As if hiring a full orchestra to score each of their game reveals wasn’t enough, Sony Playstation came to play last night as they kicked off their press conference at E3 by displaying the return of a Playstation Legend – or shall I say God. That’s right, God of War is back on main consoles for the first time since God of War 3 hit PlayStation 3 years ago. So is this God of War IV or something else all together?
Well as of the moment, it appears the given title is simply God Of War, but the coming months should give us more details. Though judging by the trailer and gameplay, this might not be the 4th installment of Kratos’s console journey, but rather the first installment of a new “God of War” – his son.
So while everyone’s catching their breath, we’re going to actually analyze the trailer and gameplay footage and see what we can discover.
The Son Of The God Of War – A Unexpected Protagonist?
After several console game and several more handheld games, the God of War formula has been pretty played out: Step 1: Kratos has no powers (or loses them) Step 2: Someone pisses him off Step 3: Rampage with no regard of consequences. Although here we see a very different Kratos. This Kratos is not only older – and bearded – but also more patient and loving. There were plenty of moments we’d have expected the ‘Ghost of Sparta’ to snap at his son and ‘potentially’ hit him. And yet, we see Kratos shrug everything off and help teach his son. Even getting shot in the shoulder doesn’t piss him off. This is a drastically different Kratos than we’ve seen; but it actually makes sense story wise – which I’ll get to in the next section.
So where do we go from here? Well, we more or less have two options:
- Option 1: AVENGE Kratos’s Son:
The obvious direction to go is that something happens to his son and Kratos must now venture forth and get his revenge/ rescue him. Admit it, you half expected that kidnapping/murder to take place in the demo. Though to be honest, this is the least engaging of the two options. We’ve seen this story countless times and Kratos rampaging because of the loss of a child is kind of what started this entire franchise. There’s far too many mysteries to be uncovered here and to simply make this another ‘Kratos wants revenge not answers’ game would be a cope out – and not really offer much in terms of a new trilogy.
- Option 2: PLAY AS Kratos’s Son:
Whereas we’ll miss the original God of War, let’s face it, this wouldn’t be the first time a game started you off as one character only to play the rest of it as their son (ie: Assassins Creed III). Additionally, this wouldn’t be the first time the title of “God of War” has passed between characters upon the former’s death (ie: Ares -> Kratos -> son?). Sure the game trailer started off with the son in order to make the revelation of elder Kratos a huge moment; but the game reveal as a whole focuses mainly on the son and sets up a very “coming of age” story. He’s old enough to inherit his unnamed mother’s knife. He’s being taught to hunt and fend for himself. There is a focus placed upon how he views the world compared to Kratos. And finally, the trailer ends with Kratos showing him the full majesty of this new and exciting world.
To make this a game where we play as Kratos’s unnamed son – some years later – would offer us a wonderful feeling of being trained by the God of War. Kratos would assume that fatherly relationship for us. Furthermore, even though the gameplay is from Kratos’s point of view in this demo, note what happens when the archery lesson occurs. We get a +50 to archery under the title “Knowledge Gained”. But why would we get a bonus to our skill for teaching someone else archery? This all seems to support that it is indeed Kratos’s son who will be our main protagonists and early levels will be dedicated to his coming of age, while the later ones will revolve around him trying to right some wrong.
Perhaps he’ll have to avenge his father, which would be a first for the Cronos -> Zeus -> Kratos line where kids kill their father. OR maybe it’ll continue as Loki casts a spell and tricks Kratos’s son into killing his father. Whatever the case may be, by making Kratos’s son the main protagonist of this game, Santa Monica stands to not only introduce us to a new game but also an entire new hero upon which to build a franchise.
- Option 3: PLAY ALONGSIDE Kratos’s Son:
The third option is that this game will actually feature both predominantly. Whether for the early levels or later on, the son could introduce a sort of support character for the first time in God Of War. Whether this is just AI or an eventual Co-Op option remains to be seem, but having this as a dual story could be a nice touch but still lead into setting up the son as the new ‘God of War.
Continuity With God Of War III – A Calmer Kratos & A World Rebuilt:
When we last saw Kratos in God of War III, he had stabbed himself rather than let Minerva take the power of Pandora. What happened between that moment and now needs a lot of explaining. Last time we saw the world it was descending into Chaos. Was that only Greece and the surrounding lands or was order somehow restored in the decades to follow? Were it the Norse Gods who stepped in? Who is the boy’s mother Kratos kept mentioning? There’s many things that will need explaining in the coming months as well as in the game itself; but there is one thing that does have surprisingly beautiful continuity: Kratos’s temper/personality.
Two things that I personally always found out of place about God of War III was how they added all that emotional Pandora/ daughter stuff to the game. Kratos had been on a rampage for the past few games and NOW he suddenly has a soft spot? Worse still, this whole scenario ended with the revelation that ‘the power was inside you all along’. It made everything before it seem needless and even more out of place as the game ended with Kratos literally beating Zeus’s face into a bloody pulp. Though now having seen this game’s direction, those years long questions finally have answers.
The story of Pandora and the power (“hope”) being inside Kratos all along wasn’t about him finding a way to stop Zeus but rather character development. I KNOW RIGHT! Character development in God of War besides new reasons to be pissed at someone. Taking this new info, God of War III isn’t the story of Kratos finally getting revenge but rather the story of him finding peace with himself. And that peace brings us to this new God of War (PS4) where Kratos – the man who has made selfish mistake after mistake – has now has something to look upon and be proud of, his son. Whether this story passes on the legacy to his son or we see Kratos fighting to get his son back, this new element has given the series and story a much needed refresher. And I’m willing to bet (or rather hope) that if Kratos does have to go save his son, it all ends happily for him – and the character development he went through isn’t thrown to the fires. Though again, I think it’ll be a much better plan if the son takes over Kratos’s shoes as the new God of War. If not, then the same problem of “where do we go from here” arises for the next next installment, which you know is coming eventually as well.
Additional Items of Note:
- During the giant battle, we see how various attacks start to crack and melt the frozen river. Will weather conditions and temperatures add a new level of complexity to this game?
- Similarly, was hunting just a framework for this story or will you actually have to hunt alongside fighting monsters? A more open world and tracking elements could make this a God of War like no other.
- Kratos has finally abandoned his trademark chain blades. Will they make a return or will this game see a new form of standard weapon?
- It’s also important to note her that Kratos seems fully mortal. Despite his magical axe and bow, his ‘Spartan Rage’ is isn’t him glowing or bursting into flames, but rather him just getting angry.
- Upon closer inspection of the deer, we see it’s antler pulsing with a blue light very reminiscent of the Blade of Olympus. Is this part of the hope that was released onto the world when Kratos stabbed himself with the blade? Has magic now been infused with life itself?
Whatever comes of this game, this panda will definitely keep his eyes peeled and hope that this is a fresh new take on a classic series.