God of War Ragnarok Review

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God of War Ragnarok Featured image

4 years after reimagining the God of War franchise, Sony Santa Monica returns with another epic tale concluding their story in Norse mythology. God of War: Ragnarök covers the events surrounding Ragnarok, which the previous entry foretold. By using characters and events set in Norse mythology, Sony Santa Monica manages to uniquely equip itself with the power to subvert fan expectations at every turn of the story. While Ragnarök raises the narrative’s stakes to another level, the core beat of the story remains grounded by powerfully using the emotions of its characters to tell a story that players can relate to. Kratos is portrayed as a father who isn’t ready to let go of his son, while Atreus is showcased as someone who is fighting to find his path.

Cory Barlog passes the torch to Eric Williams who is the main director this time. Perhaps, this is one of the reasons why Ragnarök feels fresh to play and not more of the same.

A Redesign:

Like its predecessor, Ragnarök follows a linear approach to the open-world formula. The explorable areas are divided between the nine realms. By using the pretext of Fimbulwinter, the developers made substantial changes to each realm which made them refreshing to explore. The best example is Midgard, where Fimbulwinter worked literally by freezing the lake encompassing the whole realm. Due to this, traversal is now on a sledge carried by wolves instead of by boat which was a welcomed change as it decreased travel speeds. You can open up new areas to explore through the use of runic arrows and the newly provided Draupnir spear. During my whole playthrough, I did not notice any bugs or performance hiccups.

GOW Ragnarok

Fiery Combat:

God of War 2018’s combat let fans believe that it did not need much improvement for the sequel but this aspect of the game was also refined more for.

A greater focus on parries has been placed while introducing new abilities and a new weapon which makes the combat not only fresh but also better. While the fan-beloved Blade of Chaos and Leviathan Axe feel better than ever to use with the Dualsense, my highlight was the new weapon, the Draupnir Spear, which Kratos can spawn multiple times by using a ring. Ragnarök’s combat feels more responsive than ever and by switching between the three weapons, you truly feel like the god of war. A minor issue I noticed was that the game felt easier than the 2018 one, probably because fans have grown accustomed to the combat. I recommend switching up the difficulty to No Mercy which provides more demanding combat but is still fair. A real highlight in my playthrough was the use of traversal in combat which I noticed while scouting Vanaheim. Kratos can now use his blades to traverse upwards during combat which adds a whole new excitement to the combat scenarios.

This time around, we also get to play as Atreus who uses his bow in melee and ranged combat both. His moves are not nearly as destructive as Kratos’s, hence the game makes you play a bit more technically.

GOW Ragnarok

God of Loot:

Another area of improvement was the side quests. Filled to the brim with lore and emotional scenes, they constantly felt like they had been given due attention and care by the team at Santa Monica. The rewards given by these quests are more than worthwhile which pushes you to explore and finish them. An example is the Sigrun side quest. Fans of the previous entry would remember that she was by far the toughest enemy in the game. Being able to explore her past was exhilarating and also proved to be emotional due to Mimir’s attachment to her. There are over 60 main bosses in the game, with most of them being part of the side content. From majestic giant beasts to lizards like Dreki’s, each fight is thrilling in its own right.

God of War Ragnarok

A main highlight of the game is its sound stage. Bear McCreary returns to produce the game’s main soundtrack and has yet again done a phenomenal job. Richard Schiff has provided a stunning performance as the voice cast for Odin, by making his aura so innocent but menacingly evil at the same time. The game’s lead, Christopher Judge also offers another remarkable performance, relaying Kratos’s pain and struggle on a deeper level.

The game’s new game+ mode which was added post-release also pushes for its replay value. This time around, the side bosses are Berserkers instead of the valkyries and they are even more challenging.

Ragnarök’s ambience as a whole, completely stumps that of the previous game. Its narrative, combat, and graphics are all overhauled to provide a better and more fulfilling experience. Spreading bits of lore between side quests and side areas adds to the experience a lot. The game makes sure that the side content doesn’t feel like it is a grind and respects your time. The world feels so lived in and makes you appreciate how it has been hand-crafted. For me, the only place where the game stumbles is in its third act which can feel a bit rushed but it is resolved perfectly. I would recommend Ragnarök to anyone interested in a narrative-focused third-person game.

For those interested, God of War: Ragnarök is available at the following retailers:
Amazon: God of War: Ragnarök – PlayStation 4
BestBuy: God of War Ragnarök Launch Edition – PlayStation 5

While the tale of Ragnarök in its grand stature may encompass the nine realms, the real magic of the game resides in its emotional character stories.

God Of War Ragnarok

Author

  • Zain Raza

    Zain's gaming passion started with the PSP era. He has been a PlayStation fan from the start and loves narrative driven single-player games. He dabbles into all things pop culture.

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