December 5, 2022

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God of War Ragnarök continues to embroider safely for now |  Holding hands

God of War Ragnarök continues to embroider safely for now | Holding hands

that’s good

written by Eric Noselder on

Expectations about God of War Ragnarök are high. A great fall title for PlayStation, a sequel to one of the most beloved PS4 games, it promises to complete the current story of Kratos and Atreus. So it’s not a triple.

We were already allowed to start in the first few hours of the match. Honestly, that makes us understand very well why we shouldn’t expect a third match. How often can you do this trick? God of War (2018) was critically acclaimed as it was an unexpectedly emotional story about the usually angry Kratos. If you now tell such an emotional story again, it is no longer so unexpected.

Sony’s Santa Monica Studio seems to have given up on that, as the developer puts in so little effort in the early hours to really surprise us. The start has the exact same setting as the previous game. Kratos and Atreus are at home, the emphatic father figure is actually willing to do nothing and take no risk, and then Epic Moment™ (which we won’t spoil) talk and go on a trip anyway.

Not so bad. This is God of War: we play it to find out how the story continues. After the first few hours there isn’t much to say about it, but enough interesting hooks have been introduced to make you want more.

It’s a little disappointing that it seems as if the relationship between Kratos and Atreus has come to a halt. In the previous match they went on an epic journey together and there seemed to be more understanding between the two. After that, some time passed until the start of this second game. But as far as the relationship is concerned, the reset button appears to have been pressed.

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Atreus is curious about his new identity and wants to go on an adventure to discover his place among the gods, but Kratos won’t hear about it. Above all, he wants to train and make sure his son is ready for anything, especially not to talk about his feelings or offer any kind of explanation to Atreus. Atreus’ curiosity hit the wall of indifference – exactly the same father-son struggle we saw in the previous game. Hopefully this will be explored in the rest of the game.

God of War Ragnarok

What you’re not used to is that beautiful cinematic camera that manages to capture the entire game in one continuous shot. It gives the game, especially the narrative moments, an unprecedented intensity. The camera is constantly hovering around Kratos and the other characters, and it never flies. All time is devoted to quietly capturing emotional moments. This has already caused the much-needed wet eyes of ours.

This is also because of the really beautiful graphics, which completely absorb you in this divine world. The first village you visit in the dwarf kingdom of Svartalfheim is full of details: there are boxes with fruits and vegetables everywhere, canals with picturesque bridges meander the streets and dwarves rush home to hide from the evil god of war.

The lighting in particular has been impressive so far. In an early scene, when Kratos puts out the campfire, the warm glow on his face slowly changes to the icy blue of moonlight reflecting off the snow.

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God of War Ragnarok

We can be brief about the fight for now, because Ragnarok seamlessly captures the thread of the previous game. You start with the ice pickaxe that Kratos loves to hack, but after an hour the familiar Blades of Chaos (yes, spoilers for the game from 2018) have been added. Kratos still knows all his old tricks, and in no time you’ll be hacking away like her second nature. It’s still incredibly good to throw that axe at the enemy and hit it back, hitting an opponent on the way back as well. Tasty.

However, all skill trees have been reset – why this is explained in a very small sentence in between – and you have to unlock all your skills again. Kratos’ weapons and runes have also been reset to zero. It’s not so bad – it’s just a game and you should have something to grow.

God of War Ragnarok
God of War Ragnarok

God of War Ragnarok

However, Ragnarök often shocks you with the fact that it is a game, for example when offering optional content. As mentioned, your trip first takes you to Svartalfheim, a beautiful and above all warm dwarf kingdom full of geysers and special rock formations. Just like in the previous game, here you will find a small open area, which you can explore freely and where you will find all kinds of treasures and optional quests.

Upon arrival, the camera controls are paused to show that there are all kinds of extras to be found in the clearest terms. “If you go left here, the story continues. But hey, if you go here with the boat, you can explore there first.” As if the Pardoes are waiting for you at the entrance to Efteling to report that one road leads directly into Python, but you can also walk first through Fairytale Forest to the left.

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God of War Ragnarok

This somewhat undermines the impressive story moments the game has had so far – moments we can’t say anything about in this preview. However, it’s not enough to spoil the fun, although surprisingly enough, it takes a while before the game actually starts.

With such great combat that we can’t get enough of, beautiful environments, especially epic moments and a story that slowly clings to us, we continue to play with great pleasure. God of War 2018 was also a diesel engine that got off to a slow start after a great start and eventually turned into a great game. Thus, the fact that Ragnarok suffers from the same “problem” is not of great concern to us.

God of War Ragnarök will be released on PlayStation 5 and PlayStation 4 on November 9. And for this preview, the game was played on PlayStation 5.