Beyond the shadow of a doubt, the next God of War game is going to be one of the biggest games of the year in which it is released. Pretty much every God of War game is. With that said though, it would make sense that Santa Monica Studio would want to take as much time as possible to make sure that it’s as good as it can possibly be and rakes in as many of those 10 out of 10 scores as it possibly can. Given that, as well as a few other things, it’s conceivable that the game might not make its supposed launch window of 2021.
First, as many of us already know, it’s always worth underlining video game development is extremely complicated and takes a long time. Even after the game is more or less done going through it and fixing bugs and switching little things up can take years alone to get some of these games as polished as we generally expect them to be. The last God of War game on the PS4 took well over four years to make, possibly more depending on where you determine the beginning of “development” to be. Designing levels and character models can, on its own, take literal years.
Now, it is true that developers often outsource things like that and sometimes even have entire teams devoted to such things around the clock to keep principal development moving along, but there’s no getting around the manpower and hours that are required to get little things like that done. It just takes time and that’s before getting musical scores and hours upon hours of dialogue written by writers and recorded by voice talent. Given all of that, it kind of seems impressive that they were able to make a game like God of War 2018 in just a handful of years, especially considering what a departure it was from the previous God of War games in terms of overall style.
That’s not to say the development of God of War: Ragnarok doesn’t have a few things working in its favor that perhaps are making things a little bit easier as well. One big thing that is definitely going to make the next God of War game a little easier to make is the fact that they already have much of the foundation nailed down. Kratos’ modern character model is created. Many of the large sweeping landscapes of the last game could logically be reused in this next one, assuming they take place in the same era. Also, pretty much all of the painstaking conceptual work of coming up with how he controls has already been done in the last game. All that being said, it is also true that these things will need to be altered in at least some way, seeing as how this is a game on a completely different platform than the last and Santa Monica is no slouch when it comes to taking advantage of new hardware. So how much of an advantage this is for Santa Monica to speed up development will largely depend on how much of it is going to be different in the new game.
It’s logical to assume that Kratos isn’t going to be a hundred years older in the next game and require a bunch of changes, but we don’t know for sure. We just don’t know enough about the game yet to know how much of an advantage it will be for Ragnarok to stand on the shoulders of God of War 2018. It’s safe to assume it will help things along at least a little bit but the degree to which it helps, is impossible to say at the moment. Given that we just don’t know how much development will be sped up or slow down, it’s hard to say if that will really cut development time down in a substantial way or not. But even if it does, the last game just came out in 2018. That’s only 3 years ago, and while Santa Monica is a highly-skilled studio full of some of the best talent in the industry, I wouldn’t expect them to turn out God of War games at this rate under pretty much any circumstances. I don’t think it would be surprising at all to see God of War: Ragnarok delayed until 2022 if not 2023 depending on how things are going over there.
Another important thing that we need to remember is the fact that we don’t know much about it means they aren’t ready to talk about it. And, of course, the number one reason for a developer not being ready to talk about a game is that the game isn’t at an advanced enough stage of development that talking about it would make very much sense. Going over the game’s overarching mechanics, story elements, and locations is not smart to do when those things are still in flux and not ready to be shown yet. So the fact that literally the only thing we’ve seen about this game is a blank screen with a God of War logo on it, is a bit of an indicator to me. The counter argument to that is that developers are starting to move away from these long development cycles and hold back a lot of their information until games are relatively close to being launched, so the fact that we don’t know anything yet might be more indicative of that shorter marketing style than anything else, which is a valid theory.
It could very well be that God of War: Ragnarok is 80% done and it’s mostly in the polishing stages now, and Santa Monica and Sony are just waiting for the right moment to unleash an onslaught of new information a few months before the game launches. Perhaps showing us everything in the summer and launching it later in the holiday season of this year. That’s certainly possible but then we sort of run into the problem I mentioned before with development cycles almost never only being two or three years for big games like this. So while I wouldn’t personally make the argument that Ragnarok will be launching this year, I will admit there is room for that argument to exist. I just personally don’t buy it yet.
Note: The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, GamingBolt as an organization.