Sony's God of War is all anyone is talking about right now, but the game's developer has revealed that fans nearly missed out on the opportunity to play as one of its most important characters - Atreus.
Serving as both a sequel to 2010's God of War III and a reboot of the mythological franchise, God of War sees Kratos ditch his Blades of Chaos and set sail for the snowy shores of Scandinavia. However, rather than having to carry the weight of the world on his broad shoulders alone for another adventure, Kratos now has some company in the form of his son Atreus. The character promises to be a big part of the franchise's future, even though Atreus almost didn't make it into God of War at all.
Speaking to GameSpot, God of War's director Cory Barlog revealed that Atreus nearly got left out of the game, as a means of simplifying its development process:
“The early phase when they told me, ‘Man, this might be too hard, too expensive, we’re already looking at so many challenges, it’s maybe too much.’ When I went back and said, “Alright, fine, if it was not with Atreus, what would it be?’
Barlong went on to explain that God of War cold have worked without Atreus - or by using him in a more limited role - but it would've undoubtedly changed everything in the game:
"It would have been a very, very different game? The comparison I made was, ‘Alright, it’s gonna be All Is Lost with Robert Redford’; it’s gonna be one character who talks to himself occasionally, but generally, it will be very silent and everyone will talk in old Norse, so that you won’t understand anything anybody’s saying.”
Barlog himself became a father towards the start of God of War's development, so there's a sense of poetic justice that Atreus went on to be such a key part of the gameplay and storyline. Grabbing his little bow and arrow and leaping onto the backs of Kratos' enemies when he just can't land that killer blow, Atreus turns out to be more than just a standard sidekick in God of War. Without Atreus by the Ghost of Sparta's side, there is no escaping the fact that God of War would've been a very lonely game.
While God of War is undoubtedly a beautiful game and would've still been that without Atreus, it is hard to imagine the game without Kratos' son playing a role. Atreus not only helps move the series in a new direction, he also showcases a more grizzled version of the game's lead and give Kratos a new responsibility. Don't worry though fans, even with a young Atreus to protect, Kratos is still just as bloodthirsty as ever.
While feelings towards the idea of Kratos having a companion were originally mixed, God of War's glowing reviews show that it is now considered to be one of the best things about the game. God of War still fits with the classic formula of its predecessors, but the heart of the game is its father-son adventure. Thankfully, Atreus did make it into the finished product, and the rest, as they say, is history.