Published on March 20th, 2018 | by James Coles
God of War – Two Hour Hands-On Preview in Sydney, Australia
At a recent hands-on experience in Sydney, Australia, Impulse Gamer got to preview the first few hours of the upcoming action-adventure video game – God of War. Read on for our thoughts on Kratos’ return to the PlayStation 4…
On March 14th, I got to sit down with Sony Santa Monica’s Senior Community Strategist, Aaron Kaufman for an exclusive preview of God of War in Sydney, Australia.
After the events of God of War 3, and set in the world of the Norse Gods; Kratos lives with his son Atreus in small log cabin hidden away in the woods. And it’s here where Kratos must teach his son how to survive the monstrosities that encompass every inch of their surroundings.
From the off, we see a different side to Kratos where his aggressive, almost patientless nature must subside to nurture and care for his young son. Although Kratos plays the reluctant father, you can almost feel a caring, dare say, loving side to Kratos consistently struggle to break through his icy exterior.
A brief moment where Kratos reaches to put his arm around Atreus, only to slowly withdraw himself epitomises the conflict he has in showing love for his son. Likewise, the anger and rage within Kratos are still there, bubbling away inside of him as he tries to control his temper and channel it correctly.
Playing God of War from an over the shoulder perspective is a vastly different experience than in previous games. And according to Kaufman, the reason for this change was to see the world from Kratos’ point of view. As a result, since the story focuses on a father and son relationship, the camera aspect works well.
That said, previous instalments in the God of War series were notorious for having boss fights on the grandest scale. While each beast you fought was humongous, their size and scope intensified due to the camera’s fixed third-person perspective. Indeed, when thinking back to the bosses in God of War 3; I remember Chronos being a pretty big bastard.
With God of War set to a first-person viewpoint, I was interested to see how the larger foes shaped up. Pleasingly, from what I saw, there’s no need to worry about the new camera angle lessening the size and threat of each adversary. While I can only go off what I saw in the few hours I had with the game and without mentioning spoilers; once again it looks like Kratos is in for one helluva battle.
Speaking of bosses, this takes us nicely on to the subject of the fighting mechanics. Like previous entries in the series, God of War combines hack and slash elements with combo-based combat. Relatively straightforward to get to grips with; holding down the attack button means Kratos will dish out a much harsher blow to anything unlucky enough to be in the way. And while these more massive attacks are much slower to execute than their lighter counterparts, predictably, they cause much more damage.
As I didn’t advance past the first few stages, the only weapon I got a good look at was the axe. And while hitting each enemy with the hatchet causes a vast amount of harm, so does throwing it. By throwing the axe you can dismember certain parts of monsters and pin enemies in place. Moreover, once thrown, recalling the axe damages anything in its flight path back to your hand. Additionally, it also plays a vital role in helping you solve puzzles and clear obstacles as you progress through the story.
God of War’s combat certainly has more of a strategic feel to it than its predecessors. I like how the game makes you assess the danger facing you instead of just tapping the attack button and occasionally rolling out of harm’s way. For instance, pressing down on the D-pad will turn Kratos around in one swift movement and is a vital component to the fighting mechanics as it gives you the chance to block or repel any incoming blindside attacks. Furthermore, ‘Rage ability’ returns from past God of War games, and again you can activate it by pressing L3 and R3 together.
Although initially, Kratos’ skill set is relatively sparse; as I advanced through the first few stages of the game, I unlocked different striking combos. Additionally, the in-depth skill tree allows you to customise Kratos’ weapons and alter his appearance. Lastly, God of War’s combat doesn’t just consist of Kratos taking on the evils of Norse mythology all by himself, as now and then, Atreus also gets in on the action.
Indeed, although Kratos believes Atreus “isn’t ready”, it seems as though the youngster is a lot more useful than I initially first thought. Whether it be commanding him to fire arrows as a distraction or translate languages Kratos doesn’t understand; Atreus apparently has a big part to play.
As for the visuals, they are, in a word, exceptional. Back in 2010, God of War 3 blew me away with its atmospherics, and once again Sony Santa Monica Studio has raised the bar with their latest incarnation. Character design, environmental textures and the soundtrack all compliment one another in style. Quite honestly, it might just be the best looking game I’ve played on the PlayStation 4.
And with that, my impressions on the first few hours of God of War have reached their conclusion. I was already excited about Kratos’ return to the PlayStation 4, but after spending a few hours with the game, my excitement levels might just dwarf that mighty Titan Chronos.
Kratos has never looked this good.