What do you think about Kratos? You know, the God of War hero personally. Not as an avatar or in terms of strength. Frankly, I always considered him a character that was catering to the mediate wanton needs and desires of teenagers who wanted to go around smashing everything in some hedonistic pleasure romp. Tear everything up as the strongest possible warrior ever, one capable of toppling gods! But still be somehow attractive enough to get sexy women. He was the kind of antihero everyone wanted to be, but not really wanted to be, if that makes sense.
Except now, people have grown up. It has been 13 years since the original God of War was released on the PlayStation 2. If someone was 13 when they played it, they would be 26 by now. They would be out of school, probably settled in a job, and may even already have their own family or child. A lot has happened. And, appropriately enough, it feels like the new God of War could be more than just a reboot to give the series a fresh start. It seems like a reaction to gamers growing and maturing as people. We aren’t the same people we were 13 years ago, and so Kratos can’t be the same as he was then too.
The obvious ways in which Kratos and God of War has changed is evident in all trailers we have seen. Kratos isn’t engaged in a near constant flurry of screaming and killing. He’s more subdued. He pays attention to his son. He is cautious when seeing and dealing with some sort of giant, listening to Arteus when the child says his mother referred to them as dangerous and avoiding them if possible. The sense of determination clearly remains, as he has no trouble handling himself in a fight and clearly has some sort of mission, but it is no longer reckless. It is a more tempered version of Kratos.
Which is exactly what would be happening with people who played God of War games as teenagers and have grown up. We still want the ability to be powerhouses who tear through epic opponents and challenge gods, of course. But we understand mindless rage and unbridled attacks will not accomplish as much as we would expect. We know that there will be other areas of our life we have to manage. We may have to work well with others and express more tact. As we understand this, so too does Kratos apparently in all early showings of the God of War reboot.
Likewise, the combat appears to have changed in a way that also shows Kratos has matured alongside us. We do not know much yet, but there is more attention to tactics. You aren’t slashing mindlessly through foes. That won’t get you anywhere, just as it very likely wouldn’t get anyone anywhere if these situations were somehow actually real. Kratos and Arteus have to prioritize certain enemies and take advantage of specific skills that may capitalize on their weaknesses. You can use his shield offensively and defensively. It seems like a more thoughtful game, which goes along with the idea that as people grow, they become more thoughtful and realize that mindlessly hacking and slashing through hordes is unrealistic and unlikely.
Such progression is encouraging, because it shows growth. An avatar we know and love has grown along with us, meeting our changing needs. Such things aren’t a given in video games. With the way the Kingdom Hearts series has been drawn out, it feels like we have far outpaced and outgrown Sora, a young man who has spent over 16 years trying to go from finding a keyblade to maybe possibly potentially becoming a Keyblade Master. When his growth was happening at a faster pace, as it did when Kingdom Hearts, Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories, and Kingdom Hearts II were released within a few years of one another, it was easier to bear. But now, with a 13 year and growing gap between Kingdom Hearts II and III, we’re clearly being presented with a protagonist and series that isn’t growing the way Kratos and God of War have been.
Change is a constant. We are all maturing as people. This means our entertainment needs are in a constant state of flux too. It seems like the God of War reboot gets that. Kratos appears to have matured as a character, as has the gameplay. It is something I am sure people will appreciate, especially since some games do not take those much needed steps.