Even with an axe, Kratos is still fluid and brutal in God Of War

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God of Warts

If you had to assemble a list of the most iconic weapons in video game history, the Blades of Athena wielded by Kratos would easily make the cut. Heh. You want a reason why those chain-blades deserve so much love? It’s because they added a sense of fluidity and speed to God of War, putting the laughter in slaughter as players tackled the genre in the most exciting and frenzied way possible.

For the latest God of War game, Kratos is done swinging the chain. The burly god-slayer is making do with a simple axe instead, one that has certain properties attached to it that would give a certain Odinson some weapon envy. “He probably had one of the more iconic weapons out there, everybody knows what his weapons used to be,” lead gameplay designer Jason McDonald said to Game Informer of the weapon switch.

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what if we just allowed him to recall his axe similar to how Thor recalls his hammer?

At first, the running joke in the studio was that he had this home depo axe that he was just hacking everybody with, because it’s first conception. The axe didn’t have anything very special about it. So it took a while for us to do the first prototype where we actually had him throwing it.

As we were concepting the game, we had a lot of animation previews , where an animator could go in there and give examples of what Kratos could be doing. They would show him swinging the axe in different ways, sometimes they would throw it but every time they would throw it they’d be ‘how would he get it back he just threw his axe away’.

Eventually one of our designers came up with the idea of ‘what if we just allowed him to recall his axe similar to how Thor recalls his hammer?’. It’s a very Norse thing. We put that in the game and we did it immediately resonated with everybody that saw it.

Even with the ability to recall it, the axe still presents a radical new approach to how Kratos fights. God of War is now a game where every battle is much more personal as you close in and find yourself surrounded by Norse beasties like groupies trying to tear the flesh off of Neil Diamond. It’s a decision that made for a more “grounded” God of War experience, says McDonald:

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the game started to get some of its mythical elements back into the core gameplay design

The core direction of this game was a very grounded approach, so that’s why the axe was very basic and almost everything Kratos was doing was very basic. So right when we started introducing that mythology of the axe having this magical element of recalling it and throwing it out and stuff like that, It started to cascade into other decisions. What if we started doing this thing, and we started doing this and did that?

Basically the game started to get some of its mythical elements back into the core gameplay design which was great.

All God Of War games have had a very fast and fluid combat, so for this game it’s like when you jump in there, it’s a little bit slower than previous God of War games but it’s just as fluid and just as brutal as its ever been. Basically now, the player we kind of expect him to think about his surroundings a little more, think about how Atreus can help him with combat and help with enemies. We expect you to have a little bit more moment to moment decision-making than in the past because you do have to watch your backside a little bit.

Said weapon also allows you to “axe” some questions when you’re tearing the Norse pantheon a new one. Ha, axe jokes are never not funny.

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Last Updated: January 18, 2018

Darryn Bonthuys

Something wrong gentlemen? You come here prepared to read the words of a madman, and instead found a lunatic obsessed with comics, Batman and Raul Julia's M Bison performance in the 1994 Street Fighter movie? Fine! Keep your bio! In fact, now might be a good time to pray to it!

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