Sony explain God of War’s new father and son combat system

It might be the original Kratos returning in the new God of War but not everything is back quite how you remember it. Combat has changed immensely, swapping the wide swimming arcs of the old chained blades for the more tightly focused blows of a hefty axe. I spoke to Sony during a demo at E3 to find out more about the new system. 

“Combat remains, and will always remain, a big part of the franchise,” explains gameplay engineering lead Jeet Shroff, during a demo where Kratos swings around his new toy. The triggers are now used to control this, instead of the old face buttons, and while Shroff won’t go into specifics of how it works, he does say, “the combat team has done great job of mapping that on to the controller”.

Then there’s the ability to throw the axe. It adds a ranged projectile attack, leaving Kratos to launch into a series of pummelling fits blows before magically recalling the axe to his hand and repeating the whole bloody process. On screen it's an interesting texture, and much more focused than the previous game’s more crowd-control orientated action. “Just mixing that play-style between using the axe, throwing the axe away, switching to bare hands, bringing that back and then combining, provides a really fun combat experience,” thinks Shroff. 

There are some area of effect options though, with Kratos able to catch the returning axe in mid-air and land a huge splashy impact called ice smash. He can also twirl it behind his back for a similar effect. In the demo we also saw the weapon seemed to be infused with blue runes that add ice damage to blows. Shroff wouldn’t answer direct questions on other possible effects, or magical buffs but it looks likely we can expect some variations there. 

After the axe, the biggest change to God of War’s combat is that you won’t be fighting alone this time - Kratos' mystery son is an active combatant. “With the introduction of the relationship that exists between Kratos and his son, we didn’t want to just limit that to the narrative. We wanted to try and create a way we could bleed that into combat as well,” says Shroff. 

That means what Shroff is calling “the son button,” a dedicated button to summon the boy in combat. “We can use that to fire those electric arrows that you saw that were electrocuting the Draugr,” he explains. You're not actively targeting enemies however as “it’s kind of based on the targets that Kratos is engaged with”. 

Both Kratos and his son have their own upgradable skills too and it sounds like you’ll eventually be able to build them both out to become dangerous opponents. “As the game progresses you can expect to see the son fighting toe to toe with Kratos taking out enemies on his own” hints Shroff.

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Leon Hurley
Managing editor for guides

I'm GamesRadar's Managing Editor for guides, which means I run GamesRadar's guides and tips content. I also write reviews, previews and features, largely about horror, action adventure, FPS and open world games. I previously worked on Kotaku, and the Official PlayStation Magazine and website.