Throughout most of 2018’s God of War, particularly the first part of the game, Kratos’ son Atreus is portrayed as weak and ill with a mysterious sickness. However, once the young boy realizes he has powers like his father, Atreus is suddenly able to take care of himself, and from that point, his sickness is never mentioned again. It can be a confusing part of the narrative, especially for those who are playing the game for the first time. So why is Atreus sick in God of War and how will it affect the next game in the series?
[Warning: Spoilers for God of War are below.]
In God of War on PS4, Kratos and Atreus must take the ashes of Kratos’ deceased wife (and Atreus’ mother), Faye, to the highest point in all the realms, which happens to be a mountain in Jotunheim. The father and son duo travel throughout multiple realms over the course of their journey to the land of the giants. Along the way, they are forced to ward off many foes that they encounter before they’re finally successful.
God of War’s ending isn’t only significant because they’re finally able to get closure and say goodbye to Faye. It’s also important because it reveals important details about Atreus’ identity, and in doing so, also explains how he would become so sick. The real reason why God of War’s Atreus is so sick also has some implications for God of War Ragnarök, since it’s rooted in Atreus’ real identity and Norse mythology.
At first glance, it may appear as though God of War didn’t properly address what was making Atreus sick – but there is an explanation. For the majority of the game, Kratos is haunted by his past. He’s afraid to tell his son what he did to his own family before coming to the Norse universe, and as such, this also prevents him from telling Atreus that he’s really Loki – and a half-god. By the end of God of War, however, Kratos can see how much holding back the truth is harming his son.
Not only was it making Atreus defiant, and pushing the father and son away from each other, but it was physically taking a toll on the boy. Since Atreus couldn’t understand his powers, he wasn’t able to control them. He also believed he was a mortal and had come to despise the gods, not realizing he was one of them. The inner turmoil and lack of ability to control his powers made them overwhelming, particularly when he started feeling enraged, causing Atreus to be sick in God of War.
Kratos, on the other hand, was trained like a Spartan in childhood. This means he would’ve had the proper training on how to control his powers, particularly his Spartan rage, and thus wouldn’t become as sick as his son did. Players will notice that once Kratos tells Atreus where he comes from, Atreus no longer feels sick, but is rather able to tap into his godly powers when the moment calls for it, potentially leading to some exciting gameplay and combat for God of War Ragnarök.
When Kratos and Atreus finally get to Jotunheim, with Atreus now fully aware of who his father is, it’s revealed that he’s not half-god, half-mortal like was believed. Rather, it becomes clear to the father and son that Faye was actually a giant, making God of War’s Atreus half-god, half-giant. It’s also revealed in God of War’s ending that the giants call Atreus by the name Loki, which Kratos said his mother originally wanted to call him, thereby solidifying Atreus’ place in Norse mythology and paving the way for the events in God of War Ragnarök. So, while Atreus’ sickness may be perplexing for the majority of God of War, it does provide an explanation that ties into the boy’s secret identity and explains why Atreus was so sick at the beginning of the game.
Next: God of War: Ancient Religions Kratos Could Face After Ragnarok