Kratos is back. The God of War saga continues April 20 when the latest game in the series, God of War, hits PlayStation 4. God of War: Ascension, the last main entry in the series, did little to excite players who had grown tired of the Greek setting. After all, once all the gods are dead, it’s hard to make a prequel that holds emotional weight.
That brings us to 2018 and God of War. Leaving Greek mythology in the past, God of War takes Kratos into uncharted territory where he’ll tangle with the gods and monsters of Norse mythology. With a new axe and a new son, God of War is set to make significant changes to the franchise’s formula. Here are a few things you should know before hopping into God of War.
God of War is set many years after the events of God of War III. With Zeus dead and his vengeance earned, Kratos has found refuge in the world of the Norse gods. Protecting his son, Arteus, Kratos struggles to put his past behind him as he learns to become a father and mentor. Stuck in a harsh land filled with monsters and warriors and new gods wary of him, Kratos must forge a new path for himself and Arteus.
As a sequel to the previous six games, God of War will reference the previous games. Already released footage suggests that Kratos will run into reminders of his past. In particular, one shot shows his son finding a vase depicting Kratos wielding the Blades of Chaos. Still, God of War also serves as a new chapter in his life. The game will heavily focus on the character’s attempt to put aside hate and rage for the sake of his son. It’s a side of Kratos we barely got to see in the Greek era of games.
With a new setting comes a new cast of characters for Kratos to interact with and potentially kill. It’s unknown, however, if any characters from previous games will return. Athena, the only surviving Olympian, likely still holds a grudge against Kratos for releasing Hope to humanity. It’ll be interesting to see if she turns up and turns the Norse gods against her old ally.
The Blades of Chaos/Athena/Exile that have defined the God of War series for so long are gone. Abandoned by Kratos atop the ruins of Olympus, the Blades are not in this God of War. Instead, Kratos has a new weapon that is equally as deadly.
The Leviathan Axe is his weapon of choice in this strange new world. Much like previous games, players string together light and heavy attacks to weaken an opponent into a stunned state. When stunned, Kratos can grab the enemy and brutally finish them. The axe can also be charged, engulfed in magic, used to interact with the environment, thrown and summoned back to Kratos’ hand. Players will be able to customize their axe with runes that reflect their playstyle.
The Golden Fleece was destroyed in the final battle against Zeus, leaving Kratos without a means to block and deflect attacks. Thankfully, the world of the Norse gods has been kind to the warrior and granted him a mighty shield. It can be used offensively and defensively, and when not in use, folds up neatly on Kratos’ forearm.
God of War takes the franchise forward in many meaningful ways. To do that, however, the franchise needed to say goodbye to many of its signature features.
The fixed cinematic camera is out and a new third-person, over-the-shoulder camera is in. Players now have full control of the camera and can survey their surroundings. Additional control is always excellent, but the old camera was excellent at setting up some epic confrontations. We’ll have to wait and see how it handles a fight like Cronos.
Santa Monica Studios has made it clear that it has no interest in pursuing multiplayer games at this time. God of War: Ascension’s multiplayer experiment is out. God of War is a single player game and will focus solely on the relationship between Kratos and Arteus.
Also out are the linear levels. Previous God of War titles focused on delivering a cinematic, linear experience that continuously pushed players towards the next story beat. The latest God of War game is taking a page out of The Last of Us’ book by offering more open environments that Kratos can explore. While players can travel about on foot, they can also hop in a boat to travel across bodies of water.
After seven games based on Greek mythology, God of War is finally ready to move on. Norse mythology beat out Egyptian mythology to be the new backdrop for the series. Creative Director revealed that Norse won out due to the more isolated and barren civilization at the time, which allows the team to keep the focus on Kratos.
Players will encounter several figures from Norse mythology during Kratos’ journey, including the World Serpent. Various gods will make an appearance and it’s implied they know all about what happened in Greece. They are said to be wary of Kratos’ presence, though they don’t appear to be outright opposing him at the start of the game.
During the time, players will go up against enemies inspired by Norse mythology. These include trolls, ogres, draugrs, revenants and many more. Kratos will also travel to some of the nine realms, though it is unlikely he’ll meet Chris Hemsworth or Tom Hiddleston along the way.
Taking another page from The Last of Us, God of War introduces a young child companion that aides our hero on his journey. Arteus is Kratos’ son and represents a path away from the vengeance that consumed him for so long. Despite being a constant companion for the entire journey, Arteus will be controlled at all times by AI. There will be no co-op in God of War.
Arteus will help Kratos out in combat, including firing arrows that increase an enemy’s stun meter. He also provides traversal, exploration and puzzle-solving aide throughout the journey. While he can’t die in combat, he can be incapacitated if too many enemies gang up on him.
Much like Kratos, Arteus levels up throughout the game. Players can equip new skills, armor and special abilities as they’re earned.
Much like Horizon Zero Dawn, God of War is shaping up to be a showcase piece for PlayStation 4. The game looks gorgeous running on base hardware with impressive attention to detail. Those who own a PS4 Pro and a 4K TV, however, are in for an extra treat.
Players who have both get to enjoy God of War running at a dynamic 4K resolution thanks to a 2160p checkerboard technique. To see how impressive this technique, look for further than Horizon Zero Dawn. Horizon was a visual stunner utilizing this same method and God of War will no doubt also dazzle.
Now, those with a PS4 Pro and no 4KTV won’t be left in the dust. Those with a 1080p TV can still enjoy increase image clarity thanks to supersampling. While you won’t get all the benefits the 4K dynamic resolution offers, you’ll get a more pristine image than base models get. Finally, HDR will be supported across all PS4 models, as long as you own a TV that supports the feature.
Microtransactions, which have come to plague games this-generation, will have no place in God of War. Creative Director Corey Barlog confirmed on Twitter to fans that there will be no microtransactions in God of War.
God of War is out April 20 exclusively on PlayStation 4.