Sony and SIE Santa Monica Studio have been more generous with details on God of War: Ragnarok than most people would have anticipated. Thanks to a meaty reveal trailer and subsequent interviews and updates, we know quite a bit more about the game’s story and gameplay than we’d have expected to know a year out from its launch. We recently spoke about some of the most crucial of those details in a recent feature, but plenty more information has emerged since then that we’ll be going over here.
WHY IT WILL CONCLUDE THE NORSE SAGA
God of War: Ragnarok being the final game in the series’ Norse saga has taken many people by surprise, but though most believed that we’d be getting at least a trilogy of Norse games, Santa Monica Studio is confident that it can wrap things up in just two games. And as it turns out, that was a decision made by none other than God of War (2018) director Cory Barlog, who’s been replaced as director by Eric Williams for Ragnarok. Speaking in a recent interview with YouTuber Kaptain Kuba, Barlog explained that the primary reason for wanting to wrap up the story in two games was that developing an entire trilogy would have taken close to fifteen years, at which point the story, according to him, would have become “too stretched out.” Barlog says that with that in mind, and given the story that Santa Monica Studio wanted to tell in Ragnarok, he was confident that they would be able to wrap things up by the time the credits rolled on the second game.
Ragnarok is, of course, the big event that the game is going to lead up to (it’s in the name, after all), but before Ragnarok, there must be Fimbulwinter. As God of War: Ragnarok kicks off, we’ll see all nine reals being affected by Fimbulwinter in different ways. Speaking in an interview with IGN, director Eric Williams said that you shouldn’t expect every realm to be blanketed in snow and ice. That said, Midgard, as the epicenter of Fimbulwinter, got affected by “permafrost,” as Williams calls it, which we saw quite a lot of in the game’s reveal trailer as well, including the completely frozen Lake of Nine.
God of War (2018) did a lot of bold and interesting new things, and one of its many experiments that paid off was its camera. On top of dropping the series’ traditional semi-fixed cameras and instead taking a zoomed-in over-the-shoulder third person view, God of War (2018) was also a single uninterrupted camera shot from start to finish. An impressive achievement, if nothing else. Unsurprisingly, it’s been confirmed that God of War: Ragnarok, too, will be a single camera shot from beginning to end without any cuts or interruptions.
God of War: Ragnarok is building off of an excellent foundation in the combat department as it is, and it looks like Santa Monica Studio has the right ideas for how to improve things even further in the sequel. One thing that Ragnarok’s combat is apparently going to emphasize quite a bit is player choice. Speaking to IGN, Williams said that one of the primary goals of the development team has been to give players various tools to deal with enemies, from gear upgrades to various attacks and combos to more link-ups with Atreus and more. Meanwhile, with players having a wider range of offensive options, enemies, too, will be more defensively and offensively capable themselves, which means players should (in theory, at least) be encouraged to properly leverage their full arsenal.
This is another area where God of War: Ragnarok is improving upon its predecessor’s combat- by incorporating level design into combat encounters themselves. As we saw in the reveal trailer, Kratos will be able to use his Blades of Chaos as a grapple hook to pull himself up to higher ledges, calling back to grappling from older God of War games. This, as per Williams, is baked into the combat as well, with encounters being more vertical and players being encouraged to make proper use of the space around them. Of course, enemies, too, will be able to use this verticality to their advantage, which should make for some interesting encounters.
MORE COMBAT DETAILS
The Blades of Chaos making their grand comeback halfway through God of War (2018) was a moment that those who’s played the game aren’t likely to forget anytime soon- but the Blades were very much that game’s secondary weapon. Ragnarok isn’t going to sideline the Leviathan Axe, of course, but it looks like Santa Monica Studio is going to take advantage of the fact that the Blades of Chaos are going to be usable in the entire game, right off the bat. And that’re doing it in a way that is sure to please series veterans, by bringing back a lot of moves and combos from the older God of War games. We’ve already seen a few of these in the reveal trailer, like Kratos using the Blades to grab an enemy in the air and slam it into the ground, or using them to pull himself forward and ram into an enemy, or even the grapple. In the aforementioned interview with Kaptain Kuba, Williams said that combat with the Blades of Chaos in God of War: Ragnarok will bring back “the greatest hits of things [they] didn’t get to” in the previous game.
The Valkyries may not have been a critical part of the main story in God of War (2018), but they most definitely were a critical part of that experience as a whole, and were some of the most challenging, grueling, and entertaining boss fights in that entire game. We don’t know in what capacity we’ll be seeing the Valkyries in God of War: Ragnarok, but we do know that they will be returning- and better still, that there will be two entirely new Valkyries. Actors Erica Lindbeck and Evanne Elizabeth Friedman have confirmed that they’ll be playing Hrist and Gna in the game, but it remains to be seen how prominently they’ll be featured in the game.
Kratos and Atreus are going to be taking on the Norse pantheon in their attempts to stop Ragnarok, which means that they’re going to be squaring off against Odin himself- who, of course, will use every tool he has at his disposal. That includes the Einherjar, who are deceased Norse heroes and warriors who were delivered by the Valkyries to Valhalla upon death, so that they could fight for Odin when Ragnarok comes. It’s more than a little likely that Kratos and Atreus will be squaring off against a few of these great warriors. Various actors, including Laura Stahl, Anna Brisbin, and Aaron Phillips, have confirmed that they’re playing Einherjar in the game.
Music has always been one of God of War’s strong suits, even going back to the PS2 days. And just as God of War (2018) reinvented its gameplay while still feeling like a proper God of War experience, so, too, did it wipe the slate clean with its music, thanks to an excellent soundtrack composed by Bear McCreary that was completely new and fresh, and yet still felt like God of War. In Ragnarok, McCreary has confirmed that he will be returning as composer, much to the delight of series fans.