I was once a pretty conservative teenager, which meant the God of War franchise was certainly not for me! Gore!? Hidden sexy mini-games!?? NO WAY! But now, a few years on (just a few, ok!?), I am well and truly a GoW convert.
I could be lying, but I think God of War (2018) might have been the first game I awarded a 10/10 and, for those of you that have played God of War: Ragnarok, I’m sure you’ll agree it was a phenomenal follow-up.
So hopefully you’ll understand how VERY amped I was, to be invited along to a God of War Ragnarok launch celebration, with Jaz, which consisted of a Viking inspired breakfast (cold meats and porridge), an axe-throwing competition and a round table where we interviewed two of designers from Santa Monica Studio.
Getting to speak directly with Lead Combat Designers Mihir Sheth and Denny Yeh was definitely my personal event highlight! There was a lot of interest from the panel as to how both designers approached the combat design in a way that stayed true to what gamers loved about God of War (2018) while still introducing fresh ideas and experiences. Danny Yeh, whose main development focus was Boss combat, discussed how something as simple as increasing the functionality of the triangle button (no longer simply a weapon recall), could be a complete game changer for fans of the franchise. “We’re trying to really build upon what we learned from the last game and also expand the ways that the player can engage with the game… There’s a lot more tools that Kratos has at its disposal.”
Mihir Sheth, whose development focus was the main characters and companion side of combat, further elaborated on how this approach was applied across the board to create familiar but still exciting experiences for the player, “even just taking Atreus as a character that everyone is familiar with from GoW 2018, he’s a little bit older now, right? Like, he was a young kid. Now he’s a little bit more like a teenager. He still respects Kratos, especially in combat. He’s definitely taking orders and doing all that, but he wants to prove himself. He wants to kind of show off a little bit. He wants to get in there.” Mihir discussed how they painstakingly thought through every character’s combat styles and animations, how they would have adapted and changed since we saw them last in God of War 2018 and how important they are for the overall narrative and individual character arcs.
For me, games like God of War: Ragnarok are some of the best forms of entertainment because not only do you face challenges through combat and quests but you also get completely immersed in a blockbuster-movie quality narrative and visual experience which is accessible to anyone willing to give it a try! From chatting to Mihir and Denny it’s clear that games like this are also a labour of love from a dedicated and passionate team of people who are always striving to improve on what has come before and think up new ways of making gaming accessible to everyone.