E3 2017: God of War Combines Fury With Family (Preview)

June 19, 2017

This E3, God of War made a big return to gamers’ minds after a year bereft of many updates, with a jam-packed trailer at the PlayStation Press Conference. Last year, Sony and developers Santa Monica shocked the world by showing a God of War title that not only shifted the mythology of the series from Greek to Norse, but also introduced a secondary character to accompany angry protagonist Kratos – his son. This year, the focus seemed to be on re-assuring fans of the series that this new direction isn’t as different as they might think, with furious battles and huge enemies that are very reminiscent of the original series,

Aaron Kaufmann from SCEA, who was on the floor at E3 2017, agrees, ““God of War is about incredible moments, brutal combat and it’s about a story that feels larger than life. I think this game delivers on each of those in spades and that was what was really important to us with this trailer – we wanted to remind core God of War fans that the combat you’re seeing here is everything you know and love about God of War.”

God of War was evidently never going to lay dormant for long at Sony, given it’s one of their most iconic franchises. The decision to bring back God of War was motivated by the return of Cory Barlog, originally the Creative Director of God of War II, who returned to Santa Monica Studios with a new vision for God of War based on his own personal experiences – becoming a father. Much of the team had also had similar experiences, making the decision to include Kratos’ son a vital part of the experience, that was in fact a fundamental decision from day one of development.

Kratos’ son, Atreus, is central to both the gameplay and the storyline of God of War. In the original God of War games, Kratos suffered a dark past that no god or human being should ever want to go through, and during the undetermined amount of time between God of War III and the new game, he has somehow found himself in a new life in Scandinavia, in the lands of Norse mythology. It’s here that Kratos has found a new purpose, a new reason to live – Atreus. However, his greatest fear is that one day his son could grow up to become just like him, and he wants to do everything in his power to prevent that, including hiding his dark history from him. At the same time, Atreus is trying to grow as a man and a warrior and discover the truth behind his father’s past, creating an interesting dynamic between the two.

On the gameplay side, while Kratos remains the player-controlled character, Atreus remains vitally important to combat. A button on the controller is dedicated to him, and he’s not just present as a side mission or an escort mission. He’s always there. He has his own set of dynamic moves, based contextually on where he is in the environment related to Kratos, as well as his own main weapon – the bow and arrow. Atreus can fire lightning arrows and also has magic abilities, and can team-up with Kratos for tag team moves. This new element makes gameplay a lot more complex – fluid, and brutal. He also has his own upgrade path for the bow and arrow, alongside Kratos’ axe upgrades.

The switch to Norse Mythology has opened up a whole new world of possibilities for monsters and characters to interact with Kratos, including the immense World Serpent shown at the climax of the E3 Trailer. Aaron mentioned that while the father/son journey was decided upon from the outset of the game’s development, “where that journey would take place was debated at length, and what mythology. Ultimately we landed on Norse mythology because we believed that all together it was the richest universe. It had the most interesting gods, characters and monsters and environments, and it’s really where we believed that Kratos had to go next.”

God of War is currently due in Q1 2018.