God of War Ragnarök was officially revealed by Santa Monica Studio during a PlayStation showcase event last September. From that moment forward, the main question on everyone’s mind was if this highly anticipated sequel would be more of the same or offer enough meaningful changes to set itself apart from its predecessor.
After completing the main story, I’m pleased to say that Ragnarök is a magnificent sequel that succeeds in building upon an established formula in new, and surprisingly exciting ways. This isn’t just simply a PlayStation console exclusive. It’s a high-quality non-stop action-adventure experience that will keep you fully invested from start to finish. Here are more of my thoughts on why you should definitely check out Kratos and Atreus’ latest blood-soaked adventure.
A Battle For The Ages
After the events of God of War (2018), Kratos and Atreus find themselves on the precipice of war. Having killed various gods throughout the entire series, Kratos now wants to do everything in his power to avoid Ragnarök while also keeping his teenage son safe.
Atreus on the other hand believes war is inevitable and that preparing to fight against Odin is the only answer. As with any parent and child relationship, both sides butt heads but try their best to cooperate and learn from each other’s mistakes. What follows is a captivating storyline with some unexpected twists and turns, setting up what should be an interesting path forward in future entries.
One other aspect of the story that I do feel is worth mentioning is that there’s a much larger focus on the supporting cast of characters and how each feels the immeasurable weight of war on their shoulders.
Christopher Judge remains outstanding as Kratos and is in perfect company with the likes of Sunny Suljic as Atreus, Ryan Hurst as Thor, Danielle Bisutti as Freya, and Richard Schiff as the All-Father Odin himself. These stellar performances capped off with several heart-pounding memorable moments are meant to be experienced on your own to fully appreciate and understand the gravity of the situation.
Wildly Addictive Combat
God of War Ragnarök is a third-person action-adventure game that features an over-the-shoulder free continuous shot camera perspective. As you engage in battles, Kratos can simultaneously attack multiple enemies in his path while also commanding Atreus to shoot his sigil or sonic arrows at them.
You still earn XP and skill points after defeating enemies and completing various objectives throughout every story mission. If you played the previous entry in the series, then you can expect the same type of intense combat gameplay mechanics but with a few notable additions.
For starters, now the Leviathan Axe or Blades of Chaos can be used to fearlessly leap off cliffs and inflict damage on enemies below. Frost and Flaming abilities still play a vital role with these weapons too when it comes to solving puzzles and using particular attacks on certain adversaries with vulnerable areas.
With puzzles specifically, adjusting your viewpoint of how a puzzle is laid out is important and will force you to think creatively about how to solve the problem. Most of these puzzles were cleverly created and won’t take you too long to figure out. However, if you do get stuck, your companion will be nearby to give you clues.
One other significant change that makes this sequel stand out is that Kratos isn’t the only playable character. As I mentioned above, the story expands the focus beyond our lead protagonist in order to account for other views on the battle ahead. This was an overall smart decision that makes perfect sense in the context of the story while keeping players on the edge of their seats. There are a few other surprises that I won’t mention because I rather you play this game on your own to truly experience how amazing it actually is.
In regards to worldbuilding and exploration, you now have the ability to travel to all nine realms to complete story missions and favors/side quests as they come up. There are several mystic gateways that can be unlocked to travel to different areas of each realm. If you love the lore of Norse mythology and want to find every collectible in order to get the platinum trophy, then you will most certainly enjoy your time with Ragnarök immensely. There are also several mini-boss battles available for those who just can’t get enough of Kratos ripping enemies to shreds and are seeking new challenges.
A Graphical Masterpiece
Regardless of whether you own a PS4 or PS5, you’re in for an insanely impressive graphical showcase. Considering that this game was developed primarily with PS4 in mind, I’m very curious to see what a God of War universe could look like if it was developed utilizing all the benefits of PlayStation 5 hardware. We got a glimpse of this potential last year with Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart and Returnal so hopefully, this future isn’t too far off from being a reality.
If you do plan on playing Ragnarök on PS5, you’ll get the full benefits of performance settings and even more immersion from using the DualSense controller. You’ll feel the brutality of every battle and move you make from rowing your boat across the sea to dismembering a grotesque creature. There are also a ton of accessibility settings on both platforms for those who value and need these features.
As of this writing, it took me a total of 35 hours to complete the main story and a few favors and quests. Even after spending all these hours with the game, I plan to go back and finish all of the side quests en route to the platinum trophy. Your personal playtime may vary depending on what you choose to explore but I guarantee regardless of what you do, you will have an absolute blast the whole time.
Simply put, God of War Ragnarök is a magnificent sequel that successfully builds upon the formulaic framework established in the previous game. If there is one PlayStation first-party console exclusive worth picking up this Fall, then this should absolutely be at the top of the list.
This review was written based on a digital review copy of God of War Ragnarök for the PlayStation 5 provided by Sony Interactive Entertainment.