The fact that God of War: Ragnarok is going to be the last game in the series’ Norse saga has surprised quite a lot of people. Most people assumed that the Norse saga would be a trilogy at the very least, especially seeing as the Greek saga was also a trilogy (with three mainline spinoffs on top of that), so to see God of War wrapping up this arc in just two arcs has taken people by surprise.
And as it turns out, that decision was made by Cory Barlog, creative director of God of War (2018), himself. In a recent interview with YouTuber Kaptain Kuba, when asked about why it was decided that Ragnarok would be the final game in the Norse saga, Eric Williams – wo replaces Barlog as director on the upcoming sequel – says that the decision was actually made by his predecessor. Barlog then went on to explain that telling the entire story over the course of three games in what would roughly have been fifteen years would have stretched the narrative too thin, and that the development team felt confident it could wrap things up by the end of the second game itself.
“There are several reasons,” Barlog said. “I think one of the most important reasons is, the first game took five years. The second game- I don’t know how long it’s gonna take, but I’m just gonna throw out that it’s gonna take close to a similar time to do this. And then if you think, wow, a third one in that same [amount of time], we’re talking a span of close to fifteen years of a single story, and I feel like that’s just too stretched out. Like I feel like we’re asking too much to say- the actual completion of that story taking that long just feels too long.
“Given where the team was at and where Eric [Williams] was at with what he wanted to do, I was like, ‘look, I think we can actually do this in the second story.’ Because most of what we were trying to do for the beginning was to tell something about Kratos and Atrues, that the core, the story’s engine is really the relationship between these two characters. The complexity radiates out, like ripples in a pond. And we could make it an ocean, and have those ripples go just thousands of miles. But is that necessary and is that beneficial, or are we feeling like it’s just spreading it too far apart? The ripples get too far apart and you just sort of lose the plot a little bit.”
Barlog went on to add that SIE Santa Monica Studio is looking to craft a singular experience across both games in the Norse saga telling one story from beginning to end, an effect that he feels is “fantastic” when done right.
“That experience I had when I got the extended edition box set of The Lord of the Rings, and I was able to say, ‘wow, I can sit down and have like thirteen and a half hours of this experience, playing them one after another, back-to-back. And I just thought that was fantastic, amazing. So to be able to say, ‘hey man, you could probably start God of War (2018) and then play God of War: Ragnarok and feel like you’re getting the entirety of the story. And I kind of want that to happen maybe before my kid’s in college.”
Barlog added: “Also, as we started to talk about what the story could be, about where Eric really wanted to go, the things that were interesting and exciting for him, I was like, ‘Yeah, I really do think we can do this.’ Because it is centralizing itself always around these characters, and then really kind of giving everybody the time that they need. Those were important things.
“And, you know, after that, [we] wanted to really make a big splash with something. Not sure what it is, but I think it’ll be great.”
The assumption, of course, is that once the Norse saga has wrapped up, God of War will move on to another mythology for another new arc, which was something even the 2018 game seemed to hint at. How (or if) that will be set up in God of War: Ragnarok remains to be seen. The game’s out for PS5 and PS4 in 2022, so it’ll be a while before we find out.