Overview | God of War: Ragnarok – In 2018, Kratos returned in a game simply titled “God of War”. Quickly getting rid of the Greek gods, the gruff guy took refuge in the cold north. Here he started a family with Fay, but the quiet life soon came to an end. What followed was a dazzling but brutal journey through different worlds to fulfill Faye’s dying wish. The adventure also drew a picture of the future of Kratos and Atreus and made it clear that the world would not return anytime soon. Now, four years later, we’re picking up the ax again and hanging out with the duo again.
Development of Atreus
God of War was originally an action-oriented franchise. As the series got older and more parts appeared, the importance of the story increased. In the previous God of War, this was taken to a new level, because Kratos had something to live with Atreus for. The young man was prepared for a harsh and dangerous life, in which he was still assigned the role of a subordinate father. The result is an exciting development of the father-son relationship that continues in God of War: Ragnarok. Atreus has also grown a bit older and you notice that he fights more freely from his father.
Kratos’ unceasing watchful eye hangs more and more over Atreus, like a shadow who, like any other normal teenager, is having a hard time. Sometimes the stubborn decisions a child makes can get him into trouble, but this is how a child learns to develop. Kratos notices more and more in this adventure that he is losing his grip on his son, noticing that Atreus is becoming more and more mature. In this game, you see that development well, and it shows the father side of Kratos again, which is a unique insight into his character. After all, you play on emotions, whereas in the previous parts it was mainly about the (logical) feeling of revenge.
On the way through different realms
God of War: Ragnarok is, of course, much more than a father and son story. The future of your living environment is at stake due to previous actions and coincidence. We won’t go into detail about spoilers, but we want to tell you that the game tells a compelling story about gods, prophecies, giants, and more. On the one hand, you enjoy the story thanks to the many cutscenes between the stages and the action, on the other hand, the game is full of side quests, story books, etc. This completes the tradition down to the smallest detail. You can easily get lost for hours after you’ve finished reading all the side stories.
All of this makes the overarching story brought to you in God of War: Ragnarok gripping from start to finish. Expect unexpected plot twists. What also plays a role in this is that you will visit different worlds again. So you travel back to Muspelheim, Midgaard, Helheim, Alfheim, as well as worlds that you didn’t visit in the previous game. So some areas are recognizable, but in many cases the developer presents you with a different part, so it doesn’t feel like a cheap rework. Realms you haven’t been to before are really good because of the variety they create.
Each realm has a completely different style and vibe, so what you discover will always be somewhat of a surprise. Sometimes you will be surprised by the splendor that is called out on the screen. The attention to detail is exceptional, and we found ourselves enjoying the carefully crafted levels several times. However, there is still a lot of work to be done, and this is reflected in the regular story-related fights, as well as the many free fights, collectibles, and other items needed to progress.
Since God of War: Ragnarok, like its predecessor, has an open structure, all worlds can be visited individually. This is normal between missions, so you can always get out of the way to complete some side quests or pick up collectibles. There is much to be done and pointed out. We ourselves finished the story in about 28 hours and now the timer is showing 45 hours and we still haven’t done everything the game has to offer. So there is definitely no shortage of content, and most importantly: nothing seems superfluous or unnecessary, everything fits perfectly into a single whole. Thanks to the good gameplay, you won’t get bored even for a minute, and this is mainly due to the great variety between the puzzles in the environment, the fights and the dialogues that you have with many of the characters.
Despite all these positive sounds, we have to point out that we feel that the game starts a bit slow. Not much happens in the first ten hours, and while traveling the worlds isn’t a punishment, the beginning of the story feels a little drawn out. Everything could have gone a little smoother. The main object of criticism is the user interface. Just like before, you get all sorts of options to upgrade your weapons, armor, runes, and more. Gradually, you collect the necessary new parts that you can alternate and combine with each other, which is accompanied by individual statistics.
A well-known story, if not for the fact that the menu design is very messy. It brings more style to the game, and while the decor looks neat, you’re bombarded with a jumble of information. This is because there are probably too many options for weapon customization as far as items are concerned… This is a continuation of the basics we know from the previous part, which is a good thing in itself. But where the previous menu was still clear, it’s now a fuzzy mess, and it can be a little awkward. Especially since there’s a chance you’ll miss out on items that might prove useful.
By the way, this is the only point of harsh criticism of God of War: Ragnarok, because once you set everything up the way you want, you will have a great battle. Kratos can once again attack enemies with his axe. Of course, Blades of Chaos is lacking, and the combination of all of that, along with special attacks and good time blocks, makes for a very pleasing to the eye game. It’s very fluid, which makes fighting the game a real joy. The gameplay with the ax also seems to be faster, which makes using this weapon even more enjoyable. Look at it this way: Combat in God of War was already excellent, now it feels a bit more polished with lots of fluid movement, the ability to quickly switch between weapons and brutal finishing moves. In a word: every fight is a real pleasure.
Combat is one of the highlights of God of War: Ragnarok, and it now feels better than before. But other components also make a valuable contribution to the overall package. For example, the many different puzzles that are combined with specific or non-specific elements have become even more diverse than before. The level design is also excellent, so with every step you really feel like you’ve made a new discovery. It is organically linked to exploration, which is thus a great joy. And you also have a lot of different characters, even more than in the previous part. It is amazing that each of the characters is expressed with great soul. It makes them feel trustworthy and persuasive.
Of course, the game lacks a great soundtrack that can sometimes be described as epic, and Sony Santa Monica Studio does a great job of this. Exactly the same applies to performance. We have already mentioned that different kingdoms look beautiful. This is due to the large number of detailed environments that look beautiful due to the high resolution of the textures. The draw distance is also more than excellent, which means that, like us, you will need time to look around. We also prefer the High Frame Rate mode, which runs the game at a high frame rate, well above 60. You are provided with 1440p resolution.
You also have the option to prefer 4K resolution instead of the target frame rate of 40fps. However, the graphical difference is negligible, so after testing, we quickly returned to the aforementioned option. This means you get the best of both worlds, and it’s great to have high frame rates in combat. If you don’t have a TV that can handle high frame rates, you still have the option to play at 30 or 60 fps, with the former getting you 4K resolution and the latter going from 1440p to 4K (more information about graphics modes here). In this case, a high frame rate is also preferred for a smoother gaming experience.
Kratos and Atreus continue their journey in a new adventure that offers dozens of hours of gameplay. God of War: Ragnarok basically offers more of what you played in the previous installment, but in every way a little more refined, better and more extensive. Don’t expect big innovations, but it’s not bad. Gameplay is remarkably smooth in combat thanks to its excellent performance. The alternation between exploration, hoax and lots of dialogue means you won’t get bored even for a second thanks to the very diversely designed worlds you’ll visit. Throw in some great voice acting, a solid soundtrack, and impressive graphics, and the message is clear: God of War: Ragnarök is a worthy blind buy sequel.