Respawn Design Director Breaks Down God Of War’s First Boss Fight

The only real complaints I have about 2018’s God of War are the third person camera being too close behind Kratos, and the lack of variety in the boss fights. The only major boss fights come against Baldur, the Valkyrie, and some trolls. The first of these is the troll, Daudi Kaupmadr. He acts as a test for all the combat mechanics we’ve picked up until that point in the game.

However, according to Jason de Heras, Design Director at the Respawn Jedi team, Daudi is secretly an “illusion of challenge.” Jason was the lead combat designer of Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order, before which he served as the Senior Combat Designer on God of War 3 and Ascension. He recently took to Twitter to break down God of War’s first boss fight, and how it prepares the player for the rest of the game.

In a rather long tweet thread, Jason went on to explain how Daudi acts as a final combat test, and also a guide for what lies ahead in Midgard and the other realms. He broke down his analysis into blockable attacks, resets, counter attack, tiny damage, and phase changes; each with an accompanying video. He’s obviously the right person to break this down, given his profession, and also the fact that he’s reached the top eight in Super Street Fighter 2 Turbo EVO tournaments three times.

He first starts off saying that Daudi’s initial log stab is blockable (which I had no idea about). “Every attack from an enemy this large should be unblockable, right? Ironically, having attacks with different properties (blockable vs unblockable), regardless of enemy size, allows the player to engage with their entire toolset.”

He goes on to explain that once the initial stab is blocked, the push-back places Kratos conveniently just out of reach of the follow-up log slam. This teaches the player not to rush in as they would in the older God of War games. “This attack also serves as an encourager [sic] to dodge since the attack literally takes away the middle/front of the player. Bosses are designed with skill checks in mind and are essentially glorified tutorials in this case,” he continued.

Next up, Jason explains the concept of a reset. Once Kratos gets up close to Daudi, he has a chance to land four hits on the troll. Since the fourth hit staggers Daudi, he will try and prevent Kratos from getting it in via a stomp. The stomp essentially pushes Kratos back and ‘resets’ the fight back to its starting position, i.e. the log stab. At this point, neither Kratos, nor Daudi has the advantage.

Jason explains the reason for this stomp, “The designers made sure to trigger the stomp slightly after 3 consecutive axe swings which forces the player to block/evade cancel; otherwise, the math (time to hit on 4th swing vs stomp speed) will work in the boss’s favor.”

Now here’s where the player’s skill comes into the equation. If the player uses every mechanic at their disposal, in this case the sprint, they’ll find themselves up close to Daudi, with enough time to land that crucial fourth hit.

But a good boss fight is one that you can’t cheese your way through, and the developers kept this in mind. If a fourth hit is landed, Daudi will automatically counter attack with a stomp, so as to push Kratos back and avoid being decimated by a flurry of Leviathan Axe swings.

At this point Jason explains the concept of tiny damage. “Generally, the faster the attack, the lower the damage. When the stomp hits, damage output is TINY compared to other attacks. This reinforces Kratos’s wrecking ball style. Also, Kratos’s hit reaction recovers quickly never leaving him in danger to follow up attacks,” he said.

And finally, as with most bosses, once Daudi has taken enough of a beating, he changes his attack pattern. His attacking combos become longer and more powerful. This forces the player to adapt and exploit the entire toolset at their disposal. A sort of final question in the test.

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