God of War Ragnarok: Cory Barlog reveals why there won't be a Norse trilogy

Kratos and Atreus’ story was always a two-parter.

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Is this a rush to the end? We recently learned God of War Ragnarok will mark the conclusion of the god-slaying franchise’s Norse series, and now we have a clearer idea why.

While Santa Monica Studio spread Kratos’ fight against the Greek pantheon of gods across three game, it will wrap up Kratos and Atreus’ quarrel with the Norse pantheon in two games. God of War 2018’s first foray into Norse mythology was well received, so it’s surprising that Sony wouldn’t stretch this story out a bit longer. In a new interview, Cory Barlog, the studio’s creative lead and director of the 2018 game, shared two compelling — and surprising — reasons for the decision.

Shortly after God of War Ragnarok’s gameplay unveiling at the PlayStation Showcase, God of War YouTuber Kaptain Kuba interviewed Cory Barlog and Ragnarok Director Eric Williams. During the interview, Barlog gave two reasons why Kratos and Atreus' battle against the Norse gods will end with God of War Ragnarok.

2. 15 years is too long

Barlog pointed out that God of War and God of War Ragnarok each took around five years to develop. If Sony Santa Monica were to continue this trend, that would mean that Sony Santa Monica would spend over a decade and a half on the same overarching narrative.

“If you think of a third one in that same [time], we’re talking of a span close to fifteen years of a single story, and I feel like that’s just too stretched out,” he says.

The costs and time required to develop video games have exponentially grown over time. As such, it’s not too surprising that Barlog and the team at Sony Santa Monica feel that fifteen years is way too much time to spend on one idea, even for a series constantly met with critical acclaim.

This isn’t the first time Barlog highlighted the stress of working on one game for an extended period. He discussed the same topic in Raising Kratos, a 2019 documentary about God of Wars 2018’s development.

“At the end of the day, we’re going to spend nearly four and a half, almost five years on this thing,” he said in the documentary. “Five years, and at the end, you have one thing. And then one day it’s out there, and either everybody loves it, or everyone hates it, or even worse they’re indifferent and it’s just crickets. And that’s it. It’s feast or famine.”

By limiting the Norse series to two games, Santa Monica studio will hopefully leave God of War on a high note, rather than a divisive title or forgettable entry no one cares about.

1. It’s best for the story

Barlog continued to affirm that the relationship of Kratos and Atreus is at the core of God of War Ragnarok. While he likes that relationship, he’s worried that stretching the story too thin will cause Sony Santa Monica to lose the plot:

“The core of the story’s engine is really the relationship between these two characters and the complexity radiates out like ripples in a pond. And we could make it an ocean and just have those ripples go for thousands of miles. But is that necessary and is that beneficial, or are we feeling like ‘You know what, it’s just spreading it too far apart’. The ripples get too far apart, and you sort of lose the plot a little bit.”

Nothing’s worse than when the second part of a trilogy or movie in a larger franchise is doing nothing but setting things up for a conclusion that’s years away. Sony Santa Monica is trying to avoid that sentiment with God of War Ragnarok by wrapping it all up at once in a satisfying way.

“As we started to talk about what the story could be and about where Eric really wanted to go with the things that were interesting and exciting for him, I was like, ‘Yeah, I really think we can do this.’ Because it is always centralizing itself around these characters and then giving everybody the time that they need.”

God of War Ragnarok will be released for PS5 in 2022.

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