Full disclosure: I’m a full-out PC gamer, though by circumstance rather than choice. I didn’t own my own console growing up and any exposure to console games would be going to my cousin’s place and playing games on his. Enter the God of War series. I will admit that it is one of two series of games that I’ve completed, so my love for this game shows no bounds. Though like quite a number of people, I was excited yet sceptical when they announced a new instalment to the series. I was amongst the first in the world to get some hands-on time with the new God of War game and the amount of excitement I feel is unexplainable. Although I only got to play the first three hours of this installment (for now), it’s given me plenty to say gameplay-wise.
The game is beautiful. Even more so in 4K. I got to play the first 3 hours of the game on a PS4 Pro, on a 4K screen to boot, and I swear my gameplay went over 3 hours because I was just in awe of how beautifully crafted this game’s environments are. Even character designs are insanely beautiful; Kratos’ amber eyes blaze every time he’s in frame, Atreus’ blue eyes shine. All the scars and hair strands and freckles are rendered so well. The change in camera angle from cinematic to third-person isn’t awkward at all. In fact, it is the best decision they could have made because immersion is just that much better. Big props to the design team for making everything just so Kratos-damn beautiful. I can not say that enough.
Kratos has given up his chain-blades and now he fights with the most epic of axes, the Leviathan Axe. It acts a bit like the Thor’s Hammer that we know of in the Marvel universe, you can slice through enemies with it or you can throw it at them and have it boomerang back to you, and if you do it just right it’ll deal double-damage and hit multiple enemies. You can upgrade it and equip runes for an extra kick as you progress in the game. You also get to unlock combos, per usual God of War fashion. I’m not sure if we will get access to other weapons, at this point I can only assume that we’ll get a magical head like we did with Medusa’s, from what I’ve seen in a trailer snippet.
Atreus is a whole new addition to the God of War system. He is the son and mentee of Kratos and is your support throughout your adventure in the Norse forests. Throughout my gameplay, I found that he is in no way a nuisance. He doesn’t get in your way, his health-bar is non-existent (as far as I can tell) but he can get captured by enemy Draugr whereby I do believe he can be harmed. My instincts didn’t let me put that to the test, however. Atreus can distract enemies with his bow and arrow or keep them at bay by jumping on their back and strangle them with his bowstring.
Within those first three hours, I got to experience interactions between Kratos and Atreus first-hand. I must say that I never thought a God of War game could make me feel the way I did. One famous cutscene now is when Atreus successfully hunts his first deer. If I wasn’t surrounded by other people, I know for a fact I would have teared up. Kratos, now a single-parent, learns to be a father and a human again as he protects Atreus from the dangers that await them and at the same time, keeps his infamous rage in check. Norse Gods find out about Kratos’ presence in their land and keep a wary eye on him but I’m sure there will be plenty of godly battles along the way. My only question is: how different will Kratos’ interactions be with these unfamiliar gods?
The team at Santa Monica Studios really used this last 5 years to give what we the fans had been asking for and so far, it’s pretty spot-on. We didn’t want another game about an angry, vengeful Kratos killing more Greek gods - so now we’ve been given a new mythology, a new storyline and a whole new kind of Kratos: a god, a human, a father; Norse myth instead of Greeco-Roman, protection rather than vengeance. How far this father-son relationship will go, I can not say for sure, we will have to wait and find out.
God of War will be released April 20th this year and is a Playstation exclusive. Two digital editions are currently available for pre-order on PSN for RM209 (regular edition) and RM249 (deluxe edition). A physical edition is available for pre-order at Gamer’s Hideout for RM229. Both pre-order versions come with special shield-skins and XP bonus. A “collector’s edition” is also available for RM549 and comes with limited-edition physical collectables like a 9-inch Kratos and Atreus statue, 2-inch Huldra brothers wood-carvings, an exclusive lithograph, a cloth map, a special necklace and a drawstring bag along with digital content.