Kratos and his son Atreus are back in what’s shaping up to be a fantastic game.
God of War Ragnarok released this past Wednesday for the PlayStation 5 and PlayStation 4. Developed by Santa Monica Studio, Ragnarok is the sequel to the 2018 God of War game and the eighth console title in the franchise since its start in 2005 on the PlayStation 2. Ragnarok continues the story from the previous game, set within Norse mythology as Kratos and his son Atreus look for answers about their past while trying to stop the impending doom of Ragnarok.
Here are my impressions of the game so far. I’ve clocked in around 7:30 hours in-game time but played more than that in reality. I’m playing Ragnarok on the PS5 on normal difficulty. I actually just got my PS5 console and a new 4K television set up this week so besides Resident Evil Village and some Modern Warfare 2 multiplayer, Ragnarok is the only game I have played on the system. I generally avoided all spoilers and info on the game outside of the official trailers.
Some spoilers to follow:
- I love the game so far. It has got me hooked.
- Ragnarok looks amazing in 4K. It really feels like a next generation game, from the environments to the character models and the emotional expressions/range they’re capable of now. I think if you tried to play it on the base PS4 console the system would probably explode or sound like a jumbo jet the whole time. I’m playing Ragnarok with all the higher end performance/graphical settings selected, HDR, etc. It might be the best looking video game I’ve ever seen.
- Ragnarok plays incredibly smooth on PS5, especially with the higher framerates unlocked in the settings. Everything feels crisp, from the character movements, combat and the exploration. It’s definitely something I notice coming from the PS4 to the next gen console with PS5. The gameplay just feels super tight.
- The first hour of Ragnarok comes in hot and ends with an encounter with Odin and an action-packed boss fight against Thor, which I can assume isn’t the last time players will see him in combat. I really liked the start of the game and how it set the tone for the next several hours.
- I remember most of the main story parts of God of War from 2018 but not all the gameplay aspects. Ragnarok feels like a better continuation of that game from a gameplay perspective.
- Combat with Kratos between the two weapons with the ice Leviathan Axe and fire-based Blades of Chaos is fun. I use a lot of long range attacks like throwing the freeze axe at enemies but also get up close. I like mixing the fights up and switching between the two weapons. The combat feels like it has a lot of depth. Having Atreus as AI-controlled backup actually does helpful damage during encounters. He’s not dumb.
- Kratos is more annoying in Ragnarok with his general attitude and disapproving grunting over everything. I think after so many games with him that it became grating at this point.
- Atreus is in that awkward teenager phase but is also coming into his own character.
- You can tell that Kratos is losing his grip of control on Atreus as his son gets older, which is an interesting dynamic. He’s letting Atreus take more of the lead in this game compared to the previous title.
- Mimir, the head of the smartest man alive that Kratos carries around his waist, is like the nice/cool uncle to Atreus compared to Kratos who is the grumpy dad and always being super critical of everything. Mimir has already had to break up a few conversations between the father and his son before they got too heated.
- Atreus as a teenager isn’t as annoying as I thought he would be. I don’t know if he could carry his own God War game yet but he still feels like an improvement from the last release.
- Odin and Thor are great characters and feel like authentic people who are also these powerful gods with all these crazy powers. I really like how the development team created them in that way. This Thor in Ragnarok and how he acts is a lot different compared to the other popular culture depiction of the character in the Marvel movies. I don’t have much knowledge or reference to the character so his portrayal in Ragnarok is really interesting.
- The boss fights so far have been challenging enough and pretty intense. Of course I died on them but it made me adapt my play style.
- The game’s writing and dialogue is fantastic. Conversations flow authentically and don’t feel too much like a video game.
- Ragnarok does a good job reminding players of the story and characters from the last game in a natural way that’s woven into conversations, dialogue and cut-scenes. Instead of just presenting a “previously in God of War” video and leaving it at that, it happens as the player keeps advancing in the current story.
