Should God of War IV Have a Multiplayer Mode?

January 3, 2012Written by Jonathan Leack

God of War IV has been all but announced at this point – several magazines have leaked information and even Composer Timothy Williams has it listed on his resume, but that isn’t the most surprising part. Several rumors have stated that God of War IV will be the first game in the award-winning series to include a multiplayer element. What the multiplayer will entail is anyone’s guess, but its mere mention has made us wonder: would multiplayer really be a good idea for God of War?

God of War wouldn’t be the first video game series that has a strong single-player presence to jump in the multiplayer bandwagon. The Uncharted series did it very successfully with Uncharted 2: Among Thieves, and even managed to deliver a powerful narrative despite there existing a multiplayer component. Mass Effect 3 is the most forthcoming example, and while that decision has been meet with criticism, it has potential.

The main thing to note is that it’s true that a development team does have to allocate resources to developing the multiplayer feature(s). Does a compromise need to be made? Not necessarily if the team is experienced, staffed properly, and goes in knowing what they want to accomplish. Santa Monica Studios has been around a very long time, and to say that they’re veterans would probably be an understatement, so if their design team decides to add multiplayer functionality, chances are it won’t cut into the quality of the story mode. It’s also important to note that Santa Monica have doubled their team size since the release of GOW III.

So other games have done it, but would multiplayer really work with God of War‘s formula? God of War has been known to utilize a static, choreographic camera that can’t be controlled, as well as very linear environments. These qualities don’t translate very well into the multiplayer arena. If Santa Monica Studios plans to allow more than one player to play at a time, then they’ll either have to make the mode co-operative, or an analog-controlled camera might have to be introduced. While the former is a strong possibility, the latter would compromise what has been a winning formula thus far. God of War team members have cited in past interviews that its static camera allows them to direct the player’s attention to important elements in the environment, and also helps with guiding the player through the journey by giving it a sense of directional flow. As a result, chances are that the multiplayer won’t be competitive, at least in the normal sense.

Another possibility is that there will be challenges which reward points based on speed and style with a scoreboard present to give it a sense of online competition similar to what Mirror’s Edge did. We saw the Challenges of Olympus in God of War III which merely rewarded trophies and unlockables for the single-player upon completion. If fully featured, like with Mortal Kombat‘s challenges and with leaderboards, it could be a great outlet for those who feel like they’re a master of Kratos. With that said, being able to co-op through levels and/or the main story would be a bit more of a treat for fans of the series.

At this point God of War seems to have accomplished everything it has sought out to do. It’s delivered enormous set-pieces that few games can challenge, has completed epic story arches, and has several titles with high critical reception and sales. The series could definitely use a new spark, especially after the dramatic climax that was God of War III. A multiplayer mode could give it the lift that it needs, and who can say no to running through massive environments destroying waves of enemies with a friend?

So what do you think? Should the next God of War release include a multiplayer mode? If so, what modes? Share your response in the comments below.