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God of War Ragnarök preview: High-octane action

God of War Ragnarök preview: High-octane action

God of War Ragnarok

My favourite father-son duo in gaming is back in God of War Ragnarök. I managed to play the first couple of hours of this highly-anticipated sequel to 2018's God of War. Ragnarök appears to deliver a similar gaming experience — high-octane, epic fights spliced with quieter moments of character development, puzzle-solving, and collectible-hunting. There are some gameplay and combat tweaks, but so far, they appear to fine-tune the formula, rather than revamp the game entirely.

Quick notes

  • Exclusive to PS4/PS5 (tested)
  • Launches on Nov 8, preload starts from Nov 2
  • Conclusion of the Norse saga.

Ragnarök opens with Fimbulwinter (or long winter), a sign that the end of the world is imminent. The stakes thus are higher than ever. Familiar faces like talking head Mimir and the Huldra dwarven brothers are back, while the Norse gods Thor and Odin are involved, too. At the start of the game, Kratos is still the dour, over-protective father, but Atreus is older (and taller) now. The latter is showing more of a rebellious streak, and is keen on learning more about his Giant heritage. Hence, the duo (and Mimir) will be clocking the miles, and travelling to all Nine Realms in Norse mythology, including the three that were inaccessible in the first game.

God of War Ragnarok
Credit: Sony Interactive Entertainment

Developer Santa Monica Studio has tweaked the combat to give gamers more options to tackle in-game enemies. For example, I had the option to equip Kratos with two different types of shields. One favoured blocks, while the other was for parrying. Depending on your playstyle, you may prefer one to the other. Kratos' weapons have also gained an elemental effect. The Leviathan Axe can be charged with frost, while the Blades of Chaos can be imbued with fire. These effects play a part in some of the puzzles I have encountered. Kratos can also use the Blades of Chaos like a grappling hook, opening more possibilities for level design. Besides combat and puzzle-solving, there are the usual collectibles to hunt, and my personal favourite, killing Odin's dastardly ravens.

God of War Ragnarok
Credit: Sony Interactive Entertainment

Like many modern consoles games, you can switch between two graphics modes. One mode produces a native 4K image targeting 30fps, while the other Performance mode is a dynamic 4K resolution targeting 60fps. I played the game in Performance mode, and graphics still looked great on my 4K TV. I didn't encounter any bugs in my short playthrough, but the disguised loading screens — when travelling to different areas — from the first game are still present in Ragnarök. They did seem faster on the PS5, though. PlayStation 5 users will also enjoy immersive haptic feedback, and adaptive trigger functionality with the DualSense wireless controller.

And that's about all I can report for now — the review of the full game will be out Nov 4. Pre-order the digital copy of God of War Ragnarök from Sony or get the physical version from Shopee (PS4), Amazon SG (PS5), and Lazada (PS5).

See Also
Samsung Galaxy S23 Series

Note: Review copy provided by Sony Interactive Entertainment.

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