It’s hard to imagine God of War without Kratos. But according to the game’s director, Cory Barlog, that’s what some of the team wanted. Sony Santa Monica completely changed the God of War series with its 2018 reboot, and Barlog said some of its developers thought that Kratos didn’t fit the new vision.
Barlog’s comments came up during an interview at Gamelab Barcelona, according to Eurogamer. Gamelab Barcelona is an annual event hosted by non-profit Gamelab that brings together people from all aspects of game design for panels, interviews, and other presentations. Barlog was speaking to Stuart Whyte, Sony London’s director of VR Product Development.
The move to take Kratos out of God of War was born of the same unique perspective that turned him into an exciting protagonist. When the original God of War debuted in 2005, he stood out as a troubled anti-hero, but some members of the development team thought that it was time to bring a new approach to the series.
The development team argued how the heart of God of War wasn’t centered around Kratos at all; it was Greek mythology. This decision brought up the idea of crafting a new main character to offer a change in perspective without abandoning what made God of War standout.
Barlog argued that they should focus on rehabilitating Kratos, rather than replacing him completely.
Kratos ended up being saved by his son, Atreus. Having Atreus in the game gave Kratos a reason to try to change for the better, which the developers used as the story’s focal point. However, even Atreus himself was once in danger of being cut. Some developers thought that his inclusion turned the game into a tedious escort quest and cost too much to implement.
“There was a point where we were going to cut Atreus completely. It was mostly due to the budget,” Barlog said.
Barlog’s argument won out in the end. With 2018’s God of War highlighting the relationship between Kratos and Atreus, it’s impossible to say how well the game would have done without both of them. The popularity of the version we have now is undeniable. On release, it was a massive critical success, and as of this May, it’s sold more than 10 million copies.