God of War has been one of the most influential action games for the past decade. Although I’m not a huge fan of the series, I’ve played all of the games aside from Ascension. The games seem to be focused on fast paced, over the top action sequences and although they manage to execute this fairly well, I find a lot of these action sequences to be slower and a lot more tedious than they should be. Furthermore, the games rely heavily upon quick-time events, although this is common in all hack and slash games, most of them have something to add to this feature to make it interesting whereas the God of War series only offers flashy visuals, which depict the all-powerful beings based on Greek Mythology facing gruesome fates.
However, the new God of War deviates from the usual Greek Mythology-based setting and takes us on a new journey to Scandinavia in a Norse Mythology-based setting. Despite the fact that we’ve seen merely ten minutes of gameplay in the E3 Demo, the game looks phenomenal so far. Graphically, it looks photo-realistic compared to its predecessors. The game takes off as Kratos, with his magnificent beard and an unnamed son he refers to as ‘’Boy’’ determined to impress his father decide to go hunting. God of War offers a new perspective to the player, similar to The Last of Us but with a lot more depth. As we progress through a stunning forest and issue commands to our son, we are introduced to the depth of this new mechanic and it is clear that it isn’t simply a gimmick. Overtime, Kratos’s son will learn new things to evolve and broaden his skill set and knowledge. The combat appears to be slower than the games before but it fits the perspective of the player perfectly and the animations are fluid. One innovative element of God of War’s combat is the ability to utilize his son for assistance in battle, creating a perfect balance between simple yet complex and diverse combat. It is clear that Kratos’s personality has changed quite a bit. He is firm with his son but is also compassionate and wants to see him grow.
The high point of the demo is the fight against a massive troll, towering over our two heroes to crush them under his behemoth stature. The fight turned out to be yet another scripted fight with the only thing to compensate for it being stunning visuals. Possibly the most interesting thing about what the gameplay demo has shown is the change in Kratos’s personality. Previously, he was a berserker driven by rage and an urge to kill all those in his way. We see Kratos release his Berserker Rage to tear off the troll’s tusks and we’ve witnessed his strict attitude towards his son. However, at the final moments of the demo, his son is shocked and disturbed as he finally musters the courage to kill another living being for his own gain and Kratos remains hesitant to comfort him. Overall, the demo has showcased that in its current state, God of War is a stellar project and I hope it lives up to everyone’s expectations.
That being said, I am especially excited to find out which Gods and otherworldly beings we will see in the Norse Mythology-based setting. I can imagine fierce battles against Fenrir, Fafnir, Odin and Thor, among others. I would also like to see Loki to make an appearance and it would be interesting to find out how they could utilize their source material to form creative and unique gameplay. Although the world seems linear from what we’ve seen so far, a hub world featuring Yggdrasil, the tree of Life, would be quite thrilling to see. One thing I can say for sure is that this game is in no way a re-hash of the previous games or any other game for that matter. The over-the-shoulder third person perspective is a thing of beauty if done right and what we’ve seen so far with Kratos’s magical battle axe is just scratching the surface, there are so many possibilities to explore and directions that this game could go for. The game will not feature multiplayer like its latest predecessor, Ascension but I don’t think fans will miss this feature much as even the developers admitted that the multiplayer lacked depth and couldn’t even serve as a distraction for players to sink more time into the game. The game will also admittedly not be Kratos’s last adventure; so we can expect many new projects featuring our favorite God of War in the future.