I spend a lot of time in the gym, shave my head, and have no friends due to uncontrollable anger issues. Naturally, I have always loved the God of War franchise because I can strongly identify with Kratos. But just like all forms of entertainment we enjoy, they either need to evolve or die. After completing God of War: Ascension, a game that can be best summed up with the word “meh,” I felt it was time to let the series die with dignity lest it become a parody of itself. Ascension was not terrible, it was just exceptionally mediocre and completely unnecessary. God of War III was a grand finale to the story of Kratos, and with almost every major Greek god and legendary figure dead, there really was no where else for that saga to go. Plus it had this really awesome song.
A few months ago when I came across some rumor that speculated Kratos would be returning in a Norse setting, I was cautiously excited. Valhalla seems like it would be heaven for blood thirsty Kratos, and this opens up a brand new pantheon of gods for Kratos to kill. On the other hand, reboots are often attempts at milking a dried up cash cow when there are not any good new ideas, so part of me hoped these rumors were not true. I would much rather see this beloved franchise laid to rest with dignity than see Sony pump out lackluster titles in hopes they sell on brand name alone.
E3 confirmed these rumors with a trailer for the reboot simply titled God of War. Throughout the series Kratos gradually loses his humanity as his rage driven quest for vengeance consumes him. Watching this trailer we see Kratos is living somewhere in Scandinavia with a son who appears to have not yet been killed by Kratos while under the influence of some divine trickery. Kratos, who does not strike me as one to have a coddling approach to parenting, is teaching his son how to hunt in the manner one would expect Kratos to. The hunt runs into some snags such as a troll attack, but none of these mishaps cause Kratos to lose focus of the main goal being to turn his son into a hunter. The toughness and combat prowess we have grown to expect over the years is present, but this is the most caring and human Kratos has appeared since the encounter with his daughter in Chains of Olympus. The combat in the trailer was sparse for a God of War game, and the overall feel of the trailer felt like a mix between God of War and the level in The Last of Us where the player gets to control Ellie.
Rebooting a popular franchise is something I am always skeptical of, but there have been some recent games that come to mind that show while reboots usually fail they can also be pretty awesome if done properly. In the case of God of War, doing anything else in Greece is just beating a dead Trojan Horse. That pantheon only has the most obscure and unknown gods left alive, and how many prequels do we really need? The trailer doesn’t give enough to make a judgement call on the overall gameplay, but it does appear this will be different from the previous six games. The only fear that I have is the whole game will be a father and son outing between Kratos and his son. The inclusion of the Kratos spawn could add an interesting level to his character development, but making him a constant companion I have some major doubts on his lasting appeal.
The actual release will determine if this reboot is worthwhile, but from the limited information presented I am optimistic. This does appear to be a new direction for the franchise, but if I wanted more of the same I would just replay the original trilogy. Ascension had me convinced the franchise needed to end, this trailer tells me otherwise, that God of War just needs a new beginning.