God of War Ragnarok
(available for PlayStation 4 & 5, PS5 version used for the review)
God of War Ragnarok is the long-awaited follow-up to 2018’s God of War, which aims to close the Norse saga of the franchise. Initially announced in 2020, with the second PlayStation presentation to build hype for PS5 preorders, with a 2021 release date that no one was convinced they would hit (and they were correct to assume so). Not only was it seen as a big release for 2022, but it was also seen as the only possible challenger to Elden Ring at the Game Awards if it could make it this year, with some people doubting that because half of the year had passed before any release. It has done and has obviously been successful amongst many critics, hence why it has not only received a Game of the Year nomination, but it also dominated the Game Awards nominations, having a total of 10 nominations which is the most of any other game.
God of Ragnarok picks up several years after the events of God of War 2018, with the exception of one prologue feature that we start the game with, it mostly leads in with that post-credits scene that we saw from the previous game. To ensure everyone is on the same page, I won’t give away any spoilers for this other than what you see in the trailers- which doesn’t include anything misleading. You are basically getting most of what you got last time, with some slightly expanding gameplay for the now-teenage Atreus. His move set has now been expanded quite significantly. This game is now the first to give you access to all nine realms as promised through marketing. However, how you go about accessing some of those realms will lead to plot spoilers, which I won’t give away. That being said, you should not expect these realms to be exactly the same going around if you have visited them before.
The game opens with all of the realms being affected by Fimbulwinter, the never ending snowstorm that leads to Ragnarok. As a result, each of the realms is affected in different ways. You could make the interpretation that this is actually quite a clever way of showing how the current climate crisis is affecting different parts of the world and isn’t as arbitrary as certain sources would lead you to believe. Like why we stopped calling it ‘global warming so that people would stop saying ‘Well how is it global warming if some people are cold?’. For example, the realm of the dwarves has been impacted by having huge steam geysers wreck their travel networks (don’t worry, that happens very early on in the game and I haven’t given much away there).
As for how God of War Ragnarok stands up, it’s extremely well! If you’re going into this expecting a lot of new stuff: don’t! There’s not a lot of new content in Ragnarok. Though, what it has done is refine the content from the previous game. The combat, character models, and performance have been refined, and everything about it just feels a bit better. It feels very optimised for the PS5 even though the game was clearly made with the PS4 in mind, hence why it’s no surprise that the game has a PS4 version.
As said before, the combat is very well refined. You pretty much start the game with most of the weapons that you finished the last one with (sans any armour and weapon upgrades). You have the axe as well as the Blades of Chaos, and of course, Atreus uses his bow for combat (and like before, you’ll be using the Square button to fire at different enemies). And of course, the elemental aspect of dealing with different enemies as well as creating weaknesses is very apparent here.
There are some differences that come later on, I won’t go into too much detail, but I will say that it brought an interesting angle to the combat, it doesn’t feel like anything is wasted for a bad idea where the team got overly ambitious. It’s actually really clever and well thought out.
The other thing that improves combat is that there is a larger enemy variety this time around, especially considering the fact that we now have access to all nine realms. Some of the enemies are really challenging too, and so you’ll have to think ahead for some of the combat aspects. This is especially true on the higher difficulties, which I was really not good enough at the game to pull off.
This game has a lot of accessibility options to tune the game to what you need it to be. The team at Sony Santa Monica have really done an excellent job making sure that anyone can play this game. I played most of this game at Give Me Balance, but I did tune it down to Give Me Grace when fights were getting difficult (although I kept to a rule that I couldn’t turn down the difficulty unless I died three times in a row, and sometimes I still kept it to a higher difficulty just in case). You’re going to want to do some weapon and armour upgrades as the game go on for some of the more difficult bosses later on in the game.
I obviously can’t go into spoilers, but the story is fantastic. I thought that this one did an excellent job with not only finishing character arcs for the heroes involved but does some interesting stuff with the villains as well, particularly Odin and Thor. Those two were built up quite a bit in the last game so we knew we were going to encounter them in this one at some point, and they were well worth the wait!
There’s also some excellent subplots that come about in the side quests. I actually really think that this story is going to keep people playing for hours upon hours. It was getting to a stage where I was having to avoid side quests because the story was so addictive! Despite the game telling you to always do side quests at any given moment…
Kratos and Atreus give us an outstanding finale of their character arcs. The team had a massive job ending the entire storyline in one game, considering many of us expected this to be a trilogy.
