God of War (2018) could have been a very different game, according to director Cory Barlog. In a recent interview with Polygon, he explains how the inclusion of Atreus was quite the uphill battle. What would the game have been like without Kratos' son? Thankfully we'll never have to know.
When God of War was in the early conceptual phases, that's when Barlog first brought up the idea of having Atreus with Kratos at all times. Ideas are all well and good, but then came the harsh realities of budget, development time, and technical feasibility. The inclusion of Atreus was almost scrapped because of Barlog's other “must-have” for the title, a single camera shot. The reality was an incredibly complex and lengthy development time.
At one point, Barlog had a conversation with one of his lead production members, Yumi Yang, who encouraged him to see what the game might be like without Atreus. When he did, the team as a whole realized that this new direction was nowhere near as engaging as the original. Barlog likened his second concept to “a 10-year-old having a tantrum.”
It was at that point that everyone decided the uncharted waters of a constant companion and single camera shot were worth it. They'd brave the fog together and see what was there at the other end. If the reviews and fan reception are any indicator, Sony Santa Monica found El Dorado.