God of War (franchise)
God of War is an action-adventure game franchise created by David Jaffe at Sony's Santa Monica Studio. It began in 2005 on the PlayStation 2 video game console, and has become a flagship title for the PlayStation brand, consisting of eight games across multiple platforms. Based in ancient mythology, the story follows Kratos, a Spartan warrior who was tricked into killing his family by his former master, the Greek God of War Ares. This sets off a series of events that leads to wars with the mythological pantheons. The Greek mythology era of the series sees Kratos follow a path of vengeance due to the machinations of the Olympian gods, while the Norse mythology era, which introduces his son Atreus as a secondary protagonist, shows an older Kratos on a path of redemption, which inadvertently brings the two into conflict with the Norse gods.
Santa Monica has developed all main entries, while Ready at Dawn and Javaground/Sony Online Entertainment-Los Angeles developed the three side games. Sony Interactive Entertainment has published all games except the mobile phone installment, which was published by Sony Pictures Digital. The first seven games make up the Greek era of the franchise. God of War, God of War II, and God of War III comprise its main trilogy; the first two were released on the PS2 with the third on the PlayStation 3. A prequel, ', was also released for the PS3. Other games include ' and ' for the PlayStation Portable and ' for mobile phones that supported the Java Platform, Micro Edition. The Norse era began with the 2018 installment that was also titled God of War; it was released for the PlayStation 4. It was accompanied by a short prequel, ', a text-based game through Facebook Messenger.
Games in the series have been praised as some of the best action games of all time. The series has received numerous awards, including several Game of the Year recognitions for the 2005 and 2018 installments. Some games have also been remastered for newer PlayStation platforms. As of May 2019, the franchise has sold over 32 million games worldwide. Strong sales and support of the series led to the franchise's expansion into other media, such as three comic book series and three novels. A film adaptation of the original installment has been in development since 2005. Merchandise includes artwork, clothing, toys, and prop replicas, as well as the games' soundtracks, including a heavy metal album, ', featuring original music by various bands who were inspired by the series.
First era (Greek mythology)God of War was first released in North America on March 22, 2005, for the PlayStation 2. After ten years in the service of the Olympian gods, Spartan soldier Kratos is tasked by Athena to find Pandora's Box, the key to defeating Ares, the God of War, who is running amok through Athens. A series of flashbacks reveals that Kratos was once the servant of Ares, who saved the Spartan and his army from annihilation in battle, but tricked him into killing his family, which forced his metamorphosis into the "Ghost of Sparta". Kratos eventually finds Pandora's Box, and after finally killing Ares, he ascends to Mount Olympus to become the new God of War.
God of War II was first released in North America on March 13, 2007, for the PlayStation 2. Angered at his fellow gods, Kratos runs amok across the city of Rhodes. Zeus intervenes and betrays Kratos, who is saved by the Titan Gaia. She tells him he must now find the Sisters of Fate, who can change his fate and prevent his death at the hands of Zeus. Kratos is ultimately successful and as he is about to kill the god, Athena sacrifices herself to save Zeus and preserve Olympus, and tells Kratos that he is Zeus' son. Kratos then joins forces with Gaia and the Titans to attack Olympus.
was released on June 20, 2007, for mobile phones supporting Java ME. It is the only game in the series to be released as a two-dimensional side-scroller and released on a non-PlayStation platform. The game's narrative takes place between the events of Ghost of Sparta and God of War II. Kratos is framed for murder, and rampages across Greece seeking the true assassin. Kratos succumbs to bloodlust and kills Ceryx, the son of the god Hermes—an act that alienates him from his fellow gods.
was first released in North America on March 4, 2008, for the PlayStation Portable. Its narrative takes place during Kratos' ten years of service to the gods, prior to events in God of War. Kratos halts a Persian invasion of the Greek city of Attica, and learns that the world has been plunged into darkness by the god Morpheus. Kratos investigates the abduction of the sun god Helios, and prevents the Machiavellian plan of the goddess Persephone to use the Titan Atlas to destroy the world.
