God Of War director Ragnarök struggled to retain its most animated and unexpected character

​God of War Ragnarok is a world filled with scowling gods and head-butting monsters as each works in his or her best interests. The Nine Realms are dark and dangerous, but through all of it there is an unexpected glint of light, and I’m not talking about Brok, the dwarves can’t seem to complete a sentence without accompanying some profanity first. when it comes to the end times. I’m talking about Ratatoskr, the blindfolded squirrel that watches over Yggdrasil, the world tree that holds the realms in place.

Ratatoskr technically appeared in God of War (2018), but he has less personality and more abilities. Atreus can summon a translucent blue squirrel to carry health items and sometimes hack silver. In God of War Ragnarök, Ratatoskr is a non-translucent, physical character with dialogue, requirements, and an introductory cutscene. He is also arguably the most unexpected character in the game.

Ratatoskr introduces himself to Kratos and Atreus as a cute Disney animated companion. He climbs to the top of Kratos, who can also be a tree, shooting through his belongings like Yoda in Return of the Jedi, and rushes to Atreus, where he is standing on his arm to explain who he is. He’s just weird and aesthetically out of place. There are many animals in God of War Ragnarök, good and evil, but Ratatoskr is the only one that dresses and speaks perfect English (or whatever language you’re playing). He has a lot of jokes, but not quite the humor. Ratatoskr is quirky and unexpected, and that’s exactly what Ragnarök director Eric Williams wanted him to be.

“I want this character in the game,” Williams told us in a recent interview. “I wanted him to do these things and everyone was like, ‘We’ve got to cut this. We have too many characters.’ And I was like, ‘No! He stays in the game.’” Ratatoskr is one of the many reasons why Ragnarök is considered the funniest entry in the God of War franchise. Williams wanted the game to have light moments to help offset the otherwise dark tone, and that’s why he put his foot down to make sure Ratatoskr stayed.

“The scene where he appeared? It’s the thing where everyone says, ‘Okay, have we gone too far?’” Williams said. “Even the music director said, ‘I don’t even know what to do with the music here. This is far from God of War. We don’t even have music written to help with this!’ They had to go back and put some things together because it was so foreign to God of War.” Williams wanted to make sure that the person playing Ratatoskr would be able to deliver a comedic performance, and he knew exactly who he wanted very early on.

SungWon Cho is a talented voice actor who has appeared in dozens of games and animated TV shows, but he’s probably best known on the internet for his short sketches that poke fun at elements that are very entertaining. specific to nerd culture. “I wanted SungWon to voice him,” Williams said. “One of our writers, Anthony Burch, said, ‘I know SungWon,’ and I said, ‘Dude – give him a call.’” Cho walked in and learned about the character and Williams asked. whether he wanted to write to Ratatoskr as well, to which Cho agreed.

Speaking to Cho via e-mail about the role, he said he was invited to join before the game was announced and wasn’t even sure what he was capable of applying for. “I walked into the meeting room not knowing what was going to happen, and Eric said, ‘I think you can guess what game we want you in,’” Cho wrote. “I said, ‘I don’t know,’ and he almost nodded toward the projector in the room with the big God of War backdrop, and I just said, ‘……Oh.'”

Unlike most players, he wasn’t too surprised by Ratatoskr’s appearance and plans. “Conceptually, I wasn’t too excited at first, but maybe that’s because I’ve voiced so many talking animals in my career,” Cho wrote.

In terms of writing the characters, Cho worked on Ratatoskr from the start. “I was given full authority to come up with Ratatoskr’s true personality and voice,” Cho wrote. “Before I joined the scripting team, Ratatoskr’s personality was actually more like Bitter’s in the first game, rude and sassy, ​​but I think it would be more fun if Ratatoskr was really a comedian eager to be funny. more heartwarming, not the completely dependable type, who actually dismisses aspects of his personality that he finds offensive. I remember presenting him almost like a car salesman who wants you to like him so he can sell you more cars.”

Cho suggested Ratatoskr’s additional personalities and was given a framework of information to give the player, but from there he had the freedom to develop and write the character as he wanted. “Ratatoskr’s intro is completely unchanged from how I wrote it, and I think it plays an important role in establishing the character’s personality/tone,” Cho wrote. “After I left the writing team and many months later started recording lines, I noticed that some of my dialogue remained, some changed and also new lines, but I was very impressed. because it fits very well. matches the personality that I have established for the character.”

Cho also provides motion capture for Ratatoskr, which functions much differently from the rest of the cast, who play characters of radically different heights, but otherwise all human. People. “It was a fascinating experience. A lot of people think I actually climbed onto the shoulders of Christopher Judge or something, which is silly, but I feel the actual process is even more bewildering,” Cho wrote. “Basically, I was given a row of bars up front and a big platform where I could sit on the back. Then I watched the actors in real time as a puppeteer moved the plush Ratatoskr around Chris’ body, performing live dialogue and having to perform climbing moves while standing. If I sat on a character’s shoulder, I would sit on the platform behind me. If I have to climb something, I can use the bars in front of me to ‘pull’ me up.” Essentially, Cho watched the puppet version of his character and performed the scenes from the puppet’s point of view. “Definitely one of the weirdest but most enjoyable acting experiences I have ever had,” Cho wrote.

“[SungWon is] super deadpan. All the while, I don’t know if he was happy or angry or sad or whatever,” Williams said. “In the end he told us, ‘I’ve always been like this. In my head, I’m doing backflips.’”

Ratatoskr had dialogue and voiceover in the first game, provided by Troy Baker (Joel from The Last of Us and dozens of other games), but for the sequel, they wanted to change the character. In the game’s setting, Ratatoskr separates and breaks his personalities from his body, which explains why he was able to exist in the first game as a ghost entity with a different voice.

“I had this idea that we would make it like Contradictory where he has all the personalities – but we’ll keep Troy [Baker] let him have this where he said, ‘He’s not even a part of me,'” Williams said. “Troy found out and he said, ‘Oh, this is great. I can’t wait to do this again.’ So the two of them became five squirrels.

Initially, Williams and the team toyed with having different voice actors for each squirrel, but ended up relying on Cho to put together the performances. “From what I was told, I was chosen because they thought I could portray many different personalities, and because they wanted someone with a humorous background not only for acting but also for writing lines, “Let’s write.

As is expected with any creative endeavor, not everything that was planned for Ratatoskr made it into the final game. “They asked me to write a ‘rap fight’ in the style of Nordic hovering, essentially a contest of throwing insults at each other,” Cho wrote, referring to Ratatoskr’s content. did not qualify for the final round. “It was a Ratatoskr vs Brok match, and I’m pretty happy with the outcome, but there’s a lot that needs to be cut down over time (or maybe silly).”

The final verdict is not yet on Ratatoskr. Time will tell whether he’s a much-loved addition to God of War’s large cast, but initial feedback has been welcomed and positive. It helps the player know that if you ring the bell enough, the typical stern squirrel will attack and is the only character showing more anger than the old Kratos. “If you were to bring along a giant talking squirrel and let him talk to Kratos, I think he would find it funny no matter what you do,” Cho wrote. “Even though I wanted him to be a very fun, almost bigger character than in real life, I still wanted to make sure that his personality and motivations really took them seriously. When I write about him, I want him to feel authentic and not just some silly little character.


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