Since the debut of the God of War franchise in 2005, the series makes a grand return with God of War Ragnarök. Unlike other series crippled with revenge and betrayal, “God of War Ragnarök” is a journey of forgiveness and learning. However, this ninth installment goes above and beyond other previous titles with a captivating storyline, epic soundtracks, a stunning display, and ravaging combat that one just can’t get enough of.
From the game's inception, you can tell that Sony Santa Monica is going ham with this one. In the first few minutes, Kratos is elbow-dropping a bear and getting right into the action. What a way to live up to the name. God of War Ragnarök takes stunning visuals a notch higher with an intriguing handling of the territories and the varieties displayed in every design aspect. So is it a game worth playing? Let’s dive into this God of War Ragnarök review to find out.
God of War Ragnarök: What's New?
Factions in the Norse Mythology series can only get greater, and the same can be said for Santa Monica Studio's 9th installment. The combo-based combat is the core of the game and maintains its reputation of being engrossing with a sheer amount of drama.
Your main weapons are the Leviathan axe and the Blades of Chaos. Wielding the axe feels oddly similar to the previous titles, but it contains a blend of Ranged Power and storming attacks. The axe is laced with ice elemental magic. You can hurl it at enemies and magically summon it back. However, you'll notice a slight difference in how you wield the blades, although the strikes still deliver sheer brutality.
Both the axe and the blade have new tricks to explore. You can trap your enemy with the axe before, and simultaneously switching to the blades to inflict damage on those around is pleasantly satisfying.
You can purchase different sets of shields to use when parrying and customize them to your preference. Robust shields will deflect heavier attacks, while a high-risk version will increase your weapon's deflection.
The brilliance of the combat in this title is unmatched. Everything is perfectly balanced; even an amateur will experience a heightened thrill when swinging the armory without mastering the combos. Moreover, the array of enemies to battle across the nine realms adds to the thrill, and at no point will it feel stale or repetitive.
The events occur during Fimbulwinter, a pre-occurrence of the prophesied Ragnarök. During their journey, Kratos and his son get to uncover the malicious moves of the gods, which set Ragnarök into motion.
The new title picks up a few years after the 2018 God of War and follows the Spartan god-slayer Kratos and his fierce son Atreus as they scale the tallest peaks in the nine realms, Jotunheim, to scatter his wife's remains. However, the gods of the real world get a whiff of her missing magic wards and seek out the father-son duo as a threat.
While seeking safety, Kratos and Atreus meet Freya, the former wife of Odin and mother of Baldur. Freya helps the duo navigate through the realms in search of Jotunheim, where they maim the two sons of Odin, Modi and Magni. Once the duo reaches the heights of Jotunheim, they find all the giants dead, leaving behind a prophecy that predicted the two's journey, setting the events preceding Ragnarök.
Kratos and Atreus Adventure
The game primarily centers its storyline on Kratos and Atreus, with prophecy and sacrifice as the theme's impetus. The father and son duo embark on a misadventure that would determine the fate of the nine Realms' lives and end the raging Ragnarök.
While the previous God of War installment saw the duo form a relationship with the maternal absence, Ragnarök sees Atreus grow stronger and learn the meaning behind his pseudonym, “Loki.” Atreus also proves to his father that he is no longer a child. In most instances, Kratos and Atreus won't be side by side in battle but will be accompanied by other robust characters with a range of specialist attacks.
Ragnarök retains much of its gameplay elements from its predecessors with a few changes, such as adding more foes to battle. You'll note that switching weapons to opposite statuses deals more damage to the enemy. For example, hurling fire at your foe and switching it up with an ice weapon deals more damage. Moreover, every ability is tactile, and combining them all unleashes a massive attack on your opponent. Combining light and heavy attacks increases the rage.
A precedent change in this latest title is that enemies become more aggressive and take more time to take down as you progress in the game. This is unlike earlier titles where the antagonists would hit harder as you elevated through the levels, which most people found to be annoying and complained about. What's more, the enemies utilize power more often as a defense strategy, depending on the level you are at.
