Sony has kept fairly mum about the new look God of War since its surprising reveal to kick off its E3 press conference last year. Instead of the familiar Greek setting, developer Sony Santa Monica has moved on to the Norse mythos, with an older, wiser, and bearded Kratos still knowing how to swing an ax. The big difference is that Kratos has a son who will play an important role in the new direction of the story.
Here's what we know so far, based on the announcement video and bits and pieces of news revealed since then:
At this point, there is no official release date. God of War was not shown at PlayStation Experience in November, meaning that the team was still heavily into development and likely Sony didn't feel ready to show anything. A German retail site had listed a January 18, 2018, date, but that was quickly taken down. It is quite likely that Sony will make an official announcement on the date at its E3 press conference this year.
Instead of Greek architecture and characters, the new God of War treats us to a Norse pantheon of Gods and more wooded vistas in the world of Midgard. There is an area known as Dauthamunni, full of ancient ruins and runic text engraved on stone. The creatures are traditional, such as deer, snakes and woodland creatures, and the fantasy based, such as a dragon, and an armed flying faerie-like creature. The end scene in the announcement trailer showed a large river, and a lot of countryside to explore.
The Story Setup
While the earlier God of War games revolved around Kratos' anger at the world and his absentee God dad Zeus, this new installment shows a Kratos older by a few hundred years and now with a full beard. He has taken on the role of parent to a boy, Atreus, whose mother has apparently died or disappeared, and Kratos must control his anger to mold the boy for what he has planned for him down the road.
Creative Director Cory Barlog has said that the goal of the new game is to "create a different, better and truly more memorable experience than before." The goal was to reimagine the gameplay and give the series a fresh perspective "while delving deeper into the emotional journey of Kratos to explore the compelling drama that unfolds when an immortal demigod makes a decision to change."
We see Kratos' stern hand in dealing with the boy, both in mentoring him during a hunt. Perhaps the angriest we see him get is in when he starts to yell after the boy fires at a deer to soon, alerting it to their presence. He quickly catches himself, redirects his anger into a teaching moment by confiscating the boys bow and only returning it when a fight with a massive troll begins. Kratos even takes an ill-aimed arrow in the shoulder from the boy with nary an angry word, just stern advice to keep tracking his quarry after the troll is dead.
After the boy fells the deer, we see Kratos gently assist him with the killing dagger blow into the deer's chest. As the boy broods at his failure to be able to kill, Kratos extends a hand to comfort him, only to pull back at the last second from the show of tenderness. Instead, he pulls the dagger out and gives it back to Atreus.
Kratos as mentor with channeled anger instead of a lone wolf with unbridled rage whould make for an interesting twist to the plot.
Aside from setup cutscenes, actual gameplay puts us in an unfamiliar third-person, over-the-shoulder view, ad feels a bit slower than previous installments. However, when combat begins, players will recognize the powerful feel that only Kratos can bring. Experience is gained through exploration and using skills, such as archery, knowledge, and tracking, and even though Kratos is trying to control his anger, Spartan Rage is still an ability that he can call on in battle.
A button on the PS4 controller has been dedicated to Kratos interacting with Atreus, which means that dealing with his son will be an important gameplay mechanic as the game progresses.
The game is a PlayStation 4 exclusive, since it is being developed by Sony's in-house development team.