It is probably the biggest exclusive title of 2022: “God of War: Ragnarök” will be released for PlayStation 4 and 5 on November 9, 2022. It is the successor to the “God of War” released in 2018 – the reboot title of the traditional action series. SCE Santa Monica Studio showed the former god of war Kratos from another side: as the father of young Atreus, but also as a grieving husband.
This additional character development did the character enormously well and, combined with a much more demanding gameplay, put “God of War” back on the road to success. With “Ragnarök” you should continue to drive it – at least that’s our impression after the first three hours of the upcoming action-adventure.
Well told and impressively presented
Very important: Of course we don’t spoil anything in this article. Just this much: “God of War: Ragnarök” takes place about three years after the events of its predecessor. If you can’t remember them, there is an integrated summary. This means that even newcomers can understand the story.
Kratos and his now teenage son Atreus try to survive the Fimbul winter that has descended on the world. This is one of the catastrophes leading up to Ragnarök, i.e. the downfall of the gods. Preventing exactly this is the goal of the new “God of War” offshoot.
How this is supposed to work, we’ll keep to ourselves. The atmosphere and the presentation of the game are much more important anyway. As in the predecessor, Kratos and Atreus are an unusual duo. Kratos has now completely settled into his role as a father and is very protective of his son. Atreus, in turn, discovers himself and wants to be taken seriously by the former god of war.
Kratos’ quarrel with the Nordic gods is far from over after the events of the first part and still harbors enormous potential for conflict. Already in the first sections there were great feelings as well as Hollywood-ready action. With the latter, “God of War: Ragnarök” repeatedly mixes quick-time events into the action to underline the staging.
Graphically, the action game is outstanding anyway: In the first scenes, for example, we were enthusiastic about the depiction of the snow and how the footprints were visible there. Later, we enjoyed juicy fights that were almost reminiscent of Marvel movies.
Run and puzzle
Similar to its predecessor, “Ragnarök” relies on a partially open game world. Again you travel via portals into an intermediate world and from there to your goals. We won’t reveal more at this point and we won’t spoil any locations or characters. The extensive areas remain striking, which contain side tasks and hidden goodies in addition to the direct path to the goal. Atreus learns a new archery technique in the course of the game and can blow up shimmering green obstacles. It is not uncommon for crafting objects and other extras to be hidden behind this.
In addition, “God of War: Ragnarök” always comes up with smaller puzzles and tasks. Sometimes you just have to clear tree trunks out of the way with the push of a button, in other places you stretch a cable and later you have to freeze geysers with the leviathan axe.
Especially these smaller logic puzzles are quite tricky and bring a nice change to the action. For example, if the geysers in a canal system freeze at one point, we change the pressure at other outlets. For example, we drive water wheels and thus open locks for the onward journey with the rowing boat.
Experienced father-son team
In battle, “God of War: Ragnarök” is both confident and imposing. In the first sections we handle Kratos’ chaos blades, his leviathan ax and of course the Spartas Rage, the anger mode. On the other hand, we command Atreus at the touch of a button and let him fire stunning shots at targeted enemies.
The interaction between the two works well as usual. The cooperation between father and son proves to be very useful, especially against small and medium-sized opponents such as the lizard-like Grimms: As soon as Atreus has stunned the beasts, we use Kratos and his finishing actions to do the rest.
However, it should be said at this point that “Ragnarök”, like its predecessor, is not a stupid hit-and-run game. If you already play “God of War” like a hack & slay at the medium level of difficulty, you will often have to get used to the short loading times and restarts.
Especially in the midst of many enemies, the former god of war takes an enormous amount of damage and therefore quickly falls to the ground. It is wiser to use the shield function frequently. With L1 he blocks or (if you press the button at the right time) he even parries attacks and opens up time windows for particularly devastating counterattacks.
Against bosses or larger opponents, on the other hand, even more timing is required. On the one hand they have red marked, unblockable attacks and on the other hand yellow colored attacks that break Kratos’ cover and make him vulnerable. Accordingly, it is always a question of recognizing the signals in good time and reacting to them with evasive movements.
Creatures like the Huntress—a half-horse/human—also have weaknesses. As soon as her crown lights up, we bang the ax in front of her skull and knock her out for a short time.
“God of War: Ragnarök” creates a great game rhythm already in the first big battles. If you are clever in the boss fights, you will line up attacks, blocks and sidesteps so cleverly that, in combination with interspersed quick-time events and cutscenes, something like a playable fantasy action film is created.
Advantage through technology
Of course, you will also improve the skills of the team with continued play time. Kratos has Engineering, Ranged, and Melee skill trees for his weapons. New skills are linked to weapon rank and skill points. The properties of the weapons and armor items affect Kratos Stats itself. Accordingly, you should make a detour to the shops or the dwarf forges more often.
Weapon attachments potentially have attributes in areas such as strength, defense, runic power, vitality, luck, and cooldown. Strength increases the damage of all attacks and skills, runic power increases rune attacks and elemental status damage, and luck grants additional rewards and activates chance abilities more often.
In addition, you use light and heavy rune attacks. In the playable section, we activated the “Bite of Winter” and gave enemies a hard blow at close range, dealing ice damage and knocking the beasts backwards.
God of War Ragnarok news:
“God of War: Ragnarök” follows the path of its predecessor and spices up its combat system with character upgrades and expanded abilities. Trying out and optimizing should motivate in the medium and long term.
You don’t have to be a prophet to predict that God of War: Ragnarök will consistently play in the highest rating brackets. The first hours with Kratos and Atreus make you want more. SCE Santa Monica Studio stages its Nordic world of gods with a tremendous love of detail and (again) does not lose sight of the emotions and the heart despite all the violence and brutality.
The relationship between father Kratos and the adolescent Atreus in particular brings a depth to the game that previous “God of War” offshoots lacked. In terms of play, “God of War: Ragnarök” remains true to its predecessor, but is even more multifaceted and extensive. Exploring the Norse world of gods in search of a remedy against Ragnarök is fascinating and at the same time excellently presented.
In short: “God of War: Ragnarök” does not disappoint in the final preview before the test. If this game doesn’t become a hit, then Kratos finally belongs in the gods’ pension.
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