God Of War, One Month Later

God of War, as seen via the game's post-release photo mode

The new God of War didn't need downloadable content or multiplayer to remain interesting throughout its first month. It had patches, easter eggs and even a big social media controversy.

  • God of War came out on Friday, April 20, same day as Nintendo Labo, but reviews started running a week earlier. Many, including ours, were positive. Critics loved these new adventures of Kratos, the angry Spartan warrior and Greek god, as he now stomped, paddled and axe-swung his way through parts of Norse mythology.
  • For some, the enthusiasm for God of War was hard to control. Big gaming outlet IGN was so impressed with God of War that they made a joke on Instagram comparing PS4 having that game and Xbox having nothing.

    "Can you spot the difference?" whoever was writing copy for the outlet on social media asked. It is apparently offensive to needle Xbox like that, so thus followed a Tweet from a senior IGN editor describing the joke as "unprofessional and classless" and who apologised "to the Xbox team as well as the Xbox community". Wow! Can't joke about anything these days.

  • The glowing reception God of War got from critics may have surprised a lot of series fans, since the game had earned scepticism (read: attracted haters) during its preview cycle thanks to its many apparent deviations from the status quo: a switch to a behind-the-back camera, a focus on father-son bonding, the removal of the combo meter, a general sense that someone decided to make God of War more emotionally sophisticated and that maybe that was the wrong way to go. Nope, reviewers said it was an instant classic and players seemed to dig it, too.
  • The game's glowing reception moved game director Cory Barlog to tears. His reaction was captured in a video he shot while checking on the game's Metacritic score.

    He said he was proud of his team, but also noted that he wanted his son to see the video. "It has been important to us to let him know that it is OK to be sad," he said. "It is OK to cry." In discussing the game Barlog has talked a lot about how having emotions or showing weakness is a strength, a lesson Kratos and Atreus seem to learn from each other in the game.

  • God of War players may not have teared up, but they probably squinted a lot. Somehow this game launched with very tiny on-screen text. Just two days after release, the developers patched the game to allow the text to be slightly bigger. They made the text bigger yet again with a patch in early May.
  • Players may have also started to expect some DLC that doesn't seem to be coming. Sure, God of War's central transport room depicts Asgardian realms that are suspiciously locked off. Sure, Sony often publishes epic games like Bloodborne or Horizon Zero Dawn in the early part of the year and then releases big expansions for them in the fall. But Barlog has said in many post-release interviews that his team worked hard for five years and has suggested that DLC isn't coming.

    Near the end of the month, he told our Jason Schreier and Kirk Hamilton: "I made this game to be so that you bought it, you went home and played it, and you got the whole game. There's not a plan, at all, in any of this, that I was going to deliver any DLC or anything like that, simply because I loved, as a kid, to get a game and play the whole game. And feel like I got everything."

  • DLC or not, in its first 11 days of release, God of War was patched eight times. That had to be a record and was seemingly a sign of some sort of troubles, but all we could discern was that "various bug fixes and improvements" were needed quite a few times. Thankfully, the patches were small and would install into the game swiftly.
  • At some point, "Boy!" became a meme.
  • Just a week after the game's release, players found a secret tied to an official cloth map. Players also found an apparent Thanos reference in the game. But Barlog has said that he hopes some of the secrets his team buried in this new God of War will take years to be found.
  • By early May, the game got a photo mode. Players used it to make Kratos look goofy.
  • Kratos voice actor Christopher Judge told some dad jokes. No apologies for these??
  • Sony boasted that the game was the fastest-selling PS4 exclusive ever.
  • Aside from that? People were playing the game and writing thoughtfully about it.

Not a bad first month!


    This was my GF's claimed game, so I have to wait for her to platinum it before I'm allowed to. (I'm in big trouble if I platinum it first.) After devouring the story, this restriction drove me towards playing other things, but as soon as she's done with Hyrule Warriors and returns to GoW to finally plat it, I am fucking back in there ASAP.

    The richly and very deliberately detailed lore has got us guessing about reveals, identities, locations and plot developments for the upcoming sequels. Cory Barlog's multi-hour video interviews with various enthusiasts led to him dropping some crazy awesome spoilers.

      Can I ask, what's the appeal about achievements for you? I never understood the obsession with it. It seems that among the hardcore community, i'm in the minority as well.

        Depends on the game. For some, it’s completionism - ticking all the boxes, seeing all there is to see. God of War falls pretty squarely in that category in that it has fewer trophies for ‘trick shot’ stuff than simply doing all the things. (There is still some in there.) It’s a good indicator that you’ve seen the most of what there is to see.

        Another part is feedback.

