God of War Director Talks Single-Player Games, ‘I Hope We Never Lose That’

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 his thoughts on the ideal single-player games. He told me that he wants a “whole experience” from titles, and that he likens it to when he bought the original Half-Life over a decade ago. He closed his thoughts by saying there was nothing quite like a well-crafted narrative game, and that he hopes “we never lose that from the game industry.”

Here’s the full quote from Barlog (read more of his thoughts in my interview) concerning the state of single-player games:

I feel like for me it’s the experience of when I bought Half-Life 1. I went to the store, I bought it, took it home, installed it, and played it and everything that Half-Life was on the disc. I got the whole experience that they wanted me to have. That’s the experience to me that I want to deliver to people out there that I’m not like, oh, I held back something. It’s like, no, no, no, no. Everything that we have in us is not left on the field, it’s put into that game. So that when you buy it, you have that feeling of like, I get this entire experience. I can go home, I can save this thing, and I can know that you have given me everything you possibly can.

I have literally nothing against, you know, multiplayer or cooperative [games]. Even the concept of, you know, microtransactions when done under in a format of like, “here’s the game for free, pay what you want.” That’s a great concept, right? It can be misused for certain, but I think for single-player games, for the concept of saying, here’s a narrative experience told from the point of view of a director and an amazing team that is going to transport you into a world and take you on an adventure and really deliver on the promises that they make. There’s nothing like that, man. I hope we never lose that from the game industry.

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.