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.
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.”
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.