The Mythology Of Kratos: God Of War's Story Thus Far
This April, the God of War series will return after five years of silence. Kratos desolated the Greek pantheon and the world they ruled over, but he's somehow stolen away to the Norse realm to conduct a quiet life of isolation.
How did he wind up there? What trail of bodies did the Ghost of Sparta leave in his unbridled wake toward Mt. Olympus? How did his bloodied descent into revenge go from bad to unthinkable? We've gathered our scrolls and compiled a chronological synopsis of God of War to give you the full tale of Kratos' unbelievable life.
Before God of War
Spartan youth are stripped of their innocence and made into relentless warriors early on, and Kratos' origin is no different. He proves himself beyond his peers, and while his brother, Deimos, might have been his equal, he was taken away by Ares and Athena in his youth as revealed in the PSP title Ghost of Sparta. In memory of him, Kratos branded himself with red tattoos in the vein of his brother's unconventional birthmarks.
Years later, the comic series reveals that Kratos is promoted as a leader and marries Lysandra, resulting in the birth of their child Calliope. However, she's born with an illness, and due to Sparta's law to slay the weak, Kratos sets out on an urgent mission to find the Ambrosia of Asclepius, which heals all wounds and diseases. Little does he know that some of the Olympians have struck a wager, selecting promising mortals to see who could get to the Ambrosia first. One of these champions happens to be the Barbarian Alrik. After the other champions fall to both men, Kratos comes out on top and returns home in time to save his daughter from being sacrificed. His deeds lead him to becoming a revered captain, but Hades has other plans for Alrik.
Throughout the first God of War, it's revealed that the god of the underworld sends the Barbarian against Kratos' army to wipe them out some time later. Sheer numbers win the day for Alrik, but before he could end Kratos, the desperate Spartan calls upon Ares to slay his enemies in exchange for his life. In doing so, Ares sears the Blades of Chaos to Kratos' arms, which he uses to decapitate Alrik. From that point forward, Ares commands Kratos to kill everyone - whether innocent or guilty - for the god's glory so he could attain favor with Zeus, but Kratos' last test lies in destroying a village devoted to Athena. After slaughtering its people, he discovers that Ares had placed his family there as a trick, who he had murdered unwittingly. Ares thought his perfect warrior wouldn't be held back by familial ties anymore, but Ares' assumptions of Kratos' depravity were misplaced.
God of War: Ascension
Kratos is left a husk of a warrior after killing his family, and Ares isn't going to have it. The mortal pledged his life to Ares with a blood oath, and breaking those isn't taken lightly by the Furies. These primordial beings chronicle promises made to the gods and eternally punish those who go against them. However, since they committed themselves to Ares, they let his abominable act of tricking the Spartan slide. The god of war wants to make Kratos the perfect warrior to help him destroy the Olympians one day, and the Furies are united in this goal. However, the son of Ares and the Furies, Orkos, betrays them in seeing how their plot for revenge has blind their judgment.
While the Furies have done their work dampening Kratos' memories so he would fight again, Orkos comes to Kratos and tells him he must break free of their illusions and his forced servitude to Ares. The Spartan's new quest leads him to be captured by the Furies, who he kills off one by one. Once he returns to his lonely home in Sparta, Orkos reveals that the only way he and Kratos can be released from Ares' control is if Orkos dies. As long as he lives as the Oathkeeper, Kratos' and Orkos' ties with Ares will persist. Even though he initially refuses, Kratos reluctantly ends Orkos' life, but in that act, the full memories of his past flood back in vivid detail. In the hope that the other Olympians will right Ares' wrongs, Kratos' pledges his allegiance to them.
