During the initial launch of the PlayStation 4, Sony teased a new title for the PS4 from Sony Santa Monica, the makers behind the God of War series. Many people are excited to see what it will be but it seems that the next direction the series will go in will be open-world centred with a focus on side missions and platforming. Yet it is still largely unknown what the game itself would be about. Many are certain it will be a new take on the God of War franchise, yet should Kratos return for another prequel but in an open world format? Gamers have been crying out for Sony Santa Monica to make a God of War game, but without Kratos this time, and I believe they should do exactly that – but take it a step further. Don’t tell us stories about the Greek gods anymore; tell us stories about the Norse ones instead.
Sony Santa Monica’s God of War series is enjoyed as much for its brutality and button mashing fun as it for its interesting take on Greek mythology and culture. A lot of praise has been given to the mythology due to the way it raised a revival in interest in old legends and stories. According to an interview with IGN back in 2004, the development team gave themselves “lots of freedom” to modify the myths and shape them to make a coherent story with interesting characters. The game plays off our conceptions based on media that features Greek myths. We imagine that Hercules was an incredibly strong man, that Ares was incredibly violent and angry and the Greek locations were filled with white marble buildings with urns and murals. The characters and locations of God of War certainly always feel familiar.
This is why I think that Sony Santa Monica (SSM) should try to deviate away from the Greek mythology. I must commend them for doing such a good job creating an interesting take on the old legends of Zeus, Hades and the like but it’s already been done to death now. Kratos has had his bloody day in the sun so it’s time to start fresh. I believe that they should take the interest and focus they have for old mythology but utilise it for another… such as Norse mythology. With the game being moved onto something more open world, would it not also make sense to change the focus from Greek to Norse mythology? It seems that SSM has a knack for making myths come to life and their dedication to taking these ancient heroes/villains and turning them into fleshed out characters would help the Norse culture become more established and interesting for gamers.
First of all, let’s discuss a little about the whole Norse culture first so you can see for yourself why it would work well for Sony Santa Monica. In Norse mythology, the universe is split into nine different realms, the first of which is Asgard, the home of the Aesir. The Aesir are the Gods of material and present things, and are the ones you’ve probably heard of the most. Thor, Odin, Loki and Heimdall, among many, many others, belong in Asgard. The second realm is called Vanaheim, and is home to the Vanir, a race of gods known for being able to see into the future, and reign over fertility and wisdom. The third realm (Alfheim) is the home of the Light Elves, and the fourth realm (Midgard) is where human beings live and die, and is known to us today as Earth.
Now this is where it gets interesting. Jotunheim (the fifth realm) is the home of the giants, which are the God’s main foes. Not a day passes without a giant’s head being bashed in by a God (or vice-versa). Dark Elves live in the sixth realm, Svartalfheim. They’re basically the Light Elves’ evil twins. The seventh realm is Nidavellir, and is the dwelling of the Dwarves. The Dwarves are the most unpredictable race in all of the Norse mythos, and have been seen both making weapons for gods and throwing weapons at gods. The next realm is the underworld, and is split into two hells: Niflheim and Helheim. Niflheim is a frozen hell, reserved for those who did not die in battle. Helheim is a fiery, molten hell made for liars, murderers and rapists. The final realm is Muspelheim, deep, deep below everything else. The home of fire giants and demons is a scary place, and is feared by even the most powerful of the gods. There resides the giant Surt, which will destroy all of the nine realms on Ragnarok (the apocalypse) with his pet dog, Fenrir.
You may already be seeing that the Nine Realms is a fantastic base for a video game. All of these worlds remind me of classic God of War style levels. The material is ripe for the plucking for Sony Santa Monica. But what about gameplay? We already know that the next SSM game will be open world. So why not have an open world in the Nine Realms? You roam around the Realms, battling it out with giants, getting new weapons at dwarven forges and upgrading them as the game progresses. Maybe throw in some RPG elements for upgrading? God of War rewarded Kratos for gaining kills by allowing him to get better abilities through magic and weapon skills. Perhaps some inspiration from Shadow of the Colossus can be used for the bigger enemies which the GoW franchise is also known for. Huge boss battles took center stage in God of War 3 so it will be interesting to see if SSM can pull it off in an open-world structure. As for exploration, maybe the player could wander in abandoned halls on Vanaheim or jump through platform sections in Helheim? Or maybe you could find hidden locations deep in the cracks between the realms, or experience epic next-gen large-scale battles between gods and demons? Oh, yes. The possibilities are endless, and there is more than enough material here to create something special. It’s ambitious but it can be pulled off, knowing Sony Santa Monica and their massive triumphs with the God of War series. The Norse mythology is an untapped well of interesting locations and fascinating possibilities.
While some games do incorporate the stylings of the Norse mythology (Too Human, Skyrim and The Banner Saga), Sony Santa Monica has a real opportunity to lay out the stories of the original Nordic God legends like Thor, Odin or the lesser known Baldr or Freyr. The ground work is all there as there is a huge similarities between the Greek Gods and the Norse Gods but it will also allow for something fresh with the new focus on an open world structure. Players could take on the role of a character who must travel to Asgard, utilising longboats to help traversal and using Viking styled weaponry and armor to help them in their travels, but also have a magic or fantasy theme where the player can use mythical weapons like Kratos used the Golden Fleece. Maybe the player can use Mjölnir, which the legendary weapon of Thor and capable of leveling mountains, which could most definitely be used for a video game, especially for something like unlocking new areas, Metroid style). One of the most exciting things that could happen is the use of Viking longboats for traversal, which could take the sailing from Assassin’s Creed but combine it with combat against some mythological creatures which would lead to some incredibly tense sailing.
I could write for days how Sony Santa Monica could do justice for the whole Norse mythology, the same way they did for Greek mythology with God of War. While all of this is a major “What if?” article, I feel that there is something here that Sony Santa Monica could make us all interested in. With the new direction the developers seem to be taking, an open world style would fit tremendously in a Norse mythos story. The success of God of War should be replicated by Sony Santa Monica but with a brand new mythology to learn about and I think Norse mythology is one full of ancient stories that are begging to be told. But what do you think? Would a Norse God of War be something you would like to see? Or would you want the studio to take a different direction entirely? Let us know in the comments.