What We Want from God of War IV
There's no questioning that God of War is one of the most mind-numbingly bad-ass franchises to come along in recent memory. From the game's beautiful environments to the way Kratos engages in fierce battles against enraged mythological enemies, God of War is an outstanding action-adventure series and one of the most enjoyable gameplay experiences available. But as impressive as it may be, a few changes and additions wouldn't hurt the God of War series. It might even thrive from some effective and intelligent implementations.
God of War games have all featured a nice collection of additional weapons aside from the standard dual blades. Unfortunately, while it's undoubtedly cool to lug around a massive blade or carry a spear that can facilitate some much needed enemy impaling, the majority of the weapons in the series are poorly varied, offering an aesthetic difference that does little to influence gameplay. Different weapons should encourage different strategies, forcing players to formulate alternate attack patterns and tactics if they choose to equip something new. Swords, spears, axes, hammers, and the traditional dual blades are all fine additions to Kratos' inventory, but it would be nice if they each did more than just look different and perform different types of kills.
In the past, God of War has been a straightforward, one-way game. While rewards do come with some minimal exploration, the bulk of each game's content is right in front of you. The next God of War doesn't have to be an open world game—and honestly, it shouldn't—but some alternate paths and hidden routes would certainly add to the element of discovery. This would allow the developers to include additional enemies, hidden treasures and weapons, and possibly even a few rewarding mini-boss battles. Secret areas wouldn't disrupt the formula that has worked for the series all these years, they would just allow gamers to engage in some optional exploration, making for a sense of discovery rarely seen in the series to date.
Aside from expanding individual areas, the next God of War game could benefit from a larger world overall. The average God of War adventure lasts about eight hours, and sometimes it's possible to get through the quest in a much shorter amount of time. The next chapter in the God of War series needs to get out of that eight-hour loop and offer a bigger, longer-lasting experience. For an action-adventure series with intuitive hack-and-slash combat and challenging puzzles, a 20-hour campaign would work perfectly. In that amount of time, gamers could really immerse themselves in Kratos' world and experience a captivating journey that neither lacks gameplay time nor goes into serious overkill.
Part of what makes God of War such a free-flowing series is its successful pacing and elaborate combination of puzzle-solving, combat, and platforming. Twenty hours is a reasonable length of time, and a goal the development team could easily pull off without a hitch. By increasing the game's environments and throwing in more of what gamers have come to appreciate about the franchise—puzzles, levels, obtainable items, and bosses—the God of War team can really beef up the fantasy action-adventure experience and keep gamers enthralled well into the 20-hour mark.
Of course, God of War doesn't need to fix its already stellar gameplay elements. Combat has always been easy to grasp, and carving into enemies is never tedious. The way death animations culminate is very satisfying to watch, and performing gory kills is criminally satisfying. Despite the fact that some of the game's weapons could use a number of alterations to make them function uniquely from one another, the intuitive mechanics of the game should remain intact.
Although the next God of War should allow gamers to explore bigger areas, modern sandbox elements are unnecessary. Grand Theft Auto, Red Dead Redemption, and a bevy of other action-adventure titles all feature open worlds with tons of collectibles and dozens of side quests sprawled literally everywhere. God of War would definitely benefit from a handful of optional objectives, but it doesn't require an open world. Part of what makes God of War so inviting is its linear design that still challenges players even with its straightforward formula. This shouldn't change.
God of War manages to impress gamers with an excellent gameplay formula that has managed to stay fresh for over five years. The series doesn't need a vast change, and it certainly doesn't need a massive overhaul, but a few minor modifications and annexations would do well to complement the impressive set of features that has made the series so enjoyable. The God of War team should stay focused on the tools that first helped the series rise to prominence, but they shouldn't be afraid to add in some new elements to further enhance the gameplay experience. With that kind of flexibility, God of War could become even more spectacular than it already is.