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How God of War perfected the dodge roll | Game Mechanics Explained



If you played God of War (Polygon’s 2018
Game of the Year), you might have noticed that Kratos, a once prolific double jumper,
can’t even single jump. I guess fatherhood really does change you. But, you probably didn’t even miss that
jump, because you were enjoying the company of a different button. The dodge button. Dodging in God of War feels fantastic. It looks cool, it feels cool, but most importantly,
it’s indispensable to the game’s combat design. Attacking is always fun. Defending isn’t. Turtling up behind a shield is an important
and sometimes necessary part of combat, but dodging makes defense active. When you dash past an attack rather than shield,
you can quickly reposition and get back to doing damage faster— but it’s not as safe. Wagering that bit of safety for a big payoff
is exactly what makes dodging feel good, and action game developers have recognized this
for decades. Mega Man is a good action game, but it was
elevated by the slide mechanic added in Mega Man III. It lowered Mega Man’s profile, and let him
zip along the ground. The risk, of course, is that you’d slide
right into danger. In 1993, Mega Man X added a dedicated dash
button. That same year, Richter Belmont learned to
do sick backflips in Castlevania— a series where the normal means of escaping danger
was a brisk power walk. In 1996, Tomb Raider featured some of the
earliest 3D dodge rolls, clunky as they were. A couple years later, The Legend of Zelda:
Ocarina of Time refined those 3D dodges, letting players roll in to close distance, backflip
away from danger, and hop sideways to get a better angle of attack. And three years after that, Max Payne slowed
down time, allowing players to keep shooting while they dodged around, John Woo style. All of these dodges have one thing in common:
they let players take risks to look, and feel cool — but the specific dodge mechanic that
inspired God of War didn’t emerge until the the mid-aughts. Monster Hunter is one of the first games that
set the standard we know today. Its dodge roll was integral to positioning,
closing distance, and avoiding attacks. Most importantly, Monster Hunter’s dodges
used invulnerability frames, or iframes. At the beginning of a dodge animation, there’s
a fraction of a second where your character is invincible, and can pass right through
an enemy attack. But only for a few frames! If the iframes run out, and you’re still
in harm’s way, you’ll take damage. This is where the risk/reward of the dodge
really comes into play. It can move you out of danger, or if you’re
good enough, you can stay close to danger, and keep hitting it with a sword. Demon’s Souls didn’t come out till 2009,
but From Software burned the dodge button into our muscle memory with the Souls franchise. In the Souls games, you use chunky dodge rolls
to get out of the way of attacks that could kill you real quick. Their spiritual successor Bloodborne tweaked
the formula a bit, allowing you to Dash or Roll depending on if you were locked on to
an enemy. These games were popular, and their style
rubbed off on some long-running western franchises. First with Assassin’s Creed, and eventually
God of War. But God of War didn’t just imitate — it
adapted and innovated. For example The game’s attack animations
can be canceled into dodges. Say you’re winding up for a hit, and you
realize it’s going to get you in trouble. In a Souls game, you’d be boned. But in God of War, you have time to cancel
that attack into a safe sidestep. God of War also has an really good system
for differentiating between dashes and dodge rolls. A single tap of the button will give you a
quick dash. You’ll cover less distance, but you can
resume your attack pretty much instantly. If you double tap, you’ll do a roll, which
means you’ll clear more ground, but you won’t be able to get up right away. The really cool thing is that you can trigger
the roll at any point in the dash, which gives you another split second opportunity for tactical
decisions. You can push towards an enemy, decide it’s
a bad idea, and roll back in the opposite direction. But biggest, most important change is that
God of War gives you way more iframes. This encourages more aggressive combat. Which makes sense for Kratos – a big mean
bastard who does not retreat. The mechanics of the dodge match who Kratos
is- more than any double jump ever could. I don’t want to say that this is the perfect
dodge, but it’s perfect for God of War.

Otis Rodgers

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44 COMMENTS

  1. justSTUMBLEDupon Posted on July 13, 2019 at 5:36 pm

    Bayonetta anyone?

    Reply
  2. ArtsyPerson Posted on July 13, 2019 at 5:36 pm

    I was watching Enter The Gungeon videos and ended up here. WTF

    Reply
  3. Muhammad Aliyu Posted on July 13, 2019 at 5:36 pm

    This guy is saying trash Kratos can side role in the previous games at the same time he can also jump twice and glide with wings. This guy knows nothing about gameplay experience and mechanics but I don't really blame u cuss there wasn't any giant boss fight like Kronos in the new game that's why u are talking trash cuss if there was u will have realize u are not clever expecialy when attacks that require u to jump are done and u have no jump dedicated button and then u foolishly side roll into it.

    Reply
  4. Dunte' Carson Posted on July 13, 2019 at 5:36 pm

    Could you guys do a video about parkour or city traversal in games. Maybe charting how different genres developed techniques to achieve different experiences. Like feeling powerful or dynamic in superhero games like Prototype and (some games for) Spider-Man, or feeling skilled when completing maneuvers in games like any Tony Hawk-esque skater or especially Jet Set Radio. I think it's a specific element of games that is loved when it's done right but still has lots of potential growth that proper discussion could forge a path for. Thank you very much. This has been my TED talk.

