Sony surprised everyone in 2016 by announcing that its God of War series was leaving behind its familiar Greek mythology setting for that of Norse mythology. According to a new interview with Sony Santa Monica Director Cory Barlog, this might not be the last time God of War jumps between ancient civilizations.
“The Greek games were the Greek era of God of War. Moving on, the next mythological belief system he interacts with became the Norse era of God of War,” Barlog told Game Informer in a recent interview. But we may end up going on to the Egyptian era and the Mayan era and so on and so forth.”
God of War’s turn away from Greek mythos can be partly explained by the franchise’s in-game narrative, with player-character Kratos having killed off most of the Greek gods by the end of 2010’s God of War: Ghost of Sparta. But at least one high-ranking member of Sony Santa Monica also felt like the games were starting to become a bit too formulaic.
“What became apparent to me was that we were watching this franchise wane a bit,” said Head of Studio Shannon Studstill. “It was getting old. The storyline with Kratos being the hardcore badass — I think people were starting to say, ‘What’s next?’ I felt like, in order to reinvent, we really needed to turn a lot of things around.”
If that includes an eventual trip to Ancient Egypt, then God of War’s reinvention could feel familiar to fans of another blockbuster action series: Assassin’s Creed. Publisher Ubisoft gave that formerly annualized franchise a year off in 2016 before returning in 2017 with a new setting (Ancient Egypt) and some new concepts that earned it a warm reception.
And while God of War’s 12 releases in 10 years may pale in comparison to Assassin’s Creed’s 19 releases in nine years, all 12 of the former franchise’s releases shared the same setting, whereas the latter franchise routinely jumped between settings.
And while Assassin’s Creed has never visited ancient Maya, it could be a long time before God of War makes it there, if it ever does. For one thing, more Nordic games seem a near certainty following God of War’s 2018 release (Barlog previously confirmed this would not be the final God of War game). For another, Egypt was Sony Santa Monica’s top alternative to the Nordic setting.
“Half the team was way into [an Egyptian setting]. Egyptian mythology is about the pharaohs as embodiment of the gods on earth, and there’s a lot more about civilization,” Barlog said at E3 2016 following the game’s unveiling. It’s less isolated, less barren. Having too much around distracts from that central theme of a stranger in a strange place.”
Sony announced at E3 2017 that God of War would release sometime in 2018.