It was a lesson learned from two of the greatest sequels in video game history.
BIG SPOILERS for God Of War Ragnarok from now on…
When Metal Gear Solid 2 arrived for gamers in 2001, it was a total shock when the series’ hero Solid Snake was transferred to a side character and you controlled Raiden for the vast majority of the campaign.
When The Last Of Us Part II arrived in 2020, players had a very strong reaction to no longer controlling Joel, initially only playing as Ellie, before switching sides and playing as Abbie.
The idea of swapping out our playable protagonists – and keeping it a secret – is a delicate balance, and one that the creators of God of War Ragnarok face off, as several major blockbuster missions see the player no longer controlling Kratos, but instead playing as his son, Atreus.
In the lead up to the game’s release, JOE chatted with Erica Pinto (Lead Narrative Animator) and Bruno Velazquez (Animation Director) about the sequel, including the game’s most memorable moments for them.
Faced with having to keep playing as Atreus a secret, and then making sure the character was as fun to play as Kratos, we asked if that was a daunting prospect?
Bruno told us this:
“We really wanted to stay the course. So it’s definitely something that, as you see in all the marketing and everything that we’ve talked about, we haven’t really talked about. And because we wanted the player be surprised and we didn’t. I don’t want to show all our cards.
“And not because we weren’t excited or proud of what we accomplished with Atreus, but we really wanted to make sure people were surprised.
“We really know that people are here mainly because they want to play as Kratos, right? We understand that, so I feel like ultimately we found a very good balance between allowing you to play as Atreus, but also giving you enough Kratos.
“It’s funny you mentioned the Metal Gear game because I felt like that one was almost too much of a surprise, and in the end people were really hoping they could play more as Snake , while I don’t think it’s going to be something people will feel after finishing God Of War Ragnarok.”
Erica then told us the following:
“Yeah, I feel like over the years we’ve explored Kratos a lot. But I think with the last game we introduced Atreus, and it almost feels like a natural transition from ‘Now we have this character, we want to know more about him. So I think being able to be Atreus and exploring who he is as a person and especially with this story of growing up as a teenager and becoming your own person, that exploration of identity is a big part of it.
“So what better way to do that than as a person? And I think being able to give Atreus his own skill tree and area unlocks, that really helps flesh out that character, and that’s not fair a trivial little side quest.”
“Yeah, I think, Erica, you got it when you mentioned that from a storytelling perspective, Kratos isn’t going to experience it the same way Atreus experiences it. That way you get a completely different perspective. and you get to really see Atreus is just a teenager, a kid, right?
“There’s no way to describe it through Kratos’ eyes. That’s why we knew it was a natural progression, and it also enhances the story. So it’s all fun to play, and it’s That’s our goal, right? To make the game fun but also to help improve the story.”
And Erica ends us with an anecdote on the set:
“I have to say it was kind of interesting the first time we were on set and Chris Judge [the actor who portrays Kratos] wasn’t there, and we were like ‘Whoa, what is this??’ But it was fun, it was refreshing, but also when they were all together, it was like a family reunion. So it was great to have all these different experiences.”
God Of War Ragnarok is available on PS5 and PS4 right now.
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