- Performance and Resolution
I played this on a PS5 which could easily achieve really great performances. You can have this play in 4K but you’re going to be at a lower framerate which I do not recommend for this game. The game looks amazing even with just target performance. The effects and resolution are great either way and if you can get this game to play at the higher framerates, (despite the fact that it’s not as fixed as the 60 FPS option), if you have a monitor and HDMI cable that allows it, you absolutely should- it transforms this game brilliantly! I didn’t really notice any of the framerate drops. While I don’t think that it constantly hit the 120FPS it was hitting 100 most of the time, which was excellent. You really need to see it to believe it. It really emboldened that combat.
Also, if you’ve managed to get your hands on the Pulse 3D headset for PS5, you absolutely should play the game with that and enable the 3D audio, it’s a brilliant way to hear the audio in the game and it aids in combat as well since you can hear where the enemies are much more regularly and consistently.
It’s no surprise when a God of War game has an excellent soundtrack, but this one is especially amazing. Both the returning pieces and new ones make for some excellent songs, and I can’t wait to hear just a snippet played by the Game Awards orchestra.
- Side Quests
As much as I praised some of the thematic elements of the side quests, I felt that they weren’t bad but they weren’t great either. They often felt like quite busy work. You usually got some decent combat out of them, but more often than not you were put into more puzzles than I would like. That being said, there were some excellent side quests littered in the bunch, particularly the desert ones- those side quests were some of my favourite ones and I urge you to actually do those ones when you get a chance. There’s an amazing moment that was in the state of play trailers which you won’t get if you stick to just the main story.
- Menu Interface
There’s nothing really wrong with the menu interface, but I don’t think it’s as good as the last game. For one thing, I just didn’t find it as easy to navigate, but once I got the hang of it, it was much better.
I know that this is a contentious thing for me, but I didn’t like the puzzles. I didn’t like them in the 2018 game, and I don’t like them in this one either. They just feel like tedious busy work and they hold you up constantly! I don’t think they’re as bad as the ones you get in Resident Evil games, for example, but they’re not great either. Though, while I know some people don’t mind them, I do think that the team went a bit overboard this time- there are far too many in this game.
God of War Ragnarok is a triumph! This is one of the best games on the PlayStation 5 right now, and a stellar game in the long run. It’s going to be a game where you really want a Platinum even if you want to do it through New Game Plus. The combat is fantastic here and the storyline is amazing. This game performs amazingly using PS5 technology. If this is Sony Santa Monica’s Swan Song to the God of War franchise, they went out on a good note, though I’ll be interested to see what the studio does next. |Some of the things holding me back is the fact that there isn’t too much new here compared to the last game (although I won’t go as far to act like some people I’ve seen on Twitter who say that this is just £70 DLC) and I do think that there are a bit too many puzzles in the game that breaks up the momentum.
But as a whole, it improves on God of War 2018. The final moments of this game are outstandingly good. You seriously need to give this one a go. If you own a PS4 or PS5, get this immediately- do not wait for a sale and try to dodge spoilers.
Final Score: 9.6/10
Director of Axia ASD Ltd.
Self-proclaimed Nerd Consultant
and Head of Axia’s Film Society.
And now Reece’s review
My experience with God of War Ragnarök is that I have completed the game 100% and received the Platinum Trophy for my PS5 copy.
All my gameplay was done in the High Frame Rate Mode on the Performance setting using a 4K TV, so my experience was on the PS5 version only and my review may not reflect a person’s experience with the PS4 version of the game.
God of War Ragnarök is an action-adventure game developed by Santa Monica Studios and is the sequel to the prior soft reboot of the series in God of War (2018) and is available for both PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 5. The game features the return of Kratos and Atreus after their adventure in the prior game travelling across all 9 Realms in this game dealing with dangerous enemies and puzzles along the way.
The gameplay is extremely polished in this game and is a natural expansion to the prior game with everything feeling great to play.
The game also makes use of the PS5’s adaptive triggers for feedback too, so if you play the game on PS5 then I would recommend this setting to make the game feel even more immersive.
The same is also true with 3D audio headphones, as this game really shines in the combination of gameplay and audio design as during gameplay most of the time the enemies will be off screen and attacking the player but with 3D headphones you can distinctly hear the enemies approaching from a given direction before the visual prompt appears by the players feet.