God of War III was first released in North America on March 16, 2010, for the PlayStation 3. Reigniting the Great War, Kratos is soon abandoned by the Titans, who were only using him to exact their own revenge. Helped by the spirit of Athena who was elevated to a new level of understanding, she instructs him to seek the Flame of Olympus in order to defeat Zeus. Kratos engages the gods and the Titans in an epic series of battles across the Underworld and Olympus and learns that Pandora's Box is within the Flame. He discovers that Pandora herself is the key to pacifying the Flame and allowing him to open the Box. After finally killing Zeus, he refuses to help Athena assume the role of new patron of mankind and disappears.
was first released in North America on November 2, 2010, for the PlayStation Portable. Set between the events of God of War and Betrayal, Kratos, the God of War, is still haunted by visions of his mortal past and embarks on a quest to discover his origins by finding his mother, Callisto. He learns that his brother Deimos was taken by the gods and imprisoned by the God of Death, Thanatos, and decides to find and save his sibling. Although successful, Thanatos engages the brothers in combat, and kills Deimos. Kratos then kills Thanatos and returns to Olympus, further enraged at the gods.
was first released in North America on March 12, 2013, for the PlayStation 3. It is the only game in the series to feature multiplayer for both competitive and cooperative play. Set six months after Kratos killed his wife and child, he has been imprisoned by the three Furies for breaking his blood oath to Ares. With the help of the oath keeper Orkos, Kratos learns that Ares and the Furies plan to overthrow Mount Olympus. The Spartan escapes his imprisonment, subsequently killing the Furies, and Orkos, who begs for release. Although free of Ares' bond, Kratos begins to suffer the nightmares that plague him for years.
Second era (Norse mythology)is a short text-based game, released through Facebook Messenger on February 1, 2018. The game serves as a prequel story to 2018's God of War, and follows Atreus on his first adventure in the Norse wilds.
God of War was released worldwide on April 20, 2018, for the PlayStation 4 console. Many years after the events of God of War III, Kratos has ended up in the world of Norse mythology in ancient Norway in the realm of Midgard, and he now has a son named Atreus. After his second wife, Faye, passes away from an unknown cause, the two set out on a journey to fulfill her final wish, which was to have her ashes spread at the highest peak of the nine realms, eventually revealed to be in Jotunheim. Along their journey, they are attacked by Baldur, who was sent by Odin to get to Faye in order to prevent Ragnarök, unaware she was already dead. Following the death of Baldur, however, the three-year long Fimbulwinter begins, which means Ragnarök is soon to follow, which was not supposed to occur for another hundred years. Baldur's mother Freya swears revenge on Kratos, while he and Atreus complete their journey, where they learn that Faye knew of everything and had wanted to name Atreus as Loki. The game is a new direction for the series, not only by its new mythological setting, but also by its gameplay. Kratos now prominently uses a magical battle axe called the Leviathan Axe.
Although further games have not been officially announced, Cory Barlog confirmed that this new installment would not be Kratos' last game. It was also revealed that following games would continue to be set in the Norse environment, and include Atreus.
Collections and remastersGod of War Collection was first released in North America on November 17, 2009, for the PlayStation 3—the franchise's first appearance on the platform. It is a remastered port of the original God of War and God of War II. The games were ported by Bluepoint Games and feature high-definition 1080p anti-aliased graphics at 60 frames per second and trophies. Sanzaru Games later ported the collection to the PlayStation Vita and it was released in May 2014—the franchise's only appearance on this platform.
was first released in North America on September 13, 2011, for the PlayStation 3. It is a remastered port of the two PlayStation Portable installments in the series—Chains of Olympus and Ghost of Sparta. God of War Origins was ported by Ready at Dawn and features 1080p high-definition video, anti-aliased graphics at 60 frames per second, DualShock 3 rumble features, trophies, and it is the only God of War release to feature Stereoscopic 3D.
God of War Saga was released in North America on August 28, 2012. It is a collection of five of the God of War games for the PlayStation 3, released as part of Sony's PlayStation Collections line. The collection includes the original God of War, God of War II, God of War III, Chains of Olympus, and Ghost of Sparta. It features two Blu-ray Discs—God of War I and II on the first and III on the second—and a voucher to download Chains of Olympus and Ghost of Sparta. The games retain the same features as their first PS3 releases.
God of War III Remastered was first released in North America on July 14, 2015, for the PlayStation 4—the franchise's first appearance on the platform. It is a remastered version of God of War III, and it features full 1080p support targeted at 60 frames per second, a photo mode, and all downloadable content of the original. The game's announcement and release was in celebration of the franchise's tenth anniversary. It was ported by Wholesale Algorithms.
GameplayThe series consists of seven single-player-only games, and one that includes multiplayer. Throughout the first era, the games featured a third-person, fixed cinematic camera with the exception of Betrayal, which is the only installment to feature a 2D side-scrolling view. In 2018's God of War, the camera was switched from being fixed and became an over-the-shoulder free camera. A first-person camera is featured in God of War III and Ascension. Throughout the series, the player controls the character Kratos in a combination of hack and slash combat, platforming, and puzzle game elements to achieve goals and complete the story. 2018's God of War adds Kratos' son Atreus, and although the game is played entirely as Kratos, there are times when the player may choose to passively control Atreus.
