Learn All About God of War’s Boats, The Challenges That Created Them, and the Stories They Can Tell

January 13, 2018Written by Chandler Wood

God of war boats

When questioned in a rapid fire interview by Game Informer, Creative Director Cory Barlog said that players would spend “25-30% of their time on boats” in the new God of War. Game Informer’s latest God of War coverage expands on the surprising role that boats have in the full game.

The full quote from the unedited answer to the interview was actually “I’m speculating here, but I’m going to say 25 to 30 percent of the game’s surface area, perhaps, is covered by boat. Wow, that’s a good one. I don’t know. We’re gonna go 25 percent.” One quarter of the game being spent on a boat still seems like a lot, so clearly there is a certain amount of care and thought that has been put into giving Kratos his sea legs.

It actually began with swimming. Kratos may have had some limited swimming chops in the previous games, but you won’t find that gameplay feature in this one. “As we started looking at, first, the crazy amount of investment for full 3D swimming to be awesome, and, second, to have a character follow you in in full 3D swimming, the programmers kept giving me that look,” Barlog explained. The team decided to table that challenge and come back to it as a potential problem to solve for future titles.

When Barlog started to look at ways to have Kratos and Atreus cross bodies of water, the solution actually created moments of closer connection and reflection between the two characters. “I started investigating this idea of a big Viking longboat, and then realized you could really continue the narrative throughout,” Barlog said. “You can slow traversal down and you can change the pacing and interaction style and point of view. All while having these moments that you probably couldn’t get in any other situations.”

God of war boats

Just because the problem seemed handily solved doesn’t mean that it was a popular solution to the rest of the team. “It turned out really well, but to be quite frank, it was not popular for a long time on the team,” Barlog says. A lot of the people working on the game really wanted swimming to work out, so it’s replacement was understandably shunned by much of the team, but Barlog dug his heels in and found the core of what made the moments in the boat such a big win for the narrative and emotional structure of the game.

“That was the running joke; if ever there was a discussion of scope or anything related to taking on too much, it was always, ‘Well, we could cut the boat!’ I think most those people wanted the swimming – as I wanted the swimming – but I think I just accepted earlier than they did. But it’s a bigger win to do this. It really took a core group of people digging in and finding that core feel that really made it, ‘Oh, okay, I get it.’”

Game Informer says that they were unable to pilot any boats during their hands-on time with God of War, but they don’t doubt these boats will have a role that expands far beyond just scene transitions. If you’re worried about God of War suddenly taking on odd mechanics like piloting a boat, you shouldn’t be. “It’s not a sailing simulator. It’s not the focal point of the game. It is definitely one of those situations of traversal, the way you get a horse in The Last of Us. It’s just there – it’s not like you’re going around breeding horses or anything like that.” Barlog concludes, hopefully alleviating any concerns that the inclusion of boats in God of War might somehow ruin the game.

There’s a lot more God of War coverage to read through. Learn why the jump button was removed, why Cory Barlog was chosen to come on and shake things up, and about the additional geographical landscapes and mythological eras that future games could cover. What do you think of God of War boats? Will they help to deepen the characters and draw a closer connection between Kratos and Atreus?

[Source: Game Informer]