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JuliusHackebeil said:

I just now finished God of War Ragnarök and would like to discuss my impressions with everybody. ALL my impressions. So there are going to be spoilers in this threat. As indicated by the title. Have not found any threat where that is the topic. Please lock if redundant. Even in this OP here I will spoil the whole thing. So be aware and don't read any further if you don't want to be spoiled. And just to be clear: even though I liked the game, this is going to be a rant. A long rant.


First big thing for me: I did not like it as much as the 2018 game (-my favourite God of War). I always felt engaged with the 2018 game. I always wanted to know how the story progressed, which turn it would take. Weirdly enough it was not a very complicated story. It was very much about father and son. How they handle their grief. And how Kratos tries to find peace with his past and how he can be a father (again!). The second game felt much more complicated. And with that many more pieces to juggle, it kind of fell apart for me. Don't get me wrong, I very much liked Ragnarök, but I certainly did not love it. And it being focused on more characters took away how personal and up close the first game felt.

I liked this game even more than the previous one, and that is one heck of an accomplishment from the team.

Even though the story was much more complicated, it still felt very personal and concentrated on the father and son aspect and managed to explore that theme more deeply and maturely. I guess it also became more about family overall.

But that is far from my only criticism: the story felt meandering and for a long time without any stakes. For example, when I was in Jotunheim with Atreus and Angreboda (or whatever her name is) I thought: yeah, that is cool and very pretty, but what am I actually doing here? What is the purpose of all that? Snake origin - it bought them nothing: Thor still attacked Kratos before he could accomplish anything with Odin. Angreboda introduction - yes, but what was the purpose of her whole character? What did she really do? She helped a bit in the final fight but I cannot shake the feeling it would have been the same without her. Setting up the sequel - there we go - that is all this insanely drawn out feeding animals Jotunheim scene did.

I agree that the whole Jotunheim sequence was a bit longer than what it needed to be. I think they just needed to set up Angrboda properly, because in the mythology she is Loki's wife and an important companion to him. Maybe they wanted to set up sequels as well. Perhaps the whole grandmother thing could have been cut, it didn't feel very necessary apart from the snake thing.

Angrboda was very important in the final battle, however, because she was their only way out of Asgard when it was falling apart.

There are a lot of examples where the story felt meandering and the whole quest pointless: why would Kratos and Atreus chose to find Tyr? Because Odin said they should not? That is what they say in the game but it is definitely not a good reason. At the time they thought Ragnarök meant the end of much more than just Asgard. So not finding Tyr could have been a good start to not having Ragnarök (since Tyr is the one who leads the army according to prohecy). But let's pretend finding Tyr was important. There was no urgency to it. Everything felt boring in these Svartalfheim mines. Mimir and Kratos both suggested more than one time during the quest to just give up on it. That was the energy in the room: I don't want to be here. How can the developers expect high engagement from me, if there is no urgency and the main character just wants to go home?

I think the logic here was sound. If the All-father of lies is saying you shouldn't be doing something, you probably should be doing exactly that. Apart from that, Atreus had already been trying to find out about himself and Ragnarok, and Tyr was a part of that whole thing.

I didn't think finding Tyr lacked urgency, they did what they could and to find him, they had to go through the mines. It was just that Atreus was the only one who had the drive to keep going against the odds and try to find him. (Later we of course learn that the real Tyr was never there, so Kratos and Mimir were actually right to discourage the searching). But Kratos wanted to support his son and do things with him, that was the primary motivator and as a plot driver it was as good as any, plus it set up a later twist that was huge.

Another example: the second time you visit Vanaheim, it is to.. to... ... to do what exactely? Help Frayer fight to good fight? We need to get to her and save her brother. But how did he get injured? We did not see. What are they fighting for? Vanaheim (FOR VANAHEIM!!!)? What does that even mean? What would Odin do there if he had free reign? Did they get ambushed and kidnapped? Perhaps they said but I cannot remember and that is in itself a problem. It was a conflict I don't get. This is also true in a bigger way but more on that later.

This was a little hazy, yes. We get to Vanaheim and things have just somehow happened, and the boar-man character is thrown at us out of the blue to point us the way. Felt a little disjointed, like it didn't fit into the overall flow of the game perfectly. Like something was cut from the game and made shorter, maybe? However, it was good enough, didn't really hamper my enjoyment of the game very much.

Another example of the main quest feeling pointless and the story meandering: prophecy is inevitable. That is the logic the game mostly operates on. And then in the end everyting is different than was foretoled. So the whole thing about the norns was for nothing too. Think about that for a second. Apart from the start the whole reason to be in Midgard was for the norns. But what they foretold was not what happend. What the giants foretold was also not what happend. So why spend 3 to 4 hours of the