While the new God of War game is absolutely fantastic, one of the criticisms that have been levelled at it include the shortage of great boss battles- especially compared to how spectacular they were in some previous games like God of War 2 and God of War 3. There’s not many story boss fights in the new game, and a lot of the mini bosses seem to repeat but what is there is absolutely phenomenal. So it’s a clear case of quality over quantity (not to mention the Valkyries!)
According to game director Cory Barlog, that is because a lot of boss fights had to be cut during the game’s development, owing to time constraints. “You know, there are several bosses that I had to cut throughout the game simply because we got about 15 to 20 people on each boss, and those bosses go anywhere from a year to two each,” Barlog said in an exclusive interview with GamingBolt. “Which I think is something a lot of people underestimate, “there’s not enough bosses in this game!” You’re kind of being greedy, because while I’d love like ten more bosses in there, this game would have taken like 20 years to make,” Cory said to GamingBolt.
“So, I was definitely, there are even theories out there where people are looking at characters and going, “who is this character? Why do they have a giant bird statue in Helheim?” And wondering why we spent time and effort on that thing, and maybe that’s because it was a giant boss at one point.”
Barlog pointed out that knowing when to cut things, and what to focus on, is central to the process of game development, and prioritizing other things over things like additional bosses was something he felt was more important for delivering God of War as an experience.
“And that’s the nature of development, as you start to look at its nuances, you realize that there’s a place where ambition overshadows resources and time, and you want to do so much, but you just have to end up choosing the things that will make the greatest impact. It is hard to know what to let go of, but you need to get to a point where you say, “you know what? This thing is not as important as the other thing, I will fight for this other thing, and let this thing go”. That is the years of experience that will let you know what’s important to you and what you’re trying to make.”
That said, Barlog also notes that to some degree, the intent always was to make a leaner game than what God of War 2 and especially God of War 3 had been.
“All the stuff I was approaching, the way I was telling it, the way I explained it to people in the beginning was, “look, this is how we’ll do it. Simple story, complex characters. And we’ll figure everything out from there. Focus on this father and son journey, a coming of age for both of these characters, while they’re on the road. That’s it. Everything else, we’ll come up with as we go,” he said.
“We didn’t start by plotting “this is so-and-so, he wants to kill so-and-so, and he wants this”. Those characters came from the interactions in the story, and what they would offer, and the concept of limiting the number—something that I think we were criticized a little bit about, too. There’s not a lot of characters. There’s not a lot of bosses. And that’s intentional, 100%. You look at the first God of War game, not a lot of bosses. Not a lot of characters. And I think that’s good. I thought of God of War 3, I love it, but it’s like a swan song for Greek mythology, so there’s a lot of characters, which we spent two games building up relationships for. Now, we’re introducing Kratos to a new world, and like a fish going into a tank, he needs to adjust. We need to leave the bag in the water for a little while before we release him in so he can go free.”
Given how good God of War was in spite of the perceived shortage of boss fights, I think he made the right call here- still, for the next one, I hope he adds more story based bosses into the game!