The big angry Spartan is back. Older, beardier and more viking-e-er as the new God Of War sees Kratos exploring Norse mythology. How he’s left behind ancient Greece for mountains full of dragons isn’t clear, but a lot's changed including combat, monsters and… oh yeah, he’s had a son.
The addition of the offspring turns this new instalment into a buddy movie of sorts with Kratos Jr along for the whole game as a semi-controllable NPC. Not only does that affect combat and storytelling but, most importantly, it affects Kratos, as he tries to fight his inner anger demons to set a good example for his boy.
With no firm release date yet God of War is looking likely for 2017.
Quite how Kratos is now living in viking times isn't clear but it is the same guy, with the ability to deploy his Spartan rage when he wants to pound monster heads. However, this is a vastly different man now - he's trying to change his ways and deal with the anger he now blames for all his misfortune. And that's partly because he's a father. Which brings us on to...
Kratos’ son is only referred to as ‘Boy’ so far but the implication is that he may well be a god in the making. Sony are refusing to talk about it, but sort of confirmed something’s going on when they were asked directly if his name would be revelatory - cue much nervous laughter and avoidance. Current theory is that he could be Ullr, a norse god known for his archery skills and with a father that history never recorded.
While the identity of the son is a mystery, we know a little about how he functions in the game. While accompanying Kratos he can fight alongside pops with the player using a dedicated button to make him fire arrows at whoever you’re attacking. You always actually play as Kratos though, apart from small interactive moments where you can direct the son and use that to advance his skills.
Sony keep referring to the new setting as just ‘Norse Mythology’. There’s not much clue yet as to the actual location or time period. Given that the original games played pretty loosely with Greek canon it’s no surprise that this is probably not going to be an exercise in scholarly history - more a mash up of just about every cool thing you can imagine from the lore.
Gone are the iconic chained Blades of Athena, and instead Kratos now has an axe. Combat’s moved to the trigger buttons and lets you juggle hacking blows and fists, while throwing and recalling the axe as a projectile. There’s a hint of magic involved with some blue runes inflicting ice damage, suggesting we might see some other elemental effects.
Kratos still has his Spartan Rage, as we mentioned, which can be used to destroy opponents in a savage flurry of blows - so far we’ve seen him destroy a 20 foot troll with his bare hands with it. He also gets some help from the boy, who can loose electric arrows for a little fire support on command.
So far Sony has only really said ‘What do you think?’ when asked about fighting gods. So, yes. In terms of definite enemies, we know that Draugr are in, as a sort of grunt level enemy. And there’s at least one troll behaving very much like the old game’s cyclops, plus there's a dragon seen flying around (again, Sony won’t say if Kratos will fight one, so another yes there).
However, there are a few clues hidden in the gameplay reveal, such as a mystery flying enemy and a suspiciously moving patch of ground that might well be a giant snake. You can check that out below...