There are no new breakthroughs for the sequel, but God of War Ragnarok is still an explosive experience on PS5 and PS4.

Back in 2018, Sony Santa Monica released one of the most anticipated PlayStation 4 exclusives: God of War, which introduced new mechanics to this long-running franchise and was well received for its story, which focused on the relationship between the series’ protagonist, Kritos, and his son Atreus.

The gameplay is exemplary, featuring dynamic third-person combat, with Kritos switching between different weapons and abilities, while Atreus is controlled by the game’s artificial intelligence. Today, four years later, Sony aims to build on God of War’s success with a sequel that continues this father/son dynamic.

The new game, called God of War Ragnarok, was first launched for PS4 and the more powerful PlayStation 5. But while 2018’s God of War was a big leap forward for the series, Ragnarok mostly stuck to the core mechanics of its predecessor. Instead of offering a completely new experience, it’s more of a continuation of the 2018 game.

However, this is not a bad thing. After playing the game on PS5, Ragnarok is still very interesting and ends well to the Nordic storyline of the series. Here’s why the new title should be more satisfying to fans looking for more action in Gods of War.

Father-son dynamics remain at the heart of the game’s story

 

As the title suggests, the plot mainly involves the concept of Ragnarok, a series of events prophesied to lead to the death of several Norse gods. As the end approaches, both Kratos and Atreus want to avoid this apocalyptic event at all costs.

Without affecting the plot, God of War Ragnarok tests Kratos and Atreus’ trust in each other. They all harbor secrets, which creates a rift between them.

Kratos, who used to be a god-killing machine that kills without blinking, doesn’t want Atreus to go the same way. This makes Kratos very strict and dismissive of his son’s curiosity, thus pushing him away. And without his father’s guidance, Atreus was also rash and impulsive, as shown by his repeated disobedience to orders to visit other kingdoms alone.

Throughout Ragnarok, they must learn to have each other’s best interests at heart. It was touching to see them evolve over the course of the game, from bickering to trusting each other.

However, the story is also the game’s biggest problem, especially in terms of its pacing. Some parts simply drag on too long. In some cases, the characters have too much to talk about, and the pace will slow down. Thankfully, the fun of fighting is enough to reward your patience.

The gameplay is as exciting as ever, with plenty to do in a semi-open world.

 

God of War Ragnarok adds something different to the already great action games of its predecessors. From the beginning, Kratos possessed his Leviathan Axe and Chaos Blade, which allowed him to switch his fighting style so that the combat didn’t go sour.

He also gets some additional mechanics, such as new weapons and a way to exploit his Spartan Wrath, which originally only allowed him to hit enemies with his fists. Now, he can heal himself with “Spartan Courage” or use “Spartan Fury” to concentrate his power into a single devastating outburst. These new mechanics provide more variety in ways to approach enemies and help improve an already solid combat system.

The semi-open world is also back, with flanking missions and hidden areas for Kratos to discover. There are various benefits that can be obtained from other characters, and these benefits are often accompanied by interesting story tidbits.

Completing these favors can give Kratos rewards such as experience points for learning new skills, or items that can help him upgrade his weapons. The structure around favors remains largely unchanged from its predecessor. Players will still be able to track them in the game’s map system to help guide themselves through secondary missions.

The main story takes about 20-25 hours to complete. Taking into account the side quests and finding collectibles, you’ll most likely need more than 40 hours, which is similar to the previous game.

PS5 players get a boost in graphical options and controller features

 

While built for PS5 in addition to PS4, God of War Ragnarok still feels more like a game that can be released at the end of PlayStation 4’s lifecycle. However, compared to God of War in 2018, Ragnarok does have a larger-scale environment, and the attention to detail here is also more impressive.

Players have a variety of graphics options to choose from, and PS5 users have a vastly increased choice compared to PS4 players. On PS5, those who prefer high resolution can play to native 4K on the settings, locking 30 frames per second. If you like performance, you can play at 60 frames per second while taking a bit of a shock in resolution.

PS5 gamers with a 4K TV that supports HDMI 2.1 can also choose to play games with a goal of 120 frames per second in performance mode or 40 frames per second in quality mode.

Aside from the visual options, the biggest difference between the PS4 and PS5 versions is the latter’s DualSense controller. It provides haptic feedback to make you feel immersed in the game. When charging the weapon to throw or shoot, you can feel the energy pulse of the controller because the controller shakes subtly when you hold down the trigger.

It doesn’t feel as sophisticated as a similar mechanic used for Aloy’s bow in Horizon Forbidden West, but the haptic feedback in Ragnarok still gets the job done.

God of War Ragnarok is more receptive than its predecessor

 

Sony has been at the forefront of accessibility in the games industry, with titles like The Last of Us Part II and Horizon Forbidden West having options to help players tailor their own experiences.

For example, players can not only increase the size of the subtitle but also turn on the arrow indicator that shows the direction in which the character is speaking. There are also options that allow players to automatically jump over obstacles and jump over windowsills without additional button input. High-contrast display options allow for more visual adaptability, such as turning certain objects – such as enemies, hazards, and interactive items – into different colors.

The list is quite exhaustive, with detailed explanations for each option and examples of pictures. It’s a well-done accessibility feature, and it’s a shining example of gaming industry standards.

Should you play God of War Ragnarok?

God of War Ragnarok isn’t reinventing the series, but it’s still a must-play for any player who likes action-adventure games with a narrative focus. While there are some timing issues, God of War Ragnarok’s excellent gameplay, touching story, and an amazing cast of characters will make it a top contender for many of the best games of the year list in 2022.