With God of War, Sony Changed Blockbuster Video Games Forever


God of War (2018) Kratos and Atreus

There was a time when God of War wasn’t such a big deal. Of course, it was a very big deal with the original trilogy but after God of War III the series' influence began to die down, until in 2018 Sony Santa Monica rebooted the series in a daring fashion.

Now titles like Final Fantasy XVI look to God of War (2018) for inspiration, so clearly Sony Santa Monica did something right. Five years later, the game’s lasting impact is more evident than ever.

Instead of the screaming god-killer Kratos that existed in the original trilogy, God of War (2018) wanted a more reserved hero. The older, wiser Kratos has learned from the mistakes of his past and was struggling to raise his son Atreus after the death of his wife.

God of War (2018) is steeped in prestige cinematic visual style.


The prestigious cinematic nature of GoW (2018) earned it universal acclaim. Sony Santa Monica and Director Cory Barlog transformed one of gaming’s biggest examples of toxic masculinity into a repentant man seeking to live a peaceful life and raise a child away from the type of chaos and suffering that he once experienced. Also, the Leviathan axe felt great to lob at enemies, it's just some top-tier combat design.

But the game did not exist in a vacuum and stands as the natural evolution of game design for Sony’s AAA offerings. To understand how God of War’s success came to be, we have to look back at The Last of Us.

When it was released in 2013 Naughty Dog’s The Last of Us also received massive critical acclaim due to its prestigious cinematic nature. Lead developers Neil Druckmann and Bruce Straley openly discuss the influences on The Last of Us from film and television. Films like The Road, No Country for Old Man, and Children of Men represented a style of storytelling and visual language the developers wanted to emulate.

The Last of Us focused on character stories occurring within beautifully composed cutscenes. Playing The Last of Us feels like watching a movie or prestige series. This is why HBO’s adaptation works so well, the source material was already using cinematic language. In addition, the central narrative revolves around a tenuous relationship between Joel and Ellie, while not related they have a parent/child dynamic.

God of War (2018) is the pinnacle of dad games and continues to influence the industry five years later.


A cinematic style of storytelling and a character-rich narrative centering on a parent/child dynamic are the building blocks of GoW (2018). If The Last of Us started the trend of “dad games” in 2013, then GoW (2018) is the heir apparent of the genre.

Even with The Last of Us being lauded as the best story in video games, God of War does many of the same things better. The story feels more nuanced in the highs and lows of its best moments, it is a game that sits in silence and lets the faces of Kratos and Atreus tell the story. On the mechanical end, GoW’s action combat is miles ahead of The Last of Us’s messy cover-based shooting.

In 2023, the game’s influence can be felt everywhere. So many open-world titles look to its skill tree and gear upgrade systems as a basis for design. God of War has become the god of gaming, everybody wants to be it.

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