Ragnarök offers multiple ways to play the game from the default 30fps “Quality” mode or 60fps “Performance” mode, with both typical in modern games where the game only displays 4K normally in 30fps mode with a resolution drop to access the 60fps mode.
Both are good starting points and if you do not have a TV that can perform higher frame rates then choosing the Performance mode of 60fps is how I would suggest playing as the drop in visual quality is barely noticeable but the increased performance of 60fps is very noticeable, especially since the game will never drop from 60fps in my experience.
However if you do have a 120hz TV that can perform higher frame rates and are playing the game on a PS5 then the game will allow the user to choose the “High Frame Rate Mode” and applying it to either the Quality or Performance modes as it ups the frame rate of each from 30fps to 40fps for Quality mode and uncaps it for Performance mode.
I played the entire of the story mode using Performance mode with High Frame Rate Mode turned on to get the best gameplay experience. During my gameplay I never experienced any frame rate drops, dips or stutters while I played which was unheard of in recent years playing new titles.
So performance was rock solid throughout my entire playthrough from start to Platinum.
The writing team for this game really stepped it up for this sequel as every character has great writing and no one feels undeveloped or poorly written, even the new side cast get down to earth problems and storylines so we can empathize with them during the story to help make every character at least slightly relatable.
Since this game is a sequel to the prior game most of the open plot threads from the prior game carry over to this instalment, and all their own personal story arcs continue and are expanded upon into new arcs that last most of the main story mode, and each has a very fulfilling conclusion that never does not pull on the heartstrings.
The expanded narrative also play a key role in the exploration of each of the Realms and the side content, this is due to the characters being personally involved in the occurrences of each Realm and journeying to each Realm features new insights on existing characters and their motivations.
A fan favourite narrative device also returns in this game being the boat stories, as whenever Kratos in exploring the Realms by boat or other traversal methods he often fills in the time by recounting stories from either his travels or other people’s. This is also a great call-back to the entire franchise since Kratos retells certain plots of prior games but changes them up to remove his name, doing so really paints a different light to past games and the consequences of his own personal actions that still haunt him all this time later in Ragnarök.
The voice acting in the earlier game was fantastic and the new game does not disappoint.
Christopher Judge is again the highlight of the game, an actor who I have always enjoyed since growing up and seeing him on Stargate SG-1 as Teal’c and X-Men: Evolution as Magneto. He never fails to dominate the scene with his imposing voice and presence but in this game, we see him bring more humanity back to Kratos with the new storyline and writing as he carries on the character development from the original with Atreus but expands upon it much more with his character arc set up from the start of the prequel to the ending of this game as it reaches a fulfilling conclusion that suits the characters and showcases the great acting from all the actors involved.
The other returning actor with the best performance is without a doubt Sunny Suljic, they return from the prequel and deliver an even better performance this time around and due to the high quality writing feels a lot more fleshed out as a character as they dialled down his arrogance and with the time skip becomes a much more humble, relatable and compelling character as we feel his character growth throughout the game as the character has grown during and since the story of the original as the connection between him and his father is on display a lot more and they feel much closer and relatable in this game.
The other returning cast is still great but the new cast for this game is a brilliant addition to the series and I will not go into spoilers for the new cast, but players will enjoy the gravitas and performance that each of these new actors bring to the game.
Ragnarök easily surpasses it is prequel with the wide range of new side content to do outside of the main story mode.
Due to the massive expanse of each of the Realms multiple side quests have been added that when completed make an actual visual change to each of the maps that feels as rewarding as the main reward for each side quest, as while the hacksilver and crafting materials will be used up and forgotten about the player quickly they will always have a visual reward that lasts throughout their playthrough to look back at as a reminder.
Each map is also littered with dozens of collectibles and tasks for the player to complete and a checklist is always kept track of in the map screen, so players do not have to go through several menus to see which side content is on which Realm. This collectibles this time round are also not that difficult to find with the ones that took the longest being Odin’s ravens as there were just under 50 throughout the Realms for the player to hunt down across the story mode and this provided a nice break in the combat and narrative as you could leisurely explore the map to find them and they thankfully standout from every environment by being a bright neon green and produce a very distinct sound from other wildlife in the game so the player knows whenever they are in the area with one to find.
Certain side content does return like the Muspelheim trials return and can be accessed early in the play through (I started them at level 4 and quickly had to flee once the level 6+ enemies spawned), but players can go back throughout the story mode and feel the progression they have made after being away for several hours.
