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The Reason Kratos Was Almost Removed From God Of War

Though Kratos might seem like an integral part of the God of War franchise, Santa Monica Studio considered cutting the anti-hero during the early development stages of the 2018 PlayStation 4 reboot.

According to game director Cory Barlog, some members of the God of War team felt that, over the course of three games, Kratos' story had played out. This old guard asserted that players were tired of the protagonist's intensely unlikable personality, making his continued use a liability. "Early in discussion, people were saying we had to get rid of Kratos," revealed Barlog. "It was like, 'he's annoying, he's done'."

The naysayers suggested introducing a new main character, insisting that the mythological roots defined the franchise, not Kratos himself. Yet, Barlog persisted, pushing the concepts of redemption and fatherhood, a story where Kratos' new responsibilities rescued him from himself. "They really did not like the character. They wanted a new character. It took a lot of convincing to make them think it was a good idea."

Though the studio moved forward with Kratos and his son at the center of the narrative, Atreus nearly ended up on the chopping block as well. The team struggled to find the time and resources to incorporate the boy in a way that meshed with the story. Many feared the game would play out as a glorified escort mission. "There was a point where we were going to cut Atreus completely. It was mostly due to the budget." Barlog even wrote a version of the script without Atreus as a backup though it was never officially presented to upper management.

In the end, Santa Monica Studio managed to pull all the elements together into a cohesive whole, creating a God of War for a new generation. Barlog tapped into his own experiences, letting the birth of his son inspire Kratos' journey and character development. This inspiration paved the way for other members of the team to incorporate aspects of their lives, producing one of the best and most heart-breakingly relatable games ever released.