Having graced five different PlayStation consoles over an impressive 16 year period, the God of War franchise has become one of the most beloved and commercially successful corners of Sony's ecosystem. Spanning seven different mainline entries, Santa Monica Studio's mythological enthused action-adventure epic can admittedly be a tricky prospect for new and old fans to jump into. Thankfully, several methods to experience the franchise in chronological order have come about over the years across those various platforms, providing players with options to best suit their preferences.
Even though Kratos' currently ongoing Norse themed chapters will no doubt continue to work well as a standalone series, it's still more than worth going back and experiencing the older God of War games as well. Beyond providing more context to the Spartan's current situation and character development, there's some excellent hack and slash gameplay mixed in with incredible boss fights in each of the games, that have all stood the test of time. With the still untitled 8th God of War installment set to potentially rear its head at Sony's imminent showcase event, now really is the ideal time to take a trip down memory lane.
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Kratos' Convenient Early Days
Out of all of Sony's first party franchises, God of War is remarkably one of only a handful that is currently accessible in its entirety on the platform holder's streaming subscription service. Players setting off on a journey to experience Kratos' history in chronological order will therefore want to invest in PlayStation Now for at least a couple of months because of this. Being accessible on both the PS4 and PS5 ensures that the following method of play will likely be simultaneously the most convenient and cost effective route through the franchise for a lot of players.
Despite hitting the PS3 in its twilight years back in 2013, God of War: Ascension is the earliest point in Kratos' life that players can currently experience. Considered one of the comparatively weaker entries in the series, the still remarkable game sets up the Spartan warrior's relationship with the Greek pantheon of gods whilst he attempts to free himself of the monstrous Furies of mythology. Like all of the games that make up this section of the timeline, it's worth keeping in mind that PS Now allows players to stream each entry to their console of choice over the internet.
Next up along the franchise timeline comes God of War: Chains of Olympus, developed by the now Facebook-owned Ready at Dawn back in 2008 for the PSP. Like each of the following four games, the version that can be streamed on PS Now is the visually improved HD remastered edition that was originally released on the PS3. Exploring Kratos' servitude to Olympus, this installment naturally provides context for the rebellious heel turn that the legendary warrior undergoes in the first God of War. Released for the PS2 in 2005, Santa Monica Studio's breakout hit remains one of its standout achievements due to the exhilarating content within it.
Considering the brutal and relentless journey that Kratos has already undergone at this point in his violent life, it's not really much of a surprise how things become even bloodier after this point in his history. Exploring the protagonist's titular ascension to godhood whilst exploring this phenomenon, God of War: Ghost of Sparta and chronological sequel God of War 2 both take a closer look at Kratos' personal family lineage within Ancient Greece's mythology. Completing both of these seismic adventures marks the final point in the timeline where PS Now's streaming ability is required on modern consoles, and is also probably a convenient point where players will likely want to catch their breaths.
Kratos' Early Days in Better Clarity
Before moving onto the next brutal entry in the franchise's history, it's worth noting beforehand that an alternate way to play through each of the aforementioned games is available to players that might provide a better overall experience. One of the shortcomings of Sony's PS Now and its PS3 themed content is the fact that games originally from the platform can only be played over the internet. Naturally, this ensures that the quality of what's on offer isn't always the best that it can be, with generally slow internet speeds likely to negatively impact playthroughs for a lot of players. As the franchise's early gameplay is particularly frenetic, an argument can be made that stable performance is the most important aspect of the equation.
With Sony seemingly unable to transplant the PS3's Cell technology into its modern consoles, effectively rendering deeper backwards compatibility unlikely, the only other way for players to experience the God of War franchise is to invest in older physical copies of the games mentioned above. Considering that each of the five chronologically earliest points in Kratos' life were either ported or released on the PS3, that platform is going to be the most cost efficient alternative for players to explore. Alternatively, tracking down the aforementioned entities in their respective first PS2 and PSP incarnations is also an option for those wanting the original versions.
Kratos' Final Greek Adventure
Featuring some of the most memorable boss fights in gaming history, 2010's God of War 3 caps off the first section of the franchise's timeline. Thankfully when it comes to the final concluding chapter of Kratos' quest to deconstruct Ancient Greece's pantheon of deities, players are spoilt for accessibility options that are relatively straightforward compared to everything that's preceded this point.
This is largely down to the fact that the once exclusive PS3 hit has now been ported to the PS4 via its God of War 3 Remastered incarnation. This not only makes it playable natively on both of Sony's currently supported systems, and purchasable as a physical and digital release, but it also has an impact on PS Now. For every game released on the PS4 included within the service, Sony allows subscribers to download games from the platform directly onto their consoles. This subsequently circumnavigates the service's streaming shortcomings, allowing the game to therefore be enjoyed in all of its graphical and performance glory.
2018's God of War
In 2018, Santa Monica Studio uprooted Kratos from his Greek home, and inserted him into the middle of a brand new mythological order. Exploring the now former God of War's quest to carve out a peaceful retirement, this simply entitled soft-reboot proved to be a resounding hit with fans and critics alike. While the exploration of the complex Norse mythology that the series' protagonist now finds himself surrounded by has been rightly praised, it's arguably the humanization and development of Kratos that makes the game so special.
With proceedings left on a dramatic cliffhanger courtesy of Kratos' son Atreus, fans hopefully won't have to wait much longer to find out what the apocalyptic Ragnarok has in store for them. Fortunately, there should be enough time for veterans and newcomers alike to refamiliarize themselves with the action-adventure epic. Like God of War 3 Remastered, 2018's entry in the franchise can be downloaded directly through PS Now. Unlike the other games mentioned here, PlayStation Plus subscribers also get free access to the PS4's defining exclusive via Sony's permanent PS Plus Collection.
The God of War franchise in its entirety is available on PS Now.