It's been several years since Kratos took his vengeance by completely obliterating everyone and everything ever mentioned in a Greek myth, but fans of his murderous rampages will be happy to learn that there's a whole other mythology out there for the Ghost of Sparta to take on. The pale, muscular warlord will embark on an exciting new journey early next year, and this time it'll be all about Norse mythology. That means dangerous frost giants in snow-covered mountain ranges, and huge wolves lurking in dense woodlands. It also means that gods such as Odin, Loki, and all their friends have made it to the top of Kratos' list. Better get some insurance for that hammer of yours, Thor.
This brand new God of War won't be a reboot in the traditional sense, however. It will be a fresh start for the franchise and its protagonist, but the vile acts committed by Kratos in past entries still happened. In the latest trailer for the game, we could see Kratos staring at a vase from Greece, with a picture of the Spartan himself standing on top of a pile of corpses. He's trying to put his past behind him, and if you're still not convinced that Kratos has changed, hear this: he's rocking an amazingly manly beard this time around, and he's being voiced by Christopher Judge of Stargate SG-1 fame.
After settling down in the north, Kratos even raised a son named Atreus. Yeah, we know what you're thinking - the old Greek won't be receiving any Daddy of the Year awards anytime soon - but this father and son duo will be on their own, and forced to rely on each other in a dangerous, frozen land. Kratos will be a stranger to this world, intent on protecting his offspring from the monsters and godly beings that inhabit it, while also keeping the sins of the father from being passed on to the son. It'll be a tale of redemption if we're to believe game director Cory Barlog, who told us how the game "is about Kratos teaching his son how to be a god, and his son teaching Kratos how to be human again."
Atreus is a still a child, and not fit to survive in the harsh wilderness on his own. He's never killed before, nor hunted for food, and Kratos thinks that makes him weak. In the game's reveal trailer, the son takes aim towards a buck with his bow, but the arrow misses its intended target. Kratos responds by yelling at the boy, and takes his bow away, before realising that he's overreacted. Atreus will, however, learn from his father, and soon enough he'll be able to help out in most situations. The relationship between the two will be the very foundation of the story, and it'll echo throughout everything you do in the game. It's hard not to draw parallels between the Spartan and his son, and the relationship between Joel and Ellie in Naughty Dog's post-apocalyptic drama The Last of Us.
There'll even be a button on the controller assigned to Atreus, and its function will be context-sensitive. He'll be able to activate switches, climb cliffs, and help solve puzzles. The main use for Atreus will be in combat, however, where he'll support his angry Spartan father in taking on whatever threat opposes them. At first we were a little worried about having to babysit a child during intense action sequences, but Barlog assures us that the boy won't be a hindrance from a gameplay point of view. He'll be perfectly capable of taking care of himself in combat and avoid damage by staying out of reach.
And speaking of combat, the gory hack-and-slash gameplay that the series is known for looked spectacular in the gameplay demonstration we got to see at E3 earlier this summer. Kratos may be older and a bit slower, but he's still a warrior, and he's still very angry. Leaving the Blades of Chaos back in Greece, he'll instead use an axe infused with a magical blue glow, which also seems to have boomerang-like qualities since it always comes flying back to him. In the trailer, Kratos slashes his weapon at enemies, cutting and decapitating them one at a time, and at one point he throws the axe far away into some poor sucker's skull. The Spartan then proceeds to pummel his opponents with his fists instead, throwing punches left and right, breaking necks and curb-stopping heads, while at the same time protecting himself with a shield that's attached to his left arm.
All of a sudden - in the middle of a combo, mind you - the axe returns to Kratos, who grabs hold of it and uses it to tear the limbs of his foes. He then delivers some violent executions, and he can be seen screaming like a mad man with warm blood splashed all over his face. It looked absolutely brutal, while at the same time very, very fun. This kind of madness isn't new to the series of course, but it feels like the violence is more justified this time around. Kratos isn't fighting out of pure rage anymore - he's fighting for the survival of his son. And we can get behind that.
Actual character development isn't the only big change coming to the God of War formula though. While previous titles followed a linear path and didn't allow for manual camera control, Barlog says this next chapter will feature a huge game world that'll encourage players to explore its frozen wastes, beautiful fjords, and thick swamplands. Wandering off the beaten path often leads to secret locations, rife with collectables and resources that can be used for crafting. Every inch of the world will be dangerous and filled with mythological beasts such as direwolves, undead ghouls, dragons, and colossal trolls. The E3 trailer even closed out with an appearance of Jörmungandr, the World Serpent that, according to myth, was so big that it surrounded the earth. We're looking forward to meeting him properly.
This new and improved God of War sure looks like a great next step for the bloodthirsty Spartan. Many of us here at Gamereactor were blown away when the game was first revealed at Sony's E3 press conference last year, and yet again this year when the new trailer hit. We've always liked the series because of its use of mythology, however, we've also found the gameplay to be somewhat repetitive. And let's face it; Kratos never really resonated with many people since he was very one-dimensional in his heated, sociopathic rage. After six main entries in the franchise some people no doubt suffered from severe God of War fatigue, but this new adventure might just change that.
With an intriguing plot, a beautiful, Nordic wilderness, some reimagined action, and hundreds of new monsters to slay, we couldn't be more excited about the next chapter in the God of War series. So sharpen your axe and stop shaving right now, cause we're going hunting for gods with Kratos & Son early next year.