It seems impossible to imagine now, after playing God of War 2018, that anyone thought the story would have been better without Kratos around. But, early during development, there were talks of retiring the bald anti-hero.
Talking at Gamelab in Barcelona (and reported on by Eurogamer), game director Cory Barlog discussed the game’s trajectory and how some bits we absolutely love now were nearly given the axe.
“Early in discussion, people were saying we had to get rid of Kratos. It was like, ‘he’s annoying, he’s done’. They really did not like the character. They wanted a new character. It took a lot of convincing to make them think it was a good idea.”
But Barlog and team took the anti-hero, now older and used the scars of his past to create a character looking for redemption, for a way to control his rage. His new focus, raising and caring for a son. Incidentally, Atreus was nearly cut from the game too.
“[Giving Kratos a son] was not a popular decision in the beginning,” Barlog explained. Some at Sony Santa Monica felt that it would be a boring escort mission, but Barlog countered by pointing to Naughty Dog’s The Last of Us, a game where you have an in-game companion, something bigger and better than an escort quest. “It really needed to boil down to a few simple rules to prevent the player’s experience from sucking.”
Later Atreus was nearly cut due to issues mid-development. “There was a point where we were going to cut Atreus completely. It was mostly due to the budget.”
Barlog attributes his experience in the film industry and spending time with film directors. He took inspiration from Sam Mendes, director of Skyfall and Road to Perdition: “There is a connection to every story that is personal to you, and if there isn’t, it’s going to read [that way] on the screen.”
“It took a few years for that to sink in, and when I came back to Sony I thought the biggest thing that has happened in my life was that my son was born.”