More at the link including a BTS video.
Nearly a decade has passed since gamers concluded the tale of the rage-filled Spartan warrior Kratos in 2010's God of War 3, in which the son of Zeus finally exacted his vengeance against the spiteful gods of Olympus.
Now, Santa Monica Studio and Sony are bringing the action gaming icon back to consoles with God of War, set for release in spring 2018.
A lot has changed for Kratos since he was last seen hacking and slashing his way through the roster of Greek deities. The new game sees the familiar anithero sporting a bushy new beard, an apt look for the series' new locale in the frigid wilderness of Norseland; new weapons now that he's lost his trademark, chained Blades of Chaos; and, most importantly, he has an adolescent son.
The change of tableau is not simply cosmetic, as the franchise's Grecian setting was integral to Kratos' story and was a fundamental aspect of the plot, characterization and even gameplay of the previous titles. The new location opens up the narrative to the wide breadth of Norse mythology, something of great interest to game director Cory Barlog.
"When I came back to the studio I knew I needed to make a big change to the game," Barlog explained to Heat Vision during a recent visit to the studio. "We had exhausted Greek mythology and kind of started to set up Kratos to be able to connect to more myths. We didnt know exactly where we were going to go at the time, but we knew we were going to expand it out."
Barlog has been working on God of War since the first game in 2005, on which he was the lead animator. He moved up to game director for 2007's sequel, earning a BAFTA for his writing on the project, then served as game director for eight months on the third game before leaving the company. His return to the franchise (and developers Santa Monica Studio) came in 2013 where he put together a team to work on the next leg in Kratos' blood-soaked journey.
"When I really started forming the seed of this idea I knew it was going to be a massive polar shift for the whole franchise to really reimagine everything we can about it while still keeping the guts of God of War," Barlog said.
Changing up the setting was not the only shake-up Barlog had planned for the fourth installment, however. To match Kratos' new look, Barlog needed a new actor. Christopher Judge, perhaps best known for his role as alien military commander Teal'c on the hit sci-fi television series Stargate SG-1, won the role, replacing longtime Kratos voice actor Terrence C. Carson.
"The way we shot all the previous games, we were able to have a different body actor than the voice actor, so the voice actor could do most of their work similar to an animated film where they just did all V.O. work in the studio," Barlog explained. "Doing what we wanted to do with a camera that was never going to cut away, we had a lot of scenes that required two characters to interact physically on the stage. The size difference between Kratos and Terrence is very great. Offsetting that for the size of a child, it turned out it was going to be almost impossible to try and actually shoot them and go in and redo the animations."
Luckily, Judge had no such problem. Standing 6-foot-3 with the build of an NFL linebacker (Judge attended the University of Oregon on a football scholarship), he had the look of the character down. However, unbeknownst to the veteran actor, his fate ultimately lay in the hands of a 10-year-old: Sunny Suljic.
Suljic was cast as Kratos' son Atreus very early on in the game's development, when the actor was only 9 years old. The Atreus character was modeled after the young actor's stature and appearance, and when it came to finding his co-star, the team weighed Sunny's opinions about the casting of Kratos heavily.
"There was an audition and they asked me who I liked the most," Sunny, now 12, recalled as he took a break between recording sessions at Santa Monica Studio.
He was doing the one-on-one interview with Heat Vision as his mother waited around the corner ("She makes me nervous sometimes during these," he explained) when Judge showed up. A towering presence even to other grown adults, seeing Judge beside Suljic is an exhibition of true contrast. The massive actor immediately began rough-housing with his co-star, lifting him over his shoulders handily with one arm as Sunny giggled. The familial bond between them is evident instantaneously, a promising preview of the bond their roles require.
The laughter between the two was quick and genuine as they recalled the casting process. "We did a chemistry test, and I didnt find out until later that they really did ask Sunny for approval," Judge said with a laugh. "If I had known then that my fate was in the hands of a 10-year-old," he turns to Sunny. "I owe you a pair of Nikes."
More at the link including a BTS video.