On September 16, Sony Santa Monica Studio finally copped to one of the worst-kept secrets in the games industry — God of War: Ragnarok is currently in development, and slated for a 2021 release on PlayStation 5. The 2018 game was the fourth in the popular series, and saw an older, wiser Kratos wrangle his complex relationship to his gangly tween son, Atreus. Though the Ragnarok reveal didn't show us any footage of the characters or gameplay, we have plenty of clues about what to expect in the next installment, thanks to the previous game and the new title. And there's already a lot of evidence to suggest that Atreus is going to go through some pretty dramatic changes from the weedy kiddo of the first game.
Ending spoilers ahead for God of War (2018).
4. He's likely to be a shapeshifter — At the tail end of the last game, Atreus learned that his dear departed mother had another, secret name for him: Loki. You don't need to have taken a course on Norse mythology in college to know what the MCU and Tom Hiddleston have already taught us — Loki is a wily little weasel, a master of cunning, and basically always up to some annoying shit. In the source myths, a lot of those hijinks hinged on Loki's ability to take the form of animals and even other human beings.
The first thing Atreus asks Kratos after learning he's actually a god is "Can I turn into an animal?" This is probably our biggest clue about what's to come for Boy in the journeys ahead.
We've already seen him summon numerous animal familiars in combat, including wolves, deer, and bears. He can also talk to animals, like Brok's beast of burden, Freya's turtle-house thing, and even the world serpent Jörmungandr. (More on him later.)
3. There's gonna be a time skip — The "secret" ending of the 2018 game sees Atreus have a prophetic dream, where Thor arrives at Kratos and Atreus's house looking for bloody revenge for the deaths of Magni and Modi. This scene takes place roughly three years later, at the end of Fimbulwinter. Brok commented that this period of heavy snow and blizzards had kicked off after Baldur's death, and Fimbulwinter is basically the pre-game special for Ragnarok, the total annihilation of all the Nine Realms.
While the game doesn't state this outright — at least, not that I can recall — Atreus is about eleven or twelve years old in God of War, judging from his appearance. It's fair to assume that he's going to get bigger, stronger, and a bit more comfortable with his godly abilities within the space of three years. But, he's still going to be a teenager, and prone to all the hormonal mood swings that entails. Which brings us to our next point...
2. He's a hot-tempered lad — While Atreus is a lot more bookish, thoughtful, and personable than Kratos, he has one big thing in common with his dear old dad: Spartan Rage. In the last game, Magni and Modi were able to force Atreus to hulk out by insulting the boy's dead mother.
While it's fair to assume that Atreus will have a better grasp of this ability by the time God of War: Ragnarok kicks off, uncontrolled rage is kind of the whole point here. From a pragmatic gameplay perspective, it would make sense to have Atreus transform into an animal once his Spartan Rage is activated. Giving Atreus an ass-kicking arsenal on par with that of Kratos is a very intriguing prospect, and it's possible Ragnarok will allow us to swap between controlling both father and son as playable characters, rather than Atreus occupying a support role.
1. The chronology of Norse myth is weird — We haven't even talked about the biggest wolf in the room yet: Fenrir. If you've played Final Fantasy games, you've probably heard of this guy before, and he's mentioned a few times in God of War. Basically, Fenrir is a giant wolf. He also happens to be Loki's son, fated to kill Odin during Ragnarok.
Thanks to the circular nature of events in Norse myth, we already know another of Loki's sons: Jörmungandr the world serpent. According to Mimir, Jörmungandr and Thor are prophecied to fight during Ragnarok. Thor will whallop the big snake so darn hard, Jörmungandr will be sent back in time to a period before his birth.
While I don't think it's particularly likely God of War: Ragnarok will see Atreus/Loki getting married and having some offspring, there's a fertile field of references to play with. Maybe Fenrir won't be Loki's son in the conventional sense, but it's extremely likely this big shaggy boy is going to show grace our screens in 2021.
God of War: Ragnarok comes to PS5 in 2021.