Q&A: Cory Barlog Talks God of War Origins

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Q&A: Cory Barlog Talks God of War Origins

Creative director Cory Barlog reveals God of War inspirations in 20-minute discussion

God of War is almost here! By now, you’ve watched the videos, read the hands-on articles, and pored through the message boards. Now, why not hear directly from the man himself?

Series veteran and creative director Cory Barlog joined me for a special PlayStation Blogcast episode. Listen to the whole conversation below, and check out some choice excerpts from the entire 20+ minute conversation.

PSB: First of all, kudos. And I gotta say, this game is kinda not what I expected. Are you hearing that a lot?

Cory Barlog: Yes. And honestly, that was the response we were hoping to elicit. We wanted, as developers, to flex our imaginations, our brains a little bit more. We wanted to expand this world, we wanted to see what would happen by changing little things, and how they would cascade into larger changes.

God of War

PSB: I noticed a lot of little homages. They’re everywhere. Opening chests… shimmying across ledges… wall climbing… all these hallmarks, the things I associate as the mechanical foundation of God of War, I’m still seeing them reflected in this game. Was that a conscious decision?

CB: Oh yeah. I’m a lunatic when it comes to that stuff. There are secrets and references hidden everywhere. And I mean literally everywhere: We’re talking about physical packaging, menus, load screens when you hit the Options button, and stuff like that….

That’s one of the things I hope for a long time after, people saying “Did you know…?” I think that’s awesome. That’s the fun part about making games. There is a lot of complexity, but that complexity allows us to hide things that are really interesting and some that are really deep cut.

PSB: This is a Kratos we have not seen…. [in past games] he was cruel, not really sympathetic. Tell me how you took this character who might have been a little bit two-dimensional and showed us a side of him we’ve never seen.

CB: Yeah. Honestly, that is my favorite challenge we took on for this. As hard as it is to create a brand-new character….it’s harder to take a character everyone thinks they know and show a side of him that they don’t know. To show a sense of growth, and change.

I think that’s very difficult. From a dramatic standpoint, that is an excellent challenge. He is part villain, part good guy.

As we developed through the later games we realized, too late I think, that hey, we’re not really growing with this. Going into this game, it was very deliberate. I said, “I really want to see what it would look like for a character like this to change.”

It didn’t necessarily need to be a tectonic shift that suddenly rotates the poles of the Earth. It is more about small moves that show this kind of dimensionality, these sort of smaller, subtler moments…

Which makes people scared too. “Kratos? Subtler moments? That sounds insane!” But it is possible. It’s just hard to explain to people, but then when you show them, [they say] “Oh, I totally get this.”

God of War

PSB: You’re seeing this wiser Kratos, kind of a powerful thing if you know the character. But I also like this sense that Kratos recognizes himself a bit in Atreus, and it concerns him. This anger is a really interesting element for me.

CB: Yeah… honestly, that is such a weird splash of cold water to the face of a new parent, when you see the worst parts of you coming out in your kid. Oh, man. That just takes my breath away.

When I see that in my son… I’m super neurotic, right? Sometimes I have a tremendously difficult time with patience. I’m probably a giant pain in the ass to work with…. I’m demanding at times, and very focused, and at times closed off.

And I see that in my son, and it breaks my heart. And these are very minor things when you compare who Kratos is, and when he starts seeing the roots of what ruined his life manifesting in his kid. And he doesn’t understand or know how to fix that! Because none of us do. I don’t know how to fix that!

It is not an easy path. I think that struggle, that constant failure, is so interesting to watch, right?

Stay tuned to PlayStation.Blog for more God of War coverage leading up to launch on April 20.

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  • Cory is one of those rare people in game development where I could just listen to him speak all day long and never grow tired of hearing what he has to say. There’s a genuine feeling of honesty and passion there that is so rare, but so damn special.

    • Absolutely Agreed Gorvi! It’s the kind of dedication, passion and focus that only comes from being a multidimensional person himself, and his team as well — they’ve all grown with this story and this character, so they bring that perspective to it as well. I host God Of War Podcast on iTunes — I’ll be sure to send people to (and read out parts of) this article, and share your thoughtful and kindred reply as well :)

  • GoW3 digitally on PS3???

  • Cory makes me excited for this game!

  • Other then the L-ax and the shield will KRATOS be using an other weapons like the previous God of War titles

  • After seeing the gameplay video earlier this week, I immediately placed my pre-order! It really sealed my decision for me.

  • Gow ascension remastered for ps4???

  • Even though this game has the potential of being a great game it is very extremely frustrating that during battles you’re unable to have a 360 degree viewing or are unable to turn your character around to run to the other end of the battlefield which means you can’t turn around and can only walk backwards when you are surrounded buy multiple enemies while fighting and are unable to see what’s behind you or around you which causes the death of your player and you have to restart at the last checkpoint and do it again and again… uuugh!!
    Does anyone know why this is or is it just poor design flaw during action sequence…

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