Throughout the Greek era, Kratos' main weapon is a pair of double-chained blades that appear in three iterations: the Blades of Chaos, the Blades of Athena, and the Blades of Exile. They each perform similarly, but differ in the types of combos and amount of damage each yields, as well as cosmetic differences. Other weapons are also obtained during the games and vary in gameplay. Magic is also used, and four abilities are typically acquired. God of War III differs in that instead of separate abilities, there are four primary weapons that possess their own respective magic offensive. The game also features "Items"—additional secondary weapons with limited usage, such as the Bow of Apollo. With each new game, most weapons and magic are lost via a plot device, and a new arsenal of weapons and abilities are acquired during gameplay. Ascension differs from the previous games in that instead of acquiring new weapons that are kept throughout the entire game, the player collects up to five World Weapons that have limited usage. When there is not a World Weapon equipped, the player can punch or kick foes as part of a new mechanic added to the game. In 2018's God of War, Kratos' primary weapon is a magical battle axe called the Leviathan Axe. It can be thrown and summoned back to his hand, similar to Thor's hammer Mjölnir. Later on in the game, he recovers the Blades of Chaos, which perform similarly as they did during the Greek games, but with different abilities. Both the Leviathan Axe and Blades of Chaos can be upgraded to use special magical attacks called runic attacks. Each weapon has a light and heavy runic attack, and the player can choose which runic attacks to equip on the weapons.
The series offers combo-based combat, and includes a quick time event feature, also called context sensitive attacks, which is initiated when the player has weakened a foe or to perform a defensive maneuver. It allows limited control of Kratos during the QTE cinematic sequence; success ends the battle, while failure usually results in damage to the player. As well as the QTE system, Ascension features a prompt-less free-form system, allowing players the choice of when to attack or dodge based on the enemy's actions. A grab maneuver can be used on minor foes. 2018's God of War changed this up; after an enemy has been weakened enough, a prompt will appear above its head, and depending on the enemy, Kratos may rip it in half or grab them and throw them into other enemies, among other possible outcomes. He will also jump on top of and ride large enemies, such as ogres, causing them to attack other enemies, similar to the cyclopes in the Greek games.
Relics, which the player can use in successive games are also found and necessary for game progression. Kratos often has a special ability, which provides temporary invulnerability and increased attack damage. This ability has become an ongoing feature of gameplay throughout the series—Rage of the Gods in the original God of War and Ascension, Rage of the Titans in God of War II, Rage of Sparta in God of War III, and Thera's Bane in Ghost of Sparta. This ability can be recharged by building hits on foes in combat, and gaining game-specific orbs. Thera's Bane, however, is recharged automatically. While Kratos does not retain any relics from the Greek era in 2018's God of War, he does have a rage ability, called Spartan Rage, and with this ability, Kratos uses powerful bare-handed attacks, as opposed to weapons, to greatly damage enemies.
Gorgon Eyes and Phoenix Feathers, found throughout the Greek games in unmarked chests, increase the maximum amount of health and magic, respectively. Minotaur Horns, which increase the Items and Fire meter's maximum length, are available in God of War III and Ghost of Sparta, respectively. The Items meter allows the use of secondary weapons, called Items, and the Fire meter allows the use of Thera's Bane. The meters are increased in increments and reach their maximum once a certain number of Eyes, Feathers, and Horns are found. Other chests contain green, blue, or red orbs. Green orbs replenish the player's health, blue orbs replenish magic allowing further usage, and red orbs provide experience points for upgrading weapons and magic for new, more powerful attacks, and replenish the Rage meter in the original God of War. Gold orbs found in God of War II and Ascension, and white orbs in God of War III, replenish the Rage meter instead of red orbs; the Rage meter in Ascension is also refilled by landing attacks on foes. Chests with changing colors, which allow players to choose which meter to replenish, have also been available. Red orbs can also be collected by killing foes and destroying certain inanimate objects. Bosses and more powerful opponents release a combination of colored orbs when killed via the quick-time feature. For 2018's God of War, Iðunn's Apples replaced the Gorgon Eyes to increase the maximum length of the health meter, while Horns of Blood Mead increase the maximum length of the rage meter. While the game retains green health orbs to replenish the health meter, magic is done differently. Instead of blue orbs, there is a cool down time on magical runic attacks. Once that cool down time is up, the magical runic attack can be used again. Furthermore, players accumulate a currency called Hacksilver, which is a key component in crafting and purchasing new items, such as new armor or upgrading existing armor, and XP is used for learning new combat skills. Chests in this game provide a variety of different items.