Even the postgame features a lot of great side content and I would highly suggest players do not put the game down when the credits role as each Realm has something new to see or do including powerful post game bosses to test the player like in the prequel.
Each piece of side content is much worth doing as they provide the greatest rewards in the game as I was using one set of armour through most of my gameplay and upgrading it as I went, so I advise every player to dive into the side content and not just focus on the story mode otherwise they miss out on some of the best rewards and dialogue.
The realms felt even larger in this game and much more expansive since the player travels vast horizontal distances but now the game incorporates much more verticality in its level design even so early as the fire major realm with Svartalfheim the home realm of the Dwarves.
The landscape is also filled with many more nooks and crannies for the player to explore and while they do not all reward the player will big rewards, most of them still do reward minor amounts of currency and others with chests with HP and MP upgrades for the player.
This game makes exploration much more rewarding and incentivised due to players always getting something from their efforts in exploring every part of the map from character upgrades to even just been rewarded with amazing vistas for players to gaze out over.
Bear McCreary returns to the sequel to create another solid soundtrack that is even better than the original God of War’s (2018) soundtrack.
Aside from the calming and thematic ambiance themes for each of the main realms there is now much more foreboding and bombastic combat themes for each boss fight and for combat in general.
If you were a fan of the original soundtrack then you will greatly enjoy this soundtrack as it continues everything great in the original and returns more, as it is now also on various streaming sites to listen to afterwards.
This game easily has the best option list I have seen in a game, as aside from the usual list of features it also makes great strides in making this game the most accessible in the franchise.
As to also help players with worse mobility the team at Santa Monica Studios have expanded the list of accessibility options, so now players can change most of the game to help less restrictive controls for people.
Apart from the usual difficulty modes the player can set up aim assist for both combat and for puzzles, so if a player is stuck on a puzzle, they can use the lock on system to know where to interact to progress. Even traversal options have been added so instead of repeated button pressed players can hold down the button now and now players will be able to automatically climb over any obstacles or can completely skip minigames.
Combat options were also expanded for people for struggle with action based games as now players can setup checkpoints when a bosses HP drops by half, so even if they die in combat and must restart the fight then the boss starts off at half HP.
There is also a vast range of visual options that can be tweaked for anyone with visual disabilities, as now the models for pretty much anything in game can be changed to a flat colour so hopefully everyone will be able to distinguish all the objects differently from each other and can complete the game.
Overall this is easily the best list of accessibility options I have seen in a game on consoles and feels like it makes every effort to make this game playable for all gamers.
This was mainly an issue for me in the post-game, as the main storyline did not have this issue as backtracking was kept to a minimum.
Whereas in the postgame as you work through the checklist for each realm the issue of the big stretches between the gates becomes a lot clearer. This is due to how spread out each of the gates are from each other and when you finish getting a collectible in one part of the map and need to go to the other side then you must slowly run to your nearest gate then fast travel to another gate and then continue slowly running to where you need to go.
The gate system is fine to go between the different realms, but I would have preferred a more convenient way to fast travel between gates in the same realm, rather than the used slow method.
Since this was only an issue in the post-game, I think giving the player access to the use of fast travelling on the map would have been more convenient for players. As I found my postgame experience more tedious with the constant backtracking for a small number of collectibles across the giant maps.
A minor problem in this game that did not affect myself much is that the A.I partner that goes with the player will always shout out the solutions to puzzles and boss fights too frequently.
This would be mitigated if the player could turn down the frequency of these hints in the option menu but among the comprehensive list of options but there is not.
So if the player gets too frustrated the only way to silence the A.I partners is to go into the options and reduce the Dialogue Voice to 0 while you whittle down the boss health bars and then increase it back up for the end of the fight when the meaningful dialogue starts again.
To solve this I would suggest including an option to increase the length of time before your A.I solves the puzzle or boss fight to you, as there is an option already to increase the timers for time based puzzles.
Something that happened three times throughout my entire playthrough is that there were occasions where objects clipped through other objects or turned invisible.
These parts only lasted a brief period of time as one time it involved a climbable physics object falling and when I went to climb it the model was swapped out for a different version as the model even changed position on the map and was obvious.
The other noticeable time was during one of the following sections where you follow another character for a brief period of time behind them, the issue with this was their weapons attached behind them were clipping through the body and the physics were off and causing them to behave as if they were made of jelly and not hard metal weapons.
