God of War has you enlisting the help of the World Serpent (aka GIGANTIC SNAKE), coming early 2018

Fast facts

  • God of War release date: Early 2018
  • Format: PS4
  • Developer: Sony Santa Monica
  • Price: $59.99 / £54.99

Sony's E3 press conference gave us another glimpse of the upcoming God of War reboot-ish thing on PS4. There's was a ton of combat, of course, against foes both great and small, and the trailer hammered home the relationship between Kratos and his son even more. But the most surprising thing was the big hecking snake Kratos had a chance to chat with out in the middle of the ocean.

They refer to him as the World Serpent, which according to Norse mythology, it's usually bad news if he shows up - if he releases his tail, Ragnarok (the Norse apocalypse) has officially begun. (Fun fact: the name the Norse name for the World Serpent is Jörmungandr, which means "huge monster". Fitting.)

Why is Kratos looking for help from a big dang snake/harbinger of the end of the world? No idea, but we'll probably find out when it comes out in early 2018.

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. And read on for everything else we know.

God of War release date will be early 2018

After a few rumors to a 2018 release, Sony's E3 2017 conference confirmed that God of War will hit PS4 some time early next year.

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. 

We’ve known for a while Kratos’ more fatherly/less murdery reboot will focus a lot more on story than its cyclops-stomping predecessors. Yet God of War on PS4 isn’t undergoing such a radical tonal shift just because the franchise has been creatively stale since GOW: Ascension hit PS3. In an interview with Glixel, Sony’s Jim Ryan admits the change in direction is partly motivated by the desire to address the series’ poor European sales figures. 

“It’s a franchise that has historically acutely underperformed in Europe,” said the firm’s global head of marketing and sales. Ryan’s next comments read like he blames Kratos’ inability to shift copies in those oh so sophisticated European territories on the fact God of War’s story has always been an irrelevant side distraction. "Hack and slash games tend to not do so well in Europe, so the narrative this time around will make a big difference. European gamers love narrative games. And Singstar."

Considering so many of Sony’s recent first-party big hitters have been heavy on narrative - Uncharted 4, The Last of Us, Horizon Zero Dawn - it makes sense Kratos’ PS4 coming out party will up the story stakes.

God of War Collector's Edition is damn impressive

God bless online retailers and their tendency to tell us about God of War collector's editions we probably shouldn't now about yet. Especially considering that voice actor Christopher Judge now has a 2018 date on his twitter profile. 

Judge had listed it as 2017 at one point but then quietly changed it when no one was looking. No so much a delay as we had no date before but it defintely looks like it's not happening this year. Hopefully we'll get more at E3 at least. 

As for the 200 Euro collector's edition, it was spotted on a German retailer's page and allegedly includes all this: 

9 inch statue of Kratos & Atreus battling 2 Helmsters
Two carved sons toys Figurines
Steelbook case
Exclusive lithograph print
Cloth gameworld map
Digital soundtrack
Exclusive dynamic theme
Shield pack containing 3 in-game shields

There's a few things to pick out there. Helmsters I'm assuming are the draugr we saw Kratos fighting in the original reveal. And, while we've not seen any shields yet, that shield pack suggests they're in the game and there's more then a few, albeit possibly just with cosmetic differences.  

Whatever we're getting, director Cory Barlog sounds positive on twitter though about the game. He's not giving much away talking to fans, but it all sounds encouraging. 

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? 

Until recently Kratos’ son was only referred to as ‘Boy’ and Sony had been very cagey about giving too much away. There were also some rumours about tattoos seen in the reveal trailer that were dismissed very quickly. However, metadata from the game's soundtrack has finally identified the little godling. 

The track data for 'God Of War E3 2016 Overture Live' includes the line 'An introduction to Kratos and Atreus'. Creative director Cory Barlog has since confirmed this is the son's name.

So who was Atreus? Well he was the son of Pelops and the grandson of Zeus, which would still work with Kratos as his dad. Historically though, Atreus was banished after murdering a brother and eventually became king of Mycenae in Greece. That ties in less well with being a child in viking times but then God Of War has alway played a little fast and loose with canon. 

We defintely know how he functions in the game at least. 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.