- The game does a great job of building up anticipation for what’s to come, both in the short and long-term.
- Puzzles are challenging enough. I have gotten stuck a few times but the characters like Atreus and Mimir will make comments that give you hints on how to solve them in the environment.
- Exploring the world leads the player to find a lot of hidden items and loot from treasure chests. The areas themselves have markings and button prompts when trying to climb or get to different locations. I usually try to explore every part of a level before moving on.
- Upgrading the armor and weapons feels like a natural progression without have to farm for extra resources. It also actually feels like you’re getting stronger, even from just how Kratos changes in appearance based on the items you equip. The skill tree abilities and options seem fair too and unlock at a good pace.
- I liked playing as just Atreus when you’re able to fully control him away from Kratos. His own combat is solid, using his arrows for longe range attacks and the actual bow for melee. He doesn’t have as many powers or attacks as Kratos yet but it still felt satisfying to play as him.
- As you’re exploring an area, Atreus makes a random comment about his beard potentially starting to growing in. Kratos and Mimir played off it a bit. I thought this was a nice detail to include in the game outside of a cutscene. When he’s 18, Atreus will probably already have a Kratos beard.
- Atreus actually grew on me, especially during his solo section sneaking back to Midgard. The banter between him and Sindri, one of the blacksmith dwarves, is pretty funny and feels like an actual conversation between friends. I like Atreus’ personality.
- Combat can be challenging but then again I generally suck at games. There’s been some fights where I died a few times. Close combat and then ranged enemies make you change your approach, especially depending on how the environment is laid out.
- I expected Tyr to be like 20 feet tall when they saved him since he’s the leader of the giants. He has been hyped up since the 2018 game with this whole mythology and mystery around him. It’s interesting that he looks like Jesus and also has given up his old god of war ways in favor of peace by the time you meet up with him.
- Freya, the former queen of the Valkyries and Odin’s ex-wife, is interesting and I wonder where her character goes in this game. After Kratos killed her son Baldur in the last God of War, she hasn’t been herself. She outright tries to kill you during the first several minutes of this game. Her character in Ragnarok shows the emotional turmoil of loss and grief, even to the way she physically looks and acts, especially her facial reactions. There’s some definite PTSD going on.
- The camera can be weird at times in combat, but maybe that’s just me. I’m still getting the hang of it. Characters that attack you from behind aren’t focused on. Instead you have to manually move the camera with the right analog stick. I could also be missing some setting but it has taken me time to get used to that, especially in the heat of combat.
- Sidequests and exploring is going to add a lot to the scope of Ragnarok as well. I completed one sidequest already and it took some time.
- I have doubts about Kratos’ former wife and Atreus’ mother Faye. I’m expecting some sort of swerve to happen later in the story. I could just be looking too much into it though. My feeling is based on Atreus and Kratos both barely knowing anything about the kid’s background (what’s up with Loki?) or even the things that Faye was actually up to when she was alive. This is starting to get hinted at more in Ragnarok during certain dialogue parts.
- It’s cool visiting parts from the 2018 game that are now all frozen and covered with snow because of the Fimbulwinter caused by the coming Ragnarok. Seeing the changes again unites both this game and the last together, making it feel like a connected experience.
- This is going to be a long game. I feel like I’m still in the beginning of the story and I’m already over seven hours into it.
- Ragnarok might end up being one of my favorite games of all time based on how it has gone so far.
I posted on cohost about going to the midnight launch for Ragnarok at GameStop. This was the first “midnight” launch for a game I went to in probably like almost 10 years. I actually got the game at 11pm central time, so that’s a new thing they’ve done since then instead of having to wait until exactly midnight. People were excited for it. It was fun to have that shared community/cultural experience again, which is largely missing from back in the day since digital distribution became so prevalent.
I haven’t really raged on a game like this in a long time. Besides Elden Ring, there’s probably not much that will come close to being game of the year like God of War Ragnarok will.
Watch gameplay from the first hour of Ragnarok:
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