From slaying Titans and murdering Gods, here is everything you need to know before starting God of War!
With the latest God of War released, and reviews pouring in left and right (feel free to check out our review here) it goes without saying there are a lot of newcomers coming into this game blind.
While you can generally go through this game without even playing the series, you may find that there are a lot unanswered questions throughout the title. Who is Kratos? How’d he become a god? What happened to his world?
So for those who may have missed the events leading up to this point (and those who can’t be bothered downloading an emulator) here is our story synopsis of the series up to this point.
Becoming a God (God of War Recap, 2005)
Released back in the PlayStation 2 era, the story of God of War follows the events of Kratos seeking revenge against the Greek god of war, Ares. Long ago, Kratos was once a fierce captain for the Spartan army. Leading an army of thousands, Kratos’ tactics in battle were brutal, leading him to become one of the most feared leaders of the Spartan army.
However, even with his army’s fierce reputation, it wasn’t until one war between a large barbarian army, that everything came apart. Descending upon the Spartans without mercy, the battle between them went on for hours, with many massacred by the overwhelming force of the barbarian horde.
With no other options left, Kratos called upon the god of war to spare his men, requesting that he’d grant him the power to defeat all of his enemies in exchange for his services. Ultimately, Ares agrees to his terms, granting Kratos with the “Blades of Chaos” and the power to slay all who oppose him.
Blinded by his desire for ultimate conquest, the path that lay before Kratos would cost him his humanity. However, it wasn’t until one raid that everything changed. Leading a small army to burn down a village dedicated to the goddess Athena, it is from there that Kratos accidentally finds himself murdering his family during a fit of rage.
Shortly after, it is revealed that Ares had planted Kratos’ family there, hoping for their death and for Kratos to become a stronger warrior. However, this plan backfires, as Kratos renounces his pledge to serve the god of war.
During this time, an Oracle of the village would proceed to curse Kratos by staining his skin with the ashes of his loved ones, serving as a reminder of the sins he has committed. From there on out, this is when Kratos becomes known as the ‘Ghost of Sparta’.
Ten years later, Kratos would proceed to redeem himself by serving the gods of Olympus. After many gruelling fights on behalf of the gods (one of them being the Hydra during the start of the game), Athena calls upon Kratos for one final task – to slay Ares. Setting sail to the city of Athens, Kratos is faced with the minions of Ares, who have besieged the city and are currently killing everyone within.
After saving the life of the city’s oracle, Kratos learns that the only way for him to kill Ares, is to find the power hidden within Pandora’s box. From there on, Kratos leaves the city Athens to find the titan Cronos, who currently protects the box within a temple chained to his back.
After overcoming many death-defying traps (and a brief moment where Kratos is actually killed), Kratos eventually opens Pandora’s box, and uses the power within to kill Ares. After this act, Kratos returns to the goddess Athena, pleading for her to rid him of the visions that haunt him to this day.
While explaining that the gods have forgiven Kratos’ sins, they won’t rid him from the visions. Instead, they reward Kratos by making him the new god of war.
Betrayal and vengeance (God of War II Recap, 2007)
Still haunted by the visions of his dead family, Kratos is shown several years after the events of the first game.
Bitter towards his fellow Gods and shunned for his destructive behaviour, Athena warns Kratos not to continue down this path burning down cities. Ignoring her warnings and aiding a fellow Spartan army within the city of Rhodes, Kratos is suddenly shrunken down to the size of a mortal man, where he is then chased down by a colossus.
After several attempts to defeat the creature, Zeus calls upon Kratos and sends him the Blade of Olympus. However in order for him to use the sword, Kratos must infuse all of his godly powers to the weapon and slay the beast as a mortal. Though successful in doing do, Kratos ends up mortally wounded in battle.
On the brink of death, Zeus eventually reveals himself to Kratos, stating that he was the one behind the attack. Fearful of his violent behaviour and possible path of betrayal, Zeus offers Kratos the chance to pledge loyalty to him in order to spare his life. Kratos ultimately refuses and Zeus slays Kratos with the holy blade.
As his soul is dragged to the depths of Hades, Kratos is saved by the titan, Gaia. Revealing who she is, Gaia explains that she and the titans will help Kratos seek revenge against Zeus. After healing his wound and crawling out of the underworld (again), Gaia instructs Kratos to find the Sisters of Fate, who would be able to take him back in time, confront Zeus, and take him down once and for all.
