The new God of War’s debut was a fantastic way to kick off Sony’s press conference, with the demo being shown off not only highlighting Kratos’ new look and attitude, but a more refined and methodical combat system. I got a chance to see a slightly different take on the demo at Sony’s booth, and I was really encouraged by what I saw. The guys from Sony Santa Monica were keen to impress that this is, first and foremost, a story about Kratos and his son. They are going on an adventure, and this new game is a much more considered and intimate affair than the previous chaotic outings. The Norse mythology has seemingly allowed for a huge shift in the tone of the environments, not only being much more cold and intimidating, but also much more stripped back and less lavish than their Greek counterparts.
The most immediate difference to the game is the new camera angle, moving from a semi-fixed long range perspective to a much tighter over-the-shoulder third person view. It’s a little jarring at first, but the game settles into it quite quickly. The reasoning behind the change is, initially, to ensure that Kratos’ son is able to be kept in view at all times, and for the most part it seems to work. It also allows for some more thorough sweeping of environments and much more exploration than the previous games have had. Kratos will be able to wander round the slightly more open environments and pick up collectibles and crafting materials. Gone are the all-encompassing red orbs which upgrade everything, replaced by different materials that will allow you to craft multiple additions to your arsenal. On that note, the Blades of Chaos have also been jettisoned, with Kratos utilising an axe throughout the demo. Elemental damage can be added to the weaponry, which will in turn counteract many of the damage dealt by enemies throughout. For example, the troll in the stage (and this) demo was actually a fire troll, and with the ice ability infused into the axe that Kratos wielded, this gave him a nice edge.
Kratos’ son is going to be a focal point in the game, by the sounds of things, to the point where there is going to be a dedicated “Son button” in the control scheme. This will allow the boy to carry out a number of actions, such as crowd control with arrows, or finishing off enemies if need be. It’s a mechanic that worked well in The Last Of Us, and the staff on hand were keen to point out that there is much more to it than Ellie’s relatively passive turn. If you want something to happen, tap the button and your son will do whatever is deemed necessary. During the troll fight, there was a barrage of lightning-infused arrows being pelted at enemies, which made things a little easier for Kratos to deal much more damage than previously.
One of the most important aspects of becoming a parent, so I’m told, is learning to control your rage. Of course, Kratos has never been the most calm of folks, and as such is going to have to learn to curb that temper. Of course, it’ll be OK to let it out in small doses, and that’s what the “Spartan Rage” trigger was all about in the demo. Not only is it a great way to let out the fury and have a massive damage-inflicting set of moves, but it’s also a mechanic that could be used to protect your son at certain moments. Of course, as shown, there will be moments when your rage meter is flared up by certain actions that your kid will take, but boys will be boys, right?!
When Kratos stepped out from the shadows during the Sony press conference, the audience were sent into raptures. As the demo unfolded, the new camera angle and mechanics started to unfold and make a bit of sense. What I got to see in the extended demo only strengthened the showing at the press conference, and I’m really hopeful that Sony Santa Monica can build on this and create an amazing entry in a series that I felt needed a shake-up.