God of War: Ascension multiplayer beta hits PlayStation Plus on January 8

God of War Ascension tutorial

In a newly published blog post found on Sony’s official PlayStation.blog, the company reveals a surprising wealth of information on the upcoming multiplayer beta test for God of War: Ascension. We first brought you word of this test in November when Sony opened sign ups for the beta to the public, but at the time we had yet to hear when this test might occur. While Sony still hasn’t revealed when the average PlayStation 3 owner might be able to join the test, we now know that PlayStation Plus subscribers will be granted early access and could be playing the unreleased game as early as January 8.

Ah, but that’s not all. Instead of merely offering up this special release date, Sony’s associate product manager Derek Osgood also uses the opportunity to go into candid detail on what the company plans to include in the beta test. “We are kicking off the Beta with our signature Team Favor of the Gods mode and the yet-to-be-seen Favor of the Gods mode, which plays like Team Favor of the Gods, but without the teams. In both modes, you’ll fight to reach the requisite number of favor points from the Gods, earning points via kills, bonus brutal kills, opening chests, capturing domination points, and, if you’re skillful enough, performing executions using the Spear of Olympus,” Osgood writes.

Further, Osgood also offers up information on which multiplayer maps PlayStation Plus subscribers will find in Ascension’s multiplayer beta. To wit:

You’ve seen the Desert of Lost Souls, featuring our massive Titan, Polyphemus. If you were not fortunate enough to experience this map at one of our various events earlier this year, you will get your chance to go head-to-head in this epic map in the Beta.

Only a fool would believe we are stopping there — this is God of War! God of War: Ascension multiplayer levels are broken out into two categories: larger maps, which feature big open environments (like the Desert of Lost Souls), and more compact arenas, which bring the action in tight to test your reflexes as you fight for survival in close-quarters combat. Fans of God of War III will remember the Hercules Arena, one of the Top 5 most epic moments in the God of War franchise, and we’re really excited to introduce our “Forum of Hercules” Multiplayer Arena level!

In addition to these online offerings, Osgood also claims that the beta will grant users access to the game’s tutorial level, saying that players will “be able to test [their] might with both Zeus and Ares allegiances, and experience a taste of the player customization options and upgrades that will be in the final game.”

While we’re still waiting to hear when Sony plans to open the beta test to the general public, those of you who just can’t wait to slay online foes could sign up for a PlayStation Plus membership purely for early access. Of course, the service also offers users a handful of free, big-name games (LittleBigPlanet 2 and inFamous 2 are two examples) that alone could serve as ample impetus to shell out for a PlayStation Plus membership (which Amazon currently has listed at $50 for a year of service). Alternately, if you have no interest in the beta or would rather save your cash for God of War: Ascension, the game is slated to hit store shelves on March 12.