Saturday Morning Gaming: God of War

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Jaybird

Jaybird is Birdmojo on Xbox Live and Jaybirdmojo on Playstation's network. He's been playing consoles since the Atari 2600 and it was Zork that taught him how to touch-type. If you've got a song for Wednesday, a commercial for Saturday, a recommendation for Tuesday, an essay for Monday, or, heck, just a handful a questions, fire off an email to AskJaybird-at-gmail.com

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16 Responses

  1. Avatar Saul Degraw says:

    50 years ago today, we landed on the moon. Everyone should watch the google doodleReport

  2. Avatar Blake says:

    As awesome as the first three GoWs sound, this new one sounds awful. We are not allowed to have fun any more.

    (‘course, I’m still playing HoMM3.)Report

    • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Blake says:

      There are some seriously fun moments.

      But they’re interspersed with your son coming to terms with something or other and you see Kratos raise his hand to offer comfort… hesitate… and then put his hand back down. You know he wants to be a good dad but doesn’t know how to communicate it.

      Between killing gods.Report

    • Avatar JS in reply to Blake says:

      It’s a fantastic game. It won Game of the Year over Spiderman, which itself was a fantastic game.

      The NG+ mode was added by player demand, because the large number of people who had bought the game wanted to play it again. (It was a very high selling game, after all)

      So who is this “we’re not allowed to have fun”? LOTS of people had fun with it. To the point where GoW 5 is just a question of “when”.Report

  3. Avatar Brandon Berg says:

    I barely remember the first GoW, and never played the sequels, but what I do remember is being annoyed at getting to the final showdown with Hades, only to have the combat system I’d spent the last 10-15 hours learning be thrown out and replaced with a mini-game.Report

    • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Brandon Berg says:

      Yeah, the boss fight that is 100% different than the rest of the game has been the downfall of more than one game. (Remember the new Deus Ex? Spent the first two hours hacking and sneaking and shooting bad guys with tranq darts… then they throw you up against a boss that you can’t defeat without frag grenades.)

      For what it’s worth, Gods of War II and III didn’t do that.Report

  4. Avatar Andrew S. says:

    I’m nearing what I hope is the end of Prey, which has managed to keep surprising me (while still adequately foreshadowing other things). I haven’t played any of the System Shock / Bioshock games to which I’ve seen it compared, nor any of Arkane’s other offerings, but I’ve been enjoying most of it so far (the “most of it” is because at points, supplies have been tight enough to be worrying, due to my sometimes-profligate use of them).

    I’ve only played the original God of War, about which I remember mostly that I found the violence and nudity gratuitous enough that the complaints about them seemed reasonable. Your comment about it reveling in its adolescence seems to capture it well. I did enjoy the gameplay quite a bit, but didn’t ever look into the sequels. I don’t recall specifically why not, but even at that point I suspect I had a bit of a backlog, and in most respects I preferred Devil May Cry.Report

  5. Avatar Reformed Republican says:

    I played God of War within a year or two of its release. I got a good way through it, but I never finished it. I have realized that is a trend. There are a lot of games that I like, but eventually I reach a point near the end where I decide “I have had enough, I am not longer having fun, and I move on.” It is not anger or frustration, but I no longer feel compelled to pick up the game and play. It used to bother me to leave them unfinished, but not anymore. Life is to short to play a game that is no longer fun.

    My current games are FFXII on Switch, and FFXIV (MMO) with my wife.Report

  6. Avatar DensityDuck says:

    “instead of it being a game where you rampage through everybody while seeing red, it’s a game where it’s you and your son reluctantly killing monsters as you journey to the top of a mountain so you can scatter your wife’s ashes. The target audience isn’t adolescent males anymore, it’s people who used to be adolescent males. It’s a game that grew up.”

    which, holy crap, this is EXACTLY in line with that “male power fantasy arc” thing…Report

  7. Avatar Jaybird says:

    Last night, I had the scene where I fought (and killed) a dragon.

    It was AWESOME.

    And, afterwards, I improved my son’s bow.Report

  8. Avatar JS says:

    “And, yeah, looking back at the games now, I’m struck by how they were obviously made in a completely different gaming culture. Which made me vaguely curious about God of War for the PS4. I mean, they couldn’t re-make the first three games. We don’t live in that world anymore.”

    I point out that Shadow of Mordor not only exists, but sold very well. It wasn’t jokingly referred to as an “Orcish Murder Simulator” for nothing.

    God of War is still an incredibly violent game, but it places a high emphasis on story and character (and not a little on sheer awe dropping views and such) as well as excellent mechanics.

    Shadow of Mordor is quite close to the original God of War, in that it’s apologetically hyper-violent with a story that is more a framework for the mechanics. Which I quite enjoyed, by the way. As did a lot of other people.