Impressively, Kratos' armor features customization levels that will up your defense, allowing you to take less damage. Much of this armor will unlock as you progress through the game. Moreover, equipping Kratos with sets of the same type will grant you set bonuses, such as increasing the damage of Kratos' ranged attacks.
More Realm Exploration
Unlike God of War (2018), where players explored six of the nine realms in Norse mythology, Ragnarök allows you to explore each of the nine realms, including Dwarves, Svartalfheim, Midgard, Aesir, Asgard, Vanir, and Vanaheim. Each realm is an alluring fascination with rich detail to the core. Ragnarök dives deeper into a Nordic heritage and makes an attempt to bring diverse creations to life with correct interpretations of places, people, and creatures.
Missions and Quests
The game is impressively longer than its predecessors. You may spend between 35 and 55 hours of gameplay for the main story and about 60 hours or so exploring the entire game. Also, the game has other playable characters to explore, which adds to the compelling storyline.
Moreover, progressing to a new area unlocks new missions in the game. However, you'll meet side quotes that draw you nearer or further from the main quest line. Albeit this, the side quests, known as “favors,” are an excellent way to develop your character and help friends correct their wrongs. There are a handful of tough side bosses to encounter as well.
Although Ragnarök has a linear storyline with no cutscenes, glacial pacing is common towards the middle of the game. You'll find yourself hitting a button or two as you wait for the dialogue between two characters to elapse.
Stunning Visuals and Amazing Soundtracks
Technically speaking, this game embodies the greatest visuals available on next-gen consoles. The series continues to live up to its reputation of pushing graphic display to the limits, resulting in a cinematic experience that is to die for. The game has two modes that let you tweak its visual performance. The first setting is graphics mode, where you can opt for a higher frame rate over sharper visuals or vice versa. The second setting is the High Frame Rate Mode, which requires a display with a 2.1 HDMI port and a 4K resolution at 120 Hz.
The only way to experience God of War Ragnarök at 60 fps is by playing it on PS5. This delivers remarkable fluidity and responsiveness. On the other hand, PS4 delivers half the fps (30), and the only way you can switch between graphic modes is if you are on PS4 Pro.
When it comes to the soundtracks, Bear McCreary makes a return as a composer. What makes the journey more compelling is the beautiful music that plays alongside bursts of orchestral music during epic fighting scenes. As a legendary composer in the original God of War, Black Sails, Rings of Power, and Snowpiecer, Bear knows how to brew suspense and shift your focus with the right chords. The classical musical compositions match up to the historical locations in Ragnarök. The infusion of musical instruments in every scene is truly mesmerizing and makes for a complete cinematic experience.
Overall, God of War Ragnarök is a masterpiece in the action-adventure genre. The gameplay, visuals, and audio surpass the previous title released in the franchise. Not to forget the incredible cast voicing the characters, it is clear that Santa Monica Studio went above and beyond to deliver a true work of art. It is impossible not to love the intense depths Ragnarök delves into. The compelling storytelling complements all other aspects of the game for the most captivating and cutting-edge video game action of the year.
You can pick up God of War Ragnarök on PlayStation 5 and PlayStation 4. For more updates on the game, be sure to follow the official social handle here.
God of War Ragnarök Review (PS4/PS5)
A True Masterpiece
God of War Ragnarök is an action adventure game and the ninth installment by developer Santa Monica Studio in the God of War franchise. The game follows Kratos and his son Atreus through ancient Scandinavia during an eschatological event known as Ragnarök that was prophesied to take place in the previous game. For Atreus, it is a journey of self-discovery as he discovers his inner traits and the legendary meaning behind his name, “Loki.” By far, the game displays excellent and stunning visuals and 3D audio that other titles in the franchise clearly lack. The game is now available on PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 5.