The making of God of War’s Ragnarok character with the ‘most irreverent face’

Spoiler alert: This article contains major spoilers for God of War Ragnarok

If you’ve reached the point where you meet Heimdall in God of War Ragnarok, you’ll know that he’s somewhat insufferable. God of War Ragnarok director Eric Williams thinks so too, calling the Norse god of foresight a “d*ck.”

Speaking to IGN’s Podcast Beyond for a special God of War Ragnarok spoilercast interview, Williams explained the decision to make Heimdall so annoying. According to Williams, he started out with his power of him, which is being able to anticipate an opponent’s every move.

“So let’s try to look at all these gods where they have these abilities, but they’re not always good. See what I mean? And I don’t mean that in the sense of their nature. Ability isn’t always a good thing,” Williams explains.

He points to Baldur, better known as The Stranger in the original 2018 release, noting that the two are similar. In God of War, Baldur is invulnerable to all threats thanks to a spell from his mother Freya, but it also means he can’t hear anything.

“Imagine what it would do to you as a person if you can’t feel anything. It’s going to drive you crazy at some point. You’re going to be kind of messed up,” Williams explains. “So we were like, ‘Well, if you could always see what people’s intentions are, what would that do to you?’ And it’s just like, you can’t be with people,” it’s like, ‘Everyone is disgusting. They always want something or there’s a reason behind it.’ So it’s just a little off.”

Nobody liked Heimdall, but that was a good thing

In God of War Ragnarok, Heimdall is one of Kratos’ main adversaries. The actual Heimdall of Norse mythology isn’t nearly as terrible as his counterpart: Williams calls the game’s characterization a “creative decision”, though he also notes that true religion has been “pushed through the ringtone so many different times”.

“We put God of War paint on it. The only thing that got to me was that once I read that somewhere, it had gold teeth. And I was like, ‘Oh, that makes it even more obnoxious’, so we’ll get him gold teeth,” Williams says. “And yeah, we just wanted him to be the… What shall we say? We wanted him to have the most hitable face.”

Heimdall is played by Scott Porter, who according to Williams “absolutely crushed that character”. According to Williams, Porter wondered why Heimdall hadn’t been promoted before the release of God of War, but the development team held him back because they wanted the character to be a surprise.

“We had seen playtest feedback, and everything you guys say resonated in about 20 playtests. And I would send [Porter] the little jokes, and he’d say, “But does he like it?” And I was like, ‘No, but that’s a good thing,'” Williams says.

The current fight with Heimdall, hailed as one of the best in the game, proved to be quite challenging for Sony Santa Monica.

If you could always see what people’s intentions are, what would that do to you?

“That fight is a tough fight. How do you make a fight where you can’t hit a guy. These are the kind of challenges we like to take on,” says Williams. “And Adam Oliver, the lead fight designer on this one, was new to the studio, he had never built a boss fight before, so it was a big challenge for him, and he struggled for a while but stuck after that. And I think it’s one of those… you won’t forget that fight.”

Cue the moment Kratos finally strikes Heimdall, noting that he cuts through it with Draupnir, the ring that serves as the source for the spear that allows Kratos to finally overcome Heimdall’s foresight. “It’s just those little touches to us that are special.”

‘A cock deep inside’

Ultimately, while Williams is sympathetic to Heimdall’s struggles, he also feels that he’s a “jerk to the core.”

“[I]It’s that part stacked on top of that, which is why when he first looks at the kid and starts saying crazy things like, “I see cities burning because of you,” it’s like he’s not making it up. She really sees it in him,” Williams says. “And so we were like, ‘Okay, if you take that, then there’s almost a reasoning behind it.’ He doesn’t excuse it, but you could almost say, “Well, if I could, yeah, I wouldn’t even want to be around people, because people suck sometimes.” Not always, but they do. And so we wanted to give them this kind of duality to their abilities that kind of make their personalities the way they are.”

We discussed a lot more of God of War Ragnarok’s story during our extensive interview with Williams, including Tyr’s big twist; the full story behind Ragnarok’s new weapon and the three things he needed according to Cory Barlog.

You can also read our review, where we described Sony Santa Monica’s recently released sequel as an “almighty achievement.”

Kat Bailey is Senior News Editor at IGN and co-host of Nintendo Voice Chat. Do you have an advice? Send her a direct message to @the_katbot.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: