You don't need us to tell you that God of War Ragnarök comes very hotly anticipated. If God of War (2018) was your first foray into the franchise, you'll be itching to play the sequel. And if your fandom goes back even further than that - perhaps you've played all the God of War games in order over the years - your excitement for the new release will be huge.
So, is the new God of War game good? Is it worth paying full price for and sinking 40-odd hours of your life into? In short, yes, this is a game that fans of this franchise will find lots of stuff to enjoy in, and even more casual followers are sure to be impressed. Kratos and Atreus are back and boy, do they mean business.
The game picks up a little while after the 2018 game's conclusion, with a short recap on the start menu offering you a brief run-through of what happened back then. It's not long before you're back in Kratos's bloodstained boots, kicking arse and taking names with two very familiar weapons. The combat feels just as good as ever, although returning fans might groan when they realise that all their upgrades from the last game have mysteriously vanished.
One thing that hasn't vanished, though, is the deep emotional core that helped to relaunch this franchise in 2018. From the off, you're reminded that Atreus's mother has been resting in peace for a while now, with the two awkward fellas in her life (her widow and her son) still finding it hard to make a life together. When Kratos and Atreus interact, sparks always fly, and that's the magic at the heart of this game. We won't spoil the story, but suffice it to say that it pushes both of these boys to new emotional depths as well as forcing them through the wringer in a very action-packed fashion.
That being said, we'd argue that God of War Ragnarök feels quite over-stuffed compared to its 2018 predecessor, with new subplots emerging at regular intervals and driving a wedge between that central relationship, forcing you to consider other sides to the story and visit/revisit more locations than you did last time. There are more characters vying for screen time in this entry, too, and that does distract somewhat from the real heartbeat of the story. The tone gets a bit wobbly, too.
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On the flip-side of that, it's nice to see Atreus getting a greatly expanded role, no longer just uttering the occasional "whatever" and firing arrows from the sidelines. His beefed-out role we really enjoyed, and we think most players will feel the same on that front, but the overall story would be much tighter if the likes of Brok, Sindri and Freya didn't also have bigger parts to play than before.
The new additions of Odin and Thor also show up more than you might expect. They offer interesting takes on these characters, though, making this interpretation of Norse mythology feel a lot more fleshed-out and alive than it did in the last game. The overarching story is very ambitious, and it pulls all these strings together in a satisfying way eventually, so we think that most fans will be pleased when the credits roll.
Of course, the character material is only one pillar of this game, with action being another one that fans will be analysing very carefully. To us, the axe-throwing and blade-slashing felt better than ever, and the new combat options (some of which don't emerge until around 15 hours into the main story) mix up your arsenal very nicely. The middle difficulty option might be too hard for some players, with even the tiniest goblin being capable of killing you, but luckily you can toggle into the easier options at any time.
The graphics and presentation are another important pillar to this production, and we're pleased to say that God of War Ragnarök does very well in that regard as well. The lack of loading screens is still a great feature, and the realms you'll visit here look absolutely stunning at points. The musical score has some lovely moments, too, so keep your ears peeled at all times. (You could argue there is sometimes too much bickering dialogue interrupting the musical vibes, actually.)
And what about the puzzles? We're happy to tell you that those have been improved this time out as well, with new elements added to each realm's tricksy challenges. There are reflective surfaces that can bounce your axe around corners, for example, and this makes the game feel very fresh from a gameplay perspective, whilst still being packed with nostalgia in lots of other ways.
This is not just a rehash of the 2018 game. Far from it, in fact. This is the most ambitious God of War game to date. And we'd argue that it pulls off all of those ambitions to deliver a story that will stick with fans for a long time, as well as gameplay that will properly challenge you in the moment. We wouldn't say it's perfect, for the reasons detailed above, but fans of Kratos and Atreus will get a lot of out of it.
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God of War Ragnarök launches 9th November on PS4 and PS5. You can order it now from Amazon. We reviewed on PS5. Hungry for more gaming? Visit our video game release schedule, or swing by our hubs for more Gaming and Technology news.
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