God of War: Ragnarok PlayStation 5 Review

God of War Ragnarök revels in the magnificence of its own subtlety as much as it does in its grandiosity.

By JoshuaBurt, Posted 16 Nov 2022

God of War Ragnarök is the newest game to take the world by storm. The game that follows 2018's own God of War title, players have been anticipating what this new entry in the already famous series will bring. The question that lingers on everybody's minds... How do you create a sequel to one of the greatest games ever made?

In that, Sony Santa Monica were not alone; plenty of movies, books, TV Shows and even games have almost boxed themselves in due to the quality of the previous one. But God of War Ragnarök does not merely 'follow on' and instead, outshines. I will state that players who have not played the previous game may find it difficult to simply dive into this one.


God of War Ragnarök, PlayStation 5, Review, Gameplay, Screenshots, NoobFeed
 

God of War Ragnarök heavily relies on numerous past experiences ranging from knowledge of the world lore and the previous game's story and in some cases even combat encounters that are reminiscent of the previous. In essence, Fimbulwinter has begun, an apocalyptic event of gargantuan proportion that affects all of the nine realms in various forms of disarray.

The game follows on from the previous title with having a few years pass. Atreus is not the "boy" he once was, and the game takes great pleasure and care in showing that. God of War Ragnarök begins quickly introducing you to the consequences of your actions in the first game.

The pacing of the game bobs and weaves quite a bit, dancing between its themes a lot more fluently than 2018's God of War. While the story on the whole is still the Father-Son story, the grander designs are felt throughout. Unlike the more personal story of God of War (2018), this one serves as more of a sprawling tale, epic in its gargantuan proportions as you are thrown into new realms, meet new characters and engage with new enemies.


God of War Ragnarök, PlayStation 5, Review, Gameplay, Screenshots, NoobFeed
 

However, the scale of this title does not mean that performance and character are sacrificed; in fact it is quite the opposite. God of War Ragnarök revels in the magnificence of its own subtlety as much as it does in its grandiosity. Christopher Judge and Sunny Sujic return to dominate the screen with you seemingly unable to take your eyes away. Meanwhile, the spotlight shines a little more on Danielle Bisutti's performance of Freya which is deep and complicated.

Of course the return of Mimir is a huge boost to the game once again as Alastair Neil Duncan continues with his wonderful quips and powerful and nuanced dialogue that shows another regretful man. Even Brok and Sindri gain newfound depth in the title with Robert Craighead and Adam John Harrington both getting to stretch that little bit more.

Ben Prendergast's portrayal of Tyr is, beautiful to say the least and much of his dialogue is layered with grief and wonderful performance. One of the standouts is Laya Hayes as Angrboda, her dialogue and attitude stand in sharp contrast to most of the other characters, her happy-go-lucky demeanor is a great window into her character.


God of War Ragnarök, PlayStation 5, Review, Gameplay, Screenshots, NoobFeed
 

Last but not least, the addition of Ryan Hurst as Thor is a masterstroke, his entire ego and attitude seeming being a reflection of what Kratos could have been or could even become. But the one who steals the show is Richard Schiff as Odin. His portrayal of Odin does not feel like an ominous and overpowering God, instead, he almost feels more akin to a Tony Soprano or a Vito Corleone. His intentions are subtle and nuanced, and Richard Schiff portrays this attitude gloriously.

Writers Matt Sophos and Richard Gaubert have done spectacularly with the writing of this title and Each character is given their moment to shine, and shine they do. Each of them providing deep and interesting performances that often left me in awe.

This is all helped with the assistance of Bear McCreary's superb score which somehow trumps the last. It is emotional, intense and beautiful. Once again, the mixture of bombastic and explosive music in conjunction with the more peaceful and soothing tunes provides a certain dichotomy through the game which is truly magnificent.


God of War Ragnarök, PlayStation 5, Review, Gameplay, Screenshots, NoobFeed
 

In addition to this, God of War Ragnarök's side quests are of much more interest than the last title, mostly because the writing for these have been much improved and more of the side quests feel like they have purpose and a real ending that can be satisfying. The Song of the Sand's side quest in particular, has a wonderful emotional resonance.

In essence, the writing of this game is exemplary. A layered, complex and interesting plot weaved with the ideas of prophecy and sacrifice, all layered in a game that has such expertly crafted dialogue with the one continuous camera shot which only enhances the emotional experience all combines to create a phenomenal narrative experience.

When it comes to the combat in God of War Ragnarök the first word that comes to mind is frenetic. The combat has an intense pace about it, a tone set by the previous title. The game throws extra little bits into a familiar combat system to essentially take it up to 11. The Leviathan Axe and The Blades of Chaos both feel as fun as they were before, but now with their extra tweaks, they are even better.


