It’s no surprise that the only game we’re playing this week is God of War Ragnarök. Although, I did find time to fit in a review of Somerville, an atmospheric sci-fi indie game with a lot more in common with Kratos and the gang than you might expect. Either way, most of my free time (and all of my lunch breaks) has been spent in the nine realms, and while it’s stating the bleedin’ obvious, it’s an absolute treat.
Before you read on, there are a few very minor spoilers ahead so please avert your eyes if you haven’t got round to playing yet!
Yes, it looks fantastic, combat is as brilliant and bonkers as ever and the storytelling is second-to-none. The performances, as ever, are excellent, in particular Richard Schiff as the Norse God/Mafia Don crossover of the decade. And while much of what I’ve played so far feels familiar, Santa Monica Studios have ironed out most of the kinks from the first game and thrown in new enemy types and new ways to dispatch them back to Helheim.
While the story in God of War Ragnarök is much bigger in scope than its prequel, the level design feels a little cramped. Perhaps I’m looking back on the first game with a pair of rose-tinted 2018 glasses, but Ragnarök’s levels feel less expansive. Having Tyr’s temple as a focal point for traversal in the original probably made the world feel bigger than it was, but maybe the level design has become a little dated?
Nit-picking aside, God of War Ragnarök is one of my favourite games of the year, in this or any of the nine realms.
Tom – Lead Writer
Like Joe, I’ve been having a great time with God of War Ragnarök. In fact, I took Friday off work to play it all day. If only 10-year-old me knew that would be possible some day! It’s made all the sweeter by the fact that I didn’t pay a single penny of my own money towards the game. I’ve been saving up thousands of Microsoft Rewards points for a rainy day, and baby, it was time to cash in. If you’re interested in doing what I did, you can check out our Gaming on a Budget guide.
2018’s God of War is often spoken about in hushed tones as one of the greatest games of all time. I don’t know if I personally hold it in quite so high a regard, but I did like it an awful lot. Ragnarök isn’t a huge departure from that template; there’s no transformative new mechanic that completely changes the game. But when a game feels as good to play as God of War, would you really want to mess with it too much?
Sony Santa Monica probably made the right call by making small but significant tweaks to the formula. Kratos can now charge up his weapons with elemental effects that add a frosty or inflammatory flavour to your attacks. And the feel of the Leviathan axe slamming back into your hand is even more satisfying before thanks to the DualSense haptics.
I wouldn’t say it’s quite a perfect experience, though. As Joe alluded to, the journey that main story missions take you on can be quite linear. This is less of a problem in shorter quests but some last well over an hour; there’s some seriously lopsided pacing to Ragnarök. I’ve been hitting a nice rhythm, though, of doing a few of the game’s excellent side quests after each story mission. It’s made for an extremely enjoyable journey through Midgard and beyond.