I recently got the chance to talk to God of War director Cory Barlog, and got his thoughts on a number of topics. One of the interesting tidbits Barlog shared with me was that a reboot was never really on the table for the team. “Why would you ever throw that [history] away?” asked the creative lead. “It’s like a decade of character development. You can’t.”
Here’s the full quote from Barlog (read more of his thoughts in my interview) concerning why a God of War reboot wasn’t really ever an option:
It’s like the first games serve as the backstory, right? And it’s like people say, “Oh, why didn’t you start over and bring a new character?” And I was like, but it’s like a decade of character development. You can’t. Why would you ever throw that away? Like why wouldn’t you want to see what it’s like. We’re not the same people we were in our high school years, in our college years, right? And then in our middle age, like we change throughout life and I think Kratos is the same. That life in the first games is sort of like how my life and how the rest of the team’s life was. We were in our college years of development. We lived in the moment, we were thumbing our nose at the man, and trying to top everybody else.
We were staying up late and we were making changes at the last second, and we were just not really measured in thinking about things. We were just going for it. It was pure, and I think that’s fine. That’s great because that’s who we were. Now, we come back to development, we just see everything with a different lens. We’re different people and then we have this energy of all these new people coming into development, so you mix that together and you have this whole new way of looking at making games. I was like, why would we not harness that and try something different? But still have that sense of familiarity. I mean, the hope, the phrase I used throughout the beginning of the development of this was this “familiarly different,” so when you play the game, it feels like God of War. Maybe not exactly one to one, but you feel the soul, the DNA of God of War, but it’s different. It’s that they’re so visually camera wise, different. The pace is a little bit slower, but still in the heat of the moment, God of War was felt in those combat experiences. I think that hard to do, but I hope we’ve achieved it.
God of War Reboot Doesn't Make Sense to Director Cory Barlog
Judging by the opening hours, God of War appears to strike that feeling of “familiarly different” quite well. Read more about the upcoming PS4 exclusive by reading my God of War preview of the action game’s first two hours. Here’s a snippet:
The other big change is that Kratos has a son named Atreus who is central to both gameplay and the story. I didn’t realize it early on, but Atreus is actually the most interesting part of combat encounters. Not only could I command him to shoot arrows at enemies (causing a stun) by pressing the square button, but with careful positioning he could be used to draw the attention of dangerous foes. Since he doesn’t have a life bar to worry about, using your son as a diversion is a hugely beneficial tactic (especially in boss fights).
God of War isn’t just Santa Monica Studio doing something different for the sake of variety (although the series did clearly need a shake up after how dull Ascension seemed). Everything from its gameplay to storytelling has been changed for the better. By doing so, Sony has given one of its biggest franchises new life.
God of War is slated to release on April 20, 2018 exclusively for PlayStation 4.