No photo mode.
This game is easily the one game of the year that needs a photo mode the most, as I took a lot of screenshots and videos to capture all the moments throughout the story and the stellar visuals.
So it would have been a nice feature to include a photo mode to really take advantage of the amazing visuals without the default camera angle of being stuck on Kratos’ shoulder and HUD being in the shot.
This to me is the pinnacle of the God of War franchise and serves as a great sequel to God of War 2018, as it takes everything that was great about the prior game and just kept increasing the scale in both gameplay and narrative.
I would say that this is an essential game if you own a PS5 and are a fan of the franchise, as this is one of the mostly meticulously crafted videogames of all time.
Anime Amigo and Nerd Consultant
And finally we have Elliot’s review
SPOILER WARNING: While this review will not be spoiling anything story related, it will include mid to late game gameplay spoilers, proceed with caution if you haven’t played God of War Ragnarök yet.
I admit, I was very late to God of War. It wasn’t until I turned eighteen till I finally played what many consider to be the king of the Hack ‘n Slash genre, but when I did I absolutely loved it. At this point in time I’ve played and beaten every game with the exception of Ascension and got the Platinum Trophy in every mainline game. So as you’d expect, I was super excited for God of War Ragnarök, especially after how the last game ended, and while it was a long two years of waiting after the announcement, I’m happy to say that the wait was well worth it. God of War Ragnarök was developed by Santa Monica Studios and released on 9th November 2022 exclusively for Playstation 5.
It has been three years since the events of God of War (2018), and Fimbulwinter is well underway. Atreus, who we learned at the end of the last game is Loki, is slowly starting to gain new powers that he struggles to control with, which isn’t helped by Kratos’ constant insistence on training the boy. After their wolf Fenrir dies, causing Atreus to go crazy and turn into a bear due to him losing control of his giant magic (either that or a strange side effect of puberty), they’re paid a visit by Thor and Odin, who reveals that Atreus has apparently been looking for Tyr, the God of War of the Nine Realms. Odin offers Kratos a deal, Atreus abandons his search for Tyr and he and Thor leave them in peace, Kratos refuses the deal which leads to a duel between him and Thor. After the duel ends in a stalemate, Kratos, Atreus and Mimir flee from their home in Midgard and take refuge in Sindri and Brok’s home. After later finding evidence that Tyr may in fact be still alive, Kratos reluctantly agrees to aid his son in seeking the once mighty God of War. I wasn’t sure if or how they could surpass the story to God of War (2018) as that’s one of my favourite stories in gaming, but by the gods they did it. The story of this game is absolutely fantastic. The development and changes to the characters are done exceptionally well, and it leaves you hesitant to put the game down as you just HAVE to know what happens next. While the game has enough story beats to fill up two games, it never feels bloated or that it’s going on for too long.
Graphically, God of War Ragnarök looks beautiful. This game has only been slightly improved from the last, with details on character models and interactable objects having added textures and better colouring. One of the more interesting additions to the environment is how each of the Realms have been affected by the events of Ragnarök, with some Realms like Muselheim or Helheim looking mostly the same, while Midgard and Alfheim have had very noticeable changes after the events – and possibly because of the events – of the previous game. There are even multiple areas that you’ll recognize from the previous that have been altered in both look and layout, which I think is a really cool detail to add in. Just like the last game the camera doesn’t cut away once, staying in one continuous shot until the credits roll. I personally really like this as it feels more like we’re following Kratos and Atreus’ every step throughout their journey and I think it’s just a really awesome directional decision. The voice acting is superb, Christopher Judge and Sunny Suljic reprise their roles as Kratos and Atreus and they are just as excellent as before, same with everyone else who they brought back. I especially love Richard Schiff as Odin and Scott Porter as Heimdall (mostly for making me somehow want to punch that character in the face even more). The game’s music is absolute god-tier (yes that pun was intended). The quieter tracks are soft enough to sleep to and can bring a chill down your spine, meanwhile the louder ones are absolutely epic, almost making you want to go to war yourself. Easily one of the best soundtracks of the year.
