God of War director explains why Kratos lost his blades and got an axe - it's kinda deep

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As far as ass-kicking goes in God of War, Kratos clearly hasn't lost a step from the last time we saw him. But the gameplay footage shown at the PlayStation E3 2017 press conference re-confirmed that he has lost his trademark ass-kicking implement: the Blades of Athena/Chaos. The wicked chain-swords were at the heart of Kratos' whipping, twirling, combat style. But now Kratos wields a relatively modest (but still magic) axe instead. Cory Barlog explained in an interview why it was important to separate Kratos from his signature weapons.

"We were experimenting with lots of different weapons, lots of different things," Barlog said. "I think we wanted to create an identity, because to me the blades represent a very dark time in [Kratos'] life. They are not just a weapon to him. They are his scarlet letter. They are the marking that somebody tricked him, that he made a bad deal, that he made a mistake. Powerful, but I think also powerfully charged in its emotion. So I think of part of him wanting to move forward is being able to [leave the blades behind]."

The gods of Olympus gave the blades to Kratos, and he had what you might call an unhealthy relationship with Ares and company. The blades represented years of deceit and servitude, and lots and lots of killing. Story aside, putting the blades aside was also a new start for the designers.

"It gives us the freedom to experiment with what we really want to do. I think the magic moment with the axe, honestly, was when a programmer and a combat designer was like, 'I have this cool idea', Barlog said. "Right away the magic of throwing the axe, having it stick anywhere in the world, and then recalling it, and then kind of playing around with that, and realizing you can hit people with it, you can throw it behind them, move in front of them, recall it and hit him in the back.

"So it's like, *gasp* a shield guy's standing in front of you! You lob the axe over him and he's like, 'Ah, I got you!' And then you call it back and hit him in the back. It's just phenomenal. It has so much potential for play that we just realized, alright, this has gotta be something we're gonna do."

Make sure you check out our full E3 2017 schedule to stay tuned for all the details as they arrive, and check out our roundup of all the E3 2017 trailers. For more E3 2017 highlights, check out our Nintendo E3 2017 recap, PlayStation E3 2017 recap, and Xbox E3 2017 recap.