With the exception of Ascension, each installment offers a challenge mode, which yields extra red orbs, secret costumes, and behind-the-scenes videos. Bonus content can also be unlocked by defeating the game's difficulty levels. 2018's God of War also includes a challenge mode, which ends with an optional fight with a Valkyrie, who provides various items upon defeat. Battle arenas, which allow players to set difficulty levels and choose their own opponents, are included in God of War II, God of War III, and Ghost of Sparta. A quick-time sex mini-game is also included in each installment except Betrayal, Ascension, and the 2018 game.
Ascension is the only installment in the series to feature multiplayer, which is online-only for both competitive and cooperative play. Up to eight players on two teams of two to four players battle for control of a map in order to earn rewards from the gods. Players can also fight each other in one-on-one matches. Players must sell their champion's soul to either Zeus, Hades, Ares, or Poseidon, which allows players to try different weapons, armor sets, and powers inspired by the god of their choice, and extras can be unlocked.
PlayStation 2After the success of their first game Kinetica, Santa Monica Studio began development of the original God of War in 2002, and unveiled it two years later at SCEA Santa Monica Gamers' Day 2004. Game director and creator David Jaffe said that although the idea for God of War was his own, the concept owed a debt to Capcom because he had played Onimusha and said "let's do that with Greek Mythology". He was inspired in part by the 1981 feature film, Clash of the Titans, saying, "the real high concept for me was ... merging it with Heavy Metal magazine". He said he liked both "the kids stuff ... with Greek Mythology" and the idea of adding more adult themes such as sex and violence. He was also inspired by the 1981 film Raiders of the Lost Ark. Although the game is based on Greek mythology, the development team gave themselves "lots of freedom" to modify the myths, and Jaffe said they took the "coolest aspects of the subject" and created art and story using those elements. Director of visual development and lead concept artist, Charlie Wen, drew inspiration from these films as well as more contemporary films such as Gladiator for tonal inspiration to lead the visual design of Kratos, other characters, and the world of God of War.
GameSpot said the developers described the gameplay "as merging the action of Devil May Cry with the puzzle-solving of Ico" and noted that players would be able to "sunder enemies with a single move, such as by ripping them in half". The game uses Santa Monica's Kinetica engine, which they developed for Kinetica.
A sequel to God of War was first teased at the end of its credits, which stated, "Kratos Will Return". God of War II was officially announced at the 2006 Game Developers Conference. David Jaffe stepped down and became the creative director of its sequel and God of Wars lead animator Cory Barlog assumed the role of game director. Barlog said that in the game, players would see "a larger view of Kratos' role within the mythological world." Like God of War, the game uses Santa Monica's Kinetica engine. Magic attacks became an integral part of the combat system and it was more refined. New creatures and heroes from the mythology, and more boss battles were added. Both Jaffe and Barlog said that they did not view God of War II as a sequel, but rather a continuation of the previous game. Jaffe said that they did not want to include the Roman numeral number two in the title for this reason, but they did not want the title to convey the impression it was an expansion pack. Both Jaffe and Barlog said that the reason God of War II appeared on the PlayStation 2 instead of the PlayStation 3—which was released four months prior to God of War II—was because "there's a 100 million people out there that will be able to play God of War II as soon as it launches." Barlog assured that the game would be playable on the newer platform, which originally had PlayStation 2 backwards compatibility.
PlayStation 3God of War III was first mentioned by Cory Barlog at a God of War II launch event, and it was officially announced at the 2008 Electronic Entertainment Expo. After the first eight months of development, Barlog left Santa Monica for other opportunities and Stig Asmussen became director. Asmussen said that one of the greatest challenges in developing God of War III for the PlayStation 3 was the "complexity of everything"; individual tasks, such as designing Helios' decapitation, could take a year because the "level of detail expected so high and intricate, it multiple departments." He said that the PlayStation 3's hardware capabilities allowed more flexibility in character creation and interaction with the environment. The engine for God of War III was ported from the first two installments to the PlayStation 3. As the game was being developed, the code department swapped out PlayStation 2 components with PlayStation 3 components. They replaced the renderer, the particle system, and the collision system. Although they were re-using the engine from God of War II, the core engine for God of War III was brand new. Between E3 2009 and the time the game shipped, morphological anti-aliasing was added, which graphics engineer Ben Diamand said "improved edges dramatically and saved substantial amounts of frame-rate." Diamand also said that "depth-of-field, motion blur, crepuscular 'god' rays and refraction were either added or improved in quality and speed" during that same time period.
