Kratos seems to be an indispensable part of the God of War series, but in fact, Sony Santa Monica thought to discard it early in the development of God of War, which was released in April 2018 on PlayStation 4.
Cory Barlog, director of the acclaimed exclusive PS4, was present at the Gamelab event in Barcelona where he talked about the change of direction in the series and how Kratos was close to taking with the ax.
“At first, people said we had to get rid of Kratos. They said, ‘It’s boring, it’s over.'”
Barlog explains that when Kratos came along, he was an anti-hero at a time when anti-hero games were scarce and the character was designed so people would not like him.
After three games with Kratos, some team members suggested a new protagonist and that God of War is not Kratos, but rather Greek mythology. On the other hand, Barlog advocated a history of redemption, about saving this man from his worst impulses.
“They did not really like the character, they wanted a new character, it took them a while to convince them it was a good idea.”
Atreus, one of the main elements of the game and the reason for Kratos to change, also came close to being out of the game as the team did not like the idea of him having a child.
The “old guard” at Sony Santa Monica was worried about what it would mean for the game, but Barlog gave the example of Naughty Dog’s The Last of Us on how an in-game companion could result and not detract from the player’s experience.
In the midst of development, the pressure to get rid of Atreus increased as programmers and animators were experiencing difficulties with time and resources to make sense of their role in the game.
“At one point, we were going to completely cut the Atreus, mostly because of the budget,” Barlog said, adding that, as a precaution, he had prepared a version of the game without Atreus, but was never presented to the studio managers.
Barlog says the time he spent outside of Sony, especially working alongside filmmakers helped immensely inspire this new version of God of War along with the fact that he himself was a father.
“It took me a few years to assimilate this, and when I came back to Sony, I thought the best thing that had ever happened in my life was the birth of my son.”