God of War: Ascension has been giving a lot of people trouble over the past few days, but if you play your cards right, it doesn't have to be a difficult experience -- or, say, nearly as difficult as Metal Gear Rising.
Like Onimusha and Devil May Cry before it, a lot of the game's edge can be taken off with careful planning of your weapon experience levels, and a few other tips along the way.
Tame non-story spoilers incoming. I’d recommend saving this article if you get stuck, and need a quick reference:
- Here's your top tip for every God of War game. Upgrade your blades first (your main weapon), to the maximum, before anything else. Don't get caught up putting a few thousand red orbs into spells and other things -- power up your blades first and foremost.
25,000 experience for higher-level blades may seem like a lot, next to the temping 1,000 magic upgrade, but all of the red orbs you earn do add up. I was able to max out my blades far before the Trial of Archimedes (easily the hardest part of the game), so it is possible even though it may seem daunting.
- Choosing where to go next in terms of leveling up is very tricky. Ares is great as it gives you early access to magic and rage. Zeus has one of the most formidable magic attacks in the game. Hades is extremely useful for leeching life.
Poseidon's ice blades are great for earning more red orbs (more on this in a second), but don't need to be upgraded, necessarily. After maxing out your blades, try going for Zeus, then Ares, then Hades, then Poseidon.
- Although Poseidon's ice blades aren't worth upgrading for a long while, they're easily worth using in general most of the time. Defeating enemies with them will yield large red orbs, which can yield dividends as you upgrade your other abilities.
I used the ice blades through most of the game, only switching to other elements during particularly tough battles. Don't underestimate the ability of Poseidon's red orb distribution to power up everything else you have.
- Break every object you come across. A lot of them are filled with red orbs that could be the difference between an upgrade for a big fight. Likewise, break all the creature eggs during the parts that have them.
- Make sure and use your throwing grapple for smaller enemies. It's highly effective and works for disabling multiple enemies at once.
- When you earn them, the Hades blades and the accompanying abilities are really good for stun locking weaker enemies.
- The camera can get extremely showboaty at times, and occasionally, this is completely on purpose, to block out hidden items on camera. Make sure you check every nook and cranny for hidden objects and white or red chests. For instance, don't go up a ladder until you've checked a corner.
This is more of a general action game tip, as you'll eventually develop a "sixth sense" as to where hidden paths are as opposed to story related paths that will lock you out of prior areas.
Don't worry about missing some white chests -- there are more Gorgon Eyes and Phoenix Feather chests than you need to fully upgrade your health and magic.
- You can't earn trophies in New Game+ mode, if that matters to you. This is just a fair warning in case you try to go through it for your Platinum.
- This isn't an in-game tip per se, but if you're looking for your PlayStation All-Stars Isaac and Zeus character codes, it's on the back of the Last of Us demo card inside your case. It doesn't unlock until March 19 and it's super easy to miss.
Trial of Archimedes:
This is the main reason why I wrote this guide, as it was highly requested. If you want to experience the full difficulty, do not patch the game before you beat it, as developer Todd Papy has confirmed that the Trial will be patched soon.
- Stage 1 - First off, equip Hades' blades for the majority of this area for a chance to earn green orbs and keep your health topped off.
This is the hardest portion of the hardest area in the entire game, but this also your opportunity to liberally use your magic, as the Gorgons will allow you to replenish your magic orbs if you initiate the brutal kill minigame (R1 after the red icon appears over their heads).
Feel free to let Zeus' lighting spell fly as you take down the Gorgons and the Sirens. Grapple the Sirens when the white icon appears above their heads to stun other enemies in their proximity -- you can chain stun two Sirens like this.
Use your L2+Square and L2+Triangle powers liberally throughout this entire experience -- it's really easy to forget that you have them. If you keep rolling, use your combat items (L2+Square, L2+ Triangle), and burst magic and then earn it back with the Gorgons, you should be ok.
- Stage 2 - Use your full magic meter that you got from the Gorgons to make short work of the warriors, then brutal kill them for a much needed health boost. Grapple the Harpies immediately (you don't need the white indicator) and throw them off the cliff for a one-hit kill.
When the Talos appears, all you have to do is not get cornered and he will go down easily. Make sure you keep track of the direction of the fire, and head to the top of the screen as often as possible.
- Stage 3 - This is the easiest stage, but it's also fairly easy to die after losing so much health and magic from the other portions. Watch the walls and stay in the middle, using your block more than your dodge rolling as much as possible.
Use any magic you have on the Centaur, as the other enemies will be far easier. Remember to pull the Liches out of the ground with R1, and that blocking works against all their attacks.
- I recommend starting with the Hades faction. It has some of the most diverse abilities for new and experienced players alike.
- Here is a build to get you started:
Relic: Steal health with brutal kills
Weapon: Sword (a great mix of speed and power, easy to learn)
Spell: Life leech
L2 ability: Health steal cloud
This build makes it extremely easy to keep your health topped off, while giving yourself decent attack capabilities. From what I've seen, most of the factions are fairly balanced, except for Poseidon, which feels underpowered in this current version.
You can easily change your faction with the Triangle button when customizing your champion, but all of them have different level tracks.
- Do not underestimate the effectiveness of regular Square-button attacks. Players often aren't used to constantly blocking and will be left open. Also, the few seconds after power attacks (L2+Square, L2+Triangle) are great opportunities for a combo with Square attacks.
- Learn the dance of heavy attacks and parrying. It's a game of rock, paper, scissors, as heavy attacks cancel parrying, parrying cancels light attacks, and light attacks can stop heavy attacks. Don't forget that you have L2+Square and L2+Triangle weapon attacks, and use them as often as possible, as their cooldown count is fairly low.
- Steal kills in deathmatch multiplayer as often as possible. If you see two to three enemies lying down ready to be grappled into a brutal kill, try to slash them with the Square button first -- grappling one of them may allow for temporary invincibility during the grapple animation, but someone else will sneak up and steal the other kills while you're only earning one.
Likewise, use brutal kill grabs to avoid damage when you're low on health.