De­vel­oper Sony Santa Mon­ica Pub­lisher SIE For­mat PS4 Re­lease TBA


God Of War, Days Gone, Nier: Au­tomata, Bound, The Last Guardian, Spi­der Man, Star Wars Bat­tle­front: X-Wing VR Mis­sion, PlaySta­tion VR Worlds, Far­point, Death Strand­ing, Res­i­dent Evil VII: Bio­haz­ard, Detroit: Be­come Hu­man, Hori­zon Zero Dawn, Let It Die, Bat­man Arkham VR

When we were kids, dads were the su­per­weapons of the con­sole wars. Out on the school play­ground, some­one al­ways had a fa­ther in the in­dus­try who’d played the new Sega con­sole and it had Mario on it and ev­ery­thing, scout’s honour. Fast for­ward a gen­er­a­tion and dads are once again the bay­o­nets of the fan­boy foot­sol­diers. On one side, Mi­crosoft’s griz­zled, crin­kled Mar­cus Fenix. On the other, Kratos, scourge of the Greek gods, a man who has seen the very worst of hu­man­ity and its as­tral over­lords but has now dis­cov­ered some­thing im­mea­sur­ably more har­row­ing: a son.

There are some sur­pris­ing par­al­lels be­tween Kratos and Cory Bar­log, the cre­ative di­rec­tor who was an an­i­ma­tor on the first God Of

War. Both quit their jobs and went on jour­neys of self-dis­cov­ery. Kratos has ended his in Scan­di­navia, home to a whole new pan­theon of gods to, we pre­sume, fall out with and de­stroy. Bar­log has ended up back

where he started, armed with a host of ideas about how the char­ac­ter can de­velop be­yond what has al­ways been, even by videogame stan­dards, a blank if blood-splat­tered can­vas.

So, Bar­log has a young son and so does Kratos, and the lat­ter made for a thor­oughly un­ex­pected un­veil­ing for a new God Of War. Even­tu­ally tor­sos would be cleaved open and heads loosed from shoul­ders, as is tra­di­tion, but book­end­ing the vi­o­lence were scenes of some­thing that aimed, at least, for fa­therly ten­der­ness. Some of it felt rather forced – a shared XP sys­tem is a cu­ri­ous emo­tional de­vice, and half-filling a rage me­ter when Kratos Jr does some­thing wrong was a par­tic­u­larly con­trived way of show­ing that Kratos has, like, feel­ings – but else­where lay hints of some­thing deeper. Af­ter our an­ti­hero wrapped his hand around his son’s to ad­min­is­ter the killing blow to a felled deer, he reached out as if to put a re­as­sur­ing hand on his shoul­der, but stopped short. It was al­most touch­ing.

The cam­era has been yanked from its se­ries of zoomed-out, el­e­vated, cin­e­matic moor­ings and is now tight over Kratos’ shoul­der. Com­bat, as a re­sult, fi­nally has the weighty im­pact this se­ries has for so long lacked. It makes crowd con­trol harder, but a throw­able axe can pin foes to walls be­fore be­ing re­called. Quite how boss bat­tles will be han­dled from this an­gle is an­other mat­ter – the one in the demo ap­peared heav­ily scripted – but the big­gest chal­lenge fac­ing Bar­log and team is telling the emo­tional story he wants to tell with­out starv­ing se­ries fans of the god-killing ul­tra­vi­o­lence they crave.

This troll-like creature pro­vides a good op­por­tu­nity for Kratos to ed­u­cate his son in the finer points of rip­ping off heads. The boy isn’t very ac­cu­rate with those ar­rows, though

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