On Monday night, PlayStation opened their E3 conference with a live orchestra that accompanied the night’s first big reveal. That heroic score, that voice, it could only mean one thing: Kratos has returned.
That’s right, the God of War is back! Santa Monica Studios has been hard at work crafting a new adventure. In the live demo players were presented with many familiar God of War elements; from the Ghost of Sparta’s pale appearance to his Rage of Sparta meter. Despite these comfortable trappings, it’s clear that this God of War is going to be something new. This is great news for those who have not yet been enticed by the franchise’s violent action or immensely satisfying combos. Longtime fans need not worry though because here are four excellent reasons to be excited for the new God of War.
In a special behind doors presentation, Rob Davis (lead level designer of God of War) walked a special audience through the demo in more detail. He explained what everyone got to see Monday in greater detail and broke down the changes the studio has made. The first big thing to be excited about is the new context for this title. This is still the same Kratos, but God of War is leaving Olympus for new territory: Norse Mythology.
They were unable to share whether the game will fill in the events that have to lead to these new developments in his life, but the game will be set in the frigid north sometime after his time in Greece. “Untamed forests, mountains, and realms of Norse lore” will be tapped for this chapter. Draugrs and Trolls will be among the enemies Kratos will face. The demo did not show many others but it is more than likely we will have more than a few Norse Gods to face off against.
Santa Monica Studio has blown out their level design in much the same way Naughty Dog did for Uncharted 4. While the game will remain, linear there will be more to explore than ever before in a God of War game. The level they showed at E3 was absolutely stunning and filled with a great deal of detail. If they could make the destruction of Greek cities or wading through Hades look as good as they did on previous generation consoles, God of War is going to have amazing set pieces.
Some, like me, may be disappointed to not see the Blade of Chaos return. However, Santa Monica Studios have completely redesigned the combat system to keep it as free flowing as it ever was. Maintaining the fluid and brutal combat the franchise is known for, Santa Monica Studios will be bringing all new weapons and abilities. These new weapons and powers will be linked to different elements. We have already seen Kratos’s new frost ax and the fire troll in action to begin with.
His fighting style as also changed. We see Kratos using his fists more, and the return function on his ax will likely make for all new interesting combos. Combat will be bound primarily to the R buttons. This frees other buttons for new options, including a button dedicated entirely to interacting with Kratos’s son. Using square, Kratos can interact with his son in the world and include him in battles, even building combos with his contributions.
Until now, God of War has been about fury and revenge. Although the franchise has offered visceral gameplay and stunning set piece moments, we can all agree it was never a game we have looked to for story. Santa Monica Studios is looking to correct that augmenting their brutal mythology inspired battles with strong story telling this time around. Players will now be taking control of a more mature Kratos. A man who has taken on the mantle of fatherhood and is struggling to bring his trademark rage in check. The boy in the demo will be by Kratos’ side the entire game. They will explore this new landscape and combat the threats that have forced this previously retired god back into action together. This story is about Kratos learning to be patient while his son learns to be a warrior.
The story is set around this journey. Even the game’s camera has been adjusted to be set lower to accommodate your companion. In the E3 demo alone, you can already see a willingness to change in Kratos. He pulls his own Rage of Sparta back in check early in the demo after the boy scares off their quarry. Kratos is no longer going let his rage define him. Redemption will be at the core of God of War. This is a new beginning for both the protagonist and the franchise.
Based on the taste shared with us, this will be a story with more depth than we have seen before. Hopefully, with the kind of emotional resonance players have come to expect from video games. Commanding the fundamentals of what made God of War so enjoyable in the first place, Santa Monica Studios is moving the franchise forward with these key changes and action-adventure gamers should be very excited.
There is no release date as of yet, but God of War will be exclusively available on the PS4
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