Last Friday Jason Schreier and I spoke with God of War director Cory Barlog for a special bonus episode of our Splitscreen podcast, and he actually threw more water on that initial DLC assumption than I’d expected. You can (and should!) listen to the entire conversation, but here’s a lightly edited transcript of the exchange in question:

Cory Barlog: I made this game to be so that you bought it, you went home and played it, and you got the whole game. There’s not a plan, at all, in any of this, that I was going to deliver any DLC or anything like that, simply because I loved, as a kid, to get a game and play the whole game. And feel like I got everything.

Kirk Hamilton: Yeah, but your final scene has got Thor standing outside the door with his hammer!

Barlog: But I mean come on, if you played God of War II, you know that I’m not gonna end it with, “everything’s done!” I love the sort of Lord of the Rings concept of, when you finish Fellowship, you’re getting ushered into Two Towers, right? I think, for me, that is the continued engagement. There is the end-of-the-credits scene that teases something, right? And I don’t think anybody watches any of the Marvel movies and goes like, man, you ripped me off, you put this credits scene at the end, when are you gonna finish it? Obviously you’re gonna finish it in the next movie. This is the same. This is all building towards this sort of grand story.

For me, I’m not a huge fan of DLC simply because sometimes it is approached in the manner of, “Okay, well, here’s the game, let me just cut this off and that’ll be DLC.” Also, I need a rest, man! Five years! I don’t wanna jump into DLC right now.


Barlog said that if he were going to go on to make another full game, he’d rather start prepping for that than begin on DLC, so that all those teases at the end of the game have somewhere to land. He mentioned that the start of God of War III was as strong as it was because of the literal cliffhanger at the end of God of War II, which concluded with Kratos riding the Titan Gaia up the side of Mount Olympus, bent on the revenge he would finally have... three years later, in the sequel.

There’s that tease of Egyptian, Japanese, and Celtic mythologies.

While in Tyr’s vault, Kratos and Atreus find a wall-panel with four interesting symbols in the corners.


In the upper-right you can see the Omega, Kratos’ well-known symbol as the Greek god of war. In the upper left sits the Egyptian Eye of Horus, which people probably recognized after playing Assassin’s Creed Origins. The other two symbols appear to be a tomoe symbolizing the Japanese war-deity Hachiman in the lower-left, and a Celtic Triskelion in the lower-right. The panel indicates that Tyr was able to travel to these other worlds in some manner, which suggests that at some point, Kratos may be able to do the same.


It seems unlikely that the God of War series would jump immediately into Egyptian or Japanese mythology with so many Norse plot threads still unresolved, but it’s still a fun little easter egg. We asked Barlog about it, which led to an enjoyable exchange, edited and transcribed below:

Kirk: There is a scene in Tyr’s vault, where you see the symbols of these various gods, and one of them is the Egyptian symbol, which a lot of people will know from having played Assassin’s Creed Origins. Is there anything to that? Are there other pantheons in this universe that Kratos might go explore?

Barlog: Oh, totally. I’ve always looked at this universe like our world. The geography separates the cultural mythologies. The cultural mythologies are stories of the zero-point to present day. These are the birth and the origin of these cultures. So the Norse mythology exists in Scandinavia, and simultaneously, across the world, the Mayan mythology has its origins, right? These are cultural stories about how they explain the birth of their cultures. And I think, as I look at the whole world, that each of these gods had their own domains, right? The way that countries had their own domains…

Kirk: …and their own special fighting moves, and their own special sweet weapons…

Cory: [laughing]…right, and their own special fighting moves, and their own DLC…

Jason Schreier: …and their own upgrade trees…

Barlog: Right [laughs]. But yeah, it is a consistent single universe. As we start to look at these things, there’s little bits, here and there, that let you know. Like, Tyr, had connections to a lot of other pantheons. And there is reference, in Norse mythology, of gods interacting with Roman gods. It’s very small, it’s very minimal, in their connections, but it shows that there was an awareness. And whether that awareness was post-the time where they were moving the pagans away from the pagan religion by having the mythology slightly modified, to kind of move towards Christian religion… I think it is fascinating to imagine that at all times, there [are] these connections to every one of these locations.

Kirk: Is there a world in which Kratos goes and explores the Christian pantheon and like, fights Samson and Jesus?

