God of War: Ascension’s Elephantaur is a Minotaur hybrid unlike any ferocious enemy you’ve seen yet in the God of War universe. You could call him an evolution of the Minotaur… or perhaps the beginning? We’ll let our famed concept artist Izzy answer that for you. Let’s roll!
Now that you’ve given us a glimpse into the creative process that spawned the monstrous Polyphemus, let’s plunge our blades into God of War’s newest baddie: The Elephantaur! Tell us a bit about its history and how you managed to turn one of nature’s most noble creatures into such a hulking juggernaut.
Izzy: For God of War III I had worked on the Berserker class Argus monster that was later cut. When I originally started doing sketches for that guy, I had done a painting of a pale elephant coated in blood like a gladiator. That image got scrapped, but ever since, I’ve wanted to do another scary elephant monster.
When the Elephantaur came up, it was originally an assignment to reskin the Minotaur from God of War III for God of War: Ascension. We had planned to do a different kind of Minotaur, and I did several sketches of ideas for the monstrous herbivore. I did my due diligence and tried to make a new version of the classical creature, but I kept running into a lot of the tropes that have been used before. I wasn’t very satisfied with those and kept getting more and more exotic with my influences. I whipped up some anthropomorphic bulls, yaks, bears, lizards, turtles and even a rhinoceros…but in my heart I wanted to bring back that elephant.
It’s also not a commonly known fact that the “peaceful and noble” elephants are, sometimes, total ****. I had a bad run in with an elephant in Thailand that thought it was really funny dunking me in the river Kwai again and again. The locals thought it was hilarious, too. But ever since… I’ve known them for what they really are: the giant grey bullies of the forest! So as an artist I drew from my suffering and humiliation to really make this guy an evil bastard. It fits our God of War universe perfectly.
This franchise is known for producing the most visually stunning take on the colossal beasts of ancient Greek mythos to date. How much of a challenge is it to constantly up the ante on the design of these legendary creatures?
Izzy: Character design on a franchise like this is both a blessing and a curse. You have the profound joy of painting monsters and certain scandalous body parts for a living. You get the thrill of being part of a project steeped in bad-ass myth that is vibrant with history and exciting imagery. The cost is rough, however. We are always trying to top ourselves.
Our benchmark for bad assery is so high that the pressure is nail-bitingly intense. My team’s task is simple. Kick-ass. Constantly. It’s very hard, but much like Kratos, we just snarl, leap in, and hack into the meat of these things!
Early concept art for Elephantaur (left) Final Elephantaur design (right)
At first glance, the Elephantaur looks like a towering brute with an anger issue! However, if you pay attention to the intricacies, there is a ton of detail there. He is decked out in full battle gear, everything from his barbed tusks and morning star trunk to his gigantic, man-sized club just screams BOSS! What was the intent of giving him that many tools of destruction?
Izzy: The Minotaur in the last God of War game was a savage beast. We toyed with some versions where the creature was armored up, and a bit more intelligent, but something really primal won out on that one. I feel that the Elephantaur is the perfect marriage of brutality with homicidal intellect. I felt he should have weapons and armor that were deadly but also a little elegant. His tusks have long nasty blades attached to them, and he grips a deadly elephant-style cestus with his trunk.
All of this was meant to give him the appearance of a heavy martial artist that had total command of his tools. I included a massive club for him to use as well. If you pause our E3 gameplay footage you will see that it’s made of the tusks of his fallen enemies. I like to imply some culture and history in these designs, and that small tidbit makes me imagine the culture he comes from.
For much more on the Elephantaur, including additional concept art, head on over to the official God of War site now.