When God of War came out in 2018 with a completely new interpretation of the series, it took a bit of getting used to for many. Kratos was no longer a hothead bent only on killing gods, while the hack ‘n slash action was traded in for a Souls-like action-RPG. A true revolution was going through the series, but that is no longer the case with God of War Ragnarok. Whether a new revolution was necessary, find out in our God of War Ragnarok review.
It may have taken four years, but Kratos and Atreus are finally back with the long-awaited continuation of their journey. The pair learned in the first volume that Ragnarok was coming and that the future was already set in stone. Can father and son love prevent the end of time?
That is the question at the center of God of War Ragnarok, along with numerous other questions that constantly captivate you throughout the thick 35-hour story. It is clear that the Spartan god of war and his son have grown older. Atreus, in particular, is noticeable.
The young god has a beard in his throat and of course this includes adolescent traits. It is noticeable that the archer increasingly has his own view of the world and no longer wants to follow all the orders of army commander Kratos. In this regard, the bond between the pair is reminiscent of the first hours of the 2018 title and may not seem that much has changed.
Only the opposite is true. Three years have passed in the now snow-covered Midgard. The duo has been training all this time in preparation for Ragnarok during the so-called Fimbulwinter. Remarkably, during that time, Kratos has thawed a just a bit. Thus, the god from Greece has opened his heart to the bodiless Mimir.
From both dialogue and gameplay, it can be seen that Kratos has learned from the trip to Jotenheim. It also expresses itself through the menu, where this time the diary with everything about the characters and worlds is written from Kratos’ perspective. It works as a clever way to gain new insights into the god who once strung the pantheon of Greek gods to his swords as a temperance frog.
Fighting feels even better
Those familiar swords are available to use in Ragnarok from the very first moment, another way you notice that time has not stood still. However, all upgrades and equipment from the first part have disappeared, which is dismissed via a short side note. After all, it is still a game, so you have to progress.
So you do that constantly. In addition to your weapons and various pieces of equipment, you can also upgrade your shield in Ragnarok. In this way, developer Santa Monica Studio adds even more opportunities to customize the combat system.
After all, each part of your equipment brings with it a certain skill. By doing the same with the shield, the player can rely even more on blocking attacks or just rebounding them at the perfect moment. It makes fighting even more dynamic than the 2018 game.
However, it must be said that this also has to do with the variety of enemies. In the 2018 game, you were constantly fighting Draugrs and trolls that made the world constantly dangerous. The new part has perhaps ten times as many enemies and also has many more areas to explore.
Pantheon of gods.
Indeed, in God of War Ragnarok you do get to explore all the realms of Norse mythology. It provides much more diversity in the environments, giving each world its own personality. This is assisted by a much larger cast of characters.
Familiar faces like Brok and Sindri return, of course, but for every returning character there are three, maybe four times as many new faces. Fortunately, the writers manage to strike the right balance to give each personality its moment to shine as a bright star.
This is done through the story or one of the many side missions woven into the game. In that respect, the sequel is truly an open-world game and not an action-RPG with open areas. Fortunately, it pans out well and the side missions almost always contribute to the story of Kratos, Atreus and the Norse empire they explore.
Very surprising variety
So it’s smart that Santa Monica Studio opted for a little more variety in the puzzles you have to solve here and there in the world. In fact, exploring the world and the things you can do in it does not bore you for a moment. Even after forty hours of play time. Only it is clear that the fast travel system leaves something to be desired as it often drops you off some way from your goal. These days we expect better from open-world games like this.
This also has to do with the rewards you get for side missions. In addition to XP that you can use for new attacks, you earn items to further upgrade your weapons. The same goes for the collectibles, although the developer also links cool stories to these that just make you curious to find the next item.
Santa Monica Studio has also found a great way to keep playing long after the credits have expired. This is because every skill you unlock for your weapons has been given a leveling system, making it more rewarding than ever to use different weapons and attacks. It is the ideal way to take the already fantastic combat system to a divine level.
Play options galore
It is fair to say, however, that the high frame rate available on PlayStation 5 contributes greatly to this. In fact, Santa Monica Studio has equipped the PS5 version with a High Framerate Mode. This is only available for PS5 allowing the game to be played in 120 fps which makes the gameplay incredibly fluid.
Of course, playing the game in 60 fps also remains a delight, as does the 4K resolution that makes the stunning world stand out even more. In that respect, everyone’s preferences are taken into account by the American studio. It’s little details like these that only add to the enjoyment of the game.