The first trailer for Sony's new God of War game for PlayStation 4 showed a somewhat softer side of main character Kratos. Now, director Cory Barlog has revealed there was "a lot of pushback initially" for depicting the Spartan hero as anything other than a "force of nature" who was motivated by rage alone.
Speaking with VentureBeat, Barlog said this resistance faded away after the team looked at other examples of stories in movies and TV. During the course of a movie or TV show, a character can "go from one extreme to another," Barlog said. "They can go from a character you loathe to a character you love and root for."
He also said when he worked at LucasArts, he visited the Skywalker Ranch and got to read the scripts for the canceled live-action Star Wars TV show. This would end up influencing the tone and direction for the new God of War title.
Star Wars fans may recall that Disney announced the Star Wars show called Underworld in 2005. It was to take place between Episode III and Episode IV. George Lucas himself was working on the show, which was billed as "much darker, grittier" and "more character-based," according to SlashFilm.
Barlog said he was floored by the scripts he read and it informed how he thought about the new God of War.
"It was the most mind-blowing thing I'd ever experienced. I cared about the Emperor," he said. "They made the Emperor a sympathetic figure who was wronged by this f**king heartless woman. She's this hardcore gangster, and she just totally destroyed him as a person. I almost cried while reading this. This is the Emperor, the lightning out of the fingers Emperor. That's something magical."
While there will likely still be plenty of action in the new God of War, Barlog said the shift to a more "thoughtful" game was intentional.
"I saw that people were accepting bigger games that didn't have to shout all the time," he explained. "I thought this was an opportunity for us. It's cool to get in and be able to tell stories in a much more diverse emotional palette. We were always kind of, 'RAAARGH!'"
Barlog also recalled his pitch for the new God of War, saying people looked at him sideways when he brought up the idea of a father/son dynamic.
"But you start thinking about it a little bit. How would he deal with that? Just saying, 'Oh, Kratos wants redemption' is selfish," he explained. "It's old Kratos. It's self-centered. It has no purpose. But this idea--something beyond him is motivating him to change. He's known for a long time that he needs to change. But the change is coming from not wanting to repeat the mistakes of his past."
You can read the full VentureBeat interview here.
On the same subject, Barlog talked about the new approach to Kratos, using a Hulk/Bruce Banner analogy.
"In that previous era of games, he was the Hulk all the time, 24/7, because he didn't know how to be Bruce Banner," Barlog said. "And in this iteration, the son is teaching him how to be human, it's bringing out that closeted humanity that he stamped down for so long."
Barlog recently spoke to GameSpot about the challenge of making people take Kratos seriously. He also talked about reinventing Kratos and the series' perspective, in addition to why the angry Spartan can find himself in the middle of Norse mythology.
We learned last week that the game will be set after the events of third game, and it won't feature an open world -- though Barlog did say it was "open." It also won't feature the original Kratos voice actor, T.C. Carson. The role has instead been taken over by "Stargate SG-1" actor Christopher Judge.
Additionally, the new God of War will not feature any multiplayer, while fans discovered that the game's E3 announcement trailer contained some secrets.