There are plenty of video game franchises out there that are very deeply rooted in something that makes it unique. Give yourself a moment to consider a title or series that relies heavily on its location, culture, or characterization. Now imagine if that series tried to break the mold and try something entirely different. Two things could happen here, you might find yourself feeling resistant. “Why would they fix something that isn't broken? This series was meant to be set in one time period, and taking it anywhere else will muddle the source material!” Or perhaps you find yourself falling on the other side of the line. “This is exciting! I can't wait to see what this character will do when given a whole new world to explore.”
God of War broke away from its origins. Kratos was created with the Greek pantheon of Gods and Goddesses in mind. He was very much the “God of War.” But what happens when that path has been worn out? What happens when the journey has run its course and the road seems to have come to an end? Reinvention is what comes next, my friends! God of War on the PlayStation 4 smashed the Greek mold and burst onto the scene with Norse mythology. There's even talk that Kratos could venture into Egyptian or Mayan territories.
This could have divided the fan base, but instead it has reinvigorated it. Gamers the world over are super excited to travel with Kratos on this brand new adventure into new lands. The additional mythologies have given the franchise a fresh spark. What I'd like to know is whether or not this could be a game changer for the industry as a whole?
Reinvention is nothing new. Plenty of series have taken what is normal for them and turned it on its head. Take a look a Final Fantasy. This is a franchise deeply rooted in the fantastic and worlds entirely unlike our own. But entries like Final Fantasy XIII, Final Fantasy XV, and even Final Fantasy VII brought in all kinds of modern elements, like vehicles, trains, and cell phones. Rather than killing the franchise, these inclusions breathed new life into it. Final Fantasy XV felt fresh, not tired, in part because it included all of these modern elements and contemporary clothing styles.
Imagine a future where reinvention is something that happens to every game. Older series that might have stagnated can be reborn and enjoyed by fans old and new. We're moving into an era where generations will have grown up with video games, and they'll have attachments to titles from their youth. Give them a new location, a twisted inspiration, or characters with evolved personalities. This will allow those players that new experience they've been craving, while guaranteeing their interest.
If you told me today that the next Witcher game will take place in a modern setting, I would hop on that bandwagon faster than a millenial on avacado toast. Or maybe Rockstar is working on Grand Theft Auto in space or a cyberpunk alternate reality. Equally on board!
God of War might have just stumbled upon developmental gold. The 2018 version of the game is seeing tons of success, and that's good news for everyone. Now even further developers who want to put their own spin on classic characters will be braver. If God of War can do, then so can they. Here's hoping we see the birth of a new era of excellent reimaginings.