    Of course, Shadow had a few things that made it stand out (The nemesis system mostly), but you can quite easily make incredibly violent, rampage based games (I mean what do you think 99% of GTA5 was?) that sell very well.

    The people that made God of War (2018) simply decided to emphasize story and character a lot more than they had in the past (which itself wasn’t that big a leap, as I understand Kratos had become a much more fully fleshed out character by GoW3) and were amply rewarded for delivering a very fun game with very satisfying content, and an incredibly well received story.

    There as nothing about changing social attitudes or culture, or how you “can’t make that sort of game today” at all — those sorts of games do exist today, and sell quite well. Heck, GoW (2018) is still very much that sort of game — but stands out more because it did something different with than because it turned the knob up to 11 on the gore or whatnot.Report

    • Avatar DensityDuck in reply to JS says:

      The only thing I’ve ever seen of Shadows Of Mordor is a scene where an Orc warlord yells “I’m gonna teach you the TRUE MEANING of FEAR!”, and then a caption pops up saying “Gruhnak is terrified of you!”, and then the Orc warlord jumps off a cliff and dies rather than fight you.Report

      • Avatar JS in reply to DensityDuck says:

        Basically you just kill a lot of orcs. A whole lot of orcs. It’s really difficult to express how many orcs this is, but the only reason it’s not “All the orcs that ever existed” is simply that some orcs had to hang around for that Hobbit later.

        The nemesis system was the hook the game hung on (the game play was fun, but Nemesis was basically what kept it from getting far more repetitive). Death was just part of the game — you die a lot. It’s done in-game, not just reloading your last save or pushing you back to the last checkpoint.

        When an Orc kills you, it tends to get promoted. A promoted orc is more powerful, has specific weaknesses and strengths, and stands out from the other orcs. The more an orc kills you, the more powerful it gets and the fewer weaknesses it gets.

        So in terms of actual gameplay, you tend to run into Orcs that have killed you before and they keep getting stronger as you do. So killing one is really satisfying to the player, because you have a history with this guy as a player. It’s not some random orc that got in the lucky blow as you were mobbed, this guy ends up with a name and a running history of encounters with you.

        Hence the “nemesis” system. It auto-created a rather realistic nemesis for the player — several actually — that quickly replace the default Captains.

        But you really slaughter an incredible amount of orcs in the game, and in very violent, high resolution ways.Report

    • Avatar Jaybird in reply to JS says:

      Okay.

      I started thinking about this and how to respond and I think it’s an essay.

      But this deserves an essay.Report

      • Avatar JS in reply to Jaybird says:

        I’m looking forward to reading it.

        I do want to make one thing clear. You are absolutely right that this God of War was a game designed for people who loved God of War, but wanted more than just a formulaic reboot. Designed by people who loved God of War but wanted to evolve it to something different while retaining as much of the core as they could.

        That people got older, times changed, people changed, things changed — and that resulted in something quite different than if they’d made hte game 5 years ago or 10.

        I wouldn’t say “better” — what’s better in a game is really subjective to each player, especially when you’re talking genres of games. Would X-Com be better as a FPS? To some people, it’d certainly be superior or at least more likely to be played.

        The problem I had wasn’t with the fact that GoW (2018) was a departure from the previous GoW games, although I would argue that the series had been slowly moving in that direction already, but simply with the notion that it was because one ‘couldn’t’ make that game successfully.

        That somehow society, or gaming culture, would prevent it. Games like GTA5 and SoM are unapologetically violent, and they aren’t outliers. There are plenty of bloody, rage-fueled, slaughter-fest games out there from a variety of publishers that do just fine. And heck, GoW itself is still 95% constant violence. There’s no puzzle-solving beyond navigating basic traps, and bosses, especially the Valkyries and especially Sigrun, are devilishly difficult, fights in the finest tradition of the GoW series.

        I think GoW changed for a few reasons. First, it was already moving in that direction. Second, in a flooded market, a single-player, heavily story based game was more of a novelty than Yet Another Third Person Combat Game. Third, gamers who cut their teeth on GoW originally are older and have different tastes, and likely a lot less free time. GoW (2018) is really well cut up into easily digestible chunks, especially with the Lake hub, that caters a lot more to people with less ability to spend 12 hours at a time playing. Having a heavy story and very interesting and well-acted characters is pretty helpful when it comes to a game you expect to be played in two or three hour chunks and then picked up in a few days — or to convince people they really can go a few more hours.

        And lastly, of course, there’s the meta-state of the gaming industry — what genres and concepts are doing well compared to others. Right now there seems to be a bit of a surge in that sort of game, possibly as a backlash to the heavy amount of PvP-oriented games, both survival and battle-royal games. GoW (2018) did have some similar company — Spiderman and even RDR2. The latter has an online mode, but that’s more a much neglected afterthought as best I can tell.

        “That’s the style in fashion” is not a factor to be overlooked.Report

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