This article contains late-game spoilers for God of War Ragnarok.
In the final third of God of War Ragnarok you obtain the Draupnir Spear, the third and final weapon in Kratos’ Norse adventure arsenal. Creating a new weapon for Kratos was naturally a major task for the development team at Santa Monica Studio, and game director Eric Williams has revealed just how the spear became a reality, what ideas were cut, and why they didn’t just let players wield Thor’s hammer.
Talking to IGN’s Beyond podcast, Williams said “When we started early on, in I would say the fall of 2018, people were pitching everything [for a new weapon]. Obviously Mjolnir was on the table, but I really wanted to go back and show who [Kratos] really was, and if he was going to lead these people to this war, I wanted to see that guy, the guy we never really get to see.
“We saw a little bit of it in Ghost of Sparta,” he explained. “The Spartans bring him his weapons. They bring him the arms of a Spartan with his spear and his shield, and you get to see that general a little bit, but we wanted to see that in the Norse mythology [setting].”
So Ragnarok sees Kratos get a Norse-variant of the iconic Spartan weapon. But the physical form of a God of War weapon is just the start. Like the Leviathan Ax and Blades of Chaos, the Draupnir Spear has a fully developed gameplay style and upgrade tree. All of that started with a phrase that would shape the team’s goals for the weapon.
“We kind of have these little phrases for the weapons internally for how we bake all the ideas in. And the axe […] was like this ‘frozen lumberjack’. And then the blades have always been in this this ‘ballet of fire’. And so for the spear, coming up with that, I challenged [combat designer Mihir Sheth]. I was like, ‘Hey, come up with the phrase that people can get behind this.’ And he had this idea, he was like, ‘It’s just beat the door down.’ And that’s what he wanted out of that spear. It wasn’t just this pokey thing that thrusted, it was this thing that just literally smashed your face in. And [Kratos] does that, when you start hitting the R1 and he starts stabbing, but then he starts coming with the blunt side and just everything crushes. And then when you detonate it and you see all those rocks explode.”
That design philosophy tied into William’s desire for a weapon that would demonstrate Kratos’ credentials as a leader. “It just had this violence to it, but it was through this kind of very forceful, Kratos imposing his will as a general with a thinking mindset. Because you can’t just go berserk with that weapon. You have to think about what you’re doing. It has precision. It has a tight area of hit. There’s so many things that are put into it from both the storytelling and the combat that we wanted to be folded in where you kind of can’t tell the difference.”
We want to make the best stick ever, that all spears will be judged against.
In the story, the spear is forged using Draupnir, a ring from Norse mythology that is able to replicate itself. But the decision to have a spear that can replicate itself actually came before the team settled on using Draupnir as the weapon’s base.
“I started to think about, well, if we want to have infinite spears, we have to come up with some way to do this,” recalled Williams. “We can’t just gamify it. We want it to be part of the lore. And we were talking about Draupnir and we were like, ‘Oh, well, it does duplicate.’ And then it was just one of those peanut butter chocolate moments in my head where I was like, ‘Hey, what about this?’ And they’re like, ‘Are you serious? You think we could pull that off?’”
While the Draupnir Spear has many abilities, one particular skill had to be cut. “We even had a crazier thing,” Williams revealed. “I had the wind element early on where when you would detonate it, it would shatter into a bunch of rings and it would leave shrapnel on the ground. And then if you were able to use the wind, it would pick that up and you would get this kind of shotgun pelting effect. But it just became too much, where the player was just overwhelmed with too many things to worry about. So we ended up pulling that idea back.”
As previously mentioned, one of the early ideas for Kratos’ third weapon was Mjölnir, Thor’s iconic hammer. But Williams was against the idea, and wanted something significantly more surprising.
“The ax was made to be the counter to [Mjölnir],” he explained. “It’s almost like the good and evil weapon. So [Kratos] wields the weapon for just. Thor wields the weapon for tearing down the giants and things like that. So we didn’t think fitting [Mjölnir] into Kratos would work very well.”
“I’ll also be completely honest, I’ll tell you what I told the team, […] to me it was too easy. It was expected. It’s what people, they could understand it. They could think about it. It wasn’t going to surprise. But the weapon that was going to surprise was the weapon that we gave him.
By creating a new weapon forged specifically for Kratos and his end-of-everything campaign, the narrative team at Santa Monica Studio were able to weave together a story that made the weapon immensely personal to Kratos. It’s something that would have been impossible with Mjolnir.
“The way the story’s told on how he gets it, who he is… if you think about his weapons, they’ve been bestowed upon him,” Williams explained. “The blades, they’re pulled out of the river of lava and dropped into his hands. The ax is bestowed to him by his wife. So when that spear is made, it’s for him. It has his blood in it, you know what I mean? They prick it and his whole history. If you watch that scene specifically, the blood comes out as the Omega first, which is that old version of him. But the thing that really cements it is the symbol of Sparta, that he is that just general that’s going to take care of business.”
“We put a lot of thought into that, and I challenged the team too,” he added. “I said, ‘Hey, we want to make the best stick ever, that all spears will be judged against.’ And I’ll be honest, I think I’d put ours up against any I’ve seen in a video game.”
For more from God of War Ragnarok, see how Thor’s actor took inspiration from a Marvel character, and that Ragnarok makes PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale canon. Developer Santa Monica Studio also has “a lot of different things” in the works, so is more God of War on the way?
Matt Purslow is IGN’s UK News and Features Editor.