God of War Ragnarök's director Eric Williams shared that he had to fight to keep the unexpected and extraordinary character in the game.
God of War's Norse saga is filled with a number of various Norse mythology characters – from monsters to gods. Given that the series' world is usually dark and dangerous, we've mostly gotten used to seeing some severe and tough guys as Kratos' allies or opponents. However, God of War Ragnarök brought us a quite unexpected character – Ratatoskr, a squirrel who guards the World Tree of Yggdrasil.
Ratatoskr technically appeared in 2018's God of War where he was a foul-mouthed runic animal known as the Bitter Squirrel whom Atreus could summon to give Kratos stones.
In Ragnarök, we, for the first time, see him as a "real" being. Here, he is a humble and polite character who has plenty of jokes. Ratatoskr has the power to remove aspects of his personality that he finds bothersome so we found out that the runic animal we've known from the first part of the game is simply one of his spectral counterparts.
Although it's quite odd that a character like Ratatoskr appeared in the harsh world of God of War, he brings a certain charm to the game. However, it turns out that Ratatoskr couldn't have appeared in Ragnarök at all and the game's director, Eric Willson, had to fight to keep him in the game.
Speaking to Game Informer, Willson shared that he really wanted that Ratatoskr would stay as he planned this character to bring moments of levity to the game and help offset its dark tone.
"I wanted this character in the game," Williams told the outlet. "I wanted him to do these things and everyone was like, 'We have to cut this. We have too many characters.' And I was like, 'No! He’s staying in the game.'"
Williams added that the character was so "so foreign to what God of War is" that even the music director had no idea what to do with the music for scenes where Ratatoskr appears.
The game director also shared that, in his vision, Ratatoskr had to be able to deliver a comedic performance, so it was decided to invite SungWon Cho, an actor who gave his voice to a number of games and animated TV shows characters who is also known for the short skits he publishes on his YouTube channel. In addition, Cho was asked to take part in writing the character.
Unlike the team and many players, Cho wasn't surprised by the plan for Ratatoskr, the voice actor shared. "Conceptually, I wasn't too thrown off in the beginning, but maybe that's because I've voiced a lot of talking animals in my career," Cho wrote in an email to Game Informer.
Cho added that before he joined the writing team, Ratatoskr was quite different from what we see now in the game and was more like a sarcastic and rude animal from 2018's God of War. However, Cho thought that it would be more interesting to create a different version of him.
"I thought it'd be more fun to have the real Ratatoskr be more of an eager-to-please, not entirely trustworthy type who literally ejects aspects of his personality he finds bothersome," Cho said. "I remember pitching him as almost like a car salesman who wants you to like him so he can sell you more cars."
Cho noted that although some lines he wrote for Ratatoskr were eventually changed, the concept he created for the character remained the same, and everything the writing team added "fit very well into the personality" he established for the character.
You can learn more about work on Ratatoskr for God of War Ragnarök by reading the original story here.