It came as something of a surprise when the cold open of Sony's E3 2016 press conference turned out to be a live gameplay trailer for a brand new sequel in the recently-dormant God of War series. Titled simply God of War, this new title is not a reboot, but rather a revival, moving series star Kratos away from the ruins of Ancient Greece to a new setting, that of Norse Mythology.
God of War looks to be a departure for the series, offering a more nuanced and character-driven story than its predecessors, while still retaining the essence of its forebearers. God of War has been one of Sony's premier franchises since the series first made its debut way back in 2005, so this new game has a lofty legacy to uphold. Here's 15 Things We Want To See In The New God of War.
15 Less Yelling
Kratos has a history of anger management issues. His inconsolable rage and lifetime of violence makes for a fast-paced action game, and, over the course of six legendary adventures, Kratos hacked, slashed, and murdered his way through pretty much the entire pantheon of Greek Gods, screaming at the top of his lungs nearly the whole time.
God of War on PS4 is looking to be new and different, and one of the many ways it is changing up the formula is with a new voice actor for Kratos; prolific voice actor and Living Single star T.C. Carson played the lead character in every God of War since the original, but is now being replaced by Stargate SG-1 actor Christopher Judge. As much as we loved Carson in the role, even in his rare quieter moments, we're looking forward to Judge's take on the character. This new Kratos is older, wiser, and more aware of his personal flaws which, last time around, led society to the brink of ruin. A big part of this new iteration of the character will surely be the use of his "indoor voice" more often than his melodramatic screams to the heavens.
14 Take Advantage of the Norse Setting
For those unaware, the setting of the new God of War is far away from ancient Greece, and now borrows from the realm of Norse mythology, the legends and folklore of the greater region of Scandinavia, including Sweden, Norway, Finland, Iceland, Denmark, and other nearby locations. While God of War had never lacked for impressive scenery, we're eager for the series to explore a whole new aesthetic, complete with all the cultural staples of the legends of Norse mythology.
One of the most enticing things about this new title is that it's a sequel, not a reboot, so Kratos will be carrying all the baggage of the previous six Playstation titles with him, so it will be interesting to see how he feels about the new setting. The icy forests of the region carry with them a very different feel from the earthy mountains and plains of Greece. While cold weather conditions have appeared sporadically in the series (most notably in 2013's God of War Ascension, the final release in the franchise to date), it seems likely that the ice will be the primary element and source of visual splendor in God of War on PS4, the icy white contrasting nicely with the buckets of blood we are sure to spill once we get our hands on the game.
13 Mythological Monsters
Norse mythology is overflowing with exotic and magical creatures who have appeared in many other video games and are just begging to get the God of War treatment. For starters, we expect trolls, twelve-foot-tall man-eating beasts, to replace the cyclopes of the older games. God of War caught some flak in the past for its bare-breasted medusas and succubi, so the progressive response for God of War on PS4 would be to include the Nokken, a race of gorgeous aquatic men who would trick unsuspecting females into going for a swim, and then drown them.
One Norse monster that likely won't make an appearance is the Kraken, something like a giant squid that drags ships to the bottom of the ocean. The Kraken made a grand impression in the 1981 Ray Harryhausen film, Clash of the Titans, even though the name of the monster drew from the wrong mythological sources. Still, the monster proved popular enough that it made an appearance in God of War II, paying homage to its design from the film. If giant cephalopods make an appearance in God of War on PS4, then they will most likely not be referred to as Krakens.
In today's pop-culture landscape, the most famous figure in Norse mythology has to be the mighty Thor, son of Odin and overall badass. Before he was the centerpiece of one of Marvel Studios' most celebrated film franchises, he was a mythical figure in Norse legends. Thor is armed with a big hammer named Mjolnir, and he hunts his enemies with Kratos-like determination and finality. We would be downright shocked and appalled if we didn't get one hell of a titanic boss fight between the erstwhile God of War, Kratos, and the God of Thunder, Thor. It wouldn't be the first thunder god Kratos has beaten to death with his bare hands, but it would be the first to drop a sick hammer upon defeat!
In God of War II, Perseus appeared, voiced by Harry Hamlin, who first played the character in 1981's Clash of the Titans. In God of War III, Hercules was voiced by none other than Kevin Sorbo, who played the iconic character in the cult favorite syndicated TV show, Hercules: The Legendary Journeys. Our point is that, should Thor appear in God of War on PS4, we would love so much for him to be played by Chris Hemsworth, regardless of how different the character may be portrayed.
In Greek mythology, there was Zeus, the King of the Gods. In the Norse myths, there is Odin, the All-Father, who rides an eight-legged horse named Sleipnir and, true to all myths, was a major badass. According to the myth, Odin killed Ymir, the first being, formed the Earth out of his body, and then created humans. He is a God of many talents, indeed. Odin is said to possess a wisdom much deeper than his Greek equivalent, and also a uniquely endearing gambling addiction. Many myths involve him and his wife, Frigg, making bets over the outcome of whatever adventure in which they happened to be involved.
