Spoiler Warning: 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 kind of insufferable. Even God of War Ragnarok director Eric Williams thinks so, calling the Norse God of Foresight a “d*ck.”
Speaking with IGN’s Podcast Beyond for a special spoilercast interview of God of War Ragnarok, Williams explained the decision to make Heimdall so annoying. According to Williams, it started with his power, which is to be able to anticipate an opponent’s every move.
“So we try to look at all these gods where they have these abilities, but they’re not always good. You know what I mean? And I don’t mean that in a sense of their nature. The ability’s not always a good thing,” Williams explains.
He points to Baldur, better-known as The Stranger in the original 2018 release, noting that the pair are similar. In God of War, Baldur is invulnerable to all threats thanks to a spell from his mother Freya, but it also means that he can’t feel anything.
“Imagine what that would do to you as a person if you can’t feel anything at all. It’s going to drive you crazy at some point. You’re going to be a little 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 he’s just like, you can’t be around people,” He’s like, “Everybody’s gross. They always want something or there’s a reason behind it.’ So he’s just kind of shut off.”
The Norse Mythology in God of War: Ragnarok
Nobody liked Heimdall, but that was a good thing
In God of War Ragnarok, Heimdall is one of Kratos’ major opponents. The actual Heimdall from Norse mythology isn’t quite as awful as his counterpart — Williams calls the game’s characterization a “creative decision,” though he also notes that the actual religion has been “pushed through the ringer so many different times.”
“We put the God of War paint on it. The one thing that I did take is, I read this one time somewhere, is he had gold teeth. And I was like, ‘Oh, that’s even make him more obnoxious,’ so we’ll get him gold teeth,” Williams says. “And yeah, we just wanted him to be the… What do we say? We wanted him to have the most punchable face.”
Heimdall is played by Scott Porter, who Williams says “absolutely crushed that character.” According to Williams, Porter wondered why Heimdall wasn’t being promoted in the run-up to God of War’s release, but the development team held him back because they wanted the character to be a surprise.
“We had seen the playtest feedback, and everything you guys are saying echoed across like 20 playtests. And I’d send [Porter] the little quips, and he’d be like, ‘But do they like him?’ And I was like, ‘No, but that’s a good thing,'” Williams says.
The actual fight with Heimdall — hailed as among the best in the game — proved quite challenging for Sony Santa Monica.
“That fight is a hard fight. How do you make a fight where you can’t hit a guy. These are those kind of challenges we like to take on,” Williams says. “And Adam Oliver, the main combat designer on that, he was new to the studio, never built a boss fight before, so it was a big challenge for him, and he struggled for a bit but he stayed after it. And I think it’s one of those… you won’t forget that fight.”
He points to the moment when Kratos finally hits Heimdall, noting that he clips him with Draupnir — the ring that serves as the source for the spear that enables Kratos to finally get past Heimdall’s foresight. “It’s just those little touches for us that are special.”
‘A d*ck at his core’
Ultimately, while Williams is sympathetic to Heimdall’s struggles, he also feels that he’s a “d*ck at his core.”
“[I]t’s that part piled on top of it that, and that’s why when he is looking at the kid for the first time and he starts saying wild stuff like, ‘I see cities burn because of you,’ it’s like he’s not making that up. He really sees this in him,” Williams says. “And so we were like, ‘Okay, if you take that, then there’s almost a reasoning behind it.’ It doesn’t excuse it, but you could almost go, ‘Well, if I could, yeah, I wouldn’t want to be around people either, because people are going to kind of suck sometimes.’ Not always, but they do. And so we wanted to give them these kind of dualities to their abilities that also kind of make their personalities the way they are.”
We discussed plenty more of God of War Ragnarok’s story during our wide-ranging interview with Williams, including the big Tyr twist; the full story behind Ragnarok’s newest weapon, and the three things that it 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 a Senior News Editor at IGN as well as co-host of Nintendo Voice Chat. Have a tip? Send here a DM to @the_katbot.