    Reply
  5. Brian Posted on July 13, 2019 at 5:36 pm

    3:22 Uhhh, this isn't really unique. God Hand, Bayonetta and basically every action game developed by Platinum allow you to cancel attacks into dodges. God Hand, which also has an over-the-shoulder perspective, also gives the player different dodges that all suit different situations (backflipping, sidestepping and ducking).

    Reply
  6. Der Headbanger Posted on July 13, 2019 at 5:36 pm

    Kratos could roll and dodge before 2018! The right Analog Stick was dedicated to this action!

    Reply
  7. Sebastián Orsi Posted on July 13, 2019 at 5:36 pm

    Pat: "GOW perfected the dodge roll."

    Dodge Roll (the company): Am I a joke to you?

    Reply
  8. uonexd Posted on July 13, 2019 at 5:36 pm

    no it didnt lmao, bloodborne, enter the gungeon would like a word.

    Reply
  9. RANDOM CRAZI GIRL Posted on July 13, 2019 at 5:36 pm

    PICCOLO HAS JOINED THE CHAT…..

    if you actually watched TFS dbz abridged , you would actually understand
    anyway….have a good day ,person reading this comment, you look beautiful today

    Reply
  10. Carlos Gallon Posted on July 13, 2019 at 5:36 pm

    In Ys 8 Lacrimosa of Dana. You get a dodge roll and block that both have invincibility for a moment and give you crit speed and attack boosts depending on which you use, encouraging you to use them and a choice about which you prefer

    Reply
  11. Dev Posted on July 13, 2019 at 5:36 pm

    God Of War 4 dicksuckers need to stop playing games.

    Reply
  12. Rouge-ish Posted on July 13, 2019 at 5:36 pm

    also it was more about blocking in older games, kratos' timed blocks would change the flow of combat

    Reply
  13. Rouge-ish Posted on July 13, 2019 at 5:36 pm

    Kratos could dodge in his older iterations too

    Reply
  14. ashmasterc Posted on July 13, 2019 at 5:36 pm

    Can you look at death mechanics in games? That or loot and rewards and why some games it works or it doesn't.

    Reply
  15. Happy's A Gamer Posted on July 13, 2019 at 5:36 pm

    God of War never innovated that mechanic. that mechanic was in games WAY before it, which is known as "feinting" where you could instantly cancel out of an attack animation allowing you to perform another action straight away. like 'For Honor' which came out 1 year before GoW did

    and considering other peoples comments…… this subject was poorly researched, in such is feeding a lot misinformed information to the viewers

    Reply
  16. Lex Ackson Posted on July 13, 2019 at 5:36 pm

    godhand ps2

    Reply
  17. Adrian Clayton Posted on July 13, 2019 at 5:36 pm

    I'd love to see something looking into the tactical feeling and gameplay of MGSV

    Reply
  18. adarsh sirsat Posted on July 13, 2019 at 5:36 pm

    An idiot wrote this script and a even bigger idiot read it.

    Reply
  19. Kris Li Posted on July 13, 2019 at 5:36 pm

    Hate to see Assassin creed has gone off the track but the dodge animation is kinda good tho

    Reply
  20. Joshua Shaw Posted on July 13, 2019 at 5:36 pm

    Are we all just gonna sleep on the Perfect Dodge in Spider-Man? Honestly feels amazing.

    Reply
  21. Orangish Purple Posted on July 13, 2019 at 5:36 pm

    Dark Souls or Demon Souls? What am I missing?

    Reply
  22. Gurdulu Posted on July 13, 2019 at 5:36 pm

    relax, bud, wasn't gonna yell at ya :p

    Reply
  23. Azam Jamal Posted on July 13, 2019 at 5:36 pm

    eventhough these kinds of videos would not get more views. It is really fun. I wish you guys will keep making it. it makes you guys unique. insanely refreshing i might add!

    Reply
  24. Deyvid Vito Paes ne es Posted on July 13, 2019 at 5:36 pm

    God hand , i rest my case.

    Reply
  25. Pierson Ramirez Posted on July 13, 2019 at 5:36 pm

    Okay well for honor already had this kind of dodging and a couple other games 😂

    Reply
  26. cami cami Posted on July 13, 2019 at 5:36 pm

    Lol nope its far from perfect its a standard roll

    Reply
  27. Jwala Seethal Chandra Posted on July 13, 2019 at 5:36 pm

    Please expand on Prince Of Persia's rewind time mechanic, if you would BOYY 🙂

    Reply
  28. SCMabridged Posted on July 13, 2019 at 5:36 pm

    "God of War perfected the dodge roll because it's our favorite game of 2018; it didn't invent dodging or rolling but it also invented dodging and rolling! Now here's an arbitrary list of random games that also have rolling and/or dodging in them. Now, God of War perfected the dodge roll because it uses the dodge roll to give the player defensive options without slowing down the pace of the combat: no other action game ever thought of this! God of War is also the first game to ever incorporate i-frames and animation-canceling. So there you have it folks, I've conclusively proved God of War both invented and perfected dodging, rolling, i-frames, and animation-canceling, all in the year 2018: what a game!!"

