**Warning: This article fully spoils God of War 2018**
If you thought Sony Santa Monica Studio was being bold in quasi-relaunching the God of War franchise in an all-new setting, with a different playstyle, and in adding a secondary character protagonist, you ain't seen nothin' yet.
God of War - which could have been called God of War 4 - not only pits Kratos and his son Atreus against the gods, creatures, and mystical settings of Norse Mythology, but it embeds them within it. Allow us to explain how the best rated PlayStation 4 exclusive God of War plays out.
God of War begins by setting players out on a personal quest to lay the ashes of Kratos' lover and Atreus' mother at the top of the tallest mountain but before they can set out on this dangerous journey, they're interrupted by "The Stranger" who instigates a fight with Kratos. The Stranger we quickly learn is seemingly invincible, feels no pain, and is a Norse god. He's the main antagonist of sorts who's after Kratos the entire game. We eventually learn that he's actually Baldur, a son of Odin of Norse mythology.
So if he's the bad guy, who's the mysterious friendly witch who knows more than she lets on but who helps Kratos and Atreus? She's Freya, another key figure of Norse mythology. We learn that this witch is actually a god too, once the leader of the Vanir, when Kratos and Atreus take Mimir's head to Freya to be resurrected (Mimir asks Kratos to kill him and do this since he was being trapped and tortured by Odin). Freya was the wife of Odin.
Freya is the mother of Baldur and just like in Norse lore, she has used magic to protect her son Baldur against anything from Earth except for one basic, unexpected thing: mistletoe. It is for this reason Baldur is seeking Kratos, to seek pain and death, and he believes that thanks to Odin. Freya notices the special mistletoe arrows that were a gift to Atreus from Sindri (the game's dwarf merchant) during Mimir resurrection sequence and is immediately alarmed and shocked, demanding that Atreus burn any like this should Atreus find more. We now know this is because these arrows can kill Baldur.
The Death of Baldur and Freya's Curse
Freya may have burned Atreus' arrows but there's still mistletoe on Atreus' quiver that Baldur comes into contact with when punching Atreus. Later in this final battle with Baldur, Kratos beats him but Atreus convinces Kratos to let him go. Baldur then confronts his mother, Freya, lambasting her for interfering with his life and cursing him. He tells her he'll never forgive her and she seems willing to die to make it right. Baldur attacks, strangling Freya, and Kratos steps in to end the "cycle" proclaiming that he "must be better" and snaps Baldur's neck, thinking he was doing the right thing. But Freya wanted to die and swears vengeance against Kratos. There's a reason she cursed Baldur to life eternal and why she was willing to die and if you know Norse mythology, you know why.
"I will parade your cold body from every corner of every realm, and feed your soul to the vilest filth in Hel. That is my promise." - Freya
It's here where Kratos spills his true backstory (summarizing the original God of War trilogy) to his son, that he's from Sparta, that he traded his soul to a god and massacred many, including his father. Atreus ponders is this is all gods are good for (killing family) but Kratos vows that they can be better.
But Kratos doesn't know the bigger picture and Baldur's death brings about Ragnarok sooner, as suggested by Mimir and with a few other hints earlier in the game. Baldur's death moves forward Ragnarok by 100 winters although time in these realms can be a little abstract of course.
The Frost Giant Prophecy of Loki is Revealed
With Baldur dead, and Freya gone, Kratos and Atreus head to the top of the snowy mountain in Jotunheim to complete their quest as the last wish of Faye. As they arrive at the structure at its peak a mural on the wall is revealed depicting Atreus mother with the Leviathan Axe speaking with giants.
The art depicts the story of this God of War game, from Kratos and Atreus first meeting the world serpent and the dragon in the mountain to the stone mason and the just-finished battle against Baldur. It's Atreus' story foretold by the giants. Kratos wasn't the only parent keeping secrets as it turns out. She was a giant. Atreus is also then part giant. Do you see where this is going?
"This is your story." - Kratos to Atreus.
Faye had sent them on this quest to the mountain, knowing they'd find this, knowing how this journey would play out. It was the prophecy, the prophecy of Loki.
Atreus is Loki, the original name Faye had for Atreus, as Kratos reveals.
Kratos also noticed one additional piece of art on the wall that Atreus missed before they spread out Faye's ashes over the valley of the dead giants and it depicts a dead Kratos in the arms of what could be a larger, older Atreus. There's something, like a spirit, connecting their mouths like a snake in the air. Does Loki resurrect Kratos or does Kratos' spirit transfer to Atreus/Loki? Or is it something else entirely attacking them both? This is something that will play out in a future game.
Not even Kratos knew these things or Faye's real identity so the reveals are especially impactful for players.
The God of War 5 Teaser
God of War 5 or God of War 2 or whatever they call the next game has a lot to build from. Odin is the big bad of this game so to speak, and potentially, the entire new God of War trilogy. He's never seen but it's his family and minions who players must battle. And this includes Thor who shows up at the very end of the game as a teaser for the sequel after Kratos and Atreus head home. We already beat his brother Baldur and Thor's sons Magni and Modi so he's not going to be happy. And somehow, Loki may become his adopted brother too according to Norse lore.
That tease and the mural are quite foreboding to what will come next in sequels since this prophecy of Ragnarok which we just kickstarted - the great battle, the event to end all events - also includes the death of not only Odin and Thor - among other Norse figures - but also Loki, who we now know is the son of Kratos.
The prophecy foretold in Jutunheim revealed in the game all came true, so we should expect Ragnarok to play out as planned too. Unless Kratos and players can take on destiny itself.
This makes you wonder how different the game would have been if Atreus had been cut from the game, a development decision that almost become a reality. What would drive the plot of God of War if it weren't for Atreus wanting to bury his mother's ashes with the help of Kratos? Would the game lose most of its dialogue if Kratos was alone on this journey? Would Kratos have any direct connection to the lore? Looking back on what actually was we can't even begin to understand how 2018's God of War would work without Kratos' son. What a twist!
Share your thoughts and hopes for the sequels in the comments!
- God of War (2018 Video Game) release date: Apr 20, 2018