony Santa Monica pitted the god of war against himself in an early test version of Ascension’s multiplayer. “One of the first things we did was just put two Kratoses in the arena against each other just to see how it works. And yeah, getting hit by a move that does a 20-hit combo on one press, that’s not exactly where it’s at in multiplayer.” According to McDonald, “We have to find a different way to still give you some satisfying moves that can give you some links and longer combos but present a little more skill to actually get those”.
For Kratos the rules about how he moves are, “always very simple. We want to make the guy feel powerful [and] responsive. The moves should be flashy, yet not too flashy. We don’t want him doing backflips and crazy ninja moves, but things that fit his character and make you feel connected to the guy.” When it comes to the multiplayer it’s, “pretty much the same rulebook,” explains McDonald. “We want to make sure they also feel powerful, they feel responsive, they feel it just as good as Kratos. The difference here being is that now they also have to read well to other players, so they can tell what you’re doing, so they can counter effectively.”