As E3 draws near God of War is, unsurprisingly, quiet, likely building up for a big reveal at Sony's conference. Director Cory Barlog isn't giving much away but seems positive talking to fans on Twitter.
@BlindGalo @rafagrassetti @SonySantaMonica If I had things I could say I would. Things are good and game is looking better every day!April 19, 2017
He's also setting fears to rest from people questioning why the studio is still hiring developers at this late stage.
@nyrolf88 nothing wrong, games are just very big, very complicated, require constant collaboration with lots of different experts. not2worryApril 19, 2017
That's likely after Sony Santa Monica's technical director Ben Goldstein had been looking specifically for engine people at GDC in February:
Interested in Pipeline and Engine architecture? Looking for a new challenge? Let's talk! I'll be at #GDC17. DM me if you're interested.February 27, 2017
The specifics of that hiring suggests the games close to finishing. 'Pipeline and engine architecture' is basically optimisation stuff: working out how to fit all the things that have to be done through the PS4's CPU and GPU without frame rate drops or other issues. That suggests the basic 'making' is done, now it's just a case of making it look great and work flawlessly for release.
Hopefully, that means new God of War isn't far off and E3 is more or less a given. Whatever we see next, should answer the big questions, like how Kratos got to be a viking? Or a father? There's also a lot more to be said about the new combat so I wouldn't be surprised if we see a big boss battle set piece which would be perfect to show off an improved engine.
Here's what else we know.
God of War release date could be December 29 2017
If anyone knows when God Of War's release date is it's actual God of War Christopher Judge. He provides the voice for Kratos this time and people have noticed that his twitter account simply states 2017 as a date.
On top of that there's a a retail listing from Amazon that it will be out in December 29 2017. Likely a placeholder but one that bets on 2017 as well.
We also had some God of War adverts recently in Spain, something that usually happens nearer release as a rule. Okay it was timed to hit father's day at the time but it's unlikely Sony would have a big PR push for God Of War if the game was still years away.
Check out the ad:
Miren lo que se encontro en el Metro de Madrid, España. xD @brunovelazquez @StudstillS @corybarlog @SonySantaMonica @rafagrassetti pic.twitter.com/5qDTEyGZV5March 14, 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?
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.
Kratos son's name is Atreus, nice discovery @fbanin https://t.co/CURm5wzAGD, download @bearmccreary #E3 Overture https://t.co/Xm8wIRA4cb pic.twitter.com/AD8YORwHxbJanuary 13, 2017
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.