On April 12, 2012, Sony released a teaser image for Ascension on its official PlayStation Facebook page, which was followed by the game's announcement on April 19 on PlayStation.Blog. Todd Papy, who had previously worked as a designer on God of War and God of War II and as design director on God of War III, assumed the role of game director; God of War III director Stig Asmussen was busy with another project at Santa Monica and did not work on Ascension. The announcement officially confirmed the game's title and Papy said it was not titled God of War IV to avoid confusion because it is a prequel, rather than a sequel, to the trilogy. The game features a retooled God of War III engine, enabling online multiplayer battles for up to eight players. The decision to add multiplayer came about from curiosity, according to lead combat designer Jason McDonald. The multiplayer was first tested using Kratos, and McDonald said the testers had "a lot of fun". Seeing their reaction made the team feel that the multiplayer had value and they then began to put the "God of War spin on it". In the developmental transition from God of War III to Ascension, one of the graphics engineers, Cedric Perthuis, noted that the limits of the God of War III engine restricted artist creativity, so they "tried to remove or push those limits as far as possible without losing any performance." Ascension did not have a graphical leap over its predecessor like God of War III did. Dynamic lighting was added, which allowed for development of the Life Cycle gameplay mechanic. Particle effects were also greatly improved upon from God of War III.
PlayStation 4Santa Monica began work on the fifth main installment in 2014, which was confirmed by the returning Cory Barlog at the first annual PlayStation Experience on December 6 that year. The official announcement came at the 2016 Electronic Entertainment Expo with a gameplay demo, which also confirmed that Barlog had returned to the series as game director. The game was deliberately titled God of War with no numeral or subtitle because although it is a continuation of the series, "we are reimagining everything." Other mythologies were also considered for the new setting, but Norse was picked to keep the focus on Kratos; there was also consideration to use a different protagonist, but it was decided to keep Kratos as he "is intrinsically tied" to the series. Most of the development team that worked on the original God of War worked on the new installment. They claimed that they matched the new gameplay with the same level of accessibility as the previous installments. Some gameplay characteristics found in the previous installments were cut, such as jumping, swimming, and instant-death platforming challenges; these were cut due to the camera being closer to Kratos. Although Ascension had introduced multiplayer to the series, the team dropped the mode to focus on the single-player experience. The Leviathan Axe was chosen as Kratos' new main weapon because the developers wanted a more grounded direction for the game. The enemy count was increased to up to 100 enemies on-screen; God of War III and Ascension could do up to 50. Although the game was built for the standard PlayStation 4, Barlog confirmed that it would "benefit from the power" of the PlayStation 4 Pro; an updated version of the PlayStation 4 that can render games in 4K and was released a few months after God of War was announced. The game's story was estimated to take 25–35 hours to complete, which is significantly more than the previous four main installments, which each took an average of 10 hours to complete.
Cory Barlog also confirmed that the 2018 game would not be Kratos' last. He said that future games could see the series tackling Egyptian or Mayan mythology, and that although the 2018 game focuses on Norse mythology, it alludes to the fact that there are other mythologies co-existing in the world. Barlog also said that he liked the idea of having different directors for each game, seen throughout the first seven games, and although he may not direct another God of War, he would still be at Santa Monica to work on future games.
PlayStation PortableGame developer Ready at Dawn pitched the idea of a God of War game for the PlayStation Portable to Santa Monica Studio soon after the original God of War launched. Cory Barlog officially confirmed the development of Chains of Olympus at a God of War II launch event, stating "It is its own story that connects to the overall story." Chains of Olympus uses a proprietary, in-house engine referred to as the Ready at Dawn engine, which expanded on the engine created for their previous game, Daxter. Originally designed for the PlayStation Portable's restricted 222 megahertz processor, Ready at Dawn convinced Sony to increase the clock speed of the PSP to 333 MHz, which they did in a firmware upgrade. The faster processor allowed for more realistic blood effects, lighting effects, and shadows as well as improved enemy intelligence, but noticeably decreased battery life. After the game's completion, game director Ru Weerasuriya stated multiplayer options and other puzzles, characters, and dialogue had to be removed due to time constraints.