Odin is very much the Norse equivalent of Zeus, and Kratos fought Zeus to the death multiple times. Will Odin and Kratos share the same animosity? Time will tell, but we're not counting on diplomacy to win out in this war. Maybe Odin and Kratos will share an understanding, but sooner or later, Kratos is going to kill the wrong person, and Odin will seek him out to have revenge, and it will surely end poorly for everyone involved... Except the player, who will likely be having a blast!
10 Greek Survivors
God of War III ends with Kratos killing the entire roster of Greek gods, though there are a handful of figures with ambiguous fates, if not outright survivors. For example, Aphrodite appears in God of War III, but is spared the wrath of Kratos after showing him a good time, the way only a goddess of beauty and seduction can. She then disappears from the story and is never seen again. Is she alive? Is she in hiding? Is she an amazing immortal courtesan?
Likewise, one of the more famous Greek gods out there, Apollo, has yet to make a physical appearance in any God of War title. However, his bow makes an appearance in God of War III as one of the weapons Kratos finds and uses in his war against Olympus. Also, he appears in a mural in God of War: Ascension, and one of the chapters is set on a giant statue of Greece's sun god... Perhaps these two appearances are meant to foreshadow his formal debut? It's fairly unrealistic to expect that Kratos literally killed every single god. Maybe a small smattering of survivors managed to escape his rampage and sought refuge in faraway lands like Scandinavia?
9 Brutal Finishing Moves
To date, there is no official study linking video games to real-world acts of violence, but some games are so ruthlessly cathartic in their depiction of mass slaughter that we can see how some people would jump to such radical conclusions. We're thinking of titles like Doom, Mortal Kombat X, and, of course, God of War.
One of the main hallmarks of the series is its finishing moves, righteously violent and vicious quick time events in which Kratos destroys his opponents with merciless brutality. We all remember the first time we grabbed an enemy and ripped them in half like they were paper, or plunged the Blades of Chaos into the mouth of a minotaur. Every boss fight in the history of the series concludes with an over-the-top display of gloriously gratuitous violence, like impaling a Hydra through the eye in the first game, or the legendary decapitation of Helios in God of War III.
We've already seen some seriously intense finishers in the gameplay trailer for God of War PS4, but we can also safely assume that the trailer just scratched the surface of the carnage Kratos will unleash once the finished game ships.
8 Kratos's Son
Kratos was a Spartan general with a wife and daughter before his insatiable blood lust caused him to murder them in a blind rage without even knowing. The grief from this world-shattering event has carried Kratos through six games and years of torment. It's a scene which was revisited in the original game, in which Kratos must hug them to regain his health while protecting them from visions of himself who are trying to kill them. Truly, heavy stuff for what is so often seen as a brainless action game.
Now that we're catching up with Kratos, presumably hundreds of years later, we see that he has a new child, a son, who will be a central focus of the game. The developers are saying that we will never have direct control over the boy, but that he will be Kratos's partner throughout the game. We hope that the boy will be a unique character who can hold his own opposite his father, one of the most volatile personalities in video game history. We imagine that Kratos is trying to raise him to be strong, but without the myriad weaknesses he himself possesses; a hair-trigger temper, and a refusal of responsibility. Hundreds of years of character development may have changed Kratos, and we will best be able to see it by how his son behaves.
7 Kratos's Baby Mama
In the gameplay trailer, Kratos gives his son a knife, saying it once belonged to the boy's mother. The reverence in his voice suggests the woman is dead. Was this woman Kratos's wife, or at least the mother of his son? We reckon so.
We don't know if the gameplay demo is set in the very beginning of Kratos's latest adventure, but if it is not, then we might get to spend some quality time learning about Kratos's latest attempt at settling down and starting a family, trying to leave endless lifetimes of killing behind him. We never got to see a whole lot of Kratos's first wife, though his daughter, Calliope, played a surprisingly heart-wrenching role in the underrated PSP entry, Chains of Olympus. God of War on PS4 could rectify this issue by juxtaposing scenes of Kratos with his new wife and son with scenes involving his first wife and daughter, either at the front of the game, or scattered throughout as flashbacks.
6 Variable Endings
There are arguments to be made for and against multiple endings. The Last of Us and its lack of a binary choice at the end of its journey was a polarizing topic of discussion, with some fans praising developer Naughty Dog's dedication to characterization and the narrative flow of the adventure, while detractors wanted the final choice to be in the hands of the players, and not part of the linear level design.
To be honest, we're not sure how the narrative in God of War PS4 should play out, but the presence of Kratos's son opens the door for many dramatic possibilities. In the original 2005 God of War game, a discarded concept was for Kratos to be followed by a small puppy of sorts, which would become increasingly monstrous as Kratos committed more and more evil and amoral acts.
