God of War Ragnarok, the highly anticipated sequel to the 2018 game, has recently been released to incredibly positive reviews across the board. The game takes an extremely solid foundation laid by the first game and builds on it both in terms of narrative and gameplay.
While Ragnarok is arguably better than the first game, that doesn’t mean it’s perfect. Sure, the positives certainly outweigh the shortcomings, but they’re still worth taking a look at and judging the game fairly. None of these make the game worse, but they can certainly be improved.
10/10 Pace and story
The first game in the God of War reboot told a relatively small story, at least by God of War standards. With a specific goal in mind and obstacles to build on the main characters, the game felt perfectly paced and had a great flow.
While Ragnarok begins quite bombastically, the story quickly becomes a tangle of several different events. The looming threat of Ragnarok, Atreus’ quest for his destiny, and the plot of the Norse gods make the story of this game feel a bit disjointed. Lack of a specific end goal is a big part of this, as you’ll find characters asking what their next move should be quite often, especially early on.
9/10 Camera and enemy focus
Something that was carried over from the first game, the camera should have been overhauled a bit. While combat feels good in Ragnarok, the camera and spatial awareness can be unwieldy and lead to some annoying defeats throughout the game.
The camera is fixed behind Kratos, which means you can’t look around freely, which sometimes becomes necessary. Locking onto enemies with R3 is a great feature, but switching between enemies feels unresponsive at times and can lead to attacks from behind that you can’t respond to in time, especially in more crowded fights.
8/10 Respawn Time
Since God of War Ragnarok is a very combat-heavy game, and a challenging one at that, you will find yourself dying quite often, especially on higher difficulties. It’s not a problem in itself, but the time it takes to reload from the last checkpoint can become annoying over time.
The game has a pretty dramatic death animation to begin with, partly to give players some time to use Resurrection Stones, but waiting long enough to check your phone is never a great experience. This becomes particularly annoying in boss fights, which require a bit of pattern learning and thus several attempts before achieving victory.
7/10 Better equipment interface
God of War 2018 improved on the older hack-and-slash formula with a more RPG-like approach, and it was great. Fortunately, Ragnarok adds to this further, giving players more ways to craft, upgrade, and collect strong and impactful gear.
While not a huge problem for experienced players, the game’s gear and shop screens can be a bit confusing for newcomers. With multiple weapons, bangers, rune attacks and more, the menu feels a bit confusing. It could easily be refined with more sub-menus and rarity differences, but as it stands, it’s not perfect.
6/10 Varied meetings
Due to the skills of the title character and the influence of the original trilogy, God of War Ragnarok is a game full of combat. That’s not a problem as boss fights are the bread and butter of the series, and the combat mechanics certainly feel visceral and exciting.
The game does both kinds of encounters, being boss and swarm, quite well. The problem is the lack of a completely different type of meeting. After several hours of play, it becomes repetitive to go from boss fight to boss fight with puzzles and smaller fights sprinkled in between. More unique encounter ideas are sprinkled in, mostly during boss fights, but are never fully exploited.
5/10 More innovation
This is a strange topic to talk about. God of War Ragnarok is a great sequel, building on an excellent first game and adding more. Unfortunately, it feels like they relied a little too much on the first game in terms of mechanics.
There is an argument that can be made that this makes things consistent and makes sense scientifically. Still, it would have been nice to see some more original collectibles, puzzles, and possible opponents than we got in contrast to the first game. This is a double-edged sword as the 2018 game is highly regarded.
4/10 Lasting consequences
One thing the series started doing with the 2018 game and continues with Ragnarok is creating compelling stories that stem from the characters’ inner conflicts. The previous game took Kratos, a relatively unexplored rage monster, and turned him into a poster child for three-dimensional video game characters.
While both Ragnarok and its predecessor are fantastic story-driven games, the connection between them feels a bit underwhelming. The threats, clues, and Easter eggs we found in the first game don’t seem to hold the weight they could in Ragnarok. A more direct sequel-like central conflict could serve Ragnarok well as the lead story hook.
3/10 Fast travel and dimension shopping
At the other end of the story/gameplay spectrum, God of War’s problem is with fast travel. To be fair, the game does provide gateways to the player quite often, and it certainly adds to the immersion, but not being able to teleport to hubs in such an RPG-like game feels limiting.
This can also be explained in the universe. You get help from several gods and mythical beings, after all. Not being able to immediately transport to another realm when you complete the collectibles and quests in one and have to row a boat or cross can sometimes feel like a waste of time.
2/10 Realms with inhabitants
During the original trilogy, God of War was a true hack-and-slash game with some god-killing and adventure sprinkled in. As the series has become more and more of an open world RPG in the last entries, it is natural that NPCs, side characters and various missions are of great importance.
Unfortunately, despite the genre shift, the world feels emptier than it should. Even when you visit places that should be lively and full of inhabitants, like the dwarven capital of Nidavellir, you hardly ever see random inhabitants just living there. It seems that the realms in God of War Ragnarok have an overwhelming population of monsters as opposed to humans, which feels like a lost opportunity.
This entry almost feels like a crime to include, but there are arguments to be made here. For starters, the voice acting talent in the game is incredible, including amazing actors like Christopher Judge, Sunny Suljic, Alastair Duncan and Ben Prendergast.
While the actors are fantastic and the characters feel authentic, the accents unfortunately hurt the immersion. Mimir’s iconic Scottish accent and Kratos’ grunt are sure to be welcome. But as we meet more and more characters from the Norse Pantheon, hearing a series of Norse gods with mostly American accents can throw you off your game.
Next: Games to play if you like God Of War Ragnarok