New Info on Combat and Weapons for God of War. Developers at SCE Santa Monica show their work on the upcoming PS4 Exclusive Game.

Today Sony Interactive Entertainment released a new episode of the Lost Pages of Norse Myth, on the God of War official website, alongside some new assets focusing on weapons.

First of all, we get to look at models for Kratos’ axe, the Leviathan, forged by the dwarven brothers Brok and Sindri to restore balance to the realm. The second is Kratos’ shield, described as “quick as a flash, but withstanding blows that would tear ordinary defenses asunder. It’s an armament worthy of a true guardian.” The third is Atreus’ bow. You can see them in the gallery at the bottom of the post, included views from all angles.

On top of this, we hear from Lead Gameplay Designer Jason McDonald and Lead Gameplay Engineer Jeet Shroff.

We hear that the Spartan roots of brutality and efficiency in battle are still part of Kratos, but now that he has a son, he needs to find a way to convey those standards to him, but not as over the top as he used to be. He is not driven by vengeance anymore, and using violence is now more of a way to protect Atreus.

Kratos is still a very physical fighter, while Atreus has more connections with Norse magic and lore. The developers were a bit vague on Kratos’ son’sl magical abilities. They just said that “he takes a more magical approach to getting things done. He is more involved with that sort of world.” Kratos has a bad history with gods, so he hesitates to get involved with it, while Atreus is more open to it because he doesn’t have the same kind of experiences.

Since the camera is much closer to Kratos than in previous games, the player’s visibility in terms of crowd control is more limited, so Atreus takes up that role in terms of “handling the crowd” and various threats on Kratos.

The goal is to still have the brutality and fierceness of God of War combat but giving it more nuance. We hear an example in which in the past games Kratos would rip an enemy’s arm off and then repeatedly stab him. Now he still does some things like that, but he is not “super-angry” anymore, so in that case just ripping the arm off would be enough. He is trying to bottle up his rage as opposed to unleash it all the time.

He uses that rage only when needed for actual survival or protection, and in other cases he is trying to gain control over it, creating a dynamic between narrative and combat. Figuring out that balance was interesting for the development team.

Kratos has an actual rage mode, in which he does things pretty much like he did in the past, as opposed to pretty much being in that mode all the time. While developers wanted to retain a little bit of the button mashing from the past games, they also decided to take on more RPG-like mechanics in terms of what you can equip. The game is “a lot longer” than older entries in the series, so there are a lot more items to find. That’s a “very important part of the equation.”

Key to the combat experience is giving player choice in terms of where to look (due to the closer camera) and be tactical, being able to switch between axe and bare hands, or using Atreus’ abilities, also providing a more grounded experience.

Players will still expect fast-paced combat, and the folks at SCE Santa Monica are committed to delivering it, but with a layer of choice and additional control.

Director Cory Barlog wanted the axe to feel “right from the start” as it’s a primary change in the game. Kratos’ shield is a completely new element. Part of the idea behind it is providing a Viking feel with the iconic big shield and weapon. Yet they did not want Kratos to walk around with a giant shield all the time, so the had the idea of making it appear and disappear when needed. Many doubted the idea at the beginning, but ultimately the feedback has been very positive. Developers weren’t sure that it would actually make it into the game, but now it’s a staple of Kratos’ fighting style.

Atreus always had a bow in Barlog’s vision for the game. It’s also good for the systems design side of things because he doesn’t need to run up to every enemy and get into the player’s way.  Kratos can still throw his axe, but he is still primarily a melee fighter. On the other hand, Atreus has more “crazy” abilities when it comes to range, and that’s a balance that works well for the game.

As we heard before, Atreus has his own button. He can initiate various actions on his own, but he normally saves his best abilities from when his father commands him to use them. That’s what the button is all about. Using it will let players unleash Atreus’ most powerful skills at the moment when they actually want it. It’s an important part of the player’s decision making in terms of extending combos or devastating enemies. He is basically an extension of Kratos’ arsenal in combat, and also outside of battle.

A very important element for the team was that the player would not forget about Atreus when in the heat of battle. They made sure he feels useful and a relevant part of the game. Kratos needs Atreus just as much as his son needs him.

Developers also pulled away from the traditional quicktime events from the old God of War games. Those cinematic actions are still present, but they’re not random buttons anymore. They correspond to the appropriate combat buttons that you would expect for each action.

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God of War will be released exclusively for PS4 in 2018.

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