BREAKING: Official trailer for God of War Ragnarok.pic.twitter.com/59QmrNoQPi
— God of War Ragnarok News (@GodofWarPS5) September 9, 2021
God of War Ragnarok takes place around three years after the events of the 2018 game. Ragnarok is dawning upon Yggdrasil and Fimbulwinter has drenched the lands with a great winter that has turned the realm into a not-so-Santa-esque wonderland. I mean, I don’t think Santa has even had to deal with undead monsters and demigods, right?
After Kratos killed Baldur, son of Freya in the 2018 release, the deaths of the gods were foretold in Jötunheim, a realm that was once the home of the giants. Ragnarok is coming, neither man, woman or god are safe. That is unless Kratos and his not-so-short son, Atreus have anything to do with it.
In order to stop Ragnarok, Atreus must discover his true purpose in the great scheme if he and Kratos are ever going to defeat their biggest foe, fate. Their paths may have been laid out, but that won’t stop the duo from changing the deck they were dealt.
No one knows if Ragnarok can be stopped, but the Norse God of War, Týr, may be the key to unlocking its secrets. However, Thor, the God of Thunder and the God of Cargoes, Odin has other plans and will seemingly stop at nothing to put an end to Kratos, and perhaps even his son, Atreus.
In terms of gameplay, God of War Ragnarok features the same over-the-shoulder free camera adopted in the 2018 release. The action is fast, frantic and oddly theopoetic. But yet taking a page out of Naughty Dog’s book, developers Santa Monica knows exactly when to slow down the pace which allows you to let recent predicaments sink in.
Just like God of War (2018), Ragnarok is masterfully paced from start to finish and never feels like it outstayed its welcome. In fact, you’ll probably find yourself never wanting to put the controller down.
In many ways, the core gameplay in God of War Ragnarok has barely changed, and that’s fine. As the old saying goes “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”. However, there have been a few subtle tweaks. Kratos can now use his Blades of Chaos as grappling hooks. Kratos and Atreus now use a boat a little more frequently, and even dog sleds to travel the lands. It might not feel all that major, but it helps the pacing during larger game sections.
Furthermore, without giving too much away, only six realms were accessible in 2018. Thankfully, you can now explore all nine Norse realms each with its own terrain, challenges, and enemies with Asgard, Svartalfheim and Vanaheim being the new additions.
As with God of War (2018), the Blades of Chaos, Leviathan Axe, armour and gear can not only be upgraded but modifications can also be crafted with suitable materials. Additionally, Kratos’ shield is now more than just a block and parrying device.
In fact, Kratos now has access to multiple shields that favour attack or defence, each with varying abilities and techniques to master. Kratos and Atreus also have their own skill trees to progress which all adds to the elements of making you feel mighty as you progress in the campaign.
Being a fan of the original games, I always appreciated some of its puzzle segments. An emphasis that I feel was lost a little in 2018. Thankfully, however, God of War Ragnarok throws in a few more puzzles. None of them are all that challenging, but you will encounter a few headscratchers from time to time to time.
God of War Ragnarok also brings a variety of quality-of-life improvements. Just like 2018, Ragnarok is a one-shot from start to finish. Meaning that there are no loading screens once you boot into the game. Well, kind of.
Will Kratos and Atreus be bound by fate, or take control of their destiny? Watch the new God of War Ragnarök story trailer, revealed during State of Play: https://t.co/lGja5hDdnt pic.twitter.com/vdMUSrkjFq
— PlayStation (@PlayStation) September 13, 2022
Subtle tactics are implemented to load up next areas such as when Kratos might be squeezing or crawling through narrow gaps. It’s a fair compromise that gives the game the impression of seamless transitions. That is unless of course, you die and you will encounter a loading screen, albeit briefly.
This release also comes packed with over 60 accessibility options that we help to cater for various needs and styles. God of War (2018) also had a generous helping of accessibility options, however, Ragnarok has expanded upon that. I won’t list everything, but here are a few examples of some of the new options.
Players can alter subtitle colours as well as caption sizes. Audio descriptions will prove to be very helpful to many. You can remap controls (something I found helpful due to arthritis in my hands, as it made pressing certain buttons during some sequences less tedious).
There’s a high contrast mode, something seen in The Last of Us, as well as navigation and traversal assists, and much more. From what I can tell, there is no option to help tinnitus sufferers, something that is available in other games. Hopefully, this option can be added at a later date.
To no surprise whatsoever, God of War Ragnarok is also a masterclass in storytelling. As much as I love the games that came before 2018, it’s sometimes hard to fathom how much this series has evolved. Its cinematography, level of voice acting and audio design are truly sublime.
God of War Ragnarok is currently the best-looking console game of its era and the only thing that saddens me is that there was no Photo mode during the review period. However, we do know that Photo mode is on the way. It’s also worth mentioning that Ragnarok offers a choice of gameplay modes that favour visuals and framerate.
In my opinion, there aren’t many games that can come close to the theatrics and artistic portrayals of God of War since the 2018 masterpiece. Whether it’s the voice acting, epic soundtrack and subtle ambiences, the audio design is every bit as vital as a visual aid or a gameplay mechanic. It’s all these wonderfully crafted ingredients that make the modern God of War what it is.
While I never got the opportunity to review God of War (2018), it easily goes down as one of my favourite games of the PlayStation 4 era. Going into God of War Ragnarok, a new standard has been set that most games wouldn’t even come close to reaching. God of War Ragnarok doesn’t make a huge leap over 2018, but from my perspective, that game was as close to perfection as you could get. So how do you improve on near perfect?
In my opinion, it’s done by improving on the previous formula via subtle tweaks and adjustments. Just enough to improve on a game that looked near impossible to improve upon. Somehow, Santa Monica Studios has achieved back-to-back greatness.
At the time of writing, we’re only two years into the PlayStation 5 era. Yet already, God of War Ragnarok is an example of sequel excellence and cements its place among the gaming gods of greatness.
- A review code was provided by Sony. God of War Ragnarok will be released for PlayStation 5 and PlayStation 4 on November 9th, 2022.