Kratos goes Norse – What will we see?
Greek mythology is rich with stories and artifacts belonging to gods and heros, but Kratos left Mount Olympus for dead. With nothing left to maim, Kratos takes off to Asgard, settles down, has a son, Atreus, and never brutally disfigures a god again.
While we may not be dealing with the exact same Kratos that we’ve known since 2005, we can be sure that there will be plenty of destruction. There were plenty of surprises in the past, but the general population’s knowledge of Greek mythology set certain expectations. In this new field of Norse myth, there’s a whole new world to discover but it’s always nice to have a few ideas going in, isn’t it?
Before getting into characters too much, it’s worth noting that there are two types of gods, the Aesir and the Vanir.
The Aesir are the pillars of the Norse world, representing forces of nature that affect the other realms. Residing in Asgard, the Aesir are the gods most commonly think of when referring to Norse mythology, i.e Odin, Thor, and Loki. Note, for the purpose of this section, I’ll be skipping over them and talking about lesser known characters.
The Vanir are the group of gods that tend to lean toward a more spiritual and the physicality of nature, i.e the sea, fertility, and wisdom. Who is classified as Vanir is not as straightforward as that of the Aesir, with a few gods overlapping.
Norse mythology is rich with characters, so I’ve chosen a small selection to focus on. Feel free to comment with your own!
Tyr is a Norse war god, equivalent to that of Ares. However, unlike his Greek counterpart, Tyr operates on principles of law and justice. Tyr befriends Fenrir (more below) and ultimately loses his hand for it. While a bit of a stretch, I can imagine a few scenarios where Kratos has his hand in these proceedings.
Freyja is the goddess of fertility and love, and sister to Freyr. She is among the few Vanir to be considered honorary Aesir, perhaps because of her reputation for being a heavy partier.
Much like his sister, Freyr is a fertility god, but he is also associated with prosperity and harvest. Freyr is the owner Skidbladnir. A magic ship large enough to hold all of the gods and their equipment, but light enough to fold up small enough to be put in a pocket.
Angrboda and her children-
Angrboda is a giantess from Jotunheim who marries and has three children with trickster god Loki. Their three children are hidden away for some time before being discovered by the Aesir. Aware of the prophecy of Ragnarok, the Aesir brought Loki’s children before Odin hoping to see the children sent far away where they could do no harm. Odin chose to show mercy to each of them.
The first child, Jormungundr, “The Midgard Serpent”, was sent away and left to the sea, far removed from the world, where it would continue to grow larger and larger. Hel, Loki’s second child, looked healthy on one side of her body, but the other side was deformed and necrotic. Odin gave her rule over the dead who lost their lives in unworthy ways (disease, old age, or accidents), and then sent Hel to Niflheim. Lastly, there was the smallest child, Fenrir, or Fenris Wolf. Tyr grew fond of Fenrir and unlike his siblings, Fenrir was permitted to stay in Asgard for a time. But Fenrir grew larger and stronger with each passing day. In fear that he would one day grow strong enough to overpower the gods of Asgard, they conspired to bind him in chains by posing it as a test of strength.
Brokk and Eitri-
Master craftsmen dwarf brothers who were commissioned by Loki to create treasures worthy of the gods of Asgard. In exchange for Loki’s head, Brokk and Eitri forged three items:
1. Gullinbursti- a large golden boar that can run faster than any horse, bringing daylight wherever it goes.
2. Draupnir- gifted to Odin, Draupnir, or “the dripper”, is a golden ring that drops eight new rings every ninth night, constantly multiplying its worth.
3. Mjolnir- and of course, the famous Mjolnir that became Thor’s most prized possession.
The second trailer featured a dwarf, clad in golden armor, who was surprised to see the axe Kratos is carrying. If this dwarf is so familiar with Asgardian weapons, he must be one of the two brothers. But better yet, who did Kratos kill to get that axe?
The world tree, Yggdrasil, sits at the center of the nine realms of Norse mythology, most of which I’m certain we’ll explore in future God of War games.
Niflheim/Helheim– One of two realms that existed at the time of creation and where one of Yggdrasil’s roots is anchored, Niflheim is a barrenly cold realm of mist. Once separated by the great gap Ginnungagap, Niflheim and the land of fire collided giving birth to the first being, Ymir. Niflheim is considered the land of the dead. There is a great deal of debate surrounding Niflheim and Helheim and whether or not they are the same location, as the word Niflhel and Hel are often used interchangeably. However, it’s worth nothing that while both are considered the land of the dead and are ruled by Hel, only Helheim is distinguished as the land of the dishonorable dead. Lore is often unclear on this matter, but it’s possible that Niflheim and Helheim are two different regions of the same realm. It will be interesting to see how Santa Monica Studios differentiates.