Ghost of Sparta was announced on May 4, 2010, on PlayStation.Blog. According to Sony, Ready at Dawn utilized "state-of-the-art visual technologies" that allowed "higher quality environments and characters." Ghost of Sparta offers "over 25% more gameplay" than Chains of Olympus, while adding more enemies on screen and more boss encounters. Development of Ghost of Sparta took 23 months to complete. Due to Weerasuriya's schedule at Ready at Dawn, he could not return to direct; Dana Jan, the lead level designer for Chains of Olympus, became director for Ghost of Sparta. At Comic-Con 2010, Jan noted that when development began in 2008, the goal was to make the game bigger than Chains of Olympus, which had apparently pushed the PSP to its functional limits. Jan stated that Ghost of Sparta took the PSP to its "absolute capacity", with another feature being more on-screen foes. The game concept was originally used as a teaser for players who obtained the platinum trophy from God of War III. The trophy revealed a site called spartansstandtall.com, which became the official site for Ghost of Sparta on May 4. Jan stated the reason they chose to have the game take place between God of War and God of War II was because "It seemed to make a lot of sense to fill in that void."
MobileBetrayal was announced by Sony Online Entertainment at a press conference in Los Angeles in May 2007. The game utilizes a total of 110 different animations and features a 2D rendition of the series' three-dimensional graphics. Game director Phil Cohen said that although the game was enjoyable to develop, the greatest challenge was creating a single tileset and palette swapping scheme that was diverse enough to portray multiple environments with only several hundred kilobytes, and that met Santa Monica Studio's high standards. Cohen wrote the initial design document between September and October 2005, and revisited it in August 2006, the month development started. The versions for high-end handsets were completed in April 2007, with final versions for low-end handsets completed by June 2007. The porting team adapted the game to over 200 handsets in a matter of weeks. Both David Jaffe and Cory Barlog ensured that the Betrayal development team captured the feel of the combat and visual style, and were "helpful with feedback and positive support".
Film and documentariesA film adaptation of the first game was announced in 2005. Creator David Jaffe confirmed that a completed script had been written by David Self and would be sent to an unspecified director. He said that Universal Studios was behind the making of the God of War movie, but was unaware of its status, and eventually said, "it's doubtful that the film will even be made". In September 2010, Jaffe said that the "script went out a year and a half ago to Daniel Craig who plays Bond, but he turned it down". He also said that another actor had since been cast as Kratos; he said, "this new person is pretty good, if that ends up true." In July 2012, The Hollywood Reporter said that writers Patrick Melton and Marcus Dunstan had been hired to adapt the God of War film. On August 30, 2012, the writers told IGN that they intend to "humanize" Kratos and explore his past. Melton said that they are emotionally invested and it could become a series of films, and that Ares "will become a more proactive villain". As of ,, the movie is without a director, no actors have been confirmed, and a release date has not been set, but the script has been "turned in". It has a budget of $150 million USD. Since March 26, 2013, there have been no further updates about this adaptation, but following the release of 2018's God of War, rumors about a potential adaptation of that game began circulating. s director Steven S. DeKnight stated he would like to direct an adaptation of that game and talked with Sony about making it R-rated. As a big fan of the series, DeKnight said he wants to see the franchise adapted and wants Dave Bautista for the role of Kratos.
God of War: Unearthing the Legend is a documentary about the God of War franchise and is hosted by Peter Weller. The production discusses the relationship between the God of War games and Greek mythology, and features members of the God of War III development team and professional historians. It was included as part of the God of War III Ultimate Edition and Ultimate Trilogy Edition packages. On March 25, 2010, it was released on the PlayStation Store in North America to purchase.
God of War – Game Directors Live is a documentary featuring five game directors of the God of War series: David Jaffe, Cory Barlog, Ru Weerasuriya, Stig Asmussen, and Dana Jan. The documentary takes the form of an interview panel hosted by G4's Alison Haislip, with the five game directors, 150 members of PlayStation.Blog, and members of GodofWar.com and SpartansStandTall.com. It was filmed at the El Portal theater in Los Angeles on September 1, 2010, and was released as a pre-order bonus for Ghost of Sparta in North America on November 2, 2010, and was included with the Origins Collection and later released on the PlayStation Store.
Raising Kratos is a YouTube documentary of Santa Monica Studio's five-year process in making 2018's God of War, showing the "herculean effort" that went into reviving the franchise. The documentary was announced on April 20, 2019, the one year anniversary of the game's launch, and was released the following month on May 10.
Comic series and novelsA six-issue comic book series titled God of War, written by Marv Wolfman with art by Andrea Sorrentino, was published by WildStorm and DC Comics between March 2010 and January 2011. Taking place during the Greek era, the narrative switches between Kratos' past and present; it occurs while he is a soldier of Sparta and involves his search for the Ambrosia of Asclepius, which has legendary healing properties and eventually saved his plague-ridden daughter, Calliope. Kratos also embarks upon a quest to destroy the same elixir to deny it to the worshippers of the slain god Ares, who wish to resurrect him.