God of War: Chains of Olympus
Kratos' many exploits in service of the gods take him across the Greek world. One such task leads him to Attica to fend off an invading Persian army, where he dispatches their king and rampaging basilisk. Shortly afterwards, Kratos witnesses the sun (i.e. Helios) falling from the sky. The world is then cast into shadow, allowing Morpheus - the primordial god of dreams - to cast the Olympians into a deep slumber. Before falling asleep, Athena pleads with Kratos to save Helios so the gods can awaken once more. After reaching the sun god's temple, he awakens the Fire Steeds that pull it through the sky, which take Kratos to their master in the underworld. Kratos eventually sails to Persephone's palace on the Styx River and stumbles across his daughter running around the place. He demands the queen of the dead to take him to Calliope, but she says he must relinquish all of the evil within himself (and, therefore, his power) to be with her in the heavenly fields of Elysium.
Once Kratos gives away his power, Persephone reveals that she freed the titan Atlas to capture Helios, who would use the god's power to destroy the pillar of the world. In doing so, mankind and the gods would fall with it, and even though Persephone would perish as well, it was her only way of having revenge on Hades and Zeus for tricking her in the past. Kratos may be able to relate to Persephone, but he realizes that his daughter will die if he doesn't stop the suicidal queen. The only way to do that is to re-embrace his sins to gain back his power, so even though Kratos knows he'll never see Calliope again, she will at least live. He leaves her behind and defeats Persephone, chaining Atlas to the world's underside in place of the broken pillar. With Helios restored, Kratos falls from the sun god's temple as it returns to the sky. While he welcomes death, Helios and Athena save him from his untimely demise. The gods have bigger plans in store.
God of War
After five more years of errands for the gods, things come to a head when the Hyrda and Ares' forces almost decimate Kratos' fleet of ships. He asks Athena how much longer he must fight until his memories are taken from him, so she gives him a final task: save Athens from being destroyed by Ares. Having despised the god of war for so long, the task proves to be a win-win situation. With the secret blessing of the Olympians, Kratos seeks out the oracle of Athens and learns he must use the power within Pandora's Box to defeat Ares. Kratos travels to a nearby desert in search of the titan Cronos, who has a temple chained to his back that contains the fabled box. With numerous traps and monsters no mortal could ever beat, Kratos was the first to conquer them all and secure Pandora's Box.
Just before leaving the temple, Ares throws a pillar from Athens that impales Kratos, allowing him to steal the box. However, even the underworld couldn't hold Kratos as he fought his way back to Athens. His return surprises Ares and gives Kratos the chance to open Pandora's Box, which turns him into a giant after he absorbs the power inside. He gives Ares his due by impaling him in return and saving what remains of Athens. Even then, the Olympians only forgive Kratos past rather than allowing him to forget it. This drives him to cast himself from a cliff, but Athena denies him death again, proclaiming that a new god of war is needed. He reluctantly accepts the offer in the hope that he can drown out his sorrows by immersing himself in all he knew now: unhinged bloodshed.
God of War Comic
Kratos catches wind that devotees of Ares are planning to use the Ambrosia to resurrect the deceased god of war, but since Kratos hadn't destroyed the source of it over a decade ago, he retread the path he took to save his daughter in order to root the Ambrosia out once and for all. His worries may have been subdued, but the trip only made him reflect more on the friends and family he'd lost to the gods and his own hubris.
God of War: Ghost of Sparta
Even godhood wasn't a salve for Kratos' memories, and on top of this, new visions surface of his mother being held captive in Atlantis. Unable to shake their significance, he lays siege to Poseidon's domain and learns from his mother that his brother, Deimos, is being held by Thanatos in the Domain of Death. This leads Kratos back to Sparta where the Temple of Ares resides. He finds the key that was used to access the forbidden realm long ago and travels there. When he finds his brother in shackles, Deimos nearly kills Kratos out of rage until Thanatos intervenes. Nevertheless, Kratos still saves his brother from falling off a cliff, and they work together to bring the god of death to his demise. However, their reunion is short-lived since Deimos perishes in the fight. With no familial ties to hold onto anymore, Athena comes to grant Kratos full godhood, but he shoves her away out of spite, warning her that the Olympians will pay for what they'd done to his mother and brother.
