God of War

I mentioned a few weeks ago that the PS4 had clearly won this generation’s console wars.  It’s been 2 years of home runs.  Then God of War comes out.

Side Track

I play on a projection screen in my basement.  I’ve set up the entire thing a long time ago to get a full experience.  The week before my bulb burst (kapow) and I needed to order a new one.  It arrived on the weekend, but it’s pretty clear that the projector itself is busted.  Useable, but there’s a blue band meaning that the internal wheel is broken.  It’s also too dim.

I thought about getting a TV.  The projection screen is about 120′ diagonal.  55′ screens are very cheap.  65’+ are twice the price.  Something even close to comparable was $3000.  I’m good.  A new projector is sub-$1000, assuming you have all the setup available.  Input lag is about 30ms, which isn’t great for twitch work, but enough for 90% of all games.  Research + Amazon = new project here on Friday.

Setting

There are 3 large pantheons that have influenced the west and are no longer “actively” practiced.  Egyptian, Greco-Roman, and Norse.  There are more of them, but they are either smaller (Mesoamerican) or still actively practiced (Hinduism/Buddism).  We don’t see much of these in gaming, except for perhaps Tomb Raider / Uncharted.

Back on track.  Nordic gods are very interesting.  In English society, we celebrate Tyr’s day, Woden’s day, Thor’s day, and Freya’s day.  French, being a Latin tongue, is Greco-Roman instead.  Lots of people are familiar with the term Ragnarok, though few know the level of detail that story actually holds.

Well worth the week or so of Wikipedia sleuthing to dig more out of it.

Start

Kratos is up north in the cold, with a small boy (memes abound), after the death of his wife.  He still has rage issues, though they are focused in this case.  There’s something to be said about the parent/child structure in gaming.  Last of Us really hit this one strong… and God of War is hitting all the right notes.

The tutorial is smooth enough, where you get a basic grasp of the controls by walking around through a temple and back home.  Combat is directed to 1v1, rather than 1vsMasses.  It makes it a lot harder when groups attack you, since you need some situational awareness.  Even more so when you’re facing weak enemies, tanks, and ranged foes at the same time.  It isn’t about button mashing, but about timing, priority targets, and understanding which attacks work on which foes.  I am not ashamed to admit that by the time I unlocked the Lake of Nine, I had died a dozen times.

There are sub-systems of course.  You have skills that are unlocked over time.  Runic attacks that act as special attacks.  Talisman’s for some boosts.  You can craft/upgrade equipment slots in order to make numbers bigger.  I’m sure it’s important, but for the initial portion, it’s superfluous.

There are chests in most nooks.  Most are simple.  Some have minor puzzles – such as smashing targets, or chaining bell strikes.  There’s a benefit to exploring.

And exploring really provides more than item benefits.  The world building here is astounding.  Where Horizon focused on the open world, God of War is like zooming in on a painting.   Each area is crafted with purpose – pits and spiked to hurt enemies, stones to avoid line of sight, twists to make chasers stumble.  All of it beautiful.  All of it massive.

Jormungand

This picture does not do justice to the size of this wyrm.

The entire game is a single shot take.  From the start menu until I stopped it for the night, it felt like a giant film.  It doesn’t feel like you’re playing a game, as it lends a level of intimacy to the game.  It can be tough when you spin around to dodge something, as the screen shifts quickly, but you get used to it.  Long story short – it works.

I mentioned I reached the Lake of the Nine portion, if that means anything to players.  I met another god along the way, a nordic dwarf, a forest witch and 2 massive creatures.  This portion feels like a hub, as its the first time I found a spot I could not traverse.  Meaning backtracking at some point.

I stopped playing because of that big thing above.  I won’t ruin it further but that was enough for my brain to handle for a night.

I am but a smidgen into the game and already extremely impressed.  I would never have imagined that gaming could be this good when I was a kid.

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