In the lead up to Ascensions release, Santa Monica released a graphic novel titled on the God of War website that featured a social experience from October 2012 until March 2013. The graphic novel was a prequel story that tied into the single-player of Ascension, and was the backstory of the player's multiplayer character.
A limited comic series from Dark Horse Comics, also titled God of War and written by Chris Roberson with art by Tony Parker, was published from November 2018 to February 2019. The four-issue miniseries serves as a prequel story to the 2018 game. Issue #0 was included digitally with the three different special editions of the game.
The God of War novels recount the events of the games and offer deeper insights into their stories. God of War, the official novelization of the first game, was written by Matthew Stover and Robert E. Vardeman. It was published on May 25, 2010, by Del Rey Books. God of War II, the second novelization of the series, was written by Vardeman alone and was published by Del Rey Books on February 12, 2013. The third novelization in the series, titled God of War – The Official Novelization, is of 2018's God of War. It was released on August 28, 2018 by Titan Books and was written by Cory Barlog's father, James Barlog.
MusicSix God of War soundtracks have been commercially released and have featured several composers, including Gerard K. Marino, Ron Fish, Winifred Phillips, Mike Reagan, Cris Velasco, Winnie Waldron, Marcello De Francisci, Jeff Rona, Tyler Bates, and Bear McCreary. On March 1, 2005, God of War: Original Soundtrack from the Video Game was released on CD by SIE as an exclusive product for the Sony Connect Music Store. It has been praised for its well-developed orchestral themes, and the creative use of ancient and ethnic instrumentation. The composers were also praised for avoiding the production of never-ending action themes. God of War II: Original Soundtrack from the Video Game was released on CD by SIE on April 10, 2007. Praised as strong, the album features ominous orchestral pieces, and each composer's contributions are slightly more distinctive than the previous soundtrack. God of War III: Original Soundtrack from the Video Game was released on CD by SIE and Sumthing Else on March 30, 2010. It was also included as downloadable content in the God of War III Ultimate Edition and Ultimate Trilogy Edition collections. The soundtrack was praised as an orchestral success and the best score in the series at that time.
The original scores for God of War, God of War II, and God of War III were nominated for Best Original Score at the 2005, 2007, and 2010 Spike Video Game Awards, respectively. The God of War Trilogy Soundtrack was included with the God of War III Ultimate Edition and Ultimate Trilogy Edition collections as downloadable content. The Trilogy Soundtrack consists of the original scores for God of War, God of War II, and God of War III. It was praised by critics as the best way to experience the series' musical development, and allows the listener to note the development of the composers during the series.
On October 18, 2010, ' was released on the iTunes Store by SIE. It was also included as downloadable content as part of the Ghost of Sparta pre-order package and includes three bonus tracks from Chains of Olympus. Several tracks were cited as being intended for purely contextual purposes, and the remaining tracks rated well in comparison to the soundtracks of the main installments in the series. ' differed from the previously released soundtracks as it was composed by Tyler Bates alone, and is the only God of War score that he has worked on. It was released on March 5, 2013, on iTunes by SIE and La-La Land Records. It was included as downloadable content in the God of War: Ascension–Collector's Edition and Special Edition. Reviewers praised it for being powerful, rich, and pulsing, though felt it was repetitive at times. Bear McCreary is the most recent composer to work on the series as he composed the music for 2018's God of War on PlayStation 4.
''God of War: Blood & Metal''God of War: Blood & Metal is a heavy metal homage by various bands on the Roadrunner Records label, and features original music inspired by the God of War video game series. The EP was released for purchase on March 2, 2010, and is available from ShockHound and the iTunes Store. It was also included as downloadable content in the God of War III Ultimate Edition and Ultimate Trilogy Edition collections, which included a bonus track. The second track, "Shattering the Skies Above" by Trivium, and the bonus track, "Even Gods Cry" by The Turtlenecks, were made into music videos. 1UP.com said, "it's not offensive to ears" and "mainstream listeners may enjoy ". Square Enix Music Online stated the album is a "good selection of metal music" and listeners will be "surprised with the variety of music".
Critical receptionWith physical and digital copies combined, the God of War franchise has sold over 32 million games worldwide. God of War, God of War II, Chains of Olympus, God of War Collection, God of War III, and God of War each received critical acclaim from several reviewers as compiled by review aggregator Metacritic, with both the 2005 and 2018 titles being tied for the highest score in the franchise at 94/100. Betrayal and Ghost of Sparta only received generally favorable reception. Ascension also only had a generally favorable reception and, not including the PlayStation Vita port of God of War Collection, it has the lowest score in the series from Metacritic.
