Santa Monica Studio’s stunning reinvention of God of War demonstrates an application of risk afforded by developers of successful consoles.
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It was a reveal that surprised most in attendance and those watching at home. While a new God Of War game was rumoured a few weeks ago to be revealed at E3 2016, no one expected what we saw today.
I have to admit that I have never been a massive fan of God Of War. The first game on PlayStation 2 was memorable enough, amplifying an arcadey action style that would be carried through two generations before eventually tiring out. I haven’t been crazy about the more recent entries, and while they’re objectively fine in their own right, they didn’t quite stand out as much as one might expect first-party exclusives to.
Games like The Last Of Us, the Uncharted series, Bloodborne, and even Until Dawn have helped define the PlayStation experience over the last few years, while God Of War has for the same period been in dire need of a new direction.
What we saw during PlayStation’s E3 2016 press conference is an evolved God Of War, one that amplifies a similar sense of empowerment and fury that epitomizes Kratos’ identity. Despite such a significant change in viewpoint, pacing, action and freedom, this new God Of War experience still maintains the character of the series proper.
Introducing Kratos to a world of Norse mythology, the combat is clearly inspired by the likes of Dark Souls, while survival and collaboration elements seemingly share the DNA of Naughty Dog’s The Last Of Us.
I guess in some regard calling this new God Of War a “risk” is hyperbolic. After all, it’s not like God Of War sales have dropped off, or that the series has lost much in the way of fans. I’m probably in the minority of people who have played all God Of War games and don’t love the franchise, but I think most will appreciate the shift in perspective and tone as much as I do.
Could Santa Monica and Sony have afforded such a significant change to a major franchise if the PS4 wasn’t tracking as well as it is? I’m sure they could have either way, but there’s a level of confidence coming out of Sony that they probably feel they can do no wrong. Even though I feel their console and VR philosophy is divisive, Sony seems hellbent on sticking to a plan than embodies its virtual reality goals and continues to expand upon and evolve its most beloved franchises.
As such, God Of War‘s evolution is similar to the PS4’s growth as a console, and Sony’s inspiring confidence to take risks, and trust its first-party studios to successfully redefine the PlayStation’s defining franchises.
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