After almost four years of development, on April 20, the fourth part of God of War will finally be released, in the title of which, however, the number «4» is missing. Game designer Corey Barlog refuses to call the upcoming title a restart, but players can’t be fooled — the game differs too much from previous releases, judging by the materials on display.
In order to properly understand the experiments of the developers, we suggest recalling the entire history of God of War.
God of War (2005)
The first part was released exclusively for the PlayStation 2 and became one of the best games on this platform. This success was partly due to the high-end graphics component, one of the best at that time. The author of the series was David Yaffe, whose portfolio already included the gaming revolution in the form of the Twisted Metal series.
As a hack and slash game, God of War’s combat system relies on multiple combos coupled with quick-time events that protagonist Kratos performs with his signature blades of chaos. In addition to other types of weapons, four magic spells are available to Kratos.
One way or another, all the exciting battles with crowds of enemies led to exciting battles with giant bosses, where the player had to utilize all the skills he had received for a beautiful victory. It was epic that became the leitmotif of the series from the very beginning. The players were fascinated by the fights with huge gods, and they looked forward to each next battle.
The plot, which is almost entirely based on Greek mythology, was served in the necessary fascinating portions and did not require the player to immerse themselves in all the richness of Greek myths.
One of the most important aspects of the game was the fixed camera. Many players did not like this feature, because it often made it impossible to understand where to go next. However, it’s worth realizing that God of War is a highly cinematic game with an emphasis on visuals, and with the help of a fixed camera, the developers could make sure that the player always sees what they need on the screen.
Yaffe was inspired to create God of War by one of his favorite films, Raiders of the Lost Ark. Unfortunately, the game designer soon realized that he would not be able to get the effect he needed only through epic videos.
“Already at the very beginning, I realized that on an emotional level, the game cannot even close to interact with the player in the same way as it happens in the movie. This finding motivated me to explore other territories for inspiration.»
Despite the success of his offspring, Jaffe was not going to linger in the series:
“The development of God of War is associated with the most depressing time in my life. I was exhausted, and everything went much better after her.
God of War 2 (2007)
For the development of God of War, Yaffe stepped down as director and acted as the game’s creative director. Corey Barloga was called in to lead the development.
Given the success of the debut part, of course, a sequel was waiting for the series. God of War 2 is the perfect second installment for any franchise with a good start. As a rule, at this time, the players still do not want any innovations and fresh views. From the second part, the players expect the same as in the first, but bigger, louder and more beautiful. And this is exactly what the developers of God of War 2 gave the fans.
The combat system began to rely more on magic, the levels increased. Favorite boss battles have become more epic, and there are more leaders themselves. In the second part, the developers decided to continue the story of Kratos and focus primarily on the gameplay, rather than on movie elements.
According to Barlog, the game did not need any major changes.
“Some people think that every game in the series should be very different from the previous one, like Resident Evil 4, for example. And although I think that within the framework of Resident Evil, the fourth part was a brilliant and necessary revolution, this does not mean that the situation is the same for everyone.
With its release, God of War 2 summed up the history of the PlayStation 2, and fans were looking forward to Kratos’ new adventures on the next generation platform.
God of War: Betrayal (2007)
It can be said that the 2D mobile game God of War: Betrayal failed to achieve its potential, in part because the title was ahead of its time. And while it was great to have a pocket God of War handy at first glance, the controls weren’t exactly intuitive.
Despite the seemingly insignificant release within the series, the developers provided Betrayal with a sane plot. The game takes place between the first and second parts, when Kratos was accused of a murder he did not commit.
Interestingly, work on the Betrayal design began back in September 2005. The developers were entrusted with a difficult task: in a few hundred kilobytes they had to fit the recognizable corporate identity of the original God of War. Artist Nathan Leland spent a lot of time creating the right palette of colors to match Sony’s standards.
Also, when creating the visual style and combat system of the game, the developers consulted with Yaffe and Barlog, the main designers of the first two parts.
The developers had difficulty trying to balance the game as it should, given that it was being developed for a completely different platform. According to one of the producers and designers of the game, Phil Cohen, every step in the development of one mechanic forced us to take a step back into another.
“It was important for us to live up to the expectations of the fans. From the very beginning, we knew that we needed to bring something new to the series. To do this, we worked with the writers of the original parts and filled in the gaps that appeared after the passage of the console versions, adding a series of depth. In Betrayal, we were able to visually show why the relationship between Kratos and the gods soured.»
