God of War has thus far explored both Greek and Norse mythology, putting Zeus and Odin at the epicentre of Kratos' journey. After God of War 2018 and Ragnarök, it looks like the series could head to any cultural mythos.The God of War series has thus far played out with Greek and Norse gods. With some of the more sci-fi elements of God of War (2018), it became clear that these two realms exist within a pantheon of global pantheons — a small corner of a mythical compass. So, now we ask: where will the next God of War game take place?
Kratos with the world at his fingertips
Let's give you a quick idea of our process here, with very mild God of War Ragnarok spoilers. There were a few mythologies we were really interested in but thought probably wouldn't be possible. Eastern Europen myth is entirely covered by The Witcher series, so let's leave that alone. We know Celtic myth exists as Mimir confesses his origins in Ragnarok, but we feel his talks in that department hint that we probably won't ever see it realised. Plus, it's got a few cultural and geographical touchstones that might be a little too familiar to Norse myth (though, we really hope to see it at some point). From there, we have tried to stay away from Christianity, Hinduism, and other major religious sects still universally practised en masse — Santa Monica probably doesn't want to get involved with that kind of controversy. Let's crack on!
Native American PantheonsWith the Indians of the North American continent, we have pantheons of gods that are localised to different tribes and regions. Amongst these diverse peoples, we see a tendency to share a belief in Animism — souls and spirits within everything in the natural world. From this general foundation, we see springs of unique sets of gods amongst the tribes. We have the Apache's Ussen, a creator of life spirit that has eternally existed as well as the pair of killers Monster Slayer and Born For Water. The Cherokee have Unetlanvhi as their creator spirit but also have the Aniyvdaqualosgi storm spirits that need quelling. Then you have the Ojibwe tribe with Asibikaashi — a defensive Spider entity that safeguards the people in her web.
With this variety in culture, peoples, as well as geographic landscapes to explore across the entirety of the North American continent, we think it would work spectacularly well as a God of War game. In meeting different spirits and natural entities, you have plenty to work with in lovely little cultural pockets that produce vastly different flowers from the same stem. The narrative could interweave some of these together in fun ways, and there is plenty of mythological freedom to work with here as it has generally been passed down through oral tradition. Battles might be a bit tricky to work out for Kratos given no Indian really wants to hurt the spirits, but we think it has really unique potential as a cultural context for adventures to play out in.
Egyptian Myth artwork from God of War (2018)
Egyptian PantheonThis is the obvious one, but it is structurally the closest pantheon of gods and history to the Greek, Norse, and Celtic myths. That would make for an easy foundation to transition the series to... and indeed, Santa Monica tried. Early in God of War (2018) development, Cory Barlog had to transition the series to Norse myth because the team weren't feeling it, but the concept art still exists to prove it (as above). Remnants remain in the game, with hints in Tyr's tower on the Lake of Nine that the gods of war from Greek and Norse territories had both explored the realm — leaving it horrified at Kratos' god-killing ways. This is then explored in God of War: Fallen God — a tie-in comic that absolutely takes place in Egypt even though it isn't explicitly referenced.
With the Greek and Norse myths, you have totally unique locations, cultural contexts, architectures, stories, and vibes. The same applies to Egyptian myth. It could take us not only to the real world but to the depths of the Duat, the realm of the dead. There are places like Aaru — the field of reeds that marked out heaven for the Ancient Egyptians — and the Land of Manu, scarcely mentioned in the texts as a place where Ra the sun god sets, thus performing his god-king rituals. Speaking of those gods, you have the Ogdoad — eight deities, paired in male and female couples — representing primordial forces like sky and water, heaven and earth, dark and light, and a mysterious fourth pairing (Kratos and peacemaker, in a revamped myth for a new God of War?). Then you have the nine Great Ennead, with a few of the gods that pervade popular cultures. Other sun god Atum is at the head with his children Shu of peace and the air and Tefnut of moisture. Their children, Nut (Sky) and Geb (Earth) have their own branch of godly children: Osiris (life), Isis (magic and stuff, it's weird), Set (deserts and violence), and Nephthys (health and beer).
Then you have characters like Anubis of the dead, Ammit the soul devourer, Thoth of the arts and writing, and Horus of kings and the sky. All of these have stories, from a creation myth to silly little episodes — a lot of which have been lost to time or have distinct cultural flavours. Then you have the creatures like the Sphynx and Apep (big snake). It's dense stuff and deeply rooted in religion, faith, and ancient Egyptian life — perfect for a God of War game.
So, we propose that with all of these realms, people, and stories to tell, this would be something really special. Imagine the temples and pyramids with Kratos bounding through or the way the different locales could come together. We wonder if it would be a more one-and-done affair, given that it's a lot of deserts, sky, and water talk, much of it about farming — but having it fully realised would be incredible. Seeing Kratos reckoning with his actions in Greece and finding his way to the cold lands of the Norse would be a fun middle chapter in the Kratos saga, too.
Japanese PantheonWe actually debated this one with the South American Incan pantheon also in the reckoning. However, Japanese games have long been making sure the Shinto and Japanese myths remain in the present, bringing with them culture and tradition. Just over the pond, you have Chinese mythology too — but there is something about the concentrated island nation of Japan that gives its Shinto religion and surrounding mythologies a dense complexity that we love. With that kind of relevance in popular culture through games like Okami and the many fabulous anime using it as a template, we would love to see a Western Studio take the Europhile Kratos and his experiences into a really, truly culturally disparate environment.
The first thing to note is that Shinto is practised and is a distinct belief system from some of the myths and legends in Japan, though its relevance in the state deteriorated after the industrial revolution and, moreover, after World War II. To call it a religion is just a western analogue, but the most interesting definition is probably that it is a nature religion that wraps up Japanese cultural heritage with the very land beneath the practitioner's feet. It is history and myth and feeling combined into something indescribable and infinite called kami which manifests spirits and the yokai ghosts. There are god-like characters to dissect here, like Tsukiyomi no Mikoto the moon god and Susanoo no Mikoto of the nether realm. However, Shinto is more of a cultural background that is practised, upon which one can layer the fun stories which spring from the cultural well.
With that in mind, we would love to see Kratos and company interact with the Japanese islands and their independent deities from folk tradition. With Izanagi and Izanami born of the primordial gods, you have a pair who tried to make children but failed until they followed tradition. The result was Ōyashima, the nine islands, which would be the most abstract boss battle the world has ever seen. Fire god Kagutsuchi eventually kills his mother Izanami and Izanagi kills the child, thus creating more gods. Could you imagine Kratos wielding Ame-no-nuhoko, the Heavenly Jeweled Spear? That would be pretty glitzy. Then you have Yomi (the underworld), absurd amounts of legendary creatures to fight, and locations that would make us cry in their rendered beauty like Ghost of Tsushima did. It would no doubt be a superb location to spend our time in, and it would be deeply complex to weave a narrative in this pantheon that also has significant Buddhist influence, but we can well imagine it paying off.
Those are our picks for three locations that would inspire awe in the next God of War game. Where would you go? Let us know in the comments!