In several times we have told you that with God of War for PlayStation 4, Santa Monica Studios tried to do something different from what was seen in past installments. Part of these changes comes after the influence that their creatives had of other games. Interestingly, one of the recent releases that had an impact on the development of God of War was Bloodborne, the exclusive from FromSoftware for PlayStation 4.
In the most recent chapter of The Lost Pages of Norse Myth, a podcast focused on God of War, Anthony Dimento, systems designer and Luis Sanchez, level designer of God of War, talked about this new project. They explained that it has a level design similar to that of Bloodborne, that is, it is a world with several exploration zones and in which you can unlock new roads and find shortcuts.
“I love building spaces that wrap around each other,” Sánchez said. “One of my favorite games is Bloodborne, their design is amazing, top-tier. That has been an inspiration for me, a lot of the exploration spaces kind of call back to those games. We have those micro-loops where you’re unlocking paths, unlocking shortcuts, giving them purpose and kind of looping around the space and learning the area.”
Now, Sanchez’s words do not indicate that God of War is an open world game; in fact, members of Santa Monica have made it clear that it is not. That said, it does seek to be a less linear experience to previous titles, presenting secondary missions that allow the player to know more about the world. The good news is that they ensure this optional content is of high quality and that it is connected to the world.
“What we’re doing is that it’s not an open world game but there are hubs, in our instance one big hub where there’s additional content that doesn’t necessarily tie into the main story. It does in certain ways, but it’s more about expanding the world and creating a more immersive experience.
One of the levels for example revolves around a Golem, one of our big rock enemies, and through working on a sidequest we kind of told a little origin story about that enemy which gave him a personality, and it was cool watching this play out and giving him a background while building the world.
In that same quest you’re looking for a dwarf with a green ring, and we knew we were going to have certain upgrades and talismans, things that you can equip that give you perks and bonuses and change your playstyle. Then we’ve taken what we’ve established through narrative and turn that ring into one of those upgradeable items, an item that does something for your gameplay but now actually has a whole narrative background, there’s something meaningful about it rather than just calling it ‘Trinket of Odin’ or whatever. Now it has that backstory established through side content, it means something to you.
The goal is to have the side content not feel any different from the main content and have that same production value Sony Santa Monica is known for. It’s not tacked on, it’s not an afterthought, there’s a whole team dedicated to this and a lot of work went into weaving this together with the rest of the game and making it all feel like one experience.
Exploration became a lot bigger than we originally planned at the onset. I think we were planning to have five to ten hours of additional content and then it became a lot more, there’s a ton of stuff to do,” he said.
What do you think about it? Do you think the God of War side quests are as appealing as they seem? Tell us in the comments below.