If you haven’t played 2018’s God of War yet, you’re really running out of excuses. The lauded Game of the Year winner is considered one of the best video games in history, and now it’s not even a PlayStation exclusive anymore.
Launching on PC (via both Steam and the Epic Games Store) this Friday (January 14), the adventures of Kratos, Atreus, and the whole cast of characters will be shining like never before in the newest release. Without the constraints of the PS4’s hardware, the Santa Monica Studio team was able to explore higher resolutions, modified control schemes, and a wide range of other technological improvements that PC players have grown used to. And while the game itself is technically almost 4 years old already, everything from the combat to the story to the visuals still hold up as well as anything released since.
As we all sit around and wait for Ragnarök, SPIN spoke with Matt DeWald, Santa Monica Studio’s senior manager of technical production, about bringing the award-winning God of War to a whole new audience.
SPIN: Considering the awards and popularity that God of War received in 2018, how does it feel to bring this title to an entirely new audience on PC?
Matt DeWald: It’s a mixture of pure excitement and nervous energy. As you’ve said, there’s an entirely new audience on PC that hasn’t gotten a chance to experience God of War — which is pretty amazing considering the game has sold over 19.5 million copies on console. God of War is such a great experience, and we can’t wait to see what people think.
What kinds of new challenges do you run into when porting a game to PC like this after it was designed and launched for another platform?
Making games is never easy. There are countless technical and creative challenges that have to be overcome to get any game out the door, but being a native console game definitely allows you to really fine-tune the experience for the platform and really squeeze every possible thing out of it. The PC market is full of countless permutations of different hardware and software configurations. Assumptions you’ve made during development on one platform get completely blown out of the water when faced with the sheer number of options people have available to make their computers.
A benefit of that though is that you can add options for people to customize their experience and push the boundaries. You can provide options like increasing model quality view distances, increasing the resolution of shadows or increasing texture quality all because people might have more memory or a better video card that can handle the extra load. PC provides some really unique challenges, but also a lot of opportunity.
With those new possibilities allowed by the PC release, what types of new features can people expect and how will they affect the overall experience?
We wanted to make sure that when God of War came to PC that it was a true PC experience. A lot of work went into making sure we had a good control scheme for keyboard and mouse and that we supported as many different controllers as we could, so that people could have the experience they wanted. We also wanted to support some of the new technologies like NVIDIA’s DLSS and AMD’s FSR resolution upscaling that allows people to play at higher resolutions without impacting their performance. Then we went through and added customization options for as many graphical elements that we could. Seeing the game playing at native 4K or in 21:9 Ultrawide makes you really appreciate all the work that the team has put into making this beautiful game.
As one of the first major PlayStation titles to come to PC is there any additional pressure or excitement in making sure that everything goes smoothly?
Absolutely. There’s always excitement around releasing a game in general, but to bring Kratos to PC is a pretty momentous occasion, and we have a lot to live up to. We’ve spent a lot of time testing on a plethora of hardware and different configurations, but you never know what will happen once something is out there. Hopefully our due diligence pays off and the PC audience can get to experience this amazing game without complications.
What kind of fan reaction have you seen to the announcement of the PC release?
It’s been really great seeing the fan reaction. There’s a ton of excitement from people who don’t have a PlayStation and have been looking forward to playing the game, and to see the comments like “PC players are in for a treat” from the PlayStation community is always very humbling. I love seeing people come together over great games.
Seeing as God of War and Kratos have been PlayStation icons for over 16 years now, how does it feel to bring an installment of the series, brand, mythos, and everything that goes with it to a new platform?
Kratos is a gaming icon, and the latest God of War shows not only his journey, but the journey that games have taken as an art form over the last couple of decades. It’s definitely a new experience bringing this game to PC, but it feels like it’s the right time and the right game. We can’t wait for this whole new audience to experience this game.