During the 2014 PlayStation Experience, director Cory Barlog revealed that he and his team at Santa Monica Studios were working on a new game in the God of War series destined to arrive on the PlayStation 4. He explained that the game would be a sequel, but also a reboot of sorts.
The time draws near for Kratos to once again take up arms against the gods of this world. But as Barlog promised, many aspects of the bald ball of fury's next adventure look to be a departure from the norms previously established by the long-running series. The new God of War asks the question, what does a warrior do after his last battle has been fought? What would give him a reason to finally bury his past and keep his anger at bay? Or, perhaps just as important, what would give him cause to once again take up the mantel of the god of war?
God of War for the PlayStation 4 seeks to answer those questions and more, making it one of the most anticipated games headed to Sony's home console. From video footage to rumors, comments from the developers and beyond, it's time to slash through the certainties and speculation of the next God of War.
How God Of War Was Revealed
As noted above, the upcoming God of War game was first revealed during Sony's PlayStation Experience in December of 2014. At the time, director Cory Barlog revealed that he was taking the reigns of the series for the first time since God of War II, even though he's been involved to some degree in just about every installation of the seven-part franchise to date. Outside of the main trilogy, Kratos' origins were explored in 2013's Ascension, with PSP titles Ghost of Sparta and Chains of Olympus filling in a couple of of holes between numbered titles. That leaves just 2007's mobile game, God of War: Betrayal, which takes place just before the events of God of War II.
At PlayStation Experience, Barlog explained that the new God of War would not be a prequel, but it also wouldn't be a sequel in the vein that folks were likely expecting. He has since gone on to call the upcoming game a "soft reboot," which was fully revealed in June of 2016 during the PlayStation press conference held during the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3).
At that event, Sony kicked off its show with a 10-minute gameplay demonstration accompanied by a live musical performance. When a familiar gravely voice first said the word "boy," a rumble of uncertain cheers started to build in the audience. Those cheers exploded when, moments later, Kratos strutted onto the scene for the first time in years.
God Of War's Development
We knew that God of War was in development as early as December 2013, which is about three years ago as of this writing. The game has been built from the ground up on a brand new engine, specifically developed for the PlayStation 4.
Santa Monica Studios surprised the world when they revealed God of War with a big chunk of gameplay footage but, since then, the studio has been radio silent with fresh announcements. This led many to believe that the team was nowhere near as far along as the 2016 showing made it seem. In late December of that same year, however, a random tweet from Barlog proved that God of War is, in fact, coming along nicely.
In response to Twitter criticism concerning the lack of new information following the E3 showing, Barlog stated that he had, in fact, just finished a full playthrough of the game, making for a "very exciting" milestone for he and his team. As we previously reported, there are still a lot of factors to consider, but that likely means that the game is currently in alpha, with testing aplenty and additional touches being plugged in along the way. A full playthorugh, for instance, wouldn't be as impressive if the new God of War is only a five-hour game. But since the series' entries are usually pretty meaty experiences, we doubt they'd be aiming to tell a smaller story this time around.
What We've Seen From God Of War
The scenes shown off during the PlayStation E3 2016 press conference are the only footage of the game to date but, clocking in at 10 minutes of gameplay, it's still pretty impressive. You usually have to wade through a couple of cinematic trailers for a new game before reaching the honest-to-goodness gameplay bits, which speaks to the confidence on display by Santa Monica Studios. During that same E3, Barlog and company took audiences through the same section of gameplay behind closed doors, though with a bit more exploration of the game's world on display.
In the footage, Kratos tasks his son with hunting their supper. He follows the lad around as he tracks a massive deer and, after botching his first shot, eventually brings the beast down. Kratos then tells the boy to finish the job with a knife, but eventually has to help the scared youngster. Barlog has since explained that moments like these are peppered throughout the new God of War, with Kratos tasked with being a father rather than a legendary warrior. This relationship has earned the game comparisons to The Last of Us, as the deer hunting scene is practically cut from the same cloth.
In the midst of the deer hunting, we get to see God of War's combat in action. Kratos has to brutalize a couple of smaller beasts before going toe-to-toe with a troll, a fight that his son helps him win (if you consider firing a couple of arrows, one of which hits his own father in the shoulder, "helping.").
One of the biggest shifts on display here from previous God of War games is the camera. In the previous games, the camera was always a fixed third-person view, pulled back quite a bit. In the new God of War, the camera is still third-person, but it's more of an over-the-shoulder view and the player can actually control which way it is facing. Barlog has explained that this makes for a more intimate experience, which is something the team, in general, wants to achieve with God of War.
The Story Of God Of War
So what's the Greek god of war supposed to do once he's fulfilled his quest for vengeance and killed basically an entire pantheon of deities? For Kratos, the answer is head to Scandinavia, where he plans to live a more simple life and even begin a family once again.
In the gameplay footage, Kratos explains to the boy that his mother's knife belongs to him now. We figure that's a pretty good indicator that, whomever the boy's mother is, she's unlikely alive once God of War gets rolling. Since the Norse gods are still around and this story predates the Vikings, we get a sneaking suspicion that something is going to happen that requires Kratos to have to kill off an entirely different culture's collection of celestial beings. Outside of that, story details are scarce. Barlog stated during his E3 showings that Kratos will be drawn back into the fray, but the reasons for that are still being closely guarded.
