Last year's God of War showed players a different side of Kratos providing the much-needed character development that delved deep into his relationship with son Atreus. A couple of months ago, reports surfaced how one of God of War's best moments was almost cut from the game. However, things could have really gone the other way given that Santa Monica Studios also considered replacing Kratos as the game's protagonist.
In a conversation with Gamelab in Barcelona, game director Cory Barlog revealed that during the early conceptualization of God of War, some developers felt that it was the right time to let go of Kratos. Barlog explained that Kratos was designed to be an unlikable anti-hero, which made sense during the first three mainline games that started back in 2005. However, as the studio planned to give the series a reboot with 2018's God of War, some members of the team felt that Kratos would no longer work as the game's protagonist.
The developers who were pushing for Kratos' removal in God of War suggested a new character as a replacement, arguing that "Kratos is not God of War - Greek mythology is God of War." Although it wasn't revealed which mythological character was in the running for the protagonist role, Barlog believed in the concept of humanizing Kratos' character, giving him more depth and layers, which was a huge contrast from his portrayal in previous games. "They really did not like the character," Barlog revealed. "They wanted a new character. It took a lot of convincing to make them think it was a good idea."
Barlog also revealed that the inclusion of the character of Atreus was not a popular decision among game developers, mostly due to budget constraints, and he was also almost cut from the game. However, Barlog took the success of Naughty Dog's The Last of Us as an example of how in-game companions can work, especially when they complement and enrich the protagonist's overall character arc.
In the end, while a new protagonist might have given God of War a refreshing experience with a new point of view, the decision to retain Kratos as the protagonist proved to be the right move. The massive overhaul of Kratos' character and the addition of Atreus elevated the game's experience from a mere hack and slash action adventure to a narrative driven experience with a more relatable character.
God of War is available now exclusively to the PlayStation 4.