We'd like for God of War on PS4 to dip a toe into the ocean of multiple endings and have Kratos's struggle with morality directly impact the kind of man his son will become. This approach would be not-unlike Bioshock 2, in which Subject Delta's darling Little Sister, Eleanor Lamb, develops into a different character based on the player's decisions throughout the game. The type of man Kratos Junior will grow up to be should be directly based on each individual's playing style.
5 Non-Linear Exploration
God of War has traditionally been a strictly linear affair, practically on-rails at times, with the only opportunities to venture off the beaten path being very short detours leading to secret treasure chests. The camera has always been fixed, a design choice which will be defied in God of War on PS4. This new title will feature, in a first for the series, an over-the-shoulder camera. With that comes the ability to more fully explore one's surroundings.
Now, we don't expect or want for God of War to become an open-world sandbox or anything that would detract from the fast-paced action and narrative structure the series has excelled at thus far, but we would love for the game to open up just a little bit more. Games like Uncharted 4 feel more open to exploration and alive with content without sacrificing their deliberate linearity. If God of War approaches its level design with games like that in mind, then we could have a much deeper and more replayable adventure once we actually get our hands on the game.
4 Side Quests
Now that God of War on PS4 is going to feature wider paths and more exploration than its more guided predecessors, and we've seen that the new game is going to feature an XP system rather than the traditional Red Orbs of the past, it stands to reason that there may be more to the new game than just moving from point A to point B killing everything in your way.
We'd like for the new God of War to feature more sidequests, or even optional dungeons to explore. God of War: Ascension featured a handful of optional puzzles which had lain adjacent to the main path, though we dispute the necessity of such outright brain teasers in such a momentum-focused game. For God of War on PS4, we'd like to see Kratos interact with NPCs who will ask him to slay specific monsters or explore hidden caves and recover the treasure therein.
3 Tender Moments
God of War has a reputation for being a ridiculously testosterone-fueled hack-and-slash orgy of violence. While this reputation is well-deserved, there's also more to the games than just slicing and dicing through hordes of monsters. God of War, as previously mentioned, featured a battle in which health was regained by literally hugging Kratos's family, and subsequent titles were punctuated with heartfelt moments of genuine drama, like Kratos's interactions with The Last Spartan in God of War II, or the scenes with Deimos in Ghost of Sparta.
God of War on PS4 is billing itself more as a character-oriented drama than as a wild and crazy murder-fest, which all but guarantees that we'll be seeing more subdued moments of drama, particularly between Kratos and his pre-teen son. It's up to Santa Monica Studios and Game Director Cory Barlog (returning from God of War II and co-writing the two PSP titles) to decide upon a fair balance between eviscerating bad guys and father/son bonding and other cerebral drama.
2 Linda Hunt
Linda Hunt is one of the most talented actors on the planet. For starters, she won an Oscar for her role as a male photographer in The Year of Living Dangerously, her stunning performance completely negating the gimmick of casting a woman as a man in a feature film. Hunt has narrated all six God of War titles, as well as playing Gaia in God of War II. Despite her meager 4'9'' frame, Hunt's voice carries the massive gravitas required to play the gargantuan Titan. Strangely, despite returning to narrate the introduction to God of War III, Linda no longer voiced Gaia, for reasons unknown to us.
Considering Gaia's fate by the end of God of War III, we wouldn't be stunned if Linda Hunt's dulcet tones don't accompany Kratos's next adventure. However, we must acknowledge that, as much as Kratos is the face of the franchise, Linda Hunt is the definitive voice of God of War, and it just wouldn't be the same if anybody else narrated the next chapter in Kratos's story.
1 The Blades of Chaos
Kratos's iconic weapons, The Blades of Chaos, are arguably more recognizable than the God of War himself. While it's true, each of the games feature sub-weapons with their own skills to upgrade, we have to face the facts; those throwaway trinkets could never hold a candle to the awe-inspiring sight of two swords that are attached to meters-long chains that Kratos swings like something out of Cirque du Soleil.
In each subsequent entry in the series, Kratos replaced his blades with nigh-identical weapons, from The Blades of Athena in part II, to The Blades of Exile in part III. In the gameplay demo, we've seen Kratos wield a magical axe which he can throw and call back to him, which is awesome, but we would like to see his original weapons make some sort of appearance. Perhaps the blades could be Kratos's primary weapons in a flashback level detailing his journey from Greece to Scandinavia?
What are you most looking forward to in this bold new direction for God of War? Do you agree with our list? Sound off in the comments below! Oh, and don't bother with any derisive jokes comparing the game to The Last of Us; we've heard them all already.
Can you think of any other things we should want to see from the new God of War? Let us know in the comments!