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God Of War

Platform(s): PlayStation 4
Genre: Action
Publisher: SCEA
Developer: SCEA Santa Monica
Release Date: April 20, 2018


PS4 Preview - 'God of War'

by Adam Pavlacka on March 19, 2018 @ 8:00 a.m. PDT

It is a new beginning for Kratos. Living as a man, outside the shadow of the gods, he seeks solitude in the unfamiliar lands of Norse mythology. With new purpose and his son at his side, Kratos must fight for survival as powerful forces threaten to disrupt the new life he has created...

Pre-order God of War

With just over a month left until the new God of War is scheduled to hit PlayStation 4 consoles across the globe, Sony has been showing off new parts of the game at its Sony Santa Monica Studios. Media and influencers who attended the event were allowed to play a few hours of the campaign.

Although the new God of War is a sequel (and part of the existing canon), it is also a reboot in terms of both style and environment. After killing off the Olympian gods in God of War III, Kratos moved from Greece to Scandinavia, where the Norse gods exist. Kratos has no beef with the Norse gods, but they are wary of his reputation, knowing of his past deeds.

Unlike the rage-driven war monster of his past, Kratos has been changed by both the toils of fighting and his son, Atreus. The world is still a dangerous place, and Kratos must protect his son and teach him how to fight. If you're thinking the game is one big escort mission, never fear. Atreus is not an anchor for players to protect. Instead, you'll be able to use him as a support character while fighting opponents. One of Atreus's slicker moves has him running up to trip an enemy to set them up for Kratos to attack.

Since Kratos no longer has his trademark double-chained blades, his primary weapon this time around is the magical Leviathan Axe, which acts much like Thor's hammer from both classic mythology and the Marvel films. Kratos can initiate light or heavy attacks when close to an opponent, or he can throw the ax if an enemy is out of range. Once thrown, the ax can be manually recalled by hitting the Triangle button. This may not seem like much, but having manual control adds more flexibility to your attacks, since you can throw the ax at one opponent and pummel another with your fists before calling it back. The ax can also deliver magic attacks, such as freezing an enemy. You'll be able to customize the Leviathan Axe by selecting runes to pair with light and heavy attacks.

Primary attack controls are mapped to the shoulder buttons, with R1 being a light attack, R2 being a heavy attach, and L1 being block. Blocking isn't just about stopping oncoming attacks but also about smart parrying in order to stun. You can even use Kratos's shield offensively. For example, freeze an enemy, and then shatter them with the shield.


Each enemy has a two-level status bar, with the top bar being health, and the lower bar being stun. You can fill the stun meter in multiple ways, including by parrying attacks and by ordering Atreus to attack. When the stun meter is full, an R3 indicator appears on-screen, which enables a cinematic finisher for weaker opponents. Depending on what you are fighting, it may be smarter to stun and finish your opponent rather than trying to take them down outright.

Atreus's arrow attack is mapped to the Square button, allowing you to decide when he fires on an opponent. The arrows help build up your enemy's stun meter, but you can't stand back and spam them, since Atreus has a limited amount, though they do recharge over time.

The camera has been pulled in closer than in previous God of War installments, which makes combat seem more intimate, but it also means you have less environmental awareness. The development team tried to counterbalance this by giving Kratos a threat indicator and a quick turn ability, which is mapped to down on the d-pad. Early on, you probably won't use this ability much, but as you get into the latter half of the game, we expect that crowd control will be a necessity, with Kratos being forced to keep some enemies at a distance while eliminating a more pressing threat. You can even use stunned enemies as weapons, such as kicking one into another opponent who's further out.


All of these various combat techniques promise to provide a good deal of variety in play, which is enticing for players who want more than just a straightforward hack-and-slash. For example, juggling an enemy and hitting them with light attacks and Atreus's arrows seems like a quick way to fill up a stun meter and enable a finishing move. Players should be able to find a style that works for them or opt for more challenging game runs, such as attempting to complete the game with no optional upgrades.

Even with a variety of attack options, you are playing as the "God of War," and sometimes, you just want to Hulk out and go to town. Never fear, as Spartan Rage is still one of Kratos's abilities.

Speaking of upgrades, God of War features a crafting system that allows you to upgrade weapons you own or craft new equipment. Resources are needed for crafting; you'll have to collect those from around the world. These are separate from the "Hacksilver" you collect, which is the game's currency. Upgrading Kratos's equipment also improves your overall stats and makes new skills available for purchase. Skills can be purchased with XP, which is earned from killing enemies.

Kratos's core stats are:

  • Strength - Increases damage for all standard attacks.
  • Runic - Increases both Runic Attack and Elemental damage.
  • Defense - Reduces all damage taken.
  • Vitality - Increases maximum health and decreases the severity of hit reactions from enemy attacks.
  • Luck - Increases Perk activation chance. Increases XP and Hacksilver gains.
  • Cooldown - Reduces recharge time of Runic Attacks, Runic Summons, and Talismans.


Any items that are equipped, including crafted items, are reflected on Kratos in real time. Most players will likely optimize for stat bonuses, but if you care about looking stylish, you can do that, too. Who cares about stats, so long as you look cool, right?

The world in God of War is presented as an open environment, even if it's not a full open-world style game. From what we've seen, there is plenty of room to fight, and if you need to close the distance between enemies quickly, Kratos has a sprint ability.

Story in God of War is conveyed through voice acting, as well as through lore that is found throughout the game. When you discover a lore marker, the information is added to your journal. Kratos is voiced by Christopher Judge (best known for his role of Teal'c in "Stargate SG-1"), and Atreus is voiced by 10-year-old Sunny Suljic ("The Killing of a Sacred Deer"). One element of the story that we don't yet know much about is that of Atreus's mother. Presumably her role in the game serves as a major plot point.

From a technical perspective, God of War should run at 30 fps on both the standard PlayStation 4 and the PlayStation 4 Pro, with the latter displaying the game at a higher resolution and with some improved visual effects. No matter which console you game on, we're expecting God of War to look good and push the hardware to its limits.

It's safe to say that the newest installment of God of War isn't just going to be more of the same. The team at Sony Santa Monica has rethought and reworked the core gameplay systems, with combat that is more deliberate and tactical, and a world that is more open for exploration than prior installments. Unlike God of War: Ascension, there is no multiplayer, with the game instead focusing entirely on its single-player experience. Assuming the gameplay holds up over the promised 25-35 hours of play time, this could be just the evolution the series needs to once again make it a standard-bearer for the PlayStation brand.

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