Sony showed off a decent chunk of single-player action from God of War: Ascension during its press conference this year, and for the most part, the gameplay looked like, well, God of War. But one thing did stand out: Kratos saving a civilian from an incoming spear thrown by a satyr.
The Ghost of Sparta's casual life-saving shove seems to be out of character for the angry, take-no-prisoners Kratos we've come to know during the previous three games. So why is Kratos showing mercy instead of using hapless bystanders as meat shields?
The answer, it seems, is simple. A representative from developer Sony Santa Monica Studios said that because Ascension is a prequel to the original God of War trilogy, Kratos has not fully developed into the bitter, furious dynamo he eventually becomes. The spokesperson said that Ascension will track his descent from (somewhat) decent human being into unhinged rage machine and that there will be more instances in Ascension where Kratos will show compassion towards the innocent.
Compassion isn't the only change you'll find in Ascension. As seen in the demo, Kratos will now be able to wield secondary weapons that he finds lying around (or takes from certain enemies). This has resulted in a slight change in button layout, with the secondary weapon now using the circle button. The cinematic finisher button has been remapped to R1, which also allows Kratos to latch onto enemies from a distance and bring them in for some pain.
The frequency of quick-time events is also being scaled back. If you watch the E3 demo, you'll see that the way Kratos takes out the elephant boss at the end has no button prompts at all, a departure from the old series which would have seen you finish the mid-boss off after completing some quick-time presses. This time, players will have to keenly observe the enemy while they're in close, attacking when they're open and moving Kratos' body away via the thumbsticks if the enemy is gearing up for an attack. Think Punch-Out in the God of War universe, and you're coming close.
Despite these changes, however, God of War: Ascension's single-player certainly looks like more of the same at this stage. But if you're a fan of the series, this really won't be a complaint. And who knows? Maybe you'll also get to see a new side of the angry Spartan.