God of War, the E3 Showstopper

If you’re like like me then the moment you realised that the opening announcement at PlayStation’s press conference was God of War you started to lose the plot. While at E3 and upon my return the most common question I get is what were you most excited about. The answer to that question is a resounding, God of War! I’m glad that during the press conference it was the first announcement because if it was the last one I couldn’t have stood up straight afterwards.

One of the appointments I had on Day 1 was a behind closed doors with a PlayStation Unannounced title so you can imagine how excited I was when I realised that the appointment was to see more God of War. I got half an hour behind closed doors with the devs who took the group through more detail on the game. It was a strictly hands off preview that went through what we saw during the press conference but it also allowed us to find out a bit more about the latest installment of one of Sony’s biggest first party franchises.

A question that came up about God of War, was where does this new game fit in in the greater context of the franchise. Is this a reboot or is it a continuation? Let me start by saying that the new God of War is a new chapter in the story of Kratos. Kratos has moved on from Greek mythology and equipped with a killer beard and a son in tow, he is ready to start exploring the wonders of Norse mythology and have a decent crack at fatherhood too. I can’t imagine it could be too easy for Kratos’ son, we don’t know too much about him but imagine having a Dad like Kratos? After everything that beast of a man has been through how could you possibly live up to the massive weight of expectation that comes with being the son of a legend? Even Kratos seems to be struggling with figuring out how to be a Dad and teach his son the art of being a mighty Warrior.

One of the things that excites me so much about God of War is that this adventure is shaping up as being the most emotional game in the franchise to date. Kratos must tackle Norse mythology all the while trying to wrestle with being a father. One of the moments that has stuck with me is that intimate moment between Father and Son where his son looks at him no doubt feeling disappointed that his first kill wasn’t as easy as his Dad would have liked, followed by Kratos considering comforting his son before rethinking it and not providing that loving reassurance of a fatherly embrace. The developers told us that we can expect many more intimate moments between Father and Son throughout the adventure and part of that intimacy is captured via something we haven’t seen before in God of War, a free roaming camera.

God of War has always been big on fixed camera positions to guide the player through the adventure and set up for those massive cinematic battles. This time around the player is in complete control of the experience by being able to move the camera freely as they explore the environment. Being in control of the camera also makes this God of War installment more open than previous titles. Don’t expect a complete open world adventure but expect to have the ability to explore the world a bit more. Exploration will be rewarded as there will be plenty of loot and rewards to be found by players who are keen to explore their surroundings. With that free roaming camera and exploration at it’s heart we will see God of War move from linear storytelling to more ambient environmental storytelling. Something that was easy to miss unless you look closely is that for the first time, God of War goes seamlessly from the cinematics into gameplay and vice versa so you’ll never feel like you’ve been taken out of the moment this time round.

Another important point to note is that Kratos’ formidable blades have been replaced by one seriously impressive axe. The blades have been with Kratos right from his first adventure so changing up his weaponry takes some serious guts. The change certainly fits well with Norse mythology but moreover it allows Kratos to try his hand at a new style of combat and provides the player with more options to slay the mighty foes that will feature in game. The battle with the Draga is a prime example of this. THe combat system plays of the trigger buttons, primarily the R1 and R2 buttons and allows Kratos to utilise short, medium and long range attacks. Up close Kratos is devastating with axe in hand but he is also able to throw the wepon and call it back which makes him more deadly when there is distance between himself and his enemy. He can also unleash a devastating ground attack which is very handy in the medium range. Using R3 Kratos will also be able to lock on to targets which is going to come in handy with the new free roaming camera to ensure he doesn’t lose sight and focus on targets.

Oh and you know that moment in the trailer where his son starts attacking the Draga? That is an action the player can call up throughout the game through a dedicated “Son” button. The “Son” button will add an extra element of stategy to battles with Kratos able to use his son to provide archery attacks in support of the main offense. No doubt as we progress the Son will become a much more accomplished warriors which will make his talents very handy in some of the larger battles. The rage meter will come into play as well but with a twist. Since the Father/Son aspect is a core part of the experience, Kratos’ interactions with his Son also has the potential to change his rage level and from everything we’ve seen so far I’m expecting Kratos to develop plenty of rage as he figures out how to be a Father!

So there you have it. God of War is back and is going to be bigger than ever. Intimacy and emotion are not something we have seen before in God of War so this adventure promises to deliver a new experience for the franchise. Changes to the camera and a brand new weapon of choice will give gamers the chance to experience the new Kratos. And as for the graphics well they look pretty damn impressive. The studio set up a motion capture studio to help bring out all the subtle details in the characters. If you aren’t sure about them then take a look at the beard, notice how it is blowing in the wind?!

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