God of War Ragnarök plays pretty much the same as the last game, you traverse the Nine Realms hunting down treasure, fighting enemies from Norse Mythology using a combination of light, heavy and ranged attacks and dispatching them in glorious brutality. If you’ve played a God of War game before God of War (2018) then you’d know that they don’t tend to deviate from the game that came before it that much, Ragnarök is no exception to this. In this game you fight with the same weapons as you did the previous, the Leviathan Axe and the Blades of Chaos, with the exact same moveset as before, even the enemies don’t change all that much.This would often be a complaint but in this case I really don’t mind it. The combat in the last game was already brilliant, so the opportunity to get more of it is nothing to be disappointed over. It’s not like that’s all the game has anyway as it also adds or changes quite a lot to make it feel a bit more fresh.
One of which being the Spartan Rage. This works the same as the last game, where once unleashed you go into a frenzy of attacking enemies using your bare hands, during this time you’re basically untouchable as each attack will cause most enemies to stagger and you heal a little bit of health with every hit. Though that’s not all this game has to offer this time, as you unlock different types of Spartan Rage as you go along. One for example uses a smaller portion of your Rage to heal about a third of your health, while another one takes a small chunk of it to deal a heavy amount of damage to an enemy, healing a small portion of health if the attack was fatal. While I did mostly use the default version of Spartan Rage, I still loved the fact that there are multiple types now, as there are some bosses and enemies that one of the other types would do better against.
As you fight enemies, you’ll notice a stagger bar under their health bar increase with each attack. If you manage to get that up to full, you’ll be able to do an attack that will either deal a massive amount of damage, or more likely will be a coup de grâce that will one shot them. This metre will increase slowly if you’re using your weapons, but will fill at a much faster rate if you’re using your bare hands.
Returning from the last game are the Runic Attacks. Runic Attacks are items that unlock special attacks by equipping them to your weapons. You get a combination of light and heavy attacks and can swap them out at any time. Once started these attacks can’t be stopped until the attack is finished but are guaranteed to stagger most enemies and they will have to charge back up once used. Along with these are the Relics and Sword Hilts. Relics and Sword Hilts are items that can be equipped and will perform a unique attack when used, just like the Runic Attacks they will need some time to recharge to be able to be used again.
The Leviathan Axe and Blades of Chaos aren’t the only weapons you have, later down the line you’ll obtain the Draupnir Spear. To start off this is easily the best weapon for ranged attacks in Kratos’ arsenal as it goes much further than your axe and especially your swords. The weapon also has the ability to multiply, every time you throw one it will remain in place while you summon another one ready to launch, you are then able to detonate the discarded spears with the press of a button. Just like with your axe and blades, this also helps with traversal, as it can be used to create zip lines as certain spots and can be thrown into specific sections of walls at a specific angle to become a pole to swing or climb on. I found myself using this weapon quite often, almost as much as I used the others. Its unique features make it a fun weapon to use and just as valuable as your other weapons.
Definitely the biggest change with this game is that for the first time in God of War history you don’t exclusively play as Kratos. During the story there will be a few times when Kratos and Atreus are separated, and during some of those moments you’ll get to play as Atreus for a short while. Atreus only uses one weapon to fight with, being his bow, and does fight somewhat similarly to Kratos. Though he does also have a few other differences to his father. For instance instead of using a Heavy Runic Attack, he gets Runic Summons, where he’s able to summon an astral form of a variety of animals, from a small pack of wolves to a single pissed off squirrel. His Rage is different to Kratos’ as well. When activated he taps into his giant magic and transforms into a large wolf. This form is very powerful as it can kill weaker enemies in only a couple of hits, though you will find yourself having a bit of trouble with some of the stronger enemies. The thing that shocked me the most about Atreus is that he’s just as much fun to play as Kratos. Yes you are unable to do any side quests and he does have less variety in combat, but that doesn’t detract from the experience of playing as him at all and I just found him a joy to play.
As you defeat enemies, complete side quests or just progress through the story, you will gain XP. You and your companion will gain XP individually and can spend them to make your character stronger. Whether that’s through levelling up abilities or your Runic Attacks, or unlocking more abilities from the skill menu. From the skill menu you can upgrade attacks or gain new ones. When you use one of those abilities enough times, if you have enough XP to spend, you can add a buff to one of those abilities, an example of that being an increase of damage or stun damage.
Outside of combat you’ll be exploring each of the Nine Realms, most of the time in search of something that will continue the story, though there is one major difference. In God of War (2018) while you did explore seven of the Nine Realms, most of your time was likely spent in Midgard, more specifically around the Lake of the Nine. In God of War Ragnarök on the other hand, not only are you finally able to explore the missing two realms from the previous game, each of the realms are now more open. While some are still quite linear, the fact that you’re now able to explore these realms more freely and will spend a more equal amount of time in each of them makes exploration way more interesting.
