I’ve been a fan of the franchise for about a decade now. Despite what many people have said, this newest game is not the first time they have told a deep and meaningful story. All the past games are a tragedy about a man’s anger, hate, and selfishness, and how that brings the downfall of him, his loved ones, and the whole world. Really, it’s the anger and fear of everyone, which is a consistent theme in the original games. The new game doesn’t work nearly as well unless you know about the past adventures of Kratos, as they provide subtext for who he is, what he has done, and what he is capable of.
One of the things I wanted clarification on in 4 is, exactly what happened after 3? For all we know, the world could have restarted, this time with a Norse Pantheon, and it has been thousands of years, since Kratos is immortal. Past events have really only been touched on, and I think they need to be fleshed out in 5. It could explain who Tyr is, the giants, if there are multiple worlds (Greek, Norse, Egypt, Japanese). Most importantly, it would explain what Kratos’ sacrifice at the end of 3 really meant.
At the end of 4 we saw something that looked like foreshadowing of Kratos death. Anyone who has played the past games knows that you can’t really keep Kratos dead. He has canonically in pretty much most of his games, and he always escaped from the Underworld. That’s how bad ass he is. It seems like they might want to keep him dead, and the only way for that to work, is if he chooses to do so voluntarily.
Kratos is still carrying the sins of his past. One of the things that stood out to me, was the whole thing about him killing his father. Really, killing Zeus is at the bottom of the list of “Worst Things Kratos Has Ever Done”. Most obviously, his skin, which represents him murdering his family, ranks way up there. It is still a thing, but it is never alluded to as far as I know in 4. I think they were waiting to exfoliate further in the future.
I think Kratos should choose to stay dead, either after a sacrifice to save Atreus or someone else. It is well in his power to stay alive, but after his journey of really becoming a new man, he wants to truly atone for his sins. The world that he ended up destroying. He chooses to stay dead as a way to pay back everyone he has killed. And in the end, he meets his family, the one that he killed, and the ash from his skin peels away. I think that would be a beautiful way to end his story. It would represent him truly being free of his guilt, which has been his goal from literally the first screen of the original GoW 1. Of course, there is his other wife Faye, who I am not really attached to, since we never saw her and is newer, but I think she could be involved as well. Atreus learns from the example that Kratos’ has taught him, and picks up the mantle.
TL;DR: Kratos chooses to stay dead to atone for his sins. He meets his family and his ash-colored skin turns back to it's original color.
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