There is no debate that PlayStation has had a wide variety of exclusive games this generation. Mixing new IPs (Horizon Zero Dawn, Bloodborne, The Order 1886, etc) with fan favorite IPs (Uncharted 4, Infamous: Second Son, Persona 5), PlayStation has found amazing success with these titles from both first-party and third-party developers. Now enter God of War. We have not seen a God of War game (with the exception of the remaster on PS4) since 2013 when God of War: Ascension was released on PS3. Ascension, while still being a very good game overall, made the whole formula feel very stale at the time. When it undersold previous titles by a very noticeable amount and garnered a less positive critical reception, it made a lot of people wonder if it would be the last time we saw Kratos. As a long time fan, seeing God of War make its debut on the PlayStation 4 with a lot of changes is very exciting, and I truly believe this could be the PS4’s defining game for this generation. It is important to note, that I am basing this piece on the fact we know very little about Death Stranding and The Last of Us: Part 2 at this time. Both of those games have a huge potential to take that title, but let’s focus on the reasons why God of War could take this prize.
With games like The Order 1886, Uncharted 4 and more recently Horizon: Zero Dawn it is really hard to claim that God Of War could outclass these games. However, from the footage, we have seen even on the base PS4 this game is drop-dead gorgeous. While PlayStation 4 Pro owners will have checkerboard rendering at 2160p, which is the same resolution that Horizon Zero Dawn runs. Horizon Zero Dawn has been toted as being the best graphical showcase of this generation by many in 2017. Pixel counting aside, the huge monsters and gods we are used to seeing Kratos face off against in previous titles will have new life breathed into them with all the detail that the game has showcased. There are many examples of this in all the gameplay that Sony Santa Monica has released over the past few months, with the fine detail in character models, mind-blowing set pieces, and monsters that look like they could step right off the screen. Sony has done a fantastic job showing this game off and it is hard to deny it is one of the best looking games of this generation, in similarity in how The Last of Us was groundbreaking in the PS3 generation.
Kratos has depth
Now as a God of War fan, I could argue for hours that Kratos showed very complex emotions in previous God of War titles. However, it is fairly accurate that his primary emotion was the rage that fueled him. Back when I was a teenager playing the games, it suited my angsty personality perfectly. Now I am a little bit older and have mellowed out of the permanently angry phase of my life. This new, more paternal Kratos creates a whole different character and appears like it could make the story way more of a personal experience. In the E3 2016 gameplay trailer when we see Kratos showing Atreus how to hunt, you can see the frustration he has with the boy, but also a restraint that we have not seen previously within him. This shows character growth from the always enraged Kratos from previous games. This will resonate with players that have been on these previous adventures with Kratos as well as introducing new players to a more likable main character, whereas previously Kratos’s rage could have been offputting to some players as they may have only seen this one side to him. This sets the game up for what could be a very strong emotional storyline connection with the player, while still having that “Oh wow” moments as you face off against Norse beasts.
New Gameplay, Location and Combat
While God of War appears to be sticking close to its hack-and-slash roots, it has certainly changed in a lot of major ways. The addition of Atreus looks like it makes for some amazing combo options with his bow, as well as Kratos swapping out his blades for an Ax. It brings a very fresh look to the game, it still looks like God of War but it maintains the style that Sony Santa Monica has spent over a decade building. The obvious location change has to be one of my favorite aspects of this reimagining of this game. Norse mythology has so many options in regards to what gods Kratos may interact with and who we might have to fight as bosses later in the game. Imagine squaring off against Loki, the god of tricksters? Or fighting against Thor in order to defend your son? There are endless possibilities in who you could face off against, and the boss fights alone could catapult this game to legendary status if handled right. Let’s face it, has any game ever made killing gods this possible and this fun?
The Full Experience
In an era of games where multiplayer and services appear to be rising in popularity, it is important to celebrate these well-developed single-player games that dedicated developers continue to make. All that we have seen in teasers and gameplay points that this will be one of most comprehensive God of War experiences. With a lot of promise in the story, as well as Sony Santa Monica earns my respect by taking such a risk with such a well-established IP. With combat designed from the ground up with new weapons and allies in mind, a story about learning and adapting combined with the usual Sony first-party polish.
In conclusion, I have no doubt this game will be high on my games of the year list, if not on my games of this generation list. In the last two weeks leading up to the April 20th launch of God of War, I wish nothing but the best of luck to Sony Santa Monica on a successful launch.