The God of War franchise started as a fun, stand-alone hack and slash game starring a rageaholic Spartan waging war against all of Greek mythology. The series has since evolved into an action-packed modern Greek tragedy that makes Mortal Kombat look tame. After several years, the franchise is back with one heck of a face lift, and I don’t just mean Kratos’ epic beard. But, before we get into the upcoming game, let’s turn back the clock and see just how Kratos went from the Ghost of Sparta to the Dad of War.
Before any of the games, Kratos fought a losing battle against a tribe of barbarians and made a deal with Ares, the God of War. In exchange for defeating his enemies, Kratos offered his life in eternal servitude. Ares agreed but decided in his infinite wisdom (or lack thereof) to trick Kratos into killing his wife and daughter, so nothing could distract him from serving Ares. This plan backfired and set off Kratos’ rage-filled quest to hand the Greek pantheon their collective asses on silver, bloodstained platters.
God of War: Ascension
Several months later, a now amnesiac Kratos seeks council with Orkos (the son of Ares) and with the oracle at Delphi to be permanently free from Ares’ control and to bring back his memories. Kratos learns the only solution is to kill the Furies, as they hold his bond with Ares. But, in a twist of irony, the Furies lock Kratos in a prison made out of the still-living corpse of a hundred-armed giant known as a Hecatoncheires.
Kratos escapes the prison and fights his way past the Furies’ tricks, including illusions and parasitic creatures that painfully twist the Hecatoncheires into a writhing mass of spikes and teeth. Kratos brutally kills the Furies, only to learn Orkos now holds his bond. Kratos reluctantly (and mercifully) kills Orkos, which is probably the only time Kratos is reluctant to run someone through with a sword. This breaks Kratos’ bond and restores his lost memories, which are actually nightmares of murdering his family. This sets Kratos on a path of servitude for Athena, just so he can rid himself of his night terrors.
God of War: Chains of Olympus
Five years into his servitude, Kratos witnesses the sun falling from the sky. He later comes across the abandoned chariot of Helios, the Sun God. Athena then tasks Kratos with finding Helios and defeating the God of Dreams, Morpheus, who has taken advantage of this event and sent the gods into a deep sleep.
Kratos’ journey takes him to the Underworld (this won’t be his first trip there), where he is reunited with his dead daughter, Calliope. Kratos also witnesses the freeing of the Titan Atlas, which is a bad thing since he literally carries the world on his shoulders. Eventually, Kratos is resigned to never seeing his daughter again. Then he chains Atlas to the roof of the Underworld and confronts Persephone, the Queen of the Underworld. On a side note, she orchestrated all these events and wants to destroy the world because the gods tricked her into marrying Hades, the God of the Underworld. And she used Calliope to placate Kratos and distract him from the apocalypse. Of course, this gets Kratos extra pissed, and he kills Persephone, a task that almost kills him. But it doesn’t.
God of War
Finally, we get to the game that started it all. Kratos, near Athens, hears word it is under siege by Ares’ forces — led by Ares himself. Athena asks Kratos to save her city, and he agrees, but only if she does that one little thing she promised 10 years ago: get rid of his nightmares. Kratos then seeks out the Oracle of Athens and learns of a weapon that can defeat Ares: Pandora’s Box.
Kratos finds the box in a temple built on the back of the titan Cronos. Just as Kratos is about to claim Pandora’s Box, Ares, as the badass that he is, hurls a pillar all the way from Athens into the temple (which is currently located in a desert), skewering Kratos and sending him to the Underworld. Again. But Kratos, the badass he is, escapes the Underworld and uses the power of Pandora’s Box to kill Ares. However, Athena, as is common with Greek gods, reneges and leaves Kratos with his nightmares. Fed up, Kratos throws himself off a cliff, but Athena saves him at the last second and crowns him the new God of War.
God of War: Ghost of Sparta
This game starts off with a bit of backstory. Turns out Kratos has a brother, Deimos, who was kidnapped by the gods because of a prophecy that they would be killed by a “marked warrior.” Since Deimos was born with unusual birthmarks, the gods naturally assumed he would be the one to kill them.
Fast forward to the present, and Kratos, the newly-crowned God of War, travels to Atlantis and finds his mother, Callisto. She informs him that Deimos is alive and not well in the clutches of Thanatos, the God of Death. Callisto also tells Kratos about his father (turns out it’s Zeus), which transforms her into a twisted monster that Kratos mercifully kills. Kratos eventually finds Deimos, but their reunion is short-lived, as Thanatos kills Deimos. And then Kratos promptly kills Thanatos. Athena tries to console Kratos by turning him into a full-on god, but that only ends up pissing him off even more.
God of War II
Kratos, now the God of War in both title and power, has distracted himself from his nightmares by conquering and destroying other Greek cities, much to the displeasure of the other Greek gods. Out of revenge, Zeus brings the Colossus of Rhodes to life and tricks Kratos into imbuing a sword with his godhood so he can slay the giant. Zeus then promptly skewers Kratos with the sword, killing him. But, by now we’ve learned death is only a minor inconvenience for Kratos; he recovers and swears to rip the space-time continuum a new one by asking the Fates to send him back in time and prevent his own death.
After running into numerous famous faces from Greek mythology (and slicing them up), Kratos reaches the Fates, who have no intention of helping him create a time paradox. Kratos, the understanding man he is, kills them, goes back in time, and prevents his own death, claiming the sword and almost killing Zeus in the process. Athena, Kratos’ only constant ally, takes the fatal blow in her father’s stead, but Kratos isn’t done with the gods yet. He goes back even further in time to recruit the Titans and assault Olympus.
God of War III
Unlike the other games, God of War III takes place immediately after the previous game and starts with Kratos riding the Titans up Olympus. After Kratos kills Poseidon, the Titans show their true colors and betray Kratos, killing him and sending him to the Underworld once more. But, Kratos has escaped from the Underworld so many times he knows it like the back of his hand, and this time he’s not leaving without Hades’ head. Oh, and Athena’s a spirit now for some reason.
After Kratos makes it out of the Underworld, he travels his way up Olympus, slaying each god (and a Hercules voiced by Kevin Sorbo) foolish enough to get in his way. Kratos then searches for Pandora’s Box, so he can use it to kill Zeus, only this time the box is protected by a flame that can only be extinguished by Pandora herself. Kratos finds Pandora and, in an ironic twist, tries to prevent her from sacrificing her life to extinguish the flame. She does so anyway, which leaves Kratos with a box that is surprisingly empty, but he just up and kills Zeus anyway.
Apparently, when Kratos first opened Pandora’s Box to kill Ares, he unleashed evils that infected the gods and made them, well, evil. And paranoid. The only weapon Kratos actually gained from the box was hope, which he used to kill Ares and Zeus. Athena’s spirit demands Kratos give her the hope, so she can rule mankind, but Kratos refuses and fatally skewers himself with his sword to release hope to the world. However, if we’ve learned anything, it’s that death is only a suggestion for Kratos, and he always refuses.
God of War (2018)
And now we’ve come to the latest entry in the God of War franchise. We know Kratos has a son and is trying to be a good father in a world filled with Norse gods, but that’s about it. We don’t know how he got to these lands, what happened to Athena’s spirit, or why Jormungandr, the world serpent and harbinger of Ragnarok, wants to help Kratos. But, if this game is anything like the others, we are in for a wild ride.