God of War Ragnarök, PlayStation 5, Review, Gameplay, Screenshots, NoobFeed
 

The addition of more traversal options, particularly in combat arenas is a very welcome addition and does provide much more verticality,a quality that the previous game lacked. In addition to this, the various new attacks that one can unlock for both the blades and the axe ensure that you as Kratos are consistently improving as you play.

Movement in the game is definitely emphasized, much more than the previous title and as such Kratos does not feel as stuck on the ground as he felt before. This maneuverability leads to intense and exciting encounters; speaking of which, the encounters in this game can sometimes get a little repetitive, especially if you're facing off against the larger enemy types over and over again. Simply due to the fact that they are health sponges and may appear a few too many times in a row, but it is not a major issue.

The newly added abilities for both the Axe and Blades are a masterstroke. Not only does it encourage more thinking in combat as opposed to mindlessly pressing buttons, but it also oddly enought encourages the swapping of weapons. Utilizing the blade's special ability has Kratos twirl his blades around menacingly before sweeping or slamming them down and encasing the land in fire. While the axe becomes encase with frost and hit with explosive ice. Overall, these effects mean that the player benefits from swapping after these attacks leading to a much more varied combat experience.


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Start of Spoilers Below

The newly added weapon the Draupnir Spear is also a fun and spectacular new entry. It manages to maintain its uniqueness against the already iconic blades and axe and stands on its own two feet, plus that model for the spear is gorgeous and every animation is splendid to watch. The throwing ability that can be detonated is also a very fun and interesting system and one that is addictive, though it does not match how cool it is to throw the Leviathan Axe and have it come back.

End of Spoilers

The game is violent, bloody and the combat is intense and frantic—a worthy successor to the previous. The Spartan Rage is still exceptionally fun, but now there are two ways of utilizing a Spartan Rage, for regaining a lot of health, or to use the fun punching attacks. Often I found that utilizing the health system was more practical and useful, but obviously less fun.

However, where the game's combat truly shines, as players will know well, is the boss battles. The boss battles in God of War Ragnarök are splendid. There are more of them and they are most definitely of a higher quality and each boss fight is far more fun and intense. Though some bosses are repeated like The Helpless Draugr, but similar to Elden Ring earlier this year, it's hardly a massive complaint.


God of War Ragnarök, PlayStation 5, Review, Gameplay, Screenshots, NoobFeed
 

The armor system is similar to the previous game, only with a few more choices, the game does encourage constant experimentation and changing of armor sets, however, at a certain point I just realized that one armor set was giving a huge boost to the weapon damage and I didn't feel the need to change again after that.

The last aspect of the gameplay that should be covered is the puzzles. I feel that the puzzles in this game have been grossly underrated and underrepresented. The puzzles in God of War Ragnarök are some of the finest and most intricate puzzles I have seen in a third-person action game. The way that the puzzles get you to utilize your abilities as you move through an environment is fun and engaging and, unlike some games, doesn't feel like an unnecessary pause in the action.

I would prefer if the companions would just be quiet that little bit longer. I don't know about you, but I like to solve my in-game puzzles rather than having Atreus proclaim loudly "What if I solved it for you." Thanks Atreus... Thanks a lot.


God of War Ragnarök, PlayStation 5, Review, Gameplay, Screenshots, NoobFeed
 

Overall, the gameplay for God of War Ragnarök far exceeds the first in almost every way; the bosses are more varied and more intense, the regular combat encounters, while occasionally repetitive, are exciting and the non-combat aspects, the puzzles and traversal are much improved from the first game.

When it comes to the visuals, the game is gorgeous and God of War Ragnarök really takes advantage of the PlayStation 5. Every new realm and new location is spectacular. Midgard in winter is stunning, Alfheim's deserts are beautiful and ever-intriguing. Svarthalheim is splendid and every other realm that you travel to on The Path is as gorgeous as the last.

Nothing does scale, better than a God of War game... Okay, maybe Shadow of the Colossus... But nothing else does scale better than a God of War game. Whether it's a boss or just scenery or even a large creature, the game captures scale so incredibly well and every piece of the game feels so intricately detailed.



 

Overall, God of War Ragnarök is magnificent. A true sequel that surpasses almost everything that the previous game had and more. Its grand story does not sacrifice any form of character development or subtlety and in fact somehow manages to enhance it. The fast and frenetic combat leaves you wanting more and every boss fight main story or otherwise leaves you on the edge of your seat.

It is no easy feat, but Santa Monica studios have managed to surpass one of the greatest games ever made and create its sequel. The game is an achievement that should be lauded and celebrated for years to come and any PlayStation 5 user should pick this game up as soon as they are able.
 

Joshua Burt (@JoshuaBurt123)
Senior Editor, NoobFeed

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General Information

Platform(s): PS4
Publisher(s): Sony
Developer(s): Santa Monica Studio
Genres: Action, Adventure
Themes: Fantasy, Hack And Slash
Release Date: 2022-11-09

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