The new God of War for PlayStation 4 is launching soon, and early review scores suggest it’s going to be a big hit, at least from a critical perspective. Critics are loving it, praising the game for being a bold step in a new and exciting direction for the series. It might surprise you to learn, but game director Cory Barlog has now said the game might not have been possible had it not been for the time he collaborated with Mad Max director George Miller.
In 2008, a year after Barlog initially left Sony, it was announced that he would collaborate with Miller on a new Mad Max game. This eventually fell apart, with Just Cause studio Avalanche instead releasing a Mad Max game in 2015 around the time that Miller’s acclaimed Fury Road came out. Though Barlog’s Mad Max ideas never came to fruition, the developer said his time with Miller shaped him as a creative person in significant ways. He says he didn’t have a true understanding of what drama was before working with Miller.
“It’s just unfortunate the way that sometimes games go that they ended up going in a different direction, and George and I ended up not working on that one with them,” Barlog said about his Mad Max game. “But the learnings I got from that definitely made [the new God of War] possible, I think, to do this.
“I think if I had attempted this game–I’m not even certain if I would have attempted it–had I not worked with George. That is the impact he has. I feel like prior to working with him, it would be like reading a book without your glasses and you have terrible vision, so you see the words, but they’re blurry. Working with him, and starting to understand why drama occurs, why conflict feeds into the development of all the characters–that kind of put glasses on me to help me understand like, “Wow, I really don’t understand drama.”
Asked if there were any specific elements of his Mad Max ideas that made it into God of War, Barlog said “some of it definitely inspired” the new PS4 game. The Mad Max game was “such a different thing,” but there were some commonalities.
“None of [Barlog’s Mad Max ideas had a] one-to-one analogous transfer over [to God of War], but this idea of developing relationships on the road, the ideas and characters figuring each other out as you go, was something that I started to explore in our draft of Max.”
Barlog added that working with Miller was like being around a genius who dropped gems of wisdom. Miller is “surrounded by incredibly talented people who literally just throw gems out like nobody’s business. And I’m just like, ‘Seriously? Are you not picking any of this stuff up, anybody? I’m gonna hoard all of it, right?’ So, yeah, it was amazing.”
GameSpot’s God of War review scored the action game a 9/10. “God of War is no longer an old-fashioned action series. With this reboot, it confidently walks a new path that will hopefully lead to more exciting adventures to come,” reviewer Peter Brown said.
For more on the critical reaction to God of War, check out this roundup of review scores from outlets across games media. The game launches on April 20.