The First Five Hours Of God Of War: Ragnarok, From Someone Who Has Not Played The Original

The First Five Hours Of God Of War: Ragnarok, From Someone Who Has Not Played The Original

I’ve never played a God of War game before in my life.

I’ve always wanted to, of course. I just never got around to it. I was working at JB Hi-Fi back when 2018’s God of War came out on PlayStation 4. I kept my eye on it for the longest time but never got around to playing it.

You’re probably wondering, “Why on Earth would I, a God of War enjoyer, give a shit about the opinion of somebody that has little to no idea about the franchise? Why would I care what they have to say about the newest entry to the series?” To that, I reply, “What if I told you that God of War: Ragnarok seems like a stellar way to get into the series, despite being a sequel?”

Yeah, that’s right. Put that in your bucket bong and toke up.

When PlayStation gave me the opportunity to play God of War: Ragnarok before my interview with the lovely Mila Pavlin, I was torn. While I love talking to people who are experts in their field, I was worried that I wouldn’t have the knowledge required to have an enlightening conversation with Pavlin about the game and her work on accessibility within it.

Despite my lack of experience with the series to date, the first five hours of God of War: Ragnarok have me absolutely hooked. Completely wrapped up it all. Not only was everything about the game’s opening hours ridiculously engaging, but it was also tailored in a way that felt inclusive to first-time players. That’s a hard thing for sequels to do! The baseline expectation of most sequels is that you’re intimately familiar with the original!

So now, I’m gonna talk about my experience with the game, and how I think it’s a perfect title not only for those who are fans of the series but also those who have (for some strange reason) held off getting into God of War.

First impressions are everything

god of war ragnarok first
Image: SIE

First things first: if you’re completely new to the series like I was and are worried about having no fucking clue what you’re about to be dropped into, have no fear. Right there in the game’s front menu is recap of all the major plot beats in 2018’s God of War.

This is great for folks like myself, but also those that played the 2018 game, y’know, back in 2018 and have since forgotten what happened in the past 4 years. Its been a while! It’s okay if you don’t perfectly remember every detail of the plot! This recap is done in a sort of ‘Here’s What You Missed On Glee’ type of way, without the excruciating acapella doo-wop. It’s great.

God of War: Ragnarok is set around three years after the first game, and finds Kratos and Atreus in a deadly winter that may signal the end times. From this point, they’ve gotta go on yet another father-son bonding adventure to make things right, and will meet all sorts of friends, enemies, and frenemies along the way.

Now that I’ve gotten that out of the way, lemme just say. I’m not one for caring about graphics too much. For me, it’s what the game aims to achieve in gameplay that really counts, as well as what accompanies that working well. All that being said, Good God Almighty. Visually, this game is something else.

Story-wise, if you thought I was hooked from the recap, just imagine how I was being lulled into this game’s narrative. When I asked my group chat of 30 boys what they thought of the first game, many of them praised the unique level of storytelling that is present within it.

Storytelling in God of War: Ragnarok is front and centre, and there was not one moment where I was pulled out of it. As Zack says in his first impressions of the game, the opening of the game is very cutscene and narrative-heavy. However, in this case, I wouldn’t consider that a bad thing. The game never stops giving you information, but somehow does it in a balanced way that doesn’t overload you. It enriches the experience.

My 30-boy-strong group chat also had one comment that mentioned their love for Kratos’ use of ‘boy’ when speaking to Atreus. From my limited knowledge of the 2018 game, I was aware that it included a father-son story not seen in the series prior, and followed the intricacies of fatherhood from a protagonist not fully equipped to handle it.

In saying this, God of War: Ragnarok seems to show a softer side to the relationship between the two. It builds on what was presented in the previous game, showing a father and son whose relationship has not only developed with time but also strengthened as they have both grown as people.

You see Kratos, a father desperate to show his son how he cares for him and wants to protect him even though his gruff, blunt attitude prevents him from doing so. Atreus has become a teenager with immense power and skill, with a burning curiosity about the world and his role within it. The way they complement one another is incredible and is expanded upon in a way not possible without the previous game’s building blocks.

And then there’s the meat and potatoes of the gameplay.

Boy oh boy, do I love being a Beeg Strong Fella

Image: SIE

Full disclosure: I’m playing this game on Give Me Grace mode, which is situated in between Give Me Story (Easiest mode) and Give Me Balanced (Normal mode). This is, of course, because I am bad at video games but not completely unable to play them. This mode meant that I was able to get a reasonable challenge from my experience without dying every second. It made it better for me, and having this flexibility makes it better for any first-timers too.

David is also playing God of War Ragnarok and tells me the combat is fairly similar to the first game, with the caveat that you receive the Blade of Chaos from the get-go rather than them being a late-game addition to your weaponry. While I’m usually the sort of person to favour one specific weapon for a whole game, both the combat and the puzzles saw me learning how to gracefully switch between the ice axe and the fiery chain blades when necessary.

As a big fella, it felt real freakin’ good to throw my weight around with a bunch of beasts big and small. There’s one point where you fight a huge animal, and that shit felt fantastic. Powering up my ice axe the fling it at a horrible frog-man beastie who decided to cling to a wall felt just as amazing as turning said beastie into sashimi with a finishing blow.

Honestly, I was surprised by just how much of the gameplay was puzzle-based. This is because I have not played a God of War game before, so remember that before you come for me. The use of the weaponry at hand to complete puzzles was rewarding, and sometimes a real head-scratcher, but the scratching of my head as I stood there in complete confusion didn’t last long before one of my travelling buddies gently nudged me in the right direction.

The balance between combat and puzzles in God of War: Ragnarok is simply unbeatable. I never at any point felt like there was too much of one or not enough of the other. On top of that, both feel really, really good. It’s rare that squashing horrible pest lizards that come to you in droves feels just as engaging as figuring out just where the hell you’re supposed to freeze a water spout to make a water wheel turn around.

So in saying all that, how am I feeling so far?

[Michael Buble voice] I’m feeling good

god of war ragnarok first
Image: SIE

That’s right, Michael Buble stans and God of War stans alike (I wonder if there’s a crossover), I am feeling good.

I got through the embargo-mandated ‘first five hours’ in around eight hours, because all I wanted to do was look at everything, collect everything, do everything. When I wasn’t playing God of War: Ragnarok, I was sitting around and thinking, “God, I wish I WARs playing Ragnarok right now.”

I think this game is not only going to be a pleasure to play for people who love the series and have been patiently waiting for the sequel to the 2018 masterpiece, but is strangely enough a perfect entry point for those who have never touched a God of War game in their life, and I say this from personal experience.

While I have a wackadoo history of playing some games’ sequels before going back, like Bioshock 2 and Costume Quest 2, I have never played a sequel of a game that has given me just enough knowledge of the game that came before it to get me ready for the road ahead, while not feeling like I wouldn’t be able to play the first game when I was done.

All this being said, I am really only in the humble beginnings of this odyssey. I’m sure I’ll have much more to say once I finish the full game (even though I’m almost at 1500 words here), but I can say with confidence that Ragnarok has me in a painfully-delightful vice grip that I don’t want to be freed from.

God of War Ragnarok launches on November 9th for PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 5.

The Cheapest NBN 1000 Plans

Looking to bump up your internet connection and save a few bucks? Here are the cheapest plans available.

At Kotaku, we independently select and write about stuff we love and think you'll like too. We have affiliate and advertising partnerships, which means we may collect a share of sales or other compensation from the links on this page. BTW – prices are accurate and items in stock at the time of posting.


10 responses to “The First Five Hours Of God Of War: Ragnarok, From Someone Who Has Not Played The Original”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *