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God of War: Ascension multiplayer beta goes live Jan. 8 for PlayStation Plus members

Michael McWhertor is a journalist with more than 17 years of experience covering video games, technology, movies, TV, and entertainment.

PlayStation Plus subscribers will get an early taste of God of War: Ascension's multiplayer component on Jan. 8, according to an update from Sony Computer Entertainment America.

God of War: Ascension's multiplayer beta will include two game modes and two maps. Team Favor of the Gods, which we first played at E3, pits two teams of four against each other in a contest for territorial control of the map Desert of Lost Souls. In addition to hand-to-hand battles and territory capture, players can score points by slaying the Titan Polyphemus, the massive cyclops chained to the to multiplayer arena. The team that snatches the Spear of Olympus and stabs Polyphemus in his wet, bulging eyeball will receive a huge advantage in Team Favor of the Gods.

The multiplayer beta will also include a preview of Ascension's four-player free-for-all mode, Favor of the Gods. The Favor of the Gods arena featured in the beta is modeled after the Hercules boss fight from God of War 3. The stage is a faithful recreation of that memorable confrontation, with walls of thorns that players can throw each other into and Hercules himself watching over — and occasionally entering — the fray.

Two gods will be featured in the beta, Ares and Zeus, each offering their own powers to players who pledge allegiance to them, as will a tutorial that will teach players the basics of God of War: Ascension's combat.

God of War: Ascension will be released on PlayStation 3 on March 12, 2013 in North America.

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