I don’t think it would be controversial to say that as well as its brutal and satisfying combat, God of War fandom loves the series for how that combat is shown in its cinematic third-person perspective. It now seems impossible to imagine the game’s cinematic camera altered in any way, but David Jaffe, the director of 2005's God of War, revealed the game was originally going to be first-person perspective.
During a video on Jaffe’s YouTube channel, where he unearthed other design secrets behind the original game, he revealed that the plan to make God of War first-person was in the works for four months. The idea was to solve a gameplay issue that plagues third-person action games like Marvel Ultimate Alliance, where players can lose track of their character in a crowd of enemies.
Jaffe said that the inspiration came from the first-person combat of Dreamcast hack-and-slash game Maken X. Although Jaffe admits Maken X is “not the world’s best game,” he said its melee combat was “done well.”
“I thought that would be a really cool way to differentiate ourselves. But I think ultimately, it became difficult to get the kind of emotion and combat and character building that I was hoping to do,” Jaffe said in the video.
Jaffe added that he wasn’t sure the idea to make God of War first-person would have survived long enough in the pitching process to make it to Tim Moss, the lead programmer at Santa Monica Studio.
Santa Monica Studio’s decision to make God of War a third-person cinematic experience is thanks, says Jaffe, to the team seeing footage of the action-adventure game Ico, and the exceedingly stylish Devil May Cry demo, during a DICE conference in Las Vegas.
To solve the issue of players losing Kratos in the crowd, Jaffe said Santa Monica Studio took further inspiration from the protagonist of Shinobi’s red scarf. Similarly, the studio made Kratos’ iconic Blades of Athena a means for players to keep track of the Spartan as he uproots the entire Greek pantheon, one death at a time.
I for one think we’re better off with the series being in third-person. I can’t imagine how horrific seeing Kratos’ kill count rise first-hand would be. I also think experiencing him gain red orbs through bedroom quick time events (you know the ones) would be too David Cage-esque for my taste.