A lot of work went in to the latest God of War, and the finished result reflects that, but a particularly large amount of effort went into the game’s memorable first boss fight. SIE Santa Monica Studio recently revealed a deep-dive into its development process of creating that first boss.
Spoiler warning: if you haven’t played God of War yet, and you don’t want anything ruined, turn back now.
In a PlayStation Blog post, senior staff combat designer Denny Yeh ran down dozens of details that the team went through when creating the first fight against Baldur – known as The Stranger in the beginning of the game.
A decision was made early on to make the first boss significantly smaller and more intimate than the massive Colossus of Rhodes in God of War II, or the over-the-top spectacle that was the Poseidon fight in God of War III.
The team intentionally designed Baldur’s attacks to teach players mechanics they’d use throughout the rest of the game. His shockwave attack forces players to sideways dodge, his air stomp makes players dodge roll, and his attack where he zig-zags towards Kratos gets players to use well-timed parries and dodges.
There were some cool ideas cut out of the first boss fight to keep things focused and to improve pacing, like having Kratos dodge rocks and avalanches caused by Baldur as he climbs out of a chasm, or having Baldur yank out the Leviathan Axe from his own chest to use against Kratos.
The team even considered having Baldur throw an entire mountain at Kratos, but dialed it down to a large chunk of statue because Kratos is supposed to be a bit rusty at this point in the game. Denny Yeh did say, however, that seeing Kratos punch and break entire mountains in the future isn’t out of the question.
“The development of just one boss fight involves pretty much every department,” said Yeh. “From environmental artists creating the arena, to audio designers making each punch sound chunky, to producers making sure we’re not just browsing cat videos all day. I was only able to share a small snippet here, but the end product was a culmination of everyone’s efforts.”
The amount of detail that went into designing this fight is impressive, and for even more on that process, like how the team balanced environmental destruction with keeping the fighting arena open enough to maneuver in, check out the full blog post.
Colin Stevens is a freelance writer for IGN, and he thinks that Baldur fight is one of the best in the series. Follow him on Twitter.