God of War II
Just as Ares had proven problematic to the gods for his obsession with approval, Kratos would be the opposite. His disdain for them only grew in Olympus, and the only way he finds solace is leading Sparta to conquer Greece. Athena warns Kratos that there's only so much the Olympians can tolerate, but he shuns her and assaults the city of Rhodes. During the assault, Zeus rids Kratos of his power and kills him with the Blade of Olympus. The hands of Hades begin to pull him to the underworld, but the titans telepathically call upon Kratos and aid him to escape death. Their leader, Gaia, explains how the titans were precursors to the Olympians, who were either murdered or imprisoned so Zeus could rise to power. Once again, Kratos' revenge aligns with others'. He must find the Sisters of Fate (who control time and destiny), return to the moment of his death, and seize the Blade of Olympus.
After meeting a series of icons from Greek mythology and his own past, Kratos confronts two of the Sisters of Fate. At one point, he's sent back into his own timeline with one of them attempting to prevent Kratos from defeating Ares. He prevents this paradox and murders the duo, followed by the final sister who controls the threads of all lives. He finds his own and returns to the moment where Zeus kills him, taking the Sword of Olympus and nearly conquering the king of the gods. However, Athena sacrifices herself to save her father, revealing to Kratos in death that she and him are siblings. Even as the son of Zeus, Kratos is not swayed from his revenge, and as the Olympians plot their revenge, the Ghost of Sparta travels back in time to bring the Titans to the present age, who begin scaling Mt. Olympus with a war to end all wars.
God of War III
The game picks up seconds after the previous game. Poseidon is the first to attack Kratos and falls before him, causing the Greek world to be enveloped by the seas. After ascending Mt. Olympus with Gaia, Zeus sends Kratos and her careening back down with a lightning strike. With Zeus in her sights, she lets Kratos fall down to the underworld, who now vows revenge on her kind for using him. He then meets Athena's spirit there, who offers to help Kratos for mysterious reasons. She gives him enough power to tear his way through Hades, Helios, Hermes, Hercules, Hera, and Cronos. As he kills them all, the earth is enveloped in darkness, plagues, and the worlds of the living and dead colliding. His goal all the while is to retrieve Pandora's Box, which could only be opened by finding Pandora herself and destroying the Chain of Balance that kept Olympus and the underworld in check. After doing these things, the flames and gate that kept the box locked away are freed.
With Zeus standing in his way, Kratos briefly subdues him and opens the box, only to discover that it's empty. Gaia returns and a battle ensues between all three, and Gaia is killed. In a last ditch effort, Zeus attempts to conquer Kratos' mind by amplifying his grief and pain, but the spirit of Pandora guides him back to reality, giving the god of war his final wish to silence Zeus. With the world torn asunder, Athena appears to congratulate Kratos, coming to realize that she was wrong about Pandora's Box. She had thought Kratos had absorbed the evils that were locked away in it to defeat Ares, but in fact, the evils had consumed the gods, which explains their behavior and why their deaths resulted in terrible things being unleashed. Kratos had, in fact, absorbed and retained the power of hope that Athena had stored in the box. Demanding that she be given the power to restore the world, Kratos realizes that the evil of selfishness has infected her, and decides to impale himself to give hope to what remains of humanity. With that, Kratos leaves everything in chaos and dies defying the gods to his last breath ... or so it seems.
God of War (2018)
Kratos' body is no longer lying on Olympus' ruins once the credits roll in God of War III. We now know was just the beginning of a new chapter in Kratos' life. However, his fresh start with a new family has turned for the worse with the death of his second wife. The disgraced god of war and his newfound son, Atreus, set out to take her ashes to the highest peak in the land. Kratos' greatest challenges lie ahead. Not just in the enemies he'll face, but also in holding back his grief and anger to raise his son right. We'll see if he can defy the odds yet again in a matter of weeks.
In the meantime, check out our recent coverage of the new God of War with gameplay, interviews, and more below. You can also hear our thoughts on the gameplay direction with our latest New Gameplay Today here.