How do you top a game like God of War, which won multiple accolades including Game of the Year in 2018? The answer: Go big or go home. The highly-anticipated sequel, God of War Ragnarök fine-tunes the gameplay, introduces new, more diverse environments, and adds more variety in enemies. Basically, there's more of everything. But that same blend of high-octane action sequences and solid character development mean that Ragnarök will surely be a contender for 2022's game of the year.
- Exclusive to PS4/PS5 (tested)
- Launches on Nov 8, preload starts from Nov 2
- Conclusion of the Norse saga.
When Ragnarök begins, the father-son duo at the heart of 2018's God of War is older, but the characters themselves don't seem to have grown much. Kratos remains the dour, over-protective father, while Atreus is older (and taller) now. However, the teenager has a mind of his own now, and is keen to learn more about his Giant heritage. An early appearance by antagonists Odin and Thor (with a beer belly) sets the stage for the main conflict of the game — the upcoming, inevitable Ragnarök. To change this world-ending event, Kratos and Atreus, along with a supporting cast (including returning characters like the Hudra dwarven brothers and some new surprising additions) end up travelling to the various Realms in the Norse world, including previously inaccessible ones like Vanaheim, Svartalfheim, and Asgard.
Ragnarök gives Atreus more screen (and play) time. He's like the co-protagonist, if you will. He goes on solo, sometimes furtive trips with interesting new characters. Playing as Atreus is also a refreshing change from Kratos' brute-force approach. But I must admit I was sometimes frustrated with how the story and characters developed. In particular, certain quests seemed like excuses to gallivant around the realms. The change in scenery when exploring the new realms is great, though. Ultimately, the side quests, and conflicts between characters pay off in the end. But I would have liked more Odin and Thor — the other father-son pair in Ragnarök — which serves as a cautionary tale on parenting.
Developer Santa Monica Studio has slightly tweaked the gameplay mechanics from the previous game. There are more gear options now to cater to different playstyles. For example, you can go with a shield favouring blocks over parrying. Kratos' two main weapons, the frost-powered Leviathan Axe and the fire-based Blades of Chaos, are available from the start. And there's a third weapon later in the game that's also used to solve puzzles and unlock areas. Levels now have more verticality, with the Blades of Chaos acting like a grappling hook. But you're still pressing a key to jump or climb, and you still have to mash buttons for quick-time events. I'm also not a fan of the puzzles. They break the momentum and are rarely imaginative enough. It's such a buzzkill to have to solve a puzzle to leave a realm after an exciting boss fight, for example.
I played the game on the PlayStation 5. The graphics in Performance mode looked great, with lots of detail and lifelike facial animation. There were a couple of minor bugs, but nothing game-breaking. PlayStation 5 users will also enjoy immersive haptic feedback, and adaptive trigger functionality with the DualSense wireless controller. Kudos to the acting performances for the game, which were generally excellent. More importantly, God of War Ragnarök sticks the landing at the end. The final hour-long action sequence, especially, is a thrilling, and satisfying conclusion to the Norse saga. It took me around 50 hours to complete the story, along with most of the side quests. But there's more to do after that. Ragnarök launches on Nov 9. Get the digital copy from Sony or the physical version from Shopee (PS4), Amazon SG (PS5), and Lazada (PS5).
Note: Review copy provided by Sony Interactive Entertainment.
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