“I was adamant that we couldn’t make an open world game,” says Cory Barlog.
God of War is an incredible game. I’m sure most people would agree. It completely reinvented its franchise, something that it accomplished in large part thanks to its new structure, which allowed for some non linearity, and a wide linear style in the vein of The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time and Okami.
But unlike some other generation defining games, God of War is not fully open world, even though it has a whole lot of elements that define open world games. Why did Sony Santa Monica and director Cory Barlog not go all the way?
Speaking to VentureBeat, Barlog recognized that the kind of manpower and resources needed to pull off open world games is not something Sony Santa Monica would have been able to muster up, which was one of the reasons why the studio decided to stick with a wide linear structure.
“I was adamant that we couldn’t make an open world game. The cost of entry and the expectation level is so high that we’d never compete. We just don’t have the infrastructure and the systems. I don’t want to do that,” Barlog said.
“To do these things, to do the complexity [Ubisoft and Rockstar] have, you just need a lot of people. For us, not only do we not want to invest in that aspect of it, but to me the world needed to feel large, and not empty, but with surprising moments of discovery. It could feel like there were areas where there’s not a lot going on, and then all of a sudden an entirely new level opens up that you weren’t directed to, that you just discovered.”
Barlog is pretty adamant on calling God of War wide linear, a term that he seems to want to catch on. “Once we started saying wide linear — I didn’t have a term for it. One of the level designers actually started saying that. That was a good way to describe it, because I kept saying, ‘not open world.’ That’s the worst way to describe something, to say what it’s not. It’s better to give a good picture.”
It’s a good term, and in the end, I think God of War benefitted from not going fully open world. Some of the best games of the generation are open world, but not every game should try to be one. In related news, make sure to check out our report on why God of War had no DLC.