One of the things you’ll most likely be finding a lot of is chests, which there are three different types of. The more common ones look like regular treasure chests, these are the easiest ones to find as you’ll likely encounter most of them through basic exploration and will supply you with some hacksilver. The stone ones are a little more tricky, as they will require a bit more manoeuvring or an ability that you may not have at that point to be able to get to it, these will grant you much better items such as crafting materials or sometimes Runic Attacks. Easily the most valuable and trickiest to open are the Nornir chests, these will require you to complete a puzzle to unlock which will feature three runes which are lit up on the chest itself. The toughest part about these isn’t trying to figure out how to unlock them, it’s trying to figure out where the runic torches/bells are. These will net you an Idunn Apple (increases your max Health) or a Horn of Blood Mead (increases your max Rage).
Throughout a lot of the game you’ll have an ally aiding you. They will aid you in battle by attacking enemies and holding the enemies in place, letting you get a couple of free hits in. Most of the time they’ll be an archer able to use two types of magic arrows, Sonic and Sigil. While these can aid in battles as they do give a status ailment to the enemies if they’re hit by enough of them, they’re mostly used for exploration. Sonic Arrows can be shot at anything that has a faint green aura around it and doing so will pretty much just break it. Sigil Arrows on the other hand are a bit more interesting and tricky. If you shoot at an object or enemy with them and then throw your axe or blades at what you shot at, the arrows will increase the elemental effect that the weapon has; throwing your axe for example will let whatever you threw it at frozen for a little longer if you recall it back to you. Another thing you can do is shoot three arrows in a line and then when you use your weapon, they will spread that weapon’s elemental effect along those sigils, for example using the Blades of Chaos to spread your fire to a section that you can reach by throwing it. Though depending on what you shoot the arrows at they won’t always make a sigil, there are some surfaces that you’re just unable to shoot at, mostly metal and rock. Half of the challenge with these things is just trying to find something to shoot that will make the arrows stick.
As you explore you will very likely find people who will offer you side quests (Favours) for you to complete. Most of these will consist of you searching for something that someone lost or killing a specific group of enemies. Some of these favours are linked to a specific realm while others are spread throughout all the realms and will require a lot more wandering (and very likely a guide). Completing these quests will reward you and your companion some XP as well as possibly a new armour set or a Relic. These side quests are a lot of fun as they can lead to some further character development and will get you to explore areas that you wouldn’t if you were just through the story normally.
Brok and Sindri return from the last game as your friendly and very amusing blacksmiths. You can pay them a visit in multiple set locations to upgrade your armour and weapons if you have enough hacksilver and the right materials, or even craft new sets of armour that will be unlocked as you progress throughout the story. As well as that you can buy very useful resources from them, most notably the Resurrection Stones, and sell any artefacts or armour that you don’t need.
Sadly there are a few minor gripes I have with the game, nothing major but a couple worth mentioning. For starters the puzzles are somewhat simplistic, they tend to be very easy to the point where I spend more time trying to find how to get to the solution than trying to figure out the solution itself (somewhat embarrassingly long at times admittedly). Despite that the game still feels the need to point out the solution if you spend longer than ten seconds on the puzzle, which does get annoying after a while. Luckily there is a way to extend the timer on that, but unfortunately there’s no way to turn it off completely. Another small gripe is that the game tends to throw enemies at you that use Bifrost a bit too frequently around the endgame. Bifrost is a mechanic that will section off a small portion of health if you get hit by it, if you’re hit by an enemy again while that portion of health is still sectioned off then you’ll lose it. I wouldn’t mind it as much if it was only relegated to a few enemies, but around the last quarter of the game it felt like I was almost exclusively fighting enemies that used Bifrost, which led to me losing health at a rather annoyingly fast pace.
I don’t know how, but Santa Monica Studios always seems to outdo themselves with every new game they do. I absolutely loved God of War Ragnarök. It’s managed to surpass every expectation I had and has easily become my favourite God of War game. If you’re in any way interested in this game or are a big fan of God of War (2018) then I cannot recommend this game enough. It’s an easy Game of the Year contender for me.
Anime Amigo and Nerd Consultant
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