During the behind-closed-doors session, Barlog pointed out one particular moment in the gameplay footage that was subtle, but shows off how some of the game's story will be told. There's a scene where Kratos comes upon a large carcass that's hanging, gutted, in a cave campsite. If you look closely, you'll see that the body is that of another troll. So while the game does not explicitly state this, the implication is that the troll that just attacked Kratos and his son came upon the camp site, found the body of a dead companion and decided that the first two humans it came across were probably the culprits. In other words, some of the story in God of War will be told by the environment, giving players more reason than ever to look around and actually pay attention.
Kratos' Son In God Of War
The first in-game images the world saw of God of War was actually Kratos' son, playing with a couple of wooden toys in the dirt. As of this writing, the boy remains nameless, though Barlog has stated that there is a reason for that. If I had to make a guess, I would put good money on the red-headed youngster being named Deimos, an homage to Kratos' slain brother. In Greek mythology, Deimos was a physical representation of the horrors brought on by war, meaning it would make a fitting name for the god of war's son, too.
We know that family is important to Kratos, as the death of his first wife and child led to the unbridled rage and quest for vengeance that eventually brought down the very gods of Olympus. In a blog post following the reveal of God of War, Barlog said that the birth of his own son was what led him to this new tale for Kratos. He knew that if anything could cage the fury raging inside the god of war's heart, it would be the arrival of a new family and a son he must protect and teach how to survive.
From the gameplay footage, as well as statements from Barlog over the past year, we know that Kratos' son will play a huge role in the upcoming God of War. Kratos' son will grow and learn throughout the game, assisting his father in the heat of battle with smaller enemies, and even firing his lightning-infused arrows on command. The boy will help Kratos in other ways, too, as he is able to understand the language of Norse peoples, creatures and gods while Kratos cannot.
At this point, it's pretty clear that God of War will be just as much about Kratos' son as the titular protagonist players have been controlling for over a decade.
Kratos' Weapons In God Of War
In case you missed it, Kratos' iconic Blades of Chaos are missing in God of War. He lost them at the end of God of War III and, since he's tried to put that part of his life behind him, it makes sense that he would leave them in Greece alongside all of those bad decisions and worse memories.
Instead, Kratos wields an enchanted ax this time around and, while no information on the weapon has been provided at this time, Barlog has stated that it will play into Norse mythology. Kratos can swing the ax to his heart's content but, since it glows blue with magical powers, it's no surprise that it can do some other tricks, too. We see Kratos hurl it into enemies from time to time, for instance, and then he's able to call it back to his hand on command. When his ax is pinning a foe to a wall or stuck in a troll's noggin, Kratos relies on his fists for more hand-to-hand combat this time around.
And while we're sure some sub-weapons will be gathered throughout the game, Kratos can also call on his son for assistance. The boy is actually mapped to his own button on the controller and, with the push of said button, Kratos can order him to do things like fire an arrow at an enemy.
Finally, while Kratos is doing his best to control his temper, he knows that there are certain instances when it's perfectly fine to unleash the beast within. In God of War, this takes the form of his "Spartan Fury." When he's pummeled enough baddies to really get the blood pumping, Kratos can call on his fury to unleash more powerful attacks and even trigger big, epic fight scenes.
Along the way, Kratos will gain experience in God of War. Similar to previous games, you'll be able to spend this experience on skill trees spread between both Kratos and his son. Maybe you want to learn a new trick with your ax, but perhaps it would be best to up the damage on your son's arrows. Choices like these will allow players some customization options when it comes to how they want to build their father/son duo.
The Norse Enemies Of God Of War
As you may have guessed from all of this talk of trolls and Vikings, God of War has officially left behind the Greek lore and moved into the realm of Norse mythology. From the first game in the series, it was always kicked around as an idea that Kratos would one day venture to a new world. While Egypt was apparently a popular choice at first, the team eventually settled on Scandinavia and their own colorful collection of deities and magical creatures. Not only was the lore more varied, but the landscape is probably far more interesting than endless deserts and the occasional settlement. When a guy wants to leave behind his past, he heads into the mountains and settles down in the woods. That's where we find Kratos at the beginning of this new God of War. It seems as though such a powerful being can never truly be done with epic struggles, though, as Kratos will once again be pulled into a battle with creatures of legend. Outside of that, Barlog and Co. are remaining tight-lipped on the story for God of War.
The Future Of God Of War
Now that we've got all of that info filed away, the biggest question mark left surrounding the new God of War is when, exactly, will players finally be able to get their hands on it?
Unfortunately, we're not quite sure yet, and that's how things are going to have to remain for the time being. But, given the fact that the game was playable from start to finish at the end of 2016, we've got our fingers crossed that we'll be able to spend some quality time with Kratos and his son by the end of 2017. That might just be wishful thinking, though.
Thankfully, we're getting closer and closer to convention season, which is likely when Santa Monica Studios will finally be willing to come up for air and show the world what they've been doing for the past four or so years.
Since God of War was fully revealed at E3 2016, we're feeling pretty confident that the game will once again be a headlining member of the PlayStation press conference at E3 2017. Providing more details, including a launch date, would be a good way to rekindle everyone's excitement for the game.
For now, though, all we can do is wait.