God of War: Ragnarok’s formal reveal at last week’s PlayStation Showcase has been followed by lots of other new details about the game coming to light, and one of the game’s elements that we’ve learned some interesting things about is combat. God of War (2018)’s combat was mechanically excellent as it is, but speaking in an interview with IGN, Eric Williams – who replaces Cory Barlog as director for the upcoming sequel – said that Ragnarok will expand upon that foundation in various ways.
One of the things Williams says Santa Monica Studio has focused on during God of War: Ragnarok’s development is expanding the toolset to allow for more variety and for players to be more expressive in combat. “God of War 2 and Ghost of Sparta are probably the two favorite games that I worked on,” said Williams, who’s worked on every previous mainline God of War game. “There was a method to both those games, taking the base and then saying, ‘You know what, let’s go deep on fan service. Let’s go big on variety, but not more just to have more. More that was appropriately structured.
“For me being first time [in the director’s chair], I’m going to take the history lessons of the past, and I’m going to use those to try to do that. So in Ragnarok, what we are trying to do specifically with Kratos, we’re trying to give a lot more expressiveness to the player.”
Williams explained that that expressiveness will come from various sources, including progression through gear and equipment. Meanwhile, Atreus will also be more involved in combat. “The way [he and Kratos] link up, he’s grown up a little bit, so he’s got a lot more follow-ups and setups for Kratos,” Williams said.
He added that enemies, too, will be more capable of dealing with all the threats players can pose, and have some of their own tricks up their sleeves as well. “Creatures then obviously need to have tools to go against that, otherwise you’re going to destroy them,” Williams explained. “So creatures have new things that you’re going to need to think, ‘Oh, I might need to break them down with Atreus first, or do this with Kratos.
“There’s going to be a little bit more conversation with the enemies with all the new tools. But because you can have different tools, then you have different conversations, so you can kind of push them one way or that way.”
Finally, Williams referred to the moment in God of War: Ragnarok’s reveal trailer in which Kratos uses his Blades of Chaos to pull himself up to a higher ledge, essentially using it as a grapple hook. As he explains, that mechanic will allow for more vertical, “almost king of the hill-type encounters” in the game, and that enemies will also take advantage of the environments’ verticality.
“Variety for variety’s sake is not a thing at all [for us]. It’s there to serve what we’re trying to do,” Williams said. “Kratos grappling up the ledge with a chain and then colliding with the enemy and going off [in the new gameplay footage], you couldn’t do things like that [in 2018]. Most of the gameplay last time took place on a plane. Now there’s some verticality to it, but it wasn’t [a thought like], ‘Oh, let’s have him flinging up walls just because.’ [That’s included] because there’s gameplay oriented around it, almost king of the hill-type encounters. So it changes how a player expresses themselves on the battlefield.
“Enemies also, can take advantage of that. So if you’re not paying attention, they’re going to take advantage as well. So it helps again with that conversation that goes through combat.”
God of War: Ragnarok will launch some time in 2022 for PS5 and PS4. SIE Santa Monica Studio has also confirmed that it will be the final game in the series’ Norse saga. Read more about that through here.