At the time of its release, Raymond Padilla of GameSpy wrote that the original God of War was the "best action game ever to grace the PS2". Other critics similarly said that it was one of the best action games of all time; it received over a dozen "Game of the Year" awards. In 2009, it was named the "seventh best" PlayStation 2 game of all time on IGN's "Top 25 PS2 Games of All Time" list. God of War II was also on IGN's list, and was named the "second best" PlayStation 2 game of all time. God of War II was similarly called one of the best action games of all time and is considered the swan song of the PlayStation 2 era. In November 2012, Complex.com named God of War II the best PlayStation 2 game of all time—where God of War was named the 11th best—and consider it better than its successor, God of War III. Betrayal was acclaimed for its fidelity to the series in terms of gameplay, art style, and graphics.
Chains of Olympus was praised for "fantastic" graphics and "tight and responsive" controls for the PSP at the time. In 2008, IGN awarded Chains of Olympus the "Best PSP Action Game", and in September 2010, it was listed as the best PSP game by GamePro. God of War III received praise for its graphics, in particular of Kratos; at the time, IGN stated that Kratos was "perhaps the single most impressive-looking character ever in videogames." IGN also said that, at the time, God of War III "redefines what the word 'scale' means with regards to videogames, as it throws you into scenes with Titans that are larger than entire levels in some other games." God of War III received awards for "Most Anticipated Game of 2010" and "Best PS3 Game" at the 2009 and 2010 Spike Video Game Awards, respectively. The game also won the "Artistic Achievement" award at the 2011 BAFTA awards. Ghost of Sparta was praised for its graphics and story, with Chris Pereira of 1UP saying that it was "a more personal story than the GOW games." It received several awards at E3 2010, including "Best Handheld Game", "Best PSP Game", and "PSP Game of Show", and won "Best Handheld Game" at the 2010 Spike Video Game Awards. 2018's God of War received particular praise for its art direction, graphics, combat system, music, story, use of Norse mythology, characters, and cinematic feeling. Many also felt that it had successfully revitalized the series without losing the core identity of its predecessors. It won several awards, among which were "Game of the Year" and "Best Game Direction" at The Game Awards 2018 and "Best Storytelling" and "PlayStation Game of the Year" at the 2018 Golden Joystick Awards.
The series has also received criticism because of problems with puzzles, weapons, and technical issues. Chains of Olympus was criticized by G4, who stated that the game "occasionally suffers from screen tearing and framerate drops", and that some of the puzzles "are so maddeningly difficult to solve". The game was also criticized for its lack of variety in enemies, its continued use of puzzles that require players to move boxes, and its relatively short story. God of War III also received some criticism. GameFront's Phil Hornshaw said it had an overly cruel protagonist, and the game assumed that the players reveled in the misery and violence as much as Kratos did. IGN complained about the game's weapons, and said "that two of the three additional weapons that you'll earn are extremely similar to your blades. They have unique powers and slightly different moves, but by and large, they're more of the same." Ghost of Sparta received criticism from Eurogamer, which said that the "game's primary problem ... is in its in-built focus" and that "there is a sense that Ghost of Sparta is a step back for the series if you've played ." Some reviewers stated that Ascensions story was not as compelling as previous installments, with IGN stating that in comparison to Zeus and Ares, "the Furies don’t quite cut it". The multiplayer received a mixed response. Although reviewers claimed gameplay translated well into the multiplayer, they were critical of the balance and depth of combat. Edge magazine approved of the multiplayer, stating it was an "evolutionary step" with "some fine ideas ... that form part of this genre's future template." 2018's God of War received some criticism, for example, a couple of reviewers disliked that the fast travel option unlocked very late into the game.
The collections have also received praise. IGN awarded God of War Collection the "Editor's Choice" Award and praised the enhanced resolutions, lower price point and smoother frame rates, and stated it was the "definitive way to play the game". Due to the success of God of War Collection, Sony announced that further titles would receive similar treatment for release under its new "Classics HD" brand. The Origins Collection was similarly well received. IGN stated "Sony succeeded at making good games better", although GamePro criticized it for its lack of new bonus content. God of War Saga also received praise. Ryan Fleming of Digital Trends wrote that the collection "is perhaps the best value buy for any console available," although the collection is not likely for fans of the series, but rather inexperienced players or newcomers. God of War III Remastered was met with generally favorable reception. Praise was given to the smoother textures and improved frame rate, though because the original already had remarkable graphics, the changes were not major, and reviewers said these changes were not a strong enough argument to rebuy the game for US$40.