Look Behind the Scenes at God of War’s First Boss

August 16, 2018Written by Aidan Simonds

god of war boss fight

Warning: Spoilers for God of War.

The boss fight against “The Stranger” was perhaps the best way to set the stage for 2018’s God of War. Despite being a fraction of Kratos’ size, this unknown man is able to go toe-to-toe with the killing machine. Now, we can see what went into it in a new video.

Denny Yeh, Senior Staff Combat Designer at Santa Monica, went into detail about what exactly made this God of War fight so memorable, complete with prototype build of the fight.

Now, it’s eventually revealed that this stranger was Baldur, son of Odin and brother of Thor. He also literally could not feel any pain and is invulnerable, so that fight all makes sense in the end. But with the epic scale and dynamic camera movements, this fight alone showed God of War was something special.

Camera angles may have been the most important factor in making this God of War fight work. By bringing the camera in even closer, the true impact of these hits could be felt. This fight was god vs. god, so every hit needed to be powerful and destructive. For the studio at Santa Monica, three specific questions needed to be addressed, according to the PlayStation Blog:

  • How much can we push the godly reactions on both Kratos and Baldur before it starts feeling like too much?
  • How far can we go with environmental destruction? How dense can we make the breakable trees and rocks before they start interfering with gameplay? Do these add enough to the feel of the fight to be worth pursuing?
  • What size does the arena need to be to accommodate all of our other requirements?

The team soon realized that fighting a human-sized boss, rather than a giant monster as is standard for God of War, presented unique opportunities. As a more mobile character, Baldur was able to fly across the map or push Kratos around the field. He his size allowed this fight to cover a wider area.

Yeh also broke down the fight by its three phases. The first and “least” epic of the three was right outside of Kratos’ home. Baldur was provoking Kratos, not offering much of a fight, because of the semblance of hope he will be able to feel the pain. “Sometimes we’re lucky and the goals of both gameplay and story work together perfectly,” Yeh noted.

In a bit of “revealing the curtain”, Yeh said that when Baldur threw Kratos up in the air, it was actually a way to hide the fact that the developers were shifting around the characters so they could land on Kratos’ roof. In fact, a lot of the camera movements were to hide the developers “tweaking” the world.

Phase 2 was introduced as a way to reveal more of God of War’s mechanics. First off, it was the first time Kratos’ Spartan Rage is used, and to let people learn the ropes,the developer allowed people to be in this mode longer than usual. It was also an opportunity for players to learn to be more defensive, as Baldur was on the offensive that time around.

The final phase of the battle was when Baldur let loose and didn’t let up. However, as the first boss, Baldur couldn’t be too difficult, but simply had to give off “the illusion of intensity”. Again, this section was designed to allow players to learn how to act defensively.

In the PlayStation Blog, it noted how this was done.

  • Ground shockwave – Unblockable shockwave that moves straight. Sideways dodge.
  • Punch combos – Quick punches that can be dodged with good timing, but is most easily just blocked. Block or parry.
  • Leap into air and stomp – Unblockable in a large blast radius. Roll dodge.
  • Zig zag kick – Breaks guard. Parry or dodge with good timing.

Yeh also gave insight into some unused concepts for the fight. Did you know the original plan was for Baldur to throw a mountain at Kratos? And then Kratos would punch said mountain in half?

Baldur was also originally supposed to take control of your axe for a bit and use it against you! I’m kind of glad that didn’t end up being used, because that thing is powerful. Let’s also, for a moment, not forget Kratos could have fought this entire fight sporting a dad bod.

When we played God of War, we called it “a must-buy experience.” God of War is available for the PlayStation 4.

[Source: PlayStation Blog]