Games and UX: God of War's Leviathan Axe and Fitts' Law
In my last post of Games and UX post, I wrote about how Santa Monica Studio (SMS) manages to help the player navigate the world of God of War through different methods of wayfinding. In this post, I’ll be speaking about Kratos newest and most brutal weapon to date, the Leviathan Axe and Fitt’s Law. A little about the Leviathan Axe for some context.
The Leviathan Axe was created and forged by Dwarf brothers, Sindri and Brok. It was made for Faye, Kratos’s wife. Before she passed, Faye gave the Axe to Kratos. Throughout the game, the Axe can be upgraded and runes can be applied to strengthen its abilities. It’s great for close combat especially in large hordes of enemies. One of its most useful features though is the ability to be thrown and recalled, like Thor when he throws Mjolnir in the Marvel movies.
This allows the player to throw the Leviathan Axe to a distant enemy and switch to either hand to hand combat or other weapons to use on close range enemy and recall the Axe at any time. So what’s Fitts’ Law and how does this relate to the Leviathan Axe?
Fitts’ Law states that the time required to touch a target is a function of the target size and the distance to the target. Pretty much it means that closer, larger targets can be accessed more quickly and with less errors than smaller, distant targets. Ok…so what does that mean in the context of God of War?
Essentially, when you’re dealing with multiple enemies in GoW the Leviathan Axe is great in shredding them down if they are in close range but if you have enemies at different ranges, it can be difficult to aim and hit a moving enemy while trying to evade/fight a closer one. This can be quite a challenge.
How Santa Monica Studio Helps You From Getting Completely Stomped Out
The challenge and action can be exciting but in gaming: Every. Second. Counts.
Those hits from trolls or draugrs can mean virtual life or death. Enemies who fly around or can spit/shoot projectiles from a distance are major pains. SMS gives you the ability to essentially aim and shoot the Leviathan Axe to your enemies but they also added another thing that can help you combat Fitts Law: A Weapons Skill Tree.
This allows you to improve and upgrade attacks the Leviathan Axe could do from both close or long range using Experience Points (XP). You could also add Runics to the axe to amplify it its effectiveness. Attacks like:
- The Precision Throw Combo that once a headshot or weak spot hit is landed, pressing triangle while the flash will cause the axe to come back and turn the next attack an explosive one.
- The Returning Whirlwind to call back the axe and land an insanely powerful spinning attack. Axe will hit enemies on its way back if they come in its way.
- The Returning Storm will call back the axe and let it unleash a powerful slam attack. This attack knocks back enemies as well giving you some space.
These kinds of upgrades ensures that the player can be more effective and efficient with their attacks while fighting several enemies and minimizing the chances of being stomped out. The Skill Tree also allows upgrades to be made to the Guardian Shield, Atreus’s Talon Bow and other weapons you acquire. This skill tree is in addition to the weapons upgrades you can get from Sindri and Brok, whom improve its strength and magical capacities. You can learn more about the Leviathan Axe from Santa Monica Studio in the video below.
If there’s anything I missed or got wrong, please feel free to add it in the comments below. If you want to learn more about Fitts Law and other design principles, check out The Pocket Universal Principles of Design, where you can find 150 interesting principles for all kinds of design. If you haven’t already, play God of War for the Playstation 4, it’s an amazing game that was was obviously made with a lot of thought, love, blood, sweat and tears.