God Of War Ragnarok’s Insane Level of Variety
There’s a lot to like about the latest instalment in Sony’s flagship franchise. I’m currently up to the game’s halfway point, and so far God of War Ragnarok (2022) is both exhilarating and dizzying. It flings around so many ideas that, at a certain point, things start to fall apart.
Ragnarok is a game filled with breathtaking scenery and spectacular violence. There’s a continuous combat dance that reminds me of id software’s excellent Doom reboots. Swapping weapons, chaining together combos and picking off enemies in a rhythmic dance. At times, the sheer number of combat moves on offer reminds me of the fighting game genre.
Sony’s Santa Monica Studio have refined their sense of pacing to near perfection here. There’s a clockwork cadence to every beat. You explore, you fight, you loot. You explore, you fight again, and so on. They’ve nailed the core loop of exploration, combat and puzzle solving. Always moving forward. Always another fight, puzzle or vista right around the corner.
This time around Kratos is not only accompanied by his bigger and stronger son, Atreus, but also a host of others. Most notable is Kratos’s former ally, turned enemy, turned ally again, the valkyrie queen Freya. Her sigil arrows react with ice and fire, triggering elemental explosions. Very handy in exploration and combat.
With a huge amount of enemy diversity, there’s constant variation in every fight. More types of enemies, more places to find them, and more ways to kill them. We start in icy Midgard fighting everything from norse vikings to forest animals. Then onto swampy Svartalfheim to fight reptiles, before fighting the elves in Alfheim. After that, onto the ironwood forests of Jotunheim to fight the undead. All this before even reaching the halfway point. It’s a dazzling display of imagination.