Kratos, professional angry man and the god of war himself, returns this week with a son, a beard, and a whole new pantheon of gods to confront in the latest God of War game. After three games spent battling Zeus, Poseidon, Hercules and a gang of other Greek gods, Kratos faces a host of foes from Norse mythology. The shift from Greek cities to Nordic mountains is appropriate. Norse mythology is full of the kind of gritty battles and violence that the God of War series is known for. But what comes next?
Sony Santa Monica, the team behind God of War, has already expressed interest in several other mythological settings and the fact that they’re willing to take Kratos to another area of the world opens up the opportunity for all sorts of globe-hopping adventures. A new setting allows for more weapons to kill with and new worlds to explore, but it also provides the opportunity to shine a light on a mythologies and cultures that typically get overlooked in Western pop culture.
Greek and Norse stories aren’t the only ones worthy of Sony Santa Monica’s respectful yet playful approach to mythology. What other mythological settings would be fun to explore in the God of War universe?
Considering the proximity between Greece and Egypt, it’s surprising that Kratos didn’t go straight across the Mediterranean before his trip north. Then again, he doesn't seem like much of a beach guy.
Assassin’s Creed Origins covered similar ground, but the realm of the Egyptian gods is off limits for humans like Bayek. Kratos, a demi-god, wouldn’t have any problem getting in, but how would Egypt’s gods, whose goal is to uphold order in their universe, react to a Greek invader?
The sun reigns supreme in Egypt and Ra, god of the sun and ruler of both gods and men during Egypt’s golden age, is the perfect centerpiece for God of War’s Egyptian adventure. The sun itself, always looking down on Kratos as he travels across deserts and through sun-baked villages, is a threat all its own. His rule and the rebellion of both humans and gods against him provides the kind of conflict that the original God of War games thrived on but with a renewed focus on mankind’s descent into war and death.
Add in some light tomb raiding, a trip to the otherworldly realm called the Duat, some sickle swords and scepters and Kratos would have his hands full.
Japanese mythology is full of interesting creatures ranging from giant catfish and fox spirits to eight-tailed dragons and shinigami (death gods). With those stories and figures at their disposal, the folks behind God of War could create a boundless spirit realm for Kratos to wander through while mixing in some good old-fashioned feudal warfare.
As a social and political system, feudal Japan would make for a very different God of War, one defined by more mechanically involved systems than just third-person combat and RPG elements. Think a Shadow of Morder-esque Nemesis System built on manipulating warlords and building an army. That premise is problematic in some ways (read: colonialism), but if handled well could change up the God of War formula in some interesting ways or even delve into themes that games don’t usually handle with grace. Plus, Kratos could always pick up a katana and slash some demons.
God of War creative director Cory Barlog has already gone on record talking about the team’s interest in a possible Meso-American set game and it’s not hard to see the appeal. Ritualistic sacrifice? Thick, verdant jungles? Animal gods? What’s not to like?
A lot of Mayan and other Meso-American mythologies put humanity’s relationship with nature front and center. It’s why so many Mayan deities appear as animals. These anthropomorphized gods could provide God of War with a welcome dose of beastly terror or maybe even just a little surreal imagery.
Gods like Bahlam, god of the underworld and one of many jaguar gods, and Camazotz, a massive bat death god, would provide for tense, terrifying encounters, while the feathered serpent Q’uq’umatz, creator of humanity, would be too psychedelic a creation not to include.
A move to Meso-America could also drastically change Kratos’ approach to battle. Mayan warriors often used bows and obsidian blades, two weapons that don’t exactly suit Kratos’ more brute fighting style. With thick jungles all around him, maybe this could force Kratos to get stealthier or even tame animal companions to aid him in stalking his enemies.
Ireland, with its rolling hills, abundant farmland and stone castles, would bring the God of War series into the Medieval Age, but Kratos has been getting medieval on his enemy’s since day one.
History is full of Celtic tribes with a wide variety of beliefs, and the oldest myths, those from Ireland’s early medieval age, contain a loose collection of gods and goddesses with more personality than most well-known pantheons. Dagda, the leader of the gods, is just as likely to smash a giant with his club as laugh off a joke at his own expense. Morrigan is a battle goddess associated with war and often appears as a crow. Despite his dour and self-serious demeanor, Kratos wouId fit right in with these warriors.
More importantly, Celtic mythology could provide Kratos with another incredible weapon: Lugh’s Spear, a fiery spear with godly power.