Last month, Hardcore Gamer detailed Seven Things to Know About God of War Before Launch, which runs down much of what new things this re-imagined God of War will bring to the table. But now that the new God of War is only a couple weeks away, it’s time to count the things we’re thankful that SIE Santa Monica Studio have decided to cut from this prestigious series before the newest entry hits PlayStation 4s across the world on April 20.
The new God of War is a continuation of the six main games that came before. From the trilogy to the PSP games even to the disappointing (but still totally playable) God of War Ascension, our protagonist Kratos has gone through precious little character development. Sure, Ares tricked Kratos into murdering his own wife and daughter, resulting in their ashes literally becoming infused with his skin, but come on – how can one man’s emotions literally only consist of anger, lust and more anger?
Well, the new God of War looks to change that. Kratos is a dad (again!) but this time his son Atreus isn’t his new layer talcum powder and he’s genuinely working on himself to become the best father he’s capable of being. His anger still boils to the surface, but Kratos is now able to speak at a volume south of 140 decibels and he’s capable of thoughtfulness, a relative level of fear, and stoic silence. It sure is nice seeing an old god learn new tricks.
Speaking of gods – Kratos killed them all. Well, all of the Greek gods, demigods and everything in-between anyway. Over the course of his six established games, Kratos managed to murder the God of War himself, the Fates, the Furies, the Titans and the entire Greek Pantheon, including his father Zeus. There is essentially no major Greek god left (besides maybe John Stamos) after everything is all said and done, and even the ghost of Athena thought Kratos to be dead after he impaled himself with the Blade of Olympus to give his powers and the power of hope to humanity.
Well, SIE Santa Monica Studio have found a novel way to keep the series going: forget Greek mythology! It’s all about Norse mythology this time around and it looks like Kratos isn’t quite so dead set on murdering every god that crosses his path. You can expect heavy-hitters from the Norse canon to show their faces like the golden boy Thor, his father Odin, Freya, Baldr and more. His animosity towards each one may fluctuate, but from past trailers, it’s clear Kratos might actually be cooperating with some of these Norse beings rather than going all God of War III on them right out of the gate.
The Blades of Chaos/Athena/Exile
If there’s anything more iconic in the God of War series than Kratos himself, it’s the Blades of Chaos. In later games, he obtains the Blades of Athena, which are later turned into the Blades of Exile, but for all intents and purposes, they’re all really the same weapons. The original Blades of Chaos were forged in the depths of Hades by Ares and its chains were seared into Kratos’ arms as a sign of his servitude towards the God of War. At the end of God of War III, Kratos throws the Blades of Exile aside in order to murder his father with his bare hands. By the time the new God of War game begins, Kratos’ arms are heavily bandaged and still bleeding, suggesting that the wounds he sustained over the last six games have been slow to heal.
More important than the story impact that his lack of the blades creates is the change in gameplay. Though Kratos has always had a gluttony of other weapons to choose from – from the Blade of Olympus to the Bow of Apollo to the Nemean Cestus, he always had options – the Blades were his go-to tools of destruction and most players relied on them for the majority of the battles throughout the series. They gave the series a certain hectic flavor, though they often felt somewhat insubstantial in a way, favoring speed and range over pure power. Kratos’ new primary weapon, the Leviathan Axe, is something special and a much-needed change of pace for the series. It’s visceral, hacking apart enemies like they’re mincemeat and it has a multitude of functions. Not only can it be thrown and fly back to Kratos with the same button, it can stay in one spot indefinitely over the course of the game if the player so decides to leave it there. Without the Axe in hand, Kratos shifts to hand-to-hand combat, adding another wrinkle to the gameplay. Mix that in with the Axe holding ice powers (the literal opposite of the fire powers his Blades always had) that can be used in tandem with puzzles and you can expect this new weapon to become a fan favorite.
God of War is growing up and with this it’s ditching the series’ tradition of brothels and ménage à trois. Yes, every God of War yet has had a sex scene that pans away from Kratos getting busy with women he clearly has no emotional investment in. But he’s a dad now, not just a daddy, and his son is with him. We’re quite certain there won’t be a sex scene in this new game, not just because of the aforementioned weirdness, but because the ESRB rating of the game makes no mention of sex or nudity, which it always does if present in any given game. Of course, it has “blood and gore, intense violence and strong language,” but could it really be God of War without those things? We guess Kratos will just have to figure out other ways to force red orbs out of people this time around. Besides, does he really want another kid on accident? He left the Trojans back in Greece, after all.
God of War is known for a lot of things, but being open isn’t one of them. There are portions of past God of War games where some player agency is given in regards to choosing where to go at any given time or even tackle certain small objectives, but the games have by-and-large been linear affairs. This is great for cinematic effect and narrative control, but games have changed over the course of the last couple of generations and it looks like God of War has changed with the times.
Though the new God of War isn’t exactly open world, it is far more open than past games. Players have far more say in where they go at any given time during the game, and even though the narrative is still largely linear and focused, the gameplay is much more freeform. This philosophy is mirrored in other aspects of the game, like its crafting and leveling systems. All-in-all the new God of War has far more RPG tendencies than its predecessors and that could very well prove to be a good thing come April 20.
The God of War games are beyond epic, but their scope has always been out of the player’s control. Grand vistas, terrifying Titans and more have all been perfectly framed at the expense of giving players the ability to manipulate the camera at their own discretion. Well, not anymore. The new God of War finally lets fans control what they see and when they see it, allowing for more freedom than ever before and giving the game’s open design a better set of tools to work with.
Okay, so the only God of War with multiplayer was God of War: Ascension, which is objectively the worst game in the main series, but the multiplayer itself was actually decent. Unfortunately, the novelty wore off quickly and its servers were barren in little to no time at all. Instead of properly investing all of their resources, the artist formerly known as Sony Santa Monica split their focus and cranked out a relatively subpar campaign as a result. Luckily, SIE Santa Monica Studio has decided to keep this new entry as a completely single-player experience and it looks like it’s shaping up to be all the better off for it.