Throughout his journey, Kratos uncovers a lot of Zeus’ past and history regarding him and the titans. As a baby, we discover that Cronos (yes, that same Cronos that was in the first game) was Zeus’ father. As a baby, a prophecy foretold that one of Cronos’ children would rise up against their father and bring forth the end of the titans. Fearful of this, Cronos imprisoned his offspring by consuming them one-by-one. Refusing to let another one of her children die, Zeus’ mother hid him away from Cronos, allowing the titan Gaia to raise him.
Though while Gaia was able to raise Zeus, her compassion would be the titan’s downfall. Vengeful for what his father did and desperate to rescue his siblings, Zeus would rage a battle not only against Cronos, but all of the titans. In a war between gods and titans, Zeus would forge the Blade of Olympus, and banish the titans within the pits of Tartarus.
After several hours travelling and gruelling boss fights, Kratos eventually reaches his destination and finds the Sisters of Fate. Killing all of them in the process, Kratos succeeds in his mission and confronts Zeus moments after his death. Seizing the blade of Olympus, Kratos battles against Zeus, which results in him injuring the Greek god in the process. Moments before he could land the final killing blow, Athena intervenes, getting stabbed in the process.
In the moments before her death, Zeus escapes (wow, what a dick) and Kratos holds the dying goddess within his arms. It’s from there that Athena reveals that Zeus is Kratos’ father, and that in order to protect Olympus, Zeus has to survive.
Disgusted at this revelation, Kratos goes back in time once more and rescues the titans within the great war. From there, the game ultimately ends with the titans climbing up Mt Olympus, and Kratos riding on the back of Gaia.
The death of Olympus (God of War III Recap, 2010)
Riding on the back of Gaia, the game opens with Kratos calling for the destruction of Olympus. As the gods of Olympus look down from the mountain, each one departs from the top to fend off the titans. Diving down to aid his brother, Poseidon calls upon a giant water horse creature and attempts to pull down Gaia from the mountain. Aiding Gaia, Kratos manages to kill Poseidon, which then results in the ocean rising up and flooding the Earth below.
After a brief moment, Gaia and Kratos eventually reach the top of Olympus and come face-to-face with Zeus. After a heavy exchange of words, Zeus manages to blast Kratos and Gaia off the ledge, where they are then left dangling for their lives. Unable to find a grip, Kratos calls upon Gaia to support him. However, driven by the need for vengeance as much as Kratos, Gaia refuses and leaves Kratos to fall off the mountain.
It’s from there that Kratos lands in the underworld (AGAIN!), as the river Styx drains him from his powers, leaving him more vulnerable than when he started. After a brief moment, Kratos comes face-to-face with goddess Athena, who has now become a spiritual entity. During this exchange, Athena tells Kratos that she has now “seen the truth”, and as long as Zeus reigns power, there is no hope for mankind. Giving Kratos the blades of exile, Athena explains that in order to slay Zeus, he must extinguish the flame of Olympus.
From there, Kratos proceeds to escape the underworld, and slay every single god that crosses his path.
With every god that dies, we also witness parts of the world ending up in ruins as Kratos ends their lives one by one. For instance, with Helios’ death, the sun ends up disappearing from the map, leaving the world within Olympus stormy and without sunlight. As well as this, Hades’ death results in the souls of the underworld escaping, and Hermes leaving the world in slow decay and disease.
As you can probably tell, this ultimately leaves the world in a rather crappy state.
As you progress, you learn more about Zeus and the mindset he had right after events of the first game. Told by a number of different characters, we learn that after the death of Ares, Zeus had become paranoid about the idea of Kratos killing him.
Directing his anger at everyone around him (including Cronos, who was later banished to Tartarus), we also learn that the corruption that consumed Zeus came from evils that were once contained inside the box. With the gods now fearful and bitter, this would serve as the main driving force to Zeus’ betrayal of Kratos.
After the death of Zeus, we discover that Athena had locked away the secret weapon of “hope” (yeah, not even joking) within the box as well, and that Kratos had managed to obtain this power upon opening it. With the world in ruins and all the gods dead, Kratos ends his journey by stabbing himself with the blade of Olympus, unleashing the power of hope to all of humanity (well, with what’s left of it).
So with everything that has been established in the series, you can understand why he’s so distant within the new God of War. With so much that has happened to him, the betrayals he’s faced, and the loved ones he has slaughtered – ultimately what we have here is a broken man, unable to escape his past.