The end of the world, or Ragnarök, as it is known in God of War, is fast approaching. The sequel to Polygon’s 2018 Game of the Year is expected to be a major release in 2022, although details are still few.
Regardless of how little we understand Ragnarök, we do know a few things. PlayStation and Santa Monica Studio, the studio responsible for the series, announced the game in 2020 and have been gradually releasing information about it ever since. Here, we’ll go through everything we know about the upcoming God of War game, from when it’ll be released to how the series’ trademark crunchy, much-loved fighting will be updated.
God of War: Ragnarok Is Bigger, Better, And Less Memorable Than Its Predecessor
Though smaller than Elden Ring, God of War: Ragnarok is still a substantial video game. After 40 hours, I completed the game, having done a moderate amount of side missions, and ultimately defeated the final boss. As far as I can tell, there is a substantial amount of stuff waiting for you once the main storyline concludes. Completionists will waste 60–70 hours playing Ragnarok, whereas I expect to get another 10 hours out of it.
That’s a tonne of content for any game, but especially so for one without an open world. Ragnarok deviates from the standard AAA practice of dropping you into a massive open world by instead providing a HUB location, Sindri’s House, from which to explore nine distinct Nordic kingdoms. You’ll travel across a wide range of environments in these many worlds, from lush rainforests to deadly snowstorms to volcanic slopes to icy caverns and beyond. These places made me say “wow” more than once. When I considered how much time and effort the programmers, designers, and engineers must have put in, my head started to spin.
Stunning visuals may seem like a given for a blockbuster game in 2022, but Ragnarok still manages to impress. The character models, from the individual hairs in Kratos’ beard to the scratches that can be seen in the reflection of his Blades of Chaos, are stunning.
The level design of these worlds is what makes them so dazzling. It would be wrong to call Ragnarok linear, but it’s also not an open-world game. You travel to some very large regions. When you venture off the usual route, you’ll find many delightful surprises waiting for you, including hidden locations that become accessible after acquiring new weapons and equipment, as well as entirely new regions and quests. The nine realms are so well-designed that they evoke the same sense of awe as the best open-world games, making players want to explore every bright object they see.
At the very least, by the end of the game, those things will have come to pass. It takes some time for God of War: Ragnarok’s environment to fully unfold because you’re kept under close supervision throughout the game’s first few missions. It’s not terrible, but it does hide the improvements that Ragnarok makes to the God of War levels. The fights also improve throughout the course of Ragnarok, becoming more nuanced, varied, and stunning by the final act compared to 2018’s God of War.
The first ten hours or so of Ragnarok are more linear than the rest of the game, and the fighting is nearly identical to that of God of War II. Read in the next paragraph about the story of God of War: Ragarok.
The Story of God of War: Ragnarok Is Unexpectedly Moving
An enraged deity is always the first step. Like its prequel, God of War: Ragnarok opens with a deity paying a surprise visit to Kratos in his Midgard hideout. This time it’s Thor, albeit a less chiseled and more antagonistic version of the character than Marvel fans are used to seeing. The events of the first game, in which Kratos and Atreus slaughtered Thor’s half-brother and his two kids, set the stage for Thor to lash out with Mjolnir at Kratos.
But before that happens, Atreus is told that in Thor’s home country of Asgard, he will find the answers to his existential concerns. Atreus, now a teenager, is eager to battle in Ragnarok and investigate the realms for hints about the Giants after learning in the God of War’s climax that he is actually a Giant named Loki. Kratos would rather have the two of them stay at home and train than go on another war or adventure. He is aware that his time on earth is limited and hopes to have his son ready for life after him as best he can.
That’s where God of War: Ragnarok really starts to become interesting. Despite the name, the game has nothing to do with the end of the world. The game isn’t truly about stopping Odin, the father of Thor and the top Norse god, even though he is presented as a villainous god who has inflicted genocide, war, and devastation over the nine realms. All of this is the context for understanding Kratos’s connection with his son. An impressive backstory, but one that is nonetheless secondary.
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If you think raising teenagers is challenging, try doing it with deities. Kratos wants to encourage Atreus’ selflessness in wanting to aid the realms, but he also feels compelled to teach him that no action is without consequence, no matter how well-intentioned the actor is. Every moment of the persistent and expertly acted tension between a daring child and a tired parent is thrilling. There will be times when you find yourself sympathetic to both sides, and other times when you realize the idiocy of both.
Since giving away any more of the plot would be disastrous, all I’ll say is that Ragnarok spins a fantastic tale. Despite his brusque and vicious demeanor, Kratos’s emotional depth is demonstrated through his flaws, which further establish him as a legend.
Actually, he’s not the only victor here. Ragnarok does a great job of keeping its roster of likable people small, which is unusual for games of its scale. Highlights largely involve characters from the original game, while there are some new standouts like the refined squirrel Ratatoskr who tends to the world tree. Mimir, the talking head that hangs from Kratos’ belt, constantly refers to him as “brother,” although his use of the term never seems forced. The way he talks to Kratos and Atreus warms their hearts and makes them feel more like family.
Dwarves Sindri and Brok, the blacksmiths, continue to be lovable. The villains should get some recognition, too. As a devious charmer, Odin is more interesting than a world murderer, and Thor’s astounding savagery is impossible to dislike.
However, not every character works, and the plot might use some fine-tuning. The enraged mother of a god you murder in God of War 2018 plays a major role in Ragnarok, although she is one of the few major characters that won’t move you very much. How much of the story is told is even more distracting.
Ragnarok has limited fast transit options, therefore most of the time spent going from A to B is used up with the conversation. These exchanges can be merely humorous or they can provide important context for Ragnarok’s extensive backstory. This is a common method of conveying crucial plot information. While this mostly succeeds, there are a few glaring cases when quests drag on longer than necessary so that characters can play catch-up. Sighs of “another shut door” from fictional characters should raise suspicion.
The characters Mimir and Atreus have the most dialogue in Ragnarok, whereas Kratos often sticks to one-liners. Sometimes it’s hard to know if Mimir and Atreus are just rehashing old stories or if Ragnarok is actually trying to get you to remember something from the first game when they start talking about things that happened in the past. There are a lot of backstories to untangle, between the original trilogy and the Norse worlds. Even those unfamiliar with the series will have a blast, but they may be confused by certain dialogue.