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GDC: Reinventing God of War

April 23, 2019
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GDC: Reinventing God of War

Alert for photosensitive viewers: Cory’s presentation includes white flashes on slide transitions. The first one occurs approximately 6 minutes into this talk. Please be aware when watching. In this 2019 GDC session, Sony Santa Monica’s Cory Barlog explains why the road to creating a new God of War was a seemingly endless climb up an impossibly enormous mountain, filled with countless gut-wrenching failures and joyfully sweet successes.

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God of War[a] is an action-adventure video game developed by Santa Monica Studio and published by Sony Interactive Entertainment (SIE). Released on April 20, 2018, for the PlayStation 4 (PS4) console, it is the eighth installment in the God of War series, the eighth chronologically, and the sequel to 2010’s God of War III. Unlike previous games, which were loosely based on Greek mythology, this installment is loosely based on Norse mythology, with the majority of it set in ancient Norway in the realm of Midgard. For the first time in the series, there are two main protagonists: Kratos, the former Greek God of War who remains as the only playable character, and his young son Atreus; at times, the player may passively control him. Following the death of Kratos’ second wife and Atreus’ mother, they journey to fulfill her promise to spread her ashes at the highest peak of the nine realms. Kratos keeps his troubled past a secret from Atreus, who is unaware of his divine nature. Along their journey, they encounter monsters and gods of the Norse world.

God of War received universal acclaim for its narrative, world design, art direction, music, graphics, characters, and combat system. Many reviewers felt that it had successfully revitalized the series without losing the core identity of its predecessors. It received a number of perfect review scores, tying it with the original God of War (2005) as the highest-rated game in the series, as well as one of the highest-rated PlayStation 4 games of all time on review aggregator Metacritic. The game performed well commercially, selling over five million copies within a month of release, also making it one of the best-selling PlayStation 4 games of all time. Among other awards and nominations, God of War was awarded Game of the Year by several media outlets and award shows. A novelization of the game was released in August 2018, followed by a four-issue prequel comic series that was published from November 2018 – February 2019.

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