Warning: this discussion contains SPOILERS for God of War: Ragnarök. If you haven't played the game yet, I recommend coming back at another time!
God of War: Ragnarök released to public and critical acclaim - and an almost Game of the Year trophy at The Game Awards! For me, who has played the series ever since its Greek roots, this feels like a very important step. Not only because we're done with another pantheon, but also because Kratos ended his journey as a much different and much better character than he ever was.
As the developers said, Norse Mythology would be told in two chapters. Ragnarök kept the promise made by its title, bringing the "end of the world" to important gods such as Odin and Thor. In theory, they could continue in Scandinavia, but with the biggest threats out of the way, we know they won't.
The game is unclear on where our main characters are heading next, but the way I see it, we now have two branching stories:
Kratos was prophesized to be worshipped as a God of War. This hasn't happened in Ragnarök, so it's safe to assume that the developers will want to explore this in a future game.
And Atreus/Loki left to reawaken the Giants scattered around the world (and "world" here might very well mean beyond Scandinavia).
Wherever the characters go next, I doubt we'll see the same buddy system the last two games have given us. It's likely that we'll either have one game in which we divide our playtime between Kratos and Atreus or two separate games for the two characters (which I honestly prefer, especially if this means we'll get to play an adult, more powerful Atreus!).
Speculations abound, but today I'd like to bounce some ideas about Kratos' future. Where will he go next? What new pantheon will he meet?
Egypt seems like the obvious choice. Before settling in Scandinavia, the developers of GOW 2018 were going to take Kratos to Egypt. There are a couple of references to Egyptian gods and culture in both Norse games, and in fact, Kratos has visited the Land of Pharaohs in the first volume of the comics God of War: Fallen God. At the time, the fame of the Ghost of Sparta and God Killer followed him, so people were afraid and his passing was less than warm. (There were no references to this in the games as far as I remember, so maybe they discarded it from the canon.)
Could a new visit be seen with better eyes? Perhaps Týr will accompany us? Maybe. But Egypt is so obvious that it's not even fun to talk about it (plus, I confess I don't know much about Egyptian Mythology).
Another possibility, and one that I absolutely adore, is taking Kratos back to Greece! In the last mural we see in Ragnarök, it does look like Kratos is wearing his classic Greek toga, doesn't it? If he's going to be worshipped, it makes sense to be in his homeland, right? Instead of going there to destroy, Kratos would help rebuild the cities and the pantheon. Although many of the Olympians are dead, not all of them are! Artemis, Hestia, Apollo, Demeter, Dionysus, and Aphrodite are still there. Many other gods and some heroes are there as well, including a few that could try and take advantage of the chaos in Greece!
Returning to Greece could be the perfect chance to compensate for the bad story choices that affected the Greek characters and the perfect end to Kratos' redemption arc. And yes, I'm talking about "end" because while it's fun to see Kratos hopping from pantheon to pantheon, how long can the devs keep this up before it feels too much?
Greek Revival aside, there is one other possibility that I'd like to present. Will it come true? Probably not. But exploring this idea is exciting!
Kratos in Irish Mythology
It's a historical fact that Scandinavian people came to Ireland and settled there, adapting and contributing to the local culture. This could give the devs a perfect excuse to move Kratos from Norse to Irish mythology!
Now... Irish mythology. I know it's not the most popular. Heck, many people don't even know what's it about. And the sad truth is that Irish tradition was oral, so what we do have on record was written by Christian monks, who clearly changed some of the stories to conform with their faith.
Nonetheless, we have amazing stories in this "pantheon"! And it's quite unique in some aspects. For a very short explanation, there are four cycles in Irish mythology, divided from oldest to newest:
All these Cycles have great stories to their names, but I want to focus on the one where I'd place Kratos: the Fenian Cycle.
The Fianna were a group of nomadic warriors and heroes who swore their alliance to the High King of Ireland to protect the country from all threats, physical or magical (yes, that was a reference to Mimir). While this Cycle also focuses on war-like themes, unlike in the Ulster Cycle that came before, our heroes here are more romantic instead of bloodthirsty.
"Whatever they do, whether they listen to the harp or follow an enchanter oversea, they do for the sake of joy, their joy in one another, or their joy in pride and movement; and even their battles are fought more because of their delight in a good fighter than because of any gain that is in victory. They live always as if they were playing a game; and so far as they have any deliberate purpose at all, it is that they may become great gentlemen and be worthy of the songs of poets."
(Gods and Fighting Men)
You may disagree, but I think this is a fantastic setting for Kratos' newfound peace. The adventures of the Fianna have a charming, sweet tone to them, almost like a fairy tale (which makes a lot of sense, as you'll learn below). Even if Kratos becomes a member of the Fianna or just friends with them, he wouldn't be getting into battles fuelled by fury or the desperate need for survival - he would be having a mighty craic! Mimir too. Can you imagine how much fun Mimir would have among Fionn and the Fianna?!
And no, they wouldn't bat an eye at a severed talking head. Weirder stuff happened in magic Ireland. Speaking of magic, this is also a great Cycle for the Gods!
"But wait," you might be wondering. "Why did the Mythological Cycle end? What happened to the Tuatha dé Dannan?" Good question!
Here's the short version of it: the Tuatha dé Dannan ("People of the Goddess Danu") ruled Ireland for an unspecific time - some sources claim it was short, about 250 years, while others say it could've easily been much more since the Tuatha dé Danann didn't follow the normal rules of human time. Whatever the case, their reign ended when the Milesians landed in Ireland to avenge one of their people who had been unjustly killed there.
A fight ensued with lots of magic, swords, and spears, and the Tuatha dé Danann were eventually vanquished. However, they loved Ireland so much that they refused to leave. Instead, they erected magical, invisible realms in the mounds and hills of the country, hiding from mortal eyes, thus becoming the Aos Sí, the people of the mound, which most of you will know by the name of... faeries!
So, now you know where the faeries came from and why they're often not so friendly with mortals!
In the Ulster Cycle, we saw a shrinking of that magical world. The gods were still there - and Morrigan, the goddess of war, had a special grudge against Cú Chulainn -, but they weren't seen as much. Things change in the Fenian Cycle.
"Although the gods come to Cú Chulainn, and although he is the son of the greatest of them [Lugh], their country and his are far apart, and they come to him as god to mortal; but Fionn is their equal."
(Gods and Fighting Men)
You might've noticed a curious thing about the Irish gods: they aren't quite like the ruling, all-powerful deities of other pantheons. In fact, the Milesians were mortals, and they managed to beat kings Mac Cuill, Mac Cecht, and Mac Gréine in their battle for the sovereignty of Ireland. What distinguishes the Tuatha dé Danann from mortals is their incredible magic, extraordinary artefacts, and the fact they don't age.
There's also no creation or end-of-the-world tale. The world simply... goes on (and the faeries are still there according to many folk tales!). All in all, I believe Irish mythology, and the Fenian Cycle in particular, presents a vastly different scenario to both Greek and Norse mythologies. Who knows, the storytelling and poetic vein of the Irish people might be just what makes Kratos famous and loved! Besides, as I mentioned above, we don't have many stories about Irish mythology, so there's plenty of room to be explored, including famous figures like Fionn and Manannán mac Lir.
Again, it probably won't happen. But it's fun to imagine!
What about you? Do you have any wishes for the future of the God of War franchise? Share your thoughts in the comments section below!