It’s been 10 years since Kratos was last seen terrorizing the Greek gods (5 if you count Godof War: Ascension). Many fans were wondering if we’d get a rebirth of Kratos, and at E3 2016 we got our answer. Fast forward 2 years later, and we finally have what we wanted: a new entry in the series. Let’s dive right into God of War.
P.S: I’m a huge God of War fan boy, so I’ll try to be as objective and unbiased as possible to give you my opinion on it.
What You Need to Know
There was a ton of confusion/speculation as to what timeline does this entry take place. “Does this happen after God of War 3 or is this it’s own entry?” The newest entry takes place sometime after the events of God of War 3, and by sometime, I mean a awhile after. Here’s a little neat vid by Director Cory Barlog explaining where we are with Kratos.
Not to mention Kratos has another kid, so yeah he’s been busy.
This one is deep readers so be prepared…
Right off top you can notice that God of War has done a complete 180 with its gameplay.
The game now features an over the shoulder approach similar to The Last of Us, and comes with a moving camera mapped to the right analog stick instead of the well done set camera the previous entries included.
Long gone are Kratos’s Blades of Chaos/Athena and instead Kratos is wielding the frosty Leviathan Axe. With said axe, Kratos butchers his enemies from close range or he can throw the axe. Once the axe has left his hands Kratos goes full Rocky mode and can beat down his foes with his fists which inflicts stun damage (more on that later). It’s meaty. Kratos can also throw his axe, and by pressing the triangle button, his axe will return to him. It’s like being Thor, without the thunder. Kratos also comes equipped with a shield, for blocking and parrying purposes. Probably the best addition is Kratos’s rage mode aka Spartan Rage. In this mode, Kratos channels his Spartan legacy and beats the crap out of everybody with his fists while regaining health. Long live Sparta!
New to the series is a companion who aides you in combat, except this companion is Kratos’s son, Atreus. Atreus is proficient with his bow, and during combat pressing the square button will prompt Atreus to shoot arrows at opponents to distract them. The further you progress and upgrade Atreus, he will gain more abilities such as being able to stab his enemies with a knife. Atreus’s attacks inflict stun damage, a new gameplay addition to the series, which fills up a meter below the enemies health bar. When that bar is full, Kratos can perform a special finishing move on that opponent.
Beyond the combat changes, God of War has a few RPG elements this time. It kind of mirrors Middle Earth: Shadow of War in a sense; you can craft armor, handles for your axe, or equipment for Atreus. These pieces can be instilled with different upgrades that boost Kratos’s stats such as Luck, Strength, or Runic (again more on that in a bit). By the end of the game, your armor setup for Kratos will be different than your friends (I refuse to put a chest piece on Kratos since I’ve never seen him wear one besides the God of War armor). This system is supplemented by a new form of currency called Hacksilver, which you will find throughout the world and/or materials. This surprisingly adds a new twist on gameplay rather than just upgrading your weapons with the souls of your enemies from the past entries.
Fighting your opponents gives you XP, which is used to upgrade your skill trees. There are 3 main categories: the Leviathan Axe, your shield, and Atreus. Each category is then broken down into two separate skill trees: ranged or close combat for your axe, shield combat (bare-fisted or parrying) rage combat, and finally his son’s abilities such as bow shooting and different stunning techniques. Again this adds a new layer of depth and refreshens the series, while also allowing you to get abilities you specifically want rather than mass purchasing upgrades. You can also level up Kratos’s runic attacks. Runic attacks are special fighting abilities you discover in game, which come in a form of either light or heavy attacks. I’ve found some pretty good attacks, and I’ve barely scratched the surface of the game.
Finally, one of the most important changes is the open world navigation. The game has been made with backtracking in mind, allowing you to fast travel and complete various side quests, puzzles, or exploration purposes at any time.
I think I covered everything important as far as gameplay goes. Let me know if I didn’t!
It’s been a long time since I’ve played a God of War game, and after getting my hands on this, it’s safe to say it’s met my expectation. Again, I’m putting my fan-boyism aside to give you my best opinion so let’s dive deeper.
The series’ main detractor was the lack of story after the first game (not that it bothered me). We got Kratos’s story in God of War 1, and from there it turned into a battle royale against the gods. With this game, you can see they’ve added more story to the game just through the encounters/conversation between Kratos and his son Atreus. Kratos is a character who has been angry so long that it’s interesting to see how he interacts with another person who is family. At times, Kratos wants to be a father, other times he wants to harden his son to make him a warrior. He still has his “charming” demeanor, but they’ve added another layer to him that fleshes him out more. If there’s one thing you take away from this struggle, it’s that Kratos doesn’t know his son’s name.
Combat feels like God of War, but with new additions and tweaks that make it feel fresh. I love the axe just because I throw it and summon it back all the time for fun. On topic though, the combos you can create by the end game are so beautiful and seamless, it’s amazing. Not to mention this game is beautiful. From the snowy mountain tops, to the wilderness, to the exquisite detail on the axe, this game is damn good looking, and best to be played on a PS4 Pro on 4K. The fights look amazing, not to mention one of the beginning fights was so epic I think it melted my dang eyes.
If you don’t believe me that this game is good just look at the numbers. It’s the fastest selling PS exclusive with 3.1 million sold in it’s first 3 days. That’s freaking incredible. I hope this shines insight to video game developers that single player games are in demand, and they don’t need micro transactions (I’m looking at you Shadow of War).
I think what really makes this game important is the passion the developers had. Cory Barlog released a video of how emotional he was upon reading the scores/reviews of the game upon release, and it almost made me tear up because you can tell this was important to him and the team. He’s also gone on record to discuss why it took 5 years to make this game (BEWARE. I believe there may be spoilers in this article).
Overall, I’m thrilled to see the return and triumph of a legend. I will say I’m disappointed they changed the voice actor, but the new dude is a pretty good substitute. Let me know what you think about the game in comment section or on Twitter. In the meantime, I gotta finish the game.