        I’m not going to go out of my way to go get those harder trophies for a game that isn’t worth it, but if I really, really like a game and the trophy set’s reasonable, I’m going to have it in my list of stuff I liked enough to go the extra mile for completionism. It’s not a particularly targeted statement, but at least you know your friends list and the publisher/dev can see that I felt it was worth the effort to tick a few extra boxes/play the thing back to front.

        Obviously not everyone uses it the same way. Some people don’t care about the platinum specifically and just want the count to be high for internet points or something? Some people finish off the plat because it was too easy not to, even if they didn’t particularly enjoy the game. So that muddies the message. And sometimes I can’t/won’t complete trophies for a game I otherwise love to pieces because they put fucking multiplayer trophies in. (Anyone who implements that for something that isn’t explicitly a MP-only game deserves a good bollocking.)

        I personally don't care about trophies/achievements either. I'll play through a game and finish it, and depending on the game, I might try to 100% it - but 100%ing a game doesn't mean get all of the trophies, it just means I found everything in the game. I'll often go for 100%, but I never try to deliberately get all the trophies. Most games I finish - even those I 100%, I tend to only have maybe 30-40% of the trophies which are generally the ones that happen throughout the normal course of gameplay. I'm happy just to finish a game and move on.

    I got about 60% of the way through and haven't touched it in weeks. Never end up getting through these single player Sony exclusives (other than Bloodborne and TLoU).

    I played it. Liked it. But now have sold it. I'll buy it again on digital when it drops down to $30 or so. That'll probably take a couple of years so by then it'll feel like playing a new game again.

    It's only been a month? I got the platinum and moved right on. I thought it had been longer, I've completely lost any concept of time!

    Just finished it (platinum) on the weekend. I was one of the initial detractors, as I was kind of over the franchise after Ascension seemed to have more emphasis on multiplayer than single player (something I am not interested in at all). So I had very low expectations and didn't even think I'd buy the game. But then the reviews started coming out and I bowed to the hype, and I'm really glad I did. It's been my best game this year so far. Looking forward to where the franchise goes from now on.

    I'm still playing through it and while it's a good game, I do have a few gears to grind with it. I just seem to be constantly trying to do things in this game, realising I can't, then finding myself wondering why I can't. As I'm playing, I often find myself wondering stuff like

    "Why can't Kratos swim?"
    "Why can't I dock the boat and get out next to this perfectly flat ground?"
    "Why can't this super-strong demi-god simply pull a plant away that's growing around a chest?"
    "Why can't I throw my axe/tell Atreus to shoot his arrows while we are in the boat?"
    "Why can't I jump up on top of that perfectly jumpable-height platform?"

    Also, enemies that 1-hit kill you with constant unblockable attacks are just dumb. Unblockables I can deal with, even 1-hit kills I can deal with. But when they execute lengthy combos that launch them across the battlefield, with every single hit being a 1-hit kill unblockable with massive hitboxes, *especially* when there's 2 or 3 of them so even if you manage to dodge one you'll get hit by another - yeah that pushes the friendship.

    On the plus side, I actually never realised that Teal'C from Stargate was Kratos. I mean, I recognised the name Christopher Judge, but I didn't put it together for some reason.

      I agree with a lot of those points. Had a great time with the game but was pulled away from the enjoyment by the lack of freedom in movement and the somewhat illusory exploration. I'd love to have been able to look at something in the distance and head over to explore. I get that its not that sort of game, but when it is this bloody gorgeous you can't help but want to explore it.

      Still had a bloody good time with the visuals, storytelling, voice acting and combat.

      Yep, I keep asking myself those same questions.
      Specifically with movement, in God of War I keep trying to go places that the game just won't let me. It's forgiveable when you buy into the idea that a knee-high row of rocks is there to stop you because the designers didn't build anything behind them for you to explore, but more annoying is when you're looking at another part of the map you can get to, but only the way the designers want you to get there.
      Standing on a bridge or cliff and you want to jump down to the level below you? Nope, you have to walk all the way around and climb down that marked wall to get to that spot.
      It's not on rails as much as something like Final Fantasy used to be, but it's far from the kind of open-worldiness both Horizon: Zero Dawn or Assassin's Creed: Origins spoiled us with.

        Yeah dropping off ledges is another one that irked me...or rather the lack of it. Why can't I simply drop off this ledge to the level below, that's clearly easily survivable height? Nah I need go to the ledge on the opposite side and (slowly) climb down the special magical marked wall instead.

        The one that especially annoyed me, which I mentioned above, is being unable to aim and throw my axe or even command Atreus to fire his arrows while we are in the boat. Why not? Does the oar become glued to Kratos' hands making him incapable of putting it down for a moment to grab his axe until I dock the boat in a predetermined location? I can see those green Ravens of Odin flying around above me...let me throw my axe at them!

      I have this issues with a lot of games after playing BOTW.

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