God of War has changed, but is it for the better?
He's back.... Kratos received a roar of applause, cheers, and "awed" shock as he emerged from the shadows during the opening of the Sony E32016 Showcase. Not surprising however, since the PlayStation hero has been silent for nearly 3 years now since the release of God of War: Ascension back in 2013. If you really think about it, since Ascension was a prequel entry to the series, God of War 3 hit shelves 6 years ago, back in 2010. No matter how you try to spin it, it's been a long time since we accompanied the rage filled Spartan on his quest to kill Zeus, king of the gods.
Sony Santa Monica has been silent for a long time on the status of the franchise, except for your collection here and vita release there. However, this silence has officially come to an end with the introduction of the latest entry simply titled, God of War. The name alone makes you question several things about the impending reunion: will this be the same Kratos? Is this a full reboot except for the character? While we are likely months away till we receive answers to these questions, one resounding thing is clear: This is not the same Kratos that we remember.
Events have taken place in the years (I assume) that have past since we last fought with Kratos that has left him with several traits or characteristics that were once foreign to the Spartan. Kratos is quick to cool off after his fight with the troll, resuming his lesson on catching the animal. For the first time in memory, was saw him defuse his anger when his son prematurely shot an arrow at the deer (just let that sink in, the GOD OF WAR just decided to keep his cool). And most notably, there is care in the way that he handles the matters of the dying animal with his child. In 10 minutes, Sony Santa Monica completely changed my preconceived notions with the anger driven character. Now for the first time in the entirety of the franchise, I literally don't know what to expect from the upcoming iteration, and this lack of understanding makes me very excited for what’s to come.
God of War has always been, first and foremost, about the gameplay. This fact, I have honestly never been argued on (because I am saying this, I am sure someone will come out of the woodwork). However, when it came to the character himself, while everyone could tell me the premise of the Spartans background, none really every expressed the notion of caring about the characters well being. Don't get me wrong, I am not implying that every game under the sun needs to have an emotional impact like Journey, but what I AM saying is the act of truly being invested in your character and their outcome can be the difference between being just another game sitting on your shelf that "You need to get back to one day", and a game that you spend sleepless nights battling through. Santa Monica understands this fact, and I think this is why they are moving in this direction.
For those of you worried about the direction they are taking, remember that there is A LOT that we don't know yet. The reason for the drastic change in tone, in my opinion, was to get the audiences attention that this was not going to be your average God of War entry. I have every ounce of faith that the next time we see the Spartan, he will be climbing the back of some gigantic beast (c'mon dragon, c'mon dragon, C'MON DRAGON!) and gutting the poor (?) monster in the classic Kratos Fashion that we have already come to love and know. To those of you looking for a The Last of Us style game, I wouldn't hold my breath if I were you. But if you are interested in a different type of God of War, then I think you will find a lot to be excited for in this upcoming title.