‘God Of War’: My First Impressions of the Return of Kratos

E3 was pretty unbalanced this year with most of the presentations revealing underwhelming announcements. It was when Sony began their press conference that E3 truly felt like E3. Sony’s presentation focused on the best and brightest new video games and it felt like there was something new for everyone. Sony stole the spotlight this year with their exciting new reveal trailers and live orchestra which only added to the atmosphere of the event.

One of the major highlights of their presentation was a huge surprise: the new God of War sequel. The game is being developed by Santa Monica Studios and directed by Cory Barlog who also directed the previous God of War 2 sequel.

God of War Trailer Intro  (Kratos’s Son)

When the trailer for God of War began I was really unsure about what the game was. It seemed like something completely different since it begins with a young child. Soon after it starts you can hear a strong stern voice in the background and as the child answers the call, Kratos is revealed as he emerges from the shadows.

As I watched the Sony E3 conference this year I was absolutely blown away when Kratos was revealed in the new gameplay teaser. Out of sheer excitement I jumped out of my seat as Kratos came onto the screen. It was an amazing moment that left me absolutely ecstatic. He had this new dark barbarian look to him that really shows how far he has come. I was so hyped up for the game that I watched the teaser multiple times just to analyze it and take in the new environment, enemies, and gameplay details.

Kratos’ reveal – emerging from the shadows

Soon after the introduction cutscene ends and transitions into gameplay, you can immediately notice the new third person perspective for the game. This new camera style was a shocking change since all of the God of War games featured fixed camera angles. This time around it seems the developers wanted to get the player closer to Kratos’ experience and the third person perspective makes that a reality. The over the shoulder camera angle is a brave new step that could allow players to explore the new environments in depth.

The third person camera felt like a breath of fresh air to me. This was something completely new for the series and it reflects the risk the developers are willing to take by incorporating a new visual style into the game. As a long time fan I was happy with the change and felt that a shift in perspective is definitely a step in the right direction. Its a bold move from a development standpoint but Santa Monica Studio is truly taking the series in a new direction and they are not afraid to show it.

Kratos using his new elemental axe

As well as the new camera angle, Kratos’ design has been redone to fit the new environment and story. He has a gritty dark leather armor with fur and straps and it simply gives him a barbaric feel. At this point he has clearly aged over the years and is now rocking an awesome beard which suits the nature of the game considering it is based in Norse mythology. His signature weapons the “blades of chaos” have also been replaced by an elemental frost axe which is also a very significant change to the series.

The new weapon was definitely a great choice for Kratos considering how lethal it can be in his hands. Although a one handed axe may not be as over the top as his previous weapons, having an axe opens the opportunity for Kratos to get up close and personal with his enemies. I also noticed that the combo system that was at the core of combat in previous games was not included in the teaser. It seems with this new entry in the God of War series, presentation and immersion are at its core which is an amazing new take for the game. By adding an axe instead of chained blades and not counting the amount of hits the player has accumulated, the audience can be less distracted by the combo spectacle and hone in on the action on a much more personal level.

Kratos after activating “spartan rage”

Finally the most significant and obvious new addition to the game is the inclusion of Kratos’s son. Now that he has a son he has a chance to care for him and protect him; an opportunity he was unable to have previously because of the loss of his wife and daughter. It is obvious that Kratos is constantly holding back his inner rage when he interacts with him. Some of his rage still shows through but he is much more controlled then in the previous games. This is an interesting concept because, in the past, Kratos never needed to use restraint. In a sense he was like a train at full speed knocking down all the obstacles in his path while using his rage as the energy source to keep him going.

In the teaser, Kratos was, by far, the most reserved and collected he has ever been in any of the God of War games. This father and son dynamic is a brilliant new way to humanize Kratos and have him connect with players on a grander scale. You can see he wants to prepare his son for something greater while attempting to maintain a level head in front of him. What is also pretty impressive is how seamlessly his son blends into the gameplay. During the fight with the troll, his son acts as an assist character who stuns the beast with a lightning arrow attack. This gameplay mechanic could be used throughout the game to create some amazing action set pieces involving both characters and I cannot wait to see they are capable of.

Kratos’s Son attacking with lightning arrow

The gameplay teaser for God of War was exceptionally well designed and presented to the audience the new standard of what can be done on the PlayStation 4 console. The graphics were absolutely phenomenal with amazing textures on every part of Kratos and the world around him. There were stunning details from the reflecting surface of his axe, to the faded pale color of his skin, to the fur of the deer blowing in the wind, the game is absolutely drenched in atmosphere.

My only issue with this whole trailer was that I did not want it to end. It left me with so many unanswered questions like: how did Kratos get to this new area after the events of God of War 3? What happened to Athena’s spirit? Who is his son’s mother? Did she pass away since she is not around in the trailer? How do the gods of Norse mythology tie into Kratos’ life and will he not be as brutal towards them because of his son?

Kratos holding back from comforting his son

Ultimately I loved the trailer and all of it felt like a natural progression that was done correctly. All of the new changes have made me more excited for the final game and I am confident that Cory Barlog and Santa Monica Studios will deliver their most well crafted God of War experience yet. I am above and beyond hyped for the game and I can only hope all of my questions will be answered when it finally releases sometime in the near future.

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