The new God of War game for PlayStation 4 is almost here. One of the first things you may notice is that the combat is changed significantly from past entries in series. We spoke with game director Cory Barlog today about these changes and why the developer, after seven games in the series, thought now was the right time to shake things up with something new.
Asked directly why they changed the combat, Barlog replied, “Because we have made seven games with that combat system.”
Barlog said he challenged the developers at Sony Santa Monica to come up with a new and exciting take on combat–not unlike the challenge for God of War 1 more than a decade ago.
“I was looking around at how incredibly talented our systems and combat team was, and I was like, ‘I need them to take on the challenge that we had on God of War 1.’ That challenge of nobody really knows what that system was when I first got there in 2003. Combat was, I don’t want to say a mess, but it was more like they hadn’t found their sea legs with combat.
“Looking at the new God of War, we need a chance to show what we’ve learned over the last decade. So I didn’t want to change it for the sake of changing it, I wanted it to reflect how all of us [at the studio] have grown up. What we play is different. God of War is a reflection of what we play.”
God of War is not the first established franchise to mix things up in a big way as the franchise moved forward. Barlog pointed to Resident Evil 7, with its first-person camera, as an example of a game whose developers were not afraid to stray from the familiar and do something new.
Resident Evil 7 “shows that creators with a very strong vision and a really good team can make these bold decisions and have the audience follow them, even if they are resistant at the beginning,” Barlog said.
Every time something changes in a big way, there will be an element of “natural resistance” from the audience. Barlog anticipates people may feel the same about how the studio changed God of War’s combat. It’s similar to how people get worked up every time a new James Bond actor is announced or when Facebook changes its layout.
One of the biggest changes to God of War’s combat is that Kratos now wields a special weapon: the Leviathan Axe. Forged by the same blacksmith brothers who made Thor’s Mjolnir, the weapon is incredibly powerful and has mystical properties. The brothers created the weapon after seeing the destruction that Thor inflicted on the world with his hammer that they also created and wanted to make up for it. Additionally, Kratos now fights along his son, Atreus, whom Kratos can command to fire arrows.
Not only that, but the pace of combat is changed to feel slower and more dramatic, without sacrificing how brutal it feels. Further still, the game swaps the singular camera angles of its predecessors for a more fluid over-the-shoulder perspective. While it may seem as if this limits your combat opportunities, it actually provides a novel combat system. Similar to Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice, God of War translates your point-of-view into an up-close-and-personal school of gameplay.
For more on God of War’s new combat, check out GameSpot’s opinion piece: “PS4’s God Of War Finally Fixes The Series’ Tedious Combat – Opinion.” You can also check out GameSpot’s video above where we break down the new combat mechanics.
God of War launches on April 20 for PlayStation 4. GameSpot’s review will go up soon, so keep checking back for that.