God of War: Chains of Olympus (2008)
Chains of Olympus introduced the series to PSP owners, who were pleasantly surprised by the graphics, which were almost on par with the main parts of the series.
The game became a prequel to the first God of War and told about the events that took place during the ten-year service of Kratos to the gods of Olympus. The latter sent him to defend the city of Attica from the Persians, and at the same time save the world from Morpheus, Atlanta and Persephone.
God of War 3 (2010)
In 2010 comes the long-awaited God of War 3 for PS3, and once again the representative of the series becomes the face of the platform.
Before embarking on the creation of the third part, the developers ported God of War 2 to PS3. Thus, the team got Kratos on a new platform, who could run, jump and fight as usual, which allowed the developers not to start everything from scratch. Then gradually all the elements from the second part were replaced by new ones.
In God of War 3, perhaps for the first time, Kratos turned from a cartoon hero into a serious character thanks to the filling of the seventh generation of consoles. Improved texture detail and facial animation have done their job, and the game has received the level of cinematic quality that it claimed back in 2005.
As for the gameplay, here the developers pleased the players with new weapons, between which it was now possible to switch, which made the combat mechanics more exciting.
When developing the third part, the team understood that they needed to carefully consider the level of violence in the game if they wanted to not make God of War 3 the center of another scandal.
“We tried our best to follow our own rules. Didn’t do anything that didn’t complement the character. Everything that reveals the heroes, we always left. They didn’t add anything just for the sake of shocking the public. Everything had a purpose,” says producer Steve Caiterson.
“Do not forget that Kratos is a brutal character, and he solves his problems in a very brutal way. We want the players to feel it.»
God of War: Ghost of Sparta (2010)
Immediately after the release of Chains of Olympus, the Ready at Dawn studio appreciated the result of the work done and realized that they still have something to say both within the PSP and within the framework of God of War. In 2010, she released a new title for the PSP called Ghost of Sparta, which managed to outperform all PS2 releases in the visual component.
The game takes place between the first God of War and Betrayal and tells how Kratos went in search of his mother Callisto and brother Deimos.
It was already the fifth title in the series, with the exception of the re-release of the first parts for PS3, and it would seem that the Greek setting should have exhausted itself. However, game designer Mike Dinan did not think to turn off the usual path during the development of Ghost of Sparta:
“Fortunately, we use Greek mythology, which means we have countless gods and goddesses and other colorful characters at our disposal.”
God of War: Ascension (2013)
Ascension was a prequel to the entire series, and tells what happened ten years before the first part, before Kratos began to serve Zeus and Co.
Ascension is considered the most beautiful part of God of War, but other than that, the game failed to offer fans anything special, except for, perhaps, a rather interesting multiplayer. Any formula becomes obsolete over time, and Ascension squeezed every last drop out of it. Moreover, the game is considered by many to be the easiest part of the franchise, which, of course, is not the best complement to a hack and slash game.
Although the game was still based on Greek mythology, the developers did not adhere to any canon and went for inspiration in any direction without any problems. By the way, Persian architecture became one of these sides when creating Ascension.
God of War: A Call from the Wilds (2018)
As part of the promotional campaign for the upcoming God of War, Sony partnered with Facebook to release the text-based game A Call from the Wilds. The events of the game tell about the first adventure of Atreus, the son of Kratos. The game consists of several chapters, upon completion of which eight concept arts are unlocked.
The game is available through Facebook Massenger.
Taking everything that is possible from Greek mythology, Santa Monica Studio decided to go in the direction of Scandinavian in the restart. The blades of Chaos were replaced by an ax, the fixed camera was replaced by a free one, but the main innovation was Atreus, who wields a bow and opens the door to new gameplay mechanics, not to mention his candidacy for the place of the protagonist in the future.
Based on all available information, we can conclude that in the new God of War, the developers decided to take risks, which is very commendable, and which is often lacking in the gaming industry. This idea is shared by the founding father of the series, Yaffe, who for some time was a contender for the chair of the director of the highly anticipated game. When asked what he thinks about the future release, Yaffe sums up by expressing the opinion of so many fans of the series:
“First of all, I like the open world idea. Second, the graphics are amazing. Thirdly, every time the series finds the courage to grow and try new things, it’s interesting. Fourthly, the new title demonstrates a much more serious tone, but I hope that along with this the game will not lose that adventure spirit that everyone loves God of War for.