‘God of War Ragnarok’ early impressions: Sticking to its GOTY winning formula

Michaela Nadine Pacis

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‘God of War Ragnarok’ early impressions: Sticking to its GOTY winning formula

GOD OF WAR RAGNAROK. Enemy AI feels like it has been enhanced in the sequel

Screenshots from Sony

Kratos' moves feel heftier thanks in part to the PS5's controller haptics

Sony provided a copy of the game for this article and upcoming review piece.

The long-awaited God of War sequel God of War Ragnarok launches on November 9 and if you’re on the fence on whether to get the game, perhaps this first impressions review can help you decide. 

For transparency’s sake, this article will only discuss around the first 4 to 6 hours of the game, so, much may change and be added by the time the full review piece comes out. That being said, if you were a fan of the previous God of War game, you will find that a lot of the things you have enjoyed from the title make their return in this one. Clearly, Santa Monica studio has decided to stick with their GOTY (game of the year) winning formula, and try to improve upon it. 

And depending on who you are, that might just be enough to give you a satisfying experience. It has been to me so far. God of War Ragnarok retains plenty of its best parts: the gorgeous environments, the fluid combat system, the father-son banter, and its intriguing grand narrative. But the first few moments in the game show some notable changes already: finer tuned accessibility settings, new visual cues for adventuring and combat, a wildly different menu UI (you’ll get used to it), new ways to traverse, and more. 

As you dive deep into the first few hours you’ll notice that Kratos hasn’t lost his touch. His moves feel heftier, thanks in part to the PS5’s Dual Sense controller’s haptics. Him and Atreus work better together from the get go. And he has more creative ways to display his signature violence towards new enemies in new environments. The AI seems to be more clever too, to the detriment of this over-eager player. You can’t button mash your way to victory as easily as before, and you’ll need patience and timing for a more satisfying experience.  

Kratos made sure that his landscape designer added a pool in the backyard

Not forgetting about Atreus, it will be interesting to see how he develops as the game goes. Without spoiling too much, Atreus’ bond with Kratos is exactly what you would expect of a confused teenager and a father with communication issues. The heavy and light moments in the first few hours of the game promises an engaging and heartfelt narrative that hopefully continues until the very end.

Environmental puzzles have become a bit more complex, but Kratos and Atreus can figure them out faster. In addition to some new mechanics, there seems to be more proactive cueing from Atreus and Mimir to help you out if you’re lost. Thankfully, it’s not to the point of holding your hand and repeating cues over and over again (looking at you, Aloy).

They allow you to take the time to immerse yourself in the obstacles, and only seem to speak if you make several failed attempts. At least, from my experience so far. I would be nitpicking a bit here but it would be great if they have given Kratos a bit more freedom in mobility. It would be nice to see Kratos jump the obviously easy piles of rocks and walls, or hulk smash a weakly constructed wooden barrier. 

A note for those uninitiated with God of War, the game does have a recap that will give you the bits and pieces needed to understand the bigger story. Plenty of the previous game’s major events are also referenced in the current game so you won’t feel lost. That being said, I recommend you still play the 2018 game to experience the wonder and enjoy the interactions and relationships among all the characters involved. It’s worth it, especially if you put priority on the story. 

Finally, for those who have concerns on performance and image quality: On the PS5, there is a stark difference between favoring performance and favoring resolution in your settings. Favoring performance gives you 60fps that you may need during combat (faster and smoother movement), but favoring resolution gives you a more satisfying visual experience traversing around the nine realms (better lighting, more details, etc.).

It would be preferable if there was a way to reduce the visual difference between performance mode and resolution mode. That said, Sony did mention a patch coming in early November that includes fixing performance issues and additional tuning.  

All in all, I’m excited to keep playing God of War Ragnarok. Each passing hour has been a satisfying experience that has left me craving for more. At this rate, I’m not worried about God of War Ragnarok’s success and would recommend it especially if you have enjoyed the previous game. –

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