Sony’s recent PlayStation 5 Showcase concluded with a homerun teaser for God of War Ragnarök. The trailer paints an Omega symbol representing the god of war, then runes are etched upon its surface. “The time draws near,” says Kratos’s disembodied voice as the markings form. “You must prepare yourself.” A fade to black transitions to bold claims—Ragnarök is coming, 2021. Hopefully, Santa Monica can outdo itself, improving upon the already incredible gameplay of God of War (2018).
More of the Same
The adage “don’t fix what’s not broken” applies heavily to Santa Monica, though, the studio is certainly no stranger to fine-tuning gaming experiences. God of War (2018) did it right on many levels. The combat system felt fluid yet had a satisfying weight to it, and the weapon-specific skill trees led to diverse, entertaining battles. Atreus’s situational abilities and arrows added further nuance to the gameplay by creating a micromanagement element. God of War (2018) was lauded for its mechanics and will be, understandably, hard to beat.
Expect to see the same style of combat with notable improvements, such as new abilities, weapons, or stances. God of War (2018) is a story about Atreus as much as Kratos, and devs have stated he will age along with the story. Ragnarök will likely feature an older, teenage Atreus, leading to changes in the father-son combat dynamic. This is the kind of change people want to see, and an example of story affecting gameplay.
God of War’s (2018) looting and gearing system worked well, providing players with choice. Certain talisman abilities could even be enchanted onto gear during late-game. The Muspelheim and Niflheim challenges were an entertaining way to obtain better armor, which could be used to fight the Valkyries—difficult bosses scattered throughout the world. For a single-player game, God of War (2018) had better endgame content than many multiplayer titles.
It’s likely Ragnarök will feature similar endgame content, as well as loot and gearing systems. One of the coolest parts of God of War (2018) was equipping runes that synchronized with chosen talents, as well as personal fighting style. Halfway through NewGame+, every player was using their uniquely customized version of Kratos. The myriad of different gear and talismans led to incredible amounts of replayability. Looting and NewGame+ is a necessity for Ragnarök.
NewGame+ a Must
Santa Monica’s NewGame+ mode is a work of art, besting any other. Not only do players start with all talents and skills, but they keep their armor and weapons as well, including the Blades of Chaos. Enemies are scaled up to match players’ level and armor, but higher level gear is made available. God of War’s (2018) base armor levels are 1-5, while its NewGame+ contains armor levels 6-10, providing players more freedom through power. There are NewGame+ versions of all armors found in the first playthrough, including Musphelheim and Niflheim sets.
As amazing as God of War 2018 was, its framerate wasn’t great, considering the PS4’s hardware and 30 FPS limit. Ragnarök, made for the PS5, will be optimized for its new hardware and should be able to handle 4k resolution while maintaining 60 FPS. With the careful precision required in action games such as this one, as well as the necessity to react instantly to enemy attacks, the extra frames per second will be a welcome addition. Plus, it’s easier on the eyes.
God of War (2018) ended ominously. Fimbulwinter, the three-year winter, marked the coming of Ragnarök. In a post-credits scene, years after the beginning of Fimbulwinter, Thor appears before Kratos, but it ends before any interaction between the two can occur. Whether Thor’s visit is friendly or ill-intended, it’s clear he’ll be a major part of the sequel. Judging from Santa Monica’s previous writing, it’s likely fans will enjoy watching Kratos smash Thor to bits while dual-wielding Mjölnir and the Leviathan axe…or something like that.
With a name like Ragnarök, Santa Monica is sure to go big; gargantuan even. God of War (2018) had a large semi-open world, and huge set pieces such as Thamur’s corpse. Large scale battles with gigantic dragons made for excellent encounters, and various iconic enemies remain memorable. Regardless, players only saw the gods Baldur, Magni, and Modi. Ragnarök will include Thor, and he’s probably not happy with Kratos, given recent events. Wherever the story is going, hopefully it involves more gods and even more grandiose set pieces and monsters.
Santa Monica is known for quality work and, quite frankly, no God of War game to date has disappointed. As the wave of excitement surges for Ragnarök, it’s safe to say, many just want more God of War.