The playbook for God of War’s jump to PC feels largely unchanged from the release of Horizon Zero Dawn or Days Gone. A surprise announcement, a port full to bursting with PC-specific features – from enhanced visuals to controller remapping – and a hum of excitement from the community. But while the approach remains the same, there’s something particularly momentous about Kratos’ move to Steam.
A major factor behind that feeling is the characters’ position as one of PlayStation’s most enduring mascots. Kratos first graced our screens back in 2005. The only Sony characters who predate the original God of War who are still active today are Spyro and Crash – both of which are now firmly multiplatform figures – and Ratchet & Clank. Kratos has been part of the PlayStation furniture for two years longer than even Nathan Drake, eight years longer than Ellie and Joel, and more than a decade longer than Aloy. As a result, the decision to shift Kratos’ 2018 adventure to PC feels like Sony’s biggest statement of cross-platform intent yet.
God of (console) War
From around 2015, Sony has been firmly out in front of Microsoft when it comes to first-party titles. Hit after exclusive hit cemented the PS4 as a must-have console of the last generation, but comparatively few of those games came with the kind of heritage that Kratos offers. Horizon Zero Dawn, Days Gone, and Ghost of Tsushima were brand-new series; Spider-Man is a Marvel property; even The Last of Us Part 2 was only the second instalment in a series that kicked off eight years after Kratos’ first outing. For Sony to hand the latest instalment of one of its longest-running franchises over to PC players feels like a significant step up from Aloy and Deacon St John’s moves to Steam.
Of course, Drake and Ratchet & Clank haven’t exactly been neglected in recent years. Uncharted 4 and The Lost Legacy arrived in 2016 and 2017 on PS4, and Rift Apart launched for PS5 earlier this year. The latter is far too recent an arrival to be making the jump to PC just yet, but the former are already on their way – Uncharted: Legacy of Thieves Collection is heading to PC as well as PS5 early next year – yet that doesn’t seem to have captured the imagination of PC players in the same way as yesterday’s announcement.
There are plenty of reasons why that might be the case. While Uncharted is yet to appear on storefronts, God of War’s Steam page is already up, offering an immediate sense of just how excited players were as it rocketed up the pre-order charts. While 2018’s Norse reboot stands alone, Legacy of Thieves offers PC players the fourth and fifth games in a series that is otherwise absent from their platform, likely making for a more tricky barrier to entry. Perhaps Nathan Drake’s charm and wit simply don’t cut through to the same extent as Kratos’ power and fury.
Or maybe it’s all about what God of War represents. In 2018, the reboot felt like a genuinely crowning achievement for Sony in the eyes of its fans. At a time when the company was already riding high with the likes of Horizon Zero Dawn, Marvel’s Spider-Man, and even Lost Legacy, God of War felt like a cut above, scoring rave reviews and going on to dominate Game of the Year conversations. For Sony to pass that kind of critical success over to another platform makes it clear that everything else – from The Last of Us to Bloodborne – remains on the table. In granting PC players access to Kratos, Sony has handed over arguably the most important figure in its history, and it seems that anything else could now follow.