We’ve known for quite a while that the inevitable “fourth” God of War game has been in development(we don’t like to talk about Ascension), but what we weren’t sure of was when we’d see anything for the enormously popular Sony exclusive. Well recently at E3 Sony Santa Monica broke the silence, and also laid to rest recent rumors, about the direction their upcoming God of War title. In a recent interview with Patrick Klepek for Kotaku, creative director for Santa Monica Cory Barlog spoke extensively about the decision making process and reasoning behind some of the changes made for God of War.
“We looked at every aspect of this game differently, all centered around the concept of ‘Why? Why am I doing this? Why am I here? Why am I making these decisions?’”
Barlog was the lead animator on the first God of War, which was released way back in March of 2005. He quickly ascended through the ranks in the team, and was game director for the celebrated follow up, God of War 2, which was both critically acclaimed and loved by fans. After the huge success of God of War 2 Barlog worked briefly on the Playstation 3 sequel, before leaving the project early on in it’s development. But now, he’s come back.
“I feel like there’s very few people that can make [a huge] change without it feeling they’re just tearing it up and they don’t care about anything. This franchise means a lot to me. This is a huge amount of creative time and life that has has been invested in this franchise. I want nothing more than to blow people’s minds.”
Barlog’s passion for God of War shines through as he talks about the universe he helped create over a decade ago. Early on there were vague discussions about ditching Kratos for a new God of War game, but nothing stuck. Everyone involved came to the realization that Kratos and God of War are one and the same. However Barlog couldn’t imagine coming back to work on a traditional sequel.
“I don’t think I would have done that, no. I came back to try something crazy and different. Unfortunately, they were just as crazy as me. [laughs] Everyone was like ‘Let’s go bigger! Let’s really tear this thing down.’ I think that’s great.”
It appears that everything aside from having Kratos as the main character was (and is) up for change. One of the most noticeable changes, which was immediately divisive among fans, was the decision to move the camera from a fixed perspective and put control into the hands of the player. The pitch was initially controversial even within the team, but it eventually won out because the team wanted players to feel physically closer to Kratos.
When watching the E3 demo, many noticed that the game’s depiction of violence seemed a bit toned down in comparison to previous God of War games. While still a very violent game – it is God of War you know – it lacked some more outlandish and unnecessarily brutal killings. Something God of War 3 certainly didn’t lack:
Barlog says this change is deliberate:
“I think, as developers, we’ve grown up. We’re at a different phase in our lives, we look at the world differently. It’s very different.”
He described the guiding principle for this new God of War as “the legacy of a fallen god” and exploring the ramifications of Kratos’ actions.
“This idea [is] that Kratos is continuing on and trying to making good decisions but failing along the way.”
God of War 3 played with the idea of redemption for Kratos, but God of War plans on tackling the subject head on. Is Kratos truly worthy of redemption? We’ll all be eagerly waiting to find out.