Howdy hidey ho! I’ve played every main entry in the God of War series, only skipping the handheld games, and being blown away by the series’ (still continuous) reinvention with God of War 2018. Well, here we are with a direct sequel. Does this simply continue the last game, or does it bring enough innovation to move the series forward?
…don’t expect innovation, expect expansion.
Foundationally, it’s important to know this is absolutely 100% an import from God of War 2018. This really is for all intents and purposes an extension of the previous game. However, this does come with some improvements, namely in speeding up (or cutting down on) stun grabs and making navigating the world a lot faster and smoother, à la “videogame-like”. As the saying goes, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”. However, there is good news, here: I refuse to spoil it, but things get a lot more dynamic in terms of companions and change of pace this time around. If you think you know everything from playing the predecessor, you ARE in for some pleasant surprises! Naturally, what you DO know does still apply here: expect a large portion of your time to be exploration and world-building discussions… though I do want to note this game DOES also have the Sony-hand-holding-dialogue problem. Yea, I know, Elden Ring really did spoil us. As you continue pressing on, though, you’ll nary find much wrong with the combat and exploration. Simply put, if you hated said exploration and combat from the last game, you’ll hate it here. But if you liked it, then all is hunky dory with that same action-packed intensity. In summary: don’t expect innovation, expect expansion. It builds its gameplay off an existing, structurally sound foundation, and adds a little more flavor to it this time around. It even answers Zelda’s hookshot!
…the campaign took me a commendable-and-very-healthy 30+ hours.
On the way to the walking credits, the campaign took me a commendable-and-very-healthy 30+ hours. And as you are no doubt aware by now, I smell the roses along the way. This led to me being pretty well-equipped and geared up as I headed into the late game (admittedly making the final bosses a bit easy). Yet, as the game sets you loose back in the world, I found there was still much to do. I’d estimate at least another 15 hours of side content at the minimum. Of course, to be blunt, PS4 players get the best value, here. They’ll pay $10 less for the same content. This also segues into the next section seamlessly…
…the perfect balance between a videogame and movie…
Foundationally, it’s important to know this is absolutely 100% an enhanced PS4 game. That curse mostly includes the lack of raytracing which we know is possible thanks to Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart. This leaves the world with a decidedly dull look coupled with some occasionally unsightly draw distance pop-ins, and of course the “loading sequence” narrow squeeze spaces the PS4 needs. Additionally, some animations are clearly 30fps PS4 ones, and you can tell which animations were newly built because of how much smoother they are. But that’s all less of a curse than it sounds as the game is STILL good-looking in 60fps with some occasional hitches and stutters (I recommend the 60fps mode because the action moves FAST, and you’ll want to see it in all its glory!). From there, well, things are pure bliss. The environments and artwork are second-to-none and there’s no denying clear mastery of the game world. The word “world” also leads into the story, and here’s where things simply exceed expectations. Mythology is known for its ironic “human” drama amongst the gods, and this game makes it a point to develop every character you care about in a way that I can’t spoil. Nay, I REFUSE to spoil! You’re in for the type of character development and writing that puts the word “movie” and “cinematic” into a videogame, and the performances are an absolute treat. And it all comes complete with necessary plot twists that I can’t-err no, WON’T show! This is the perfect balance between a videogame and a movie, effortlessly balancing brutal gameplay tones of death and destruction with the human condition. “Perfectly balanced, as all things should be”.
The good of this game outweighs the bad…
I’m known for finding the flaws, being critical of the things that fanboys want swept under the rug. God of War 2018 demonstrated a level of series innovation and reinvention that just could not be ignored. Ragnarök does not do this: its biggest flaw, indeed. It is at its core a PS4 game enhanced for the PS5, built on and expanded from an existing template. But that’s pretty much it’s ONLY problem. For every single thing I can nitpick, there are two things worth praising. The good of this game far outweighs the bad, almost erasing it entirely and leaving one of the most epic, polished, and finest pieces of cinematic gaming you could possibly have. And it does it using mythology true to its form, yet uniquely built for its own Kratos-centric narrative. This is peak action-adventure cinema you simply should not miss.
I give God of War Ragnarök…