A new era, a new family, a new purpose, and a whole lot of new things to kill
Kratos is no longer the permanently furious, yelling war machine he once was. He’s a dad now. Okay, so he might still have a voice that makes it sound like he eats rocks for breakfast, and you certainly can’t deny that the swing of his axe is as deadly as his dual blades, but Kratos has changed. Now he’s in a mysterious Norse land, he’s calmer and struggling with fatherhood. By his side is Atreus, his young son who’s handy with a bow. Despite his age you can use this young and definitely very squishy son in double team attacks and use him to translate runes and magic inscriptions, as Kratos hasn’t really mastered that. He is Greek, after all. But there’s far, far more to God of War than a father/son relationship. We’ve got details on collector’s editions, release dates, combat, and everything else you could possibly need.
God of War release date will be early 2018
Sony’s E3 2017 conference confirmed that God of War will hit PS4 some time early next year, but recently people spotted that the PlayStation Store in North America and Chile listed Kratos’ latest adventure as coming out on March 22, 2018. The blip was quickly resolved and Sony haven’t released any information about whether it was accurate or not, so we’ll leave it up to you to decide whether it was a real leak or not…but we’re staying optimistic.
God of War trailer involves less rage than you’d expect
The beautiful Norse world was first shown off in all its glory in a 9-minute long trailer previewed at 2016’s E3. The forest floor is covered in snow, elks jump out from behind towering trees, and the ice glistens beneath Kratos’ feet. These graphics would steal show were it not for the fact that the Spartan is no longer alone. Running alongside him is his son Atreus, who Kratos is beginning to teach the art of combat and who also happens to be beautifully animated. Take a look at the trailer to see him for yourself!
Plus, that PSX trailer was quite something. It started with a Soul-Eater. Huge, lumbering, flame-mawed rock-golem types, Kratos’ son Atreus is understandably scared of them. Get eaten by one of those, and there’s no after-life for you. Apparently. Kratos doesn’t seem too worried though. “It does not attack”, he states, as the pair watch the beast walk by. Though it’s unclear whether he means that the creature is benign, or whether it’s just that this one in particular doesn’t pose a threat. Either way, it’s a nicely understated moment of father/son dynamic building, Atreus filled with jabbering, energised, childish trepidation, his father steadfast, stable, and as reasurring as an in-recovery, trying-to-do-better Kratos can be. He sets the child’s fears at rest, but is rather blunt and non-cuddly with it.
Less understated though, is the follow-up, which gives us an equally blunt taste of God of War’s meaty new spin on third-person combat. With a dash of Dark Souls’ hefty, evade-and-parry focused battling, a swift rhythm and flow, and a whole lot of environmental kill opportunities, it’s a quick but bloody altercation, Kratos doing the heavy lifting (and hacking, and ripping), while Atreus skips about the place, giving assists and calling out opportunities. Atreus certainly adds a sparky new element to what could have been a slightly slow and weighty combat model, but he is ever so perky and talkative, isn’t he? Like, young Anakin Skywalker perky. How on Earth was this kid raised by ultra-grump Kratos?
God of War gameplay brings you closer to Kratos (literally)
The basic ‘getting angry and killing things’ idea is still in place but this time with a tight, more personal third person camera. The idea is to use the environment to do more of the story telling – at E3 Sony showed off some gorgeous locations full of tiny little details that would have been missed in the older, more distant view. You can still upgrade abilities, although via a XP-based system this time. There are also resources to collect although what you do with these has yet to be explained.
We’ve known for a while Kratos’ more fatherly/less murdery reboot will focus a lot more on story than its cyclops-stomping predecessors. Yet God of War on PS4 isn’t undergoing such a radical tonal shift just because the franchise has been creatively stale since GOW: Ascension hit PS3. In an interview with Glixel, Sony’s Jim Ryan admits the change in direction is partly motivated by the desire to address the series’ poor European sales figures.
“It’s a franchise that has historically acutely underperformed in Europe,” said the firm’s global head of marketing and sales. Ryan’s next comments read like he blames Kratos’ inability to shift copies in those oh so sophisticated European territories on the fact God of War’s story has always been an irrelevant side distraction. “Hack and slash games tend to not do so well in Europe, so the narrative this time around will make a big difference. European gamers love narrative games. And Singstar.”
Considering so many of Sony’s recent first-party big hitters have been heavy on narrative – Uncharted 4, The Last of Us, Horizon Zero Dawn – it makes sense Kratos’ PS4 coming out party will up the story stakes.
God of War’s quests, magic and more involve a new language
There’s a ‘new’ language in the game called Elder Elder Futhark. It’s actually one of the oldest forms of Nordic runes and is described as the ‘base language’ of the game. Apparently you’ll be able to translate it and doing so will reveal new quest lines and open up different parts of the game.
Magic will also involve runes, and seems to have a more nature focused identity this time with talk of Earth spells. You can also give Atreus powers with certain tattoos (he’s also the only one who can read, so Kratos needs him to translate).
God of War Collector’s Edition is damn impressive
God bless online retailers and their tendency to tell us about God of War collector’s editions we probably shouldn’t now about yet. Especially considering that voice actor Christopher Judge now has a 2018 date on his twitter profile.
