There is little doubt that Santa Monica Studio‘s upcoming God of War Ragnarok is one of the most highly anticipated games of the year. Following the success of the semi-reboot that was God of War in 2018, the team now needed to do it all over again, but even more impressively this time. And lo and behold, the first hours of our time in God of War Ragnarok have been nothing short of amazing.
From the expanded and more in-depth combat systems, the sheer scope and scale of the adventures that await Kratos and Atreus, to the continuation of one of gaming’s best redemption stories, God of War Ragnarok is pulling out all the stops to impress, even from just the first few hours we had spent with the game.
Picking things up three years after the conclusion of the first game, we once again visit Kratos and Atreus. The former remains the stoic father figure, now with a better understanding of how to be a father and protector of his kin, while the latter is a grown teen, ready to find out more about the world and his role to play in it.
And while God of War in 2018 gave us an emotional rollercoaster that transformed the screaming man-child that was Kratos into a relatable and human character, God of War Ragnarok builds upon that established foundation, and ups the ante by introducing the impending doom of the end of the world.
Now united as a pair, that father and son journey continues to grow, and with plenty of nuances thrown in that suggest both Kratos and Atreus are far from being one-note characters. Players will have even more reasons to see the quest through to the end, all while rooting for our heroes.
There are also other familiar faces returning to the fold, and a couple more surprises, and to God of War Ragnarok‘s credit, they are all given ample time to shine. Brok and Sindri are still at their best when bickering and offering sharp insights, while Mimir revels in his status as the narrator and observer of the world. Norse mythology is full of interesting figures, and there will be many more lying in wait, providing us not just a game to enjoy, but also learning opportunities about a culture that is rich in prophecies, myths, and legends.
Of course, God of War Ragnarok doesn’t just have the narrative and character development chops, with its combat and exploration mechanics also largely elevated to a whole other level. The satisfying Leviathan Axe is back, but so is the Blades of Chaos, with both weapons providing more options to tear your enemies apart much more early in the game.
That’s not all; the weapons each have a new Signature Move, adding another layer to an already well-regarded system. Frost Awakens strengthens the chilling effects of the Leviathan Axe, while Whiplash channels a fiery frenzy that will raise the temperatures, resulting in another set of moves to add to the repertoire of enjoyable combos and actions to take in battle, including even more team-up possibilities, environmental attacks, and much, much more.
Kratos is also much more agile this time around, with battles usually allowing for more movement on the ground, as well as elevated structures. You could be eviscerating a Draugr at first, then swinging Kratos upwards onto platforms to dispatch a pesky ranged enemy, and then sprinting and jumping off said platforms for a powerful smash on another foe below. Adrenaline pumping action is clearly par for the course.
Once the fighting is done, there is still much to see in the various realms of God of War Ragnarok, and it is clear that much love has gone into the environments, bringing to life distinct and intriguing worlds, full of secrets to find, and stories to tell. The 2018 title already looked extremely good on the PS4, and on the PS5, God of War Ragnarok manages to do even better, especially for the various character models both in action and during the cutscenes.
We have barely touched the tip of the iceberg, but even in such a short period of time, God of War Ragnarok has constantly managed to impress us at almost every turn, and the early predictions that the big awards would be fought between this game and Elden Ring look to be increasingly true.
If a few hours is all we needed to be believers again, imagine a 30-40 hour adventure that never lets up, but only gets even better? That is truly a divine experience, and it is what we hope the entirety of God of War Ragnarok would be come this 9 November.