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For Kratos fans, #E32017 delivered a stellar introduction to the long-awaited revival of the God of War series. A Sony exclusive since 2005 (aside from the mobile game, God of War: Betrayal in 2007), the franchise has hacked and slashed its way into the hearts and consoles of countless gamers around the world.
The series' story revolves around the aforementioned #Kratos, a Spartan warrior who is tricked into killing his wife and daughter by his former master, God of War Ares. After defeating Ares and becoming the new #GodofWar, our protagonist learns of his true lineage and embarks on a quest for revenge on the Olympian Gods for all their scheming.
When #Sony's Santa Monica Studio began developing the upcoming eighth installment of the franchise, it knew the game would need to be something special — not just a prequel, but quite possibly a reboot. In 2016, shortly before that year's E3, leaked concept art placed Kratos in a world of Norse mythology rather than the Greek mythology of previous iterations. And then Sony unveiled a gameplay demo and announced the rumors to be true. Fans were ecstatic, but then it felt as if the game was never coming because there has been little to no information since then.
But at this year's E3, Sony finally rolled out a new trailer for God of War, showing off the gameplay, cinematography, weaponry and characters, as well as announcing an early 2018 release. And through the trailer we were shown that the most compelling aspect of the coming game is the camerawork that offers something completely fresh compared to previous games.
God Of War will be like nothing we've seen before.
Cory Barlog, creative director of Santa Monica Studio, has been with the God of War franchise since the beginning. In 2016 he revealed to YouTube Live at E3 his ambitious plan for the game, but up until now it seemed like just a pipe dream. Barlog explained that he wanted to create a game that had no camera cuts:
"We wanted a much more intimate experience, a much more up close, and a much more player-controlled experience, so the camera really is a mechanic that we're leaning into heavily for everything in the game."
So God of War will utilize a single continuous shot through the entire game, and that essentially means no cinematic cutscenes, no fade-to-black, no loading screens between segments. God of War will flow completely from gameplay to cinematic and back to gameplay, rather than the traditional style of the previous games in the series. It was something specific that Barlog had wanted to do when he returned to SIE after a brief stint with Crystal Dynamics to work on the Tomb Raider reboot:
"The aspiration when I got back was to tell a much more personal story. God of War is traditionally known for these cinematic, pull back cameras, which I think are fantastic. But trying to get in there and really get to know the character a little more, I realised it'd be interesting if we got closer."
So how does a continuous shot work?
Barlog apparently took inspiration from the John Woo masterpiece Hard Boiled, in which a continuous long shot was utilized for a hospital fight scene. A similar cinematic long take was used in the first season of Netflix's Daredevil for a hallway fight scene, and in both examples the power of this technique is fully demonstrated, with everything perfectly choreographed and the camera moving smoothly through the swift story progression.
In terms of video games, the long take is an extraordinary feat that makes the game a very intimate affair. It locks the player in with the characters and means you can't turn away from the action as it affects the character in real time. While one continuous shot in film and television takes skill for the filmmaker, in a video game it might not be as difficult, since the design team has complete control over all the elements within the scene.
The adventure that we're bound to experience in God of War looks to take the franchise to the next level with the ingenuity that the development team is bringing to the table.
God of War will launch in early 2018.