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God of War lets you turn off the interface for a more ‘immersive’ experience

Customize it to your heart’s content

God of War - Kratos and Atreus prepare to fight an enemy in the woods SIE Santa Monica Studio/Sony Interactive Entertainment
Samit Sarkar (he/him) is Polygon’s deputy managing editor. He has more than 15 years of experience covering video games, movies, television, and technology.

If you want to play the new God of War with a clean, unobstructed view of Kratos and his son Atreus fighting foes both human and supernatural, you’re in luck.

More and more games these days are offering interface customization options, allowing players to control just how much information fills up the screen. God of War is no different. The upcoming action game lets players disable its heads-up display (HUD) entirely, but it’s not an all-or-nothing proposition: The settings also allow for toggling specific elements of the UI.

Immersion Mode is the cleanest end of the spectrum, with the interface limited to “just the minimal absolute necessary HUD elements,” said Jeet Shroff, gameplay and AI engineering lead at Sony Santa Monica, in a post on the game’s website. If players have chosen the immersive UI, they won’t see interface elements such as health bars and off-screen warning indicators for enemies, or the compass. However, God of War’s settings will let players enable or disable each of those items, in case they find some more necessary than others.

God of War - Kratos in combat
Here’s God of War with its default interface: the full HUD enabled. That golden arrow at the bottom indicates an off-screen threat, as opposed to the enemy — with visible health bar — in front of Kratos. The arrow will be bright red if the threat is imminent, and bright purple if the threat is a projectile.
SIE Santa Monica Studio/Sony Interactive Entertainment

Without the full HUD, players will need to be more attuned to built-in visual and audio cues. They’ll have to listen for Atreus to call out enemy locations, use their spatial awareness to keep track of threats from all directions themselves, and have an intuitive knowledge of how much damage they’ve dealt to a particular enemy.

There’s also a third option: having HUD elements pop up only when players brush against the PlayStation 4 controller’s touchpad, and then disappear shortly afterward. This is modeled after the default UI setup in last year’s biggest PlayStation 4 exclusive, Guerrilla Games’ Horizon Zero Dawn, and it’s a great compromise for players who don’t need to see everything at all times.

Sony Santa Monica also detailed the four difficulty options available at the start of God of War. “Give Me A Story” is the easy mode, where players will have “a far greater margin for error in enemy encounters,” according to Shroff. The recommended level is the self-explanatory “Give Me A Balanced Experience,” which could perhaps be called the normal difficulty. Next up is the hard mode, “Give Me A Challenge,” which is “recommended for players who find action games extremely intuitive, and for confident long-time God of War series veterans who’ve beat past games on harder difficulties,” said Shroff.

The toughest challenge is “Give Me God of War,” which comes with a special condition: It’s impossible to lower the difficulty in this mode, so if players get stuck at a particular boss fight or something, they’ll have no option but to start the game over.

“We haven’t just made you weaker or enemies stronger; we’ve looked at enemy behaviors and placements in encounters as well, tweaking everything to make it as threatening as possible,” said Shroff of this difficulty level.

As for whether God of War offers a New Game Plus mode, creative director Cory Barlog said last month on Twitter that the game features “something a little different” that allows players to keep going after they’ve completed the story.

Everyone will be able to see for themselves how it all unfolds next week, when God of War launches April 20 on PS4. For more, check out our pre-review, which is based on three hours spent with the game.