Barlog: I don’t know, maybe! I’m looking at every aspect. There was a point in the early part of the project where I was imagining, “What would God of War look like in modern day?” Right? It’s interesting, it’s a great thought experiment…

Kirk: Kratos takes on Scientology. Kratos takes on the megachurches and tears them down…

Barlog: Or he’s the head of a corporation, right? And everything’s like boardroom battles, or something like that. I don’t know, there’s possibilities for everything.

Jason: Kratos takes on Monsanto. I love it.

Kirk: There’s a negotiating minigame with quicktime events where he has to make the right bid…

Barlog: Contract law, it’s fantastic.

Jason: He has to go get the blades and then he just takes them and cuts up this paperwork in this dramatic scene.


Obviously that’s just a bunch of joking around, but at the very least it seems clear that it’s possible Kratos really will explore a bunch of other religious myths and gods at some point in the future. The guy already jumped from Greek mythology over to Norse mythology, so it stands to reason he could make a similar jump in the future.

The game also just feels designed to be expanded upon.

Story stuff aside, it’s hard to shake the sense that God of War feels like it was made to be expanded by post-release additions. I’d gladly take on a new set of Valkyries, or a new collection of traps and fights in the mist realm of Niflheim. I’d happily take on a dozen more challenges in the fires of Muspelheim, too. Whatever Barlog says about DLC, this game feels designed to be easily expanded, if not narratively, than at least in terms of the less narratively consequential side content.


Then there’s that table at the center of the World Tree, which hints at realms where Kratos and Atreus cannot go. Here’s what Barlog had to say about that:

Kirk: How come some of the realms are clearly highlighted in the [World Tree] and yet I can’t go to them? Why can’t I go to Asgard? I wanna go to Asgard!

Barlog: Right. Okay, so, because that’s later, right? Here’s the thing. The conflict between all this is, there are nine realms, right? Midgard being the base realm, the mid-realm, and then the additional eight realms. And it’s very hard to do the visualization of it without at least acknowledging the other realms. But we really never planned on going to any of those. That was part of the continuation of the story. But we did struggle with figuring out how to indicate to people, because it was weird when they weren’t included. Because people kept asking, I thought there were nine? Where are there blank spots here?

Kirk: And you’ve got that UI prompt, that says “this will never be accessible.” And I read that as pretty final. But even so… it’s still there!

Jason: You should’ve said, “This will be accessible in the sequel.”

Barlog: I mean, honestly, we had played around with tons of different language to figure out, “How do we get people to understand? It’s not gonna be there!” Because taking it away didn’t work. And then different wording was very difficult. And a lot of people kept [saying] “Aw, I’m getting the DLC vibes. You’re gonna make me pay extra for this.”

The difficulty is, the game is so big, even if we wanted to, we would’ve never been able to realize those realms the way we wanted to. They would’ve just always been like, quick [trips] there, so I figured you know what, if we’re gonna take some lumps we’re gonna take some lumps on the idea that Odin, this sort of omnipresent force, has locked it out and you’re never gonna get in there. That one seemed to be the most effective for people to at least go, “Oh, okay, I get it…. [joking] I’m still thinking you’re gonna make me pay for DLC.

Kirk: Yeah, it’s hard not to come away with that.

Turns out there really is no secret way to access Asgard or Vanaheim, no matter how cool it would be to get there. That doesn’t make me any less hopeful that at some point, God of War will get some sort of additional content, even if it’s just more side challenges and sub-quests. I’ve got all these cool abilities and all this neat gear, but nothing left to use it on.


Given how successful God of War has been, as well as Sony’s tradition of releasing at least some sort of post-release DLC for their big exclusive games, it seems safe to say that at some point down the line, God of War will get some kind of expansion. It also seems safe to say that this game will get a sequel, and that sequel will dive back into the war between the giants and the Aesir, Atreus’ true identity and his mother’s legacy, the coming of Ragnarok, and Kratos’ place in all of that. (Barlog told us that he has lots more material mapped out in his head, but in the wake of some overly-excited headlines that cited our interview, he later clarified on Twitter that he hadn’t been talking about concrete plans for five more games.)

The farther I get from God of War, the more impressed I am with how Barlog and his team threaded the needle, telling a complete story focused on a small cast of characters while also paving the way for a grander, more far-reaching sequel. It’s to their credit that I came away feeling satisfied by what I played, even as I’m hungry to find out what happens next.