Review: God of War Ragnarök – The Next Step for Father and Son

It’s tough to follow up a successful game release with a competent sequel that builds upon what came before. Not every game series can do so in a way that introduces new elements while evolving its core foundation. Luckily for God of War fans eager to see the next chapter of Kratos’ story, God of War Ragnarök is an epic home run. Not only is it a fun game to play, but it tells a story that will keep you wanting to see more of the nine realms and a father and son interact with this mythical universe.

Something important to know is that you should play the previous God of War game to really appreciate everything that happens within this story. While it’s not necessary to do so, many plot points will hit harder and clever call-backs will be understood more if you do so. Luckily, you have a recap you can see in the main menu, which summarizes the biggest parts of the previous game. It doesn’t give you everything, but only what is necessary to get you up to speed. However, if you go into Ragnarok with fresh eyes never having played the first game, you can still enjoy everything it gives you.

The story of God of War Ragnarök is the star of this show, with the relationship between Kratos and his son Atreus being the glue that pulls everything together. Getting to see more of the nine realms that were teased in the first game is a big step up, but it’s the interactions and dialogue between these characters that make going to these places all the more interesting. With Atreus growing older and reaching adolescence, much of the dynamic between him, Kratos, and many of the other characters have changed. It’s a coming-of-age story for the young man as much as it is a stage set for Ragnarok and the fall of Asgard.

But that doesn’t mean Kratos takes a side step to his son, nor any other character in God of War Ragnarök. This is still very much a story about Kratos and his time within Midgar and the nine realms. Our Greek warrior has come a long way, facing many hardships and trials that continue to test him. He’s still a vicious powerhouse in combat with a stoic demeanor and blunt attitude but ends up showing more cracks in his emotional armor as the story progresses.

We don’t just see a warrior facing a looming destiny, but a father who has to live up to the promises he made to his late wife, and a parent coming to terms with their child growing up. Not everyone who plays through this story will know what it’s like to be a parent, but the weight of emotions and reactions we see from Kratos in different moments is tangible, enough to make anyone sympathize and understand the importance of everything.

As much as the story and its characters are top-notch, so too is the gameplay. Exploring the realms is similar to the first game, but with more ground to cover and even more, challenges to overcome. The visuals are beautiful, with a scale that makes every place you visit feel adventurous and mythic. Outside of the main questline that takes you through the plot of God of War Ragnarök, each realm has an assortment of side quests and optional tasks that will test you and reward you generously.

What’s interesting is how various parts of Norse mythology are intertwined with many of these parts of the game, building up the universe even further than the previous game. You not only get more insight into many of the main characters but their backstories before the game as well. A lot of the conversations between characters during quests often give a lot of personality and humor to everything as well, with a few quirks that will stand out in more ways than one.

The combat is fast-paced and smooth, allowing you to take down groups of enemies and giant foes with an arsenal of weapons and abilities. You control Kratos like before, but Ragnarök opens things further by putting you in control of Atreus at certain points of the main story. Kratos is the blunt instrument with powerful attacks, while Atreus is fast and nimble utilizing ranged combat with his bow. He can even use spells on his arrows that afflict status elements on enemies, allowing him and Kratos to take down enemies with ease. For some people it might be weird using Atreus in combat at first but quickly will make become natural after learning how to alternate between melee and ranged combat. It’s definitely a variation on how you normally fight with Kratos, but offers a lot cleverer possibilities for how to approach combat.

Like before, you can equip various armor and pieces to Kratos’ weapons he finds throughout the game. Powering up the Blades of Chaos or Battle Axe can take some time, however, as the materials needed to boost them up require you to finish tougher quests. A lot of this will come as you complete more of the main story, but is not frequent unless you’re finishing optional content that gives you good rewards. Some side quests have very tough enemies that will really test your patience if you approach them unprepared, but can be brought down with some finesse, especially if you completed other quests to power up beforehand.

Along the way, you can gain new weapons like a Spear and powerful sword if you decide to go the extra mile and finish a few tedious side quests across the realms. New weapons give Kratos new abilities and moves that can help in combat or open new areas to explore. At the start, you won’t be able to visit everywhere within a realm until you come back with new abilities to open new locations up. You’ll definitely want to go back to other realms and see what you can discover with extra powers you unlock, opening new challenges and yielding some great rewards.

Traversing through the realms in God of War Ragnarök is a fun time, especially when you revisit locations from the first game and see how much has changed. Where once there was a giant river to ride a boat through now is a massive frozen lake to run across, with new challenges and secrets to uncover. Later portions of the story offer different transportation that mixes things up, such as riding wolves or a magical boat that takes you across the sky.

Finding all of the optional quests to complete and their rewards will definitely take some time, leading to a play time that could reach beyond 60 hours or more if you decide to complete everything. But if you only plan on going through the main story alone with little side content, then you can still expect to spend around 25 to 30 hours of game time. Does any of that time end up becoming too much of a drag? Only if you decide to stop and take in the sights of the realm around you because the rest of it is exciting and a spectacle to experience.

God of War Ragnarök is an epic game with great moments, smooth combat, and a fantastic presentation on the PlayStation 5. If you were hoping for a solid follow-up to the previous game, you’ll be happy to see everything come together in the best way possible. The next chapter for Kratos and his son take their story to a whole new level of epic and sets up what could be a very interesting future for the series.

What are your thoughts about God of War Ragnarök? Are you a fan of the series and want to see more of this universe? Post down below in the comment section and tell us your thoughts about it!

God of War Ragnarök
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    God of War Ragnarök - 100%
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Amazing

This game looks and plays fantastically. The story is very good and will keep you wanting to explore more of this universe and its characters. There’s a lot of optional content that will keep you playing for a long time, while also rewarding you with even more backstory and gameplay elements.

Jakejames Lugo

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