    What a waste of four minutes….

    Reply
  29. TheLobsterDeity Posted on July 13, 2019 at 5:36 pm

    Oh yeah yeah

    Reply
  30. TheLobsterDeity Posted on July 13, 2019 at 5:36 pm

    brothers…. I N E E D R E I N F O R C E M E N T S

    Reply
  31. SmokeyBeefRoarus Posted on July 13, 2019 at 5:36 pm

    You've obviously never played Dark Souls

    Reply
  32. francescop1 Posted on July 13, 2019 at 5:36 pm

    BUT IS IT TOXICALY MASCULINE TO DODGE ROLL

    Reply
  33. Marcel Rodriguez Posted on July 13, 2019 at 5:36 pm

    I liked the old GoW gameplay more tbh.

    Reply
  34. Geralt of Rivia Posted on July 13, 2019 at 5:36 pm

    Well i say the witcher 3 revolutionized the dodge roll and god of war built on that
    However the witcher 3 still has better dodging and rolls

    Reply
  35. Jose Leozar Velasco Posted on July 13, 2019 at 5:36 pm

    “You dash into an enemy and decide its a bad idea”

    Reply
  36. TheConsole Killer Posted on July 13, 2019 at 5:36 pm

    This was a great break down of dodge mechanics. Looking back I think Ninja Gaiden and Ninja Gaiden Black were my first real solid intro to dodge rolling with I – frames (Original Xbox). Thats a huge part of why that became one of my favorite games of all time, not just hack n slash.

    God Hand was also around that time and an amazing game too. Unique to God Hand was 4 different types of dodge. You had the left analog for all movement (no individual camera control) and the right analog for 4 types of dodge. Flick it up for a dodge where you stand in place and bob and weave (this move is mostly invincible until you end it), left or right to quickly sidestep left or right, and down for a dodge roll with I- frames. Though I never used the side steps and rarely used the bob and weave , it allowed for more play styles. I recently beat the game on hard thinking I would need to use that bob and weave move but I beat it with mostly dodge rolling. So the game really allowed flexible play. As you said, this mechanic allows aggressive and evasive manuevers to be done around the same time so you arent just holding block or retreating.

    Bayonetta has an interesting take on the dodge mechanic. Slowing time when you get it just right. That was also very satisfying. The second one was one of the best games Ive played.

    The God Of War series I always though excelled in presentation but I felt the combat was lacking. I always liked the combat better than DMC series which I felt the enemies were mostly mindless fodder for freestyle ,stylish combo oriented play, but it was never near that level of NG or God Hand (not really a hack n slash but still) gameplay wise for me. I went through the second one on titan and first on hardest, and I never felt the rolling was real precise. The fixed camera wasnt great either. With the latest GOW they really nailed exciting pacing in the combat scenarios (except for the large troll fights and some enemy repetition) and the combat itself was so much more fluid and enjoyable as a result. Much more satisfying. The behind the back camera is alot more brutal and immersive too. I didnt have an issue with crowd control as there was arrows that indicated attack direction and plenty of moves to manage crowds. Hardest mode could be real tough at times but nothing like titan in GOW 2. Some of this was for the wrong reasons though. GOW 2 had worse control and tons of insane endurance sequences (15 minute theseus fight, etc, one hit death) When I got fucked up I felt like it was due to my reaction and not some sloppy movement from worse gameplay. I didnt miss not being able to jump in this game. The dodge roll was like a horizontal jump and all you really need.

    Using this game as a new foundation, the series has the potential to be incredible and at the top of the hack n slash genre and just a top game in general. This entry is already one of my favorite games.

    Reply
  37. jannic Westrich Posted on July 13, 2019 at 5:36 pm

    nioh also had a really cool losging system

    Reply
  38. Glbrt III Posted on July 13, 2019 at 5:36 pm

    sub for this 😊 unique content Sir. thanks

    Reply
  39. Hara-kiri Posted on July 13, 2019 at 5:36 pm

    I'm so fat I can easily dodge roll but

    Reply
  40. GHDude Posted on July 13, 2019 at 5:36 pm

    … B-But he can single jump…?

    Well. Polygon.

    Reply
  41. bleach4711 Posted on July 13, 2019 at 5:36 pm

    This video is literally just pandering to GOW fanboys. All the comments are literally disputing everything mentioned in this video. Seems like Polygon is becoming the new IGN.

    Reply
  42. Chris Scott Posted on July 13, 2019 at 5:36 pm

    Had no idea gow had i frames…
    I've LITERALLY never not taken damage during a dodge roll (in fact, this pissed me off endlessly, I would curse the game for not giving me those i frames like soulsbourne (of which I'm pretty decent at!)).
    I even platinumed gow, and somehow never experienced invulnerability while dodge rolling.

    Maybe I'm just bad at it in gow for some reason lol

    Reply
  43. Lil Ounce Posted on July 13, 2019 at 5:36 pm

    God of war 3 is better than 2018 God of war change my mind

    Reply
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