God of War is one of the most popular PlayStation franchises in recent memory. Kratos, the God-slaying anti-hero, is hailed as one of the most well-known video game characters within the past twenty years. All thanks to his numerous conquests of hacking and slashing his way across Greek antiquity and beyond.
In 2018, God of War was released for PlayStation 4. It garnered universal acclaim as one of the best titles for the console. In the 2018 Game Awards, God of War was chosen as Game of the Year. It bested the likes of Red Dead Redemption 2, Monster Hunter World, and Marvel’s Spider-Man. This was due in large part to God of War’s change in gameplay and direction, especially in terms of fleshing out Kratos’ narrative.
A Change of Scenery
In the previous God of War games, Kratos was depicted as a no-nonsense anti-hero. He could be described as rage and anger personified. At its simplest, the earlier God of War plot was simple. Players just control Kratos as he decimates the whole pantheon of Greek Gods with his trusty Blades of Chaos.
For the 2018 version, Cory Barlog and the developers in Sony Interactive Entertainment opted to breathe character into Kratos. They decided to create a more fleshed out storyline by incorporating Norse mythology. Now, Kratos will clash against the likes of Baldur, Modi, and Magni, as well as meet new characters such as Brok and Sindri.
This time around, Kratos is seen as a more subdued being. And most shockingly, he is now also a father. Seeing Kratos interact with his son, Atreus, gives a completely new dimension to his character. In previous games, Kratos’ interactions with other people often lead to them violently dying by his hands. But now he is more receptive to interacting with others without the intent of killing them the moment they tick him off.
For the 2018 version, Kratos is more reserved when it comes to conversing with Atreus. This new wrinkle in Kratos’ character is refreshing since players get to experience how Kratos is when dealing with family.
Compared to earlier games where he was only fueled by rage, his actions are now more calculated. Being a father, he has to look out for Atreus while they venture into the Lake of Nine and fulfill Faye’s request of having her ashes scattered atop the highest peak of the Nine Realms.
In the new game, Kratos’ paternal side is more evident. His actions and purpose are not driven by blind anger anymore. Instead, he puts family first. His priority is to fulfill the wish of his wife and keep his son safe while teaching him to be his own man.
In Your Face Storytelling
God of War’s presentation also got an overhaul. Unlike earlier titles which relied on map designs that follow Kratos in a conventional third-person view, the 2018 version puts the camera over Kratos’ shoulder and tracks his movement in a single continuous shot. This new camera angle makes the world around Kratos more grounded since you get to see it through his vantage point. Towering structures and huge monsters do look big and menacing because you can see how they scale up against Kratos.
Furthermore, the new camera angle also immerses players more into Kratos’ and Atreus’ narrative. The camera makes you feel like you’re with them in every step of the way. When Kratos and Atreus interact with other characters or with each other, you feel the same intimacy by being that close to the story beats.
God of War: Evolution of Hack & Slash
In terms of gameplay, God of War 2018 still has the hack and slash elements that made its earlier titles iconic. However, the controls of God of War 2018 grants players more variety when dishing out punishment on hapless foes.
Kratos now uses the Leviathan Axe, an awesome weapon that is imbued with powerful Frost magic. He can also throw this at enemies and recall it with a press of a button, similar to Thor’s Mjolnir. He can also use his fists to pummel enemies as he sees fit if he isn’t wielding the Leviathan Axe.
Having the option to use the Leviathan Axe as either a melee or throwing weapon and still have Kratos’ fists as an offensive option is a new mechanic that provides players with numerous playstyles.
In addition, Atreus is no pushover. He provides cover fire for Kratos by manning his trusty bow and arrow. He also isn’t afraid to help his dad by using his bow to strangle lower level enemies while Kratos does the finishing blow. This new element makes combat highly dynamic and also gives you a sense of urgency whenever you instruct Atreus to assist. While he can hold his own in a fight, you still need to protect him as any good father should.
Granted, you can still resort to swinging your ax around and tear away at enemies with jaw-dropping combos. But the option to mix it up with fisticuffs while your son pelts away at enemies from afar provides refreshingly new combat elements.
God of War 2018: Is it Worth Playing?
God of War 2018 is one of the essential PlayStation titles you need to play. Its narrative and game environment, coupled with its extremely fun and gratifying combat mechanics make it truly deserving of its Game of the Year award. It takes an iconic character in Kratos and injects him with deep character development that feels like the correct step. Furthermore, it is exciting to see where Kratos and Atreus’ story takes them next.