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How God of War’s awesome PC port came to life

Lately, Sony has become increasingly open to bringing previously PlayStation-exclusive games to PC, and today’s release of God of the war is the most remarkable to date. One of Sony’s main franchises since the original game’s release for the PS2 in 2005, all of the following titles – aside from a 2007 spin-off for mobile phones – have been locked down to PlayStation hardware. Santa Monica Studio 2018 God of the war is one of the most acclaimed games for the PS4, and it’s now available to new audiences for the first time.

I spent some time with the PC version and found it to be incredibly well suited to the platform which is not always obvious. I spoke with Matt DeWald, Senior Director of Technical Production at Santa Monica, and Mila Pavlin, Senior User Experience Designer and Accessibility Manager, to learn more about the implementation process. God of the war to the PC.

“About two years ago, we decided to look into whether this was possible,” says DeWald. “So the idea came from the genre, okay, let’s think about the possibility of making a PC [port] – we have a custom engine, we haven’t released a PC game yet, get it going and see what issues we’re going to have and how much work is it going to take from us. Santa Monica commissioned Jetpack Interactive, a Vancouver studio that had previously worked on other internal collaborations, to determine the scope of the project, and it was ultimately approved.

“They’re part of the team, so they’re not really a typical harbor house where we unload something and throw it over the fence,” DeWald says of Jetpack. “They work from our codebases, they are on our Teams channels and they communicate with our team, they are part of our standups.” Four Jetpack engineers handled the main development of the port, with DeWald being a producer and other Santa Monica members like Pavlin making additional contributions.

“[PC players] I want it to look like it was designed for the PC rather than being a port, ”says Pavlin, who worked on the UX and controls for the project. “So a lot of the work we did in the beginning was to hit those points on graphics quality, making sure the graphics quality was up to standards and responsive on the PC platform, and then making sure the controls were customizable. and I felt good in the native setup.

I can’t talk about how God of the war will work on everyone’s PC, of ​​course – and hypothetically, DeWald wouldn’t be drawn to the way it will perform on the Steam Deck – but my experience with the game on a five-year-old machine has been positive. There are a lot of graphics options and the performance is more or less to what I expected; I’m averaging around 50 fps on a 1440p ultra-wide monitor with G-Sync, and this uses a Skylake Core i5 processor and GTX 1080 with a mix of settings. Each visual option can be run in ‘original’ mode, which essentially gives you PS4 level quality, and you can move them up or down from there.

While you might not immediately consider it a good choice given its heritage as a console action game, God of the war on PC can be played with mouse and keyboard controls, and the scheme is surprisingly well thought out. Actions like aiming and throwing Kratos’ ax, for example, feel more natural if you’re used to playing FPS games with a mouse. Pavlin points out that the commands are not mapped one by one in the controller action list – for example, on the PS4 you jump with the same context button you used to interact with the environment, but on PC the command jumping is handled separately by the space bar, like most other PC games. There are also options like auto sprinting which can be more comfortable for many players. Personally, I would always go for using a controller, but I finished the game on PS4 so I got used to it already. For newcomers who only play on PC, the mouse and keyboard system is a thoughtful addition.

“I found it very comfortable to use because I’m used to this from my other games – I play a lot of PC games,” says Pavlin. “It sounds like a very native and fun way to play the game. It kind of changes the whole way you approach combat. I found out that I could target really easily using the mouse because the accuracy was so good that I was able to do things like take headshots and make sure I was, you know , knocking out the dragon’s legs and making them precision shots than with a controller, I might find it a bit more difficult or for which I should use an aim assist. So I think there are advantages to that.

Another big addition to the PC version is support for ultra-wide 21: 9 monitors (as well as the larger 16:10). It’s more interesting for God of the war that it could be for other titles due to the unique technique of the game, where the camera hardly ever cuts from the start to the end of the game. I wondered if the widening of the field of view presented any challenges in terms of revealing things that may not have originally been meant to be on screen.

“[The ultrawide support] revealed all the little hacks and tricks we used to move people into position or get someone off the screen, ”DeWald said. “They might not be fully animated. So it was a manual process that just required going through the entire game. “The cutscenes also sometimes had to be cropped to better accommodate the extended content rendered by the realtime engine. The results are impressive – I did. never felt like nothing seemed out of place, and Kratos’ AI-controlled son Atreus follows you as convincingly as he did on a 16: 9 TV.

Unfortunately, however, you will have to run the game at ultra-wide resolution if you want a wider field of view, as there is no conventional FoV slider. DeWald says he’s introduced bugs the team didn’t have time to fix, with the game basing some logic on what’s on or off screen at any given time.

God of the war wasn’t originally designed as a PC game, and the experience of going back and making it feel native to a platform prompted Santa Monica Studio to reconsider its workflow. “Switching to the PC space really got us thinking, not only about the PC versions, but our entire pipeline as well,” Pavlin says. “So looking at how we make things more tunable and customizable from the start with the way we build our codebase and our assets. If we know we’re going to have a wide range of formats we’re going to scale into or if we know we’re going to need some customization of commands, programmers actually need to know that very early in a project so that they can create the code base in a more flexible way.

It will also allow Santa Monica Studio to make its games more accessible, with Pavlin citing the example of how God of the war was originally designed only with hard-coded PS4 controls in mind, which took a lot of work from the team to rethink their PC inputs. “This is very important not only for the PC ports, but you are also moving forward with accessibility and ensuring that you support additional control functions, controller customization, or keyboard customization. And in future projects, we’ve learned these key lessons here that we can learn to better design our games to be more flexible for the future, to make it easier for everyone in the future.

Santa Monica Studio is currently developing God of the warFollowing, God of War: Ragnarok, which is slated for release on PS4 and PS5 this year. It’s unclear if it will ever make it to the PC, but Pavlin’s comments suggest that God of the warThe PC port of could have a positive impact even on console versions of Ragnarok. For now, this is simply the best way to play the game and it is worth checking out if you are a new player or a former player.

God of the war is available on Steam and the Epic Games Store today.


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