God of War Ragnarok launched late last year to stellar reviews, cementing the new Norse saga as some of the best-reviewed games in the long-running PlayStation franchise. While the story capped off with mostly satisfying results for many players, the writers originally had a very different fate for Kratos during the early stages of the script. Before we proceed, take this as a spoiler warning for both God of War (2018) as well as God of War Ragnarok. A lot of key details about the plot of those games will be discussed here.
Speaking in a recent interview with MinnMax, God of War Ragnarok narrative director Matt Sophos shared some information about the early drafts of the story. At the end of 2018’s God of War, Kratos and Atreus stumble upon a mural that prophecised Kratos’ death, suggesting that it might happen in the sequel. Most players know that Ragnarok subverted those expectations and Kratos managed to survive the entire ordeal.
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However, in an original story idea, Kratos was actually meant to die during his first fight with Thor at the beginning of the game. A time jump of around 20 years would happen and we’d play as an older Atreus who embarks on a journey to rescue his father from Hell.
Sophos explained that game director Eric Williams disapproved of this idea because it felt like it would be rehashing story beats from the previous Greek saga of God of War games, where Kratos always managed to escape the underworld. The team didn’t want to repeat those ideas and instead, took a decidedly different direction where Kratos and Atreus would eventually figure out how to subvert the prophecies.
Sophos explained in more detail:
“There was the earliest, earliest draft of an outline that we had come up with, that we took to Eric. Kratos died in the Thor fight at the very beginning of the game And so, he was gonna die, and then it wasn’t a permanent death. What was going to happen – and I don’t care, we can tell this, because it doesn’t happen any more so this is all fan fiction at this point – he would get pulled out of Hell, essentially, by Atreus. But it’s now been, like, 20 years have passed – it was going to be a big time jump-type thing. So that was a version of it.”
Sophos recounted bringing this draft to Williams, who quickly addressed the issue of Kratos always coming back to life. This, he felt, wouldn’t have a strong hook or be as emotional:
“Eric was like, ‘I don’t want to do that, Kratos has died and come back from it too many times, and it’ll feel a little bit too ‘oh, you said he was gonna die and oh, you just killed him but he came right back. The hook, the emotion, wasn’t really going to be there, and he was absolutely right, and so that’s why it didn’t last very long.”
The writer stated that the game’s current ending helped create a message to players that the character’s fates weren’t sealed. Ragnarok ended on a high note which showed another mural of Kratos being worshipped and admired as a god while Atreus set off on a journey to seek the remaining giants scattered throughout the world.
It’s kind of hilarious that Sophos pitched the idea of Thor killing Kratos at the beginning of the game because that did actually happen, though Thor quickly revived Kratos in one of the most memorable moments of the entire saga.
God of War Ragnarok is now available for PS4 and PS5.