God of War's new combat, viking Kratos, gameplay, release date and everything you need to know

The big angry Spartan is back. Older, beardier and more viking-e-er as the new God of War sees Kratos exploring Norse mythology. How he’s left behind ancient Greece for mountains full of dragons isn’t clear, but a lot's changed including combat, monsters and… oh yeah, he’s had a son. 

The addition of the offspring turns this new instalment into a buddy movie of sorts with Kratos Jr along for the whole game as a semi-controllable NPC. Not only does that affect combat and storytelling but, most importantly, it affects Kratos, as he tries to fight his inner anger demons to set a good example for his boy. 

Here's the current, official spiel to set up the story: 

"It is a new beginning for Kratos. Living as a man, outside the shadow of the gods, he seeks solitude in the unfamiliar lands of Norse mythology.  With new purpose and his son at his side, Kratos must fight for survival as powerful forces threaten to disrupt the new life he has created..."

God of War release date is still pretty vague

With no firm release date yet, it's looking likely that God of War is going to be released in 2017. 

God of War trailer involves less rage than you'd expect

The beautiful Norse world is shown off in all its glory in the 9-minute long trailer previewed at 2016's E3. The forest floor is covered in snow, elks jump out from behind towering trees, and the ice glistens beneath Kratos' feet. These graphics would steal show were it not for the fact that the Spartan is no longer alone. Running alongside him is his son (who has yet to be named), who Kratos is beginning to teach the art of combat and who also happens to be beautifully animated. Take a look at the trailer to see him for yourself! 

God of War gameplay brings you closer to Kratos (literally)

The basic 'getting angry and killing things' idea is still in place but this time with a tight, more personal third person camera. The idea is to use the environment to do more of the story telling - at E3 Sony showed off some gorgeous locations full of tiny little details that would have been missed in the older, more distant view. 

You can still upgrade abilities, although via a XP-based system this time. There are also resources to collect although what you do with these has yet to be explained. 

God of War story features the same Kratos trying to change his ways

Quite how Kratos is now living in viking times isn't clear but it is the same guy. That's made clear by his ability to deploy his Spartan rage when he wants to pound monster heads (and Sony specifically confirming it's him). However, this is a vastly different man now. He's still a very angry human but he's trying to change his ways as he blames his rage for all his past misfortunes. And that's partly because he's a father now. Which brings us on to...

Who is Kratos' son in God of War? 

Kratos’ son is only referred to as ‘Boy’ so far but the implication is that he may well be a god in the making. Sony are refusing to talk about it, but sort of confirmed something’s going on when they were asked directly if his name would be revelatory - cue much nervous laughter and avoidance. There's mention of 'the dark lineage he's passed on to his son' suggesting some god like inheritance or power. Current theory is that he could be Ullr, a Norse god known for his archery skills and with a father that history never recorded.  

While the identity of the son is currently a mystery, we know a little about how he functions in the game. While accompanying Kratos he can fight alongside pops, with the player using a dedicated button to make him fire arrows at whoever you’re attacking. You always actually play as Kratos though, apart from small interactive moments where you can direct the son and use that to advance his skills.

Where is God of War set now? 

Sony keep referring to the new setting as just 'Norse Mythology'. There’s not much clue yet as to the actual location or time period. Given that the original games played pretty loosely with Greek canon it’s no surprise that this is probably not going to be an exercise in scholarly history - more a mash up of just about every cool thing you can imagine from the lore. 

How has God Of War's combat changed? 

Gone are those iconic chained Blades of Athena, and instead Kratos now has an axe. Combat’s moved to the trigger buttons and lets you juggle hacking blows and fists, while throwing and recalling the axe as a projectile. There’s a hint of magic involved, with some blue runes inflicting ice damage, suggesting we might see some other elemental effects. 

Kratos still has his Spartan Rage, as we mentioned, which can be used to destroy opponents in a savage flurry of blows - so far we’ve seen him destroy a 20 foot troll with his bare hands with it. He also gets some help from the boy, who can loose electric arrows on command for a little fire support.

Does the new God of War still have you killing gods and monsters? 

So far Sony has only really said 'What do you think?' when asked about fighting gods. So, yes. In terms of definite enemies, we know that Draugr are in, as a sort of grunt-level enemy. And there’s at least one troll behaving very much like the old game’s cyclops. Plus there's a dragon seen flying around (again, Sony won’t say if Kratos will fight one, so another yes there). 

However, there are a few clues hidden in the gameplay reveal, such as a mystery flying enemy and a suspiciously moving patch of ground that might well be a giant snake. You can check all that out below...

Who's making the new God of War? 

Well, Sony Santa Monica obviously. But! Cory Barlog is directing the new game. He worked on the first installment in the series and directed the second one (considered the best by many people). Despite all the changes to the camera, gameplay and setting, this is one of the men that made Kratos so no one gets that character more. 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

In former lives Leon's been a scientist, a musician and teacher, stints that included a shoe full of liquid nitrogen, a small tour of Germany and oh GOD so much marking.

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