Judge had listed it as 2017 at one point but then quietly changed it when no one was looking. No so much a delay as we had no date before but it defintely looks like it’s not happening this year. Hopefully we’ll get more at E3 at least.
God of War story features the same Kratos trying to change his ways
Quite how Kratos is now living in viking times isn’t clear but it is the same guy. That’s made clear by his ability to deploy his Spartan rage when he wants to pound monster heads (and Sony specifically confirming it’s him). However, this is a vastly different man now. He’s still a very angry human but he’s trying to change his ways as he blames his rage for all his past misfortunes. And that’s partly because he’s a father now.
As far as the demi-god’s attempt to rethink his life, director Cory Barlog recently stated that “what’s changed is that I think now Kratos has realised that everything he has done in the past hasn’t worked. His vengeance and blaming of others and saying ‘other people did this to me’; now he’s realised that’s not going to change him, so he needs to change himself.”
In a recent interview Barlog talked more about Kratos’ relationship with his son, saying, “I think Atreus is offering just this tiny bit of humanity that he lost long ago that allows him to not just kill somebody the first time he meets them and find out a little bit more.”
Who is Kratos’ son in God of War?
Kratos son is called Atreus. Historically he was the son of Pelops and the grandson of Zeus, which would still work with Kratos as his dad. Historically though, Atreus was banished after murdering a brother and eventually became king of Mycenae in Greece. That ties in less well with being a child in viking times but then God Of War has alway played a little fast and loose with canon.
We defintely know how he functions in the game at least. While accompanying Kratos he can fight alongside pops, with the player controlling Kratos and calling on his son for help, Marketing producer, Aaron Kaufman, has explained a little more in the latest Official PlayStation Magazine:
“There’s a really cool move where he [Atreus] jumps on the back enemy’s back and you hit the Square button, which is for the son, and he’ll jump above the enemy’s back and start firing arrows, and then you can throw your axe. And that’s just one example of the dynamism between him [Kratos] and Atreus.”
Atreus has his own skill tree and can be used in non-combat ways. Engineering Lead Jeet Shroff, for example, explained that “In addition [to combat] the player can use a face button to have Atreus translate runes [and] solve puzzles.”
Barlog describes the ability to direct Atreus in a very interesting way: “What we’re trying to do is kind of tap into that ‘teaching your kid to ride a bike as you run alongside’ thing.”
Where is God of War set now?
Sony keep referring to the new setting as just ‘Norse Mythology’. There’s not much clue yet as to the actual location or time period. Given that the original games played pretty loosely with Greek canon it’s no surprise that this is probably not going to be an exercise in scholarly history – more a mash up of just about every cool thing you can imagine from the lore.
How has God Of War’s combat changed?
Gone are those iconic chained Blades of Athena, and instead Kratos now has an axe. Combat’s moved to the trigger buttons and lets you juggle hacking blows and fists, while throwing and recalling the axe as a projectile. There’s a hint of magic involved, with some blue runes inflicting ice damage, suggesting we might see some other elemental effects.
Kratos still has his Spartan Rage, as we mentioned, which can be used to destroy opponents in a savage flurry of blows – so far we’ve seen him destroy a 20 foot troll with his bare hands with it. He also gets some help from the boy, who can loose electric arrows on command for a little fire support.
Does the new God of War still have you killing gods and monsters?
E3 gave us a new monster in the shape of the World Serpent. According to Norse mythology, it’s usually bad news if he shows up – if he releases his tail, Ragnarok (the Norse apocalypse) has officially begun. We already had a hint there was a giant snake from the original gameplay reveal which included a suspiciously moving patch of ground that had a giant snake look to it. There’s also a flying enemy teased we’ve yet to hear about.
One new creature recently revealed is the Revenant, whcih you can see in the video below. While it’s look and name clearly suggest it’s undead in some way, it appears to be different to the more traditional Norse zombie – the draugr – which all gets it’s on video intro below. From the design of the two it looks like revenants might be more magic focused, while the draugr are more direct combat.
God of War’s new Norse gods are different this time
Speaking in a podcast, director Cory Barlog says that the Norse god are much more “down to earth”. That’s in part because of the differences between the luxurious lifestyles of the Greek gods compared to the more earthy, naturist and just plan rough Nords. The gods mentioned so far are Æsir, Vanir and Giants with the Æsir are alway up for a drink, the Vanir live in harmony with nature, while the giants are apparently the “artists” of the group.
As for the god fighting thing that’s defined the games to date, Sony has only really said ‘What do you think?’ when asked about that. In terms of definite enemies, we know that Draugr are in, as a sort of grunt-level enemy. And there’s at least one troll behaving very much like the old game’s cyclops. Plus there’s a dragon seen flying around (again, Sony won’t say if Kratos will fight one, so another yes there).
Who’s making the new God of War?
Well, Sony Santa Monica obviously. But! Cory Barlog is directing the new game. He worked on the first installment in the series and directed the second one (considered the best by many people). Despite all the changes to the camera, gameplay and setting, this is one of the men that made Kratos so no one gets that character more.