Muspelheim- The second realm of creation and Niflheim’s opposite, Muspelheim is a realm of volcanic fire and home of the fire giants. The most notable of the fire giants is Surtr, the guardian of Muspel who predates the gods themselves. Surtr is said to have a large role in the apocalyptic event, Ragnarok, where he will lead an army of Muspelheim giants to the field of battle, Vigrid.
Midgard- Midgard, or “Middle Yard”, is the realm of humans. Anyone familiar with Marvel’s Thor film series will recognize Midgard as the least interesting of the nine realms. My theory on Midgard’s involvement in Kratos’ next adventure is pretty minimal. I’m led to believe that Olympus and Hades are located in Midgard and there will be more than a few passing references of Kratos as “the demi-god that hails from Midgard.” Beyond that, I think it’s highly unlikely that Midgard will receive anything more than a brief mention.
Asgard- Set atop Yggdrasil, Asgard is the fortress of the Aesir. Equivalent to that of Mount Olympus, Asgard is the home of the “inner-circle” gods, hosts the grandest feasts, and is where most Norse tales begin. The bifrost rainbow bridge that permits travel between the nine realms is located here and will likely be utilized by players if we’re to see more than one realm. Asgard itself is the representation of civilization and order, just the type of place we want to see Kratos rough up a bit.
Vanaheim- Vanaheim is the home of the Vanir, is believed to lie west of Asgard. Little else is known about this realm, but it’s inferred that Vanaheim is tied more to the wild than its sister, Asgard.
Jotunheim- Also known as Utgard, Jotenheim is the home of the giants. The land is as dark and inhospitable as its residents and acts as Asgard’s polar opposite. It’s here that Loki meets his wife and the story of Ragnarok begins.
Alfheim- Among the less significant realms, Alfheim is the home of the what are described as “light elves”, or simply elves, in the post-Tolkein era. The elves are considered to be among the most beautiful creatures in the nine realms, and the lands they reside in, are equally as luminous and awe inspiring.
Svartalfheim- Also known as Nidavellir, Svartalfheim is the home of the “dark elves”, more commonly referred to as dwarves. As is common in the fantasy genre, dwarves are the craftsmen race. We’ve already seen one dwarf in the trailers, likely Brokk or Eitri, so I would be surprised if Kratos didn’t venture into this subterranean realm for a few boosts to his Asgardian weaponry.
Mjolnir- Let’s get this one out of the way. Mjolnir is such a famous weapon that I expect to see it usable in some form. That said, it’s almost too well known and I’m not interested in using it in its full form. What I would like to see instead is an area or chain lightning magic attack. Perhaps Kratos damages the weapon in a fight with Thor and carries around a chip of iron from the hammer that grants him a fraction of its power.
Gungnir- crafted as a gift for Odin, this spear never misses its target when it’s thrown. Made from the sacred ashes of Yggdrasil, it’s a one-of-a-kind artifact. Any oath sworn on the spear can not be broken. With this new game being the first of many possible iterations of Norse Kratos, I don’t think that we’ll be killing Odin any time soon, so perhaps the spear is stolen from him. Or more interestingly, Kratos carries it after swearing an oath to Odin himself, not too unlike the Blades of Chaos.
Jarnglofar and Megingjord- In addition to Mjolnir, Thor also bears accessories that double his strength. His iron gauntlets, Jarnglofar, and his belt, Megingjord, go hand in hand to make Thor a formidable opponent, even when he is unarmed. It would be a shame to see such a heavily recycled mechanic, but I can easily imagine the combination of Jarnglofar and Megingjord replacing Hercule’s Nemean Cestus from God of War III.
Dainsleif- a cursed sword belonging to King Hogni. Never failing to kill, a cut from this blade will never heal. Once drawn, it must kill a man before returned to its sheath. This would be the perfect summon magic. Summon a ghostly blade that fights for you, maybe even introducing bleed effects into combat.
Norse mythology is riddled with unique and arcane devices that Kratos could use for his ruinous intent. What’s so fascinating about Norse mythology is the ambiguity among the small collection of variable text that exists. Character details and origins vary, as well as who survives until Ragnarok. There are so many areas for Santa Monica Studios to take creative liberties that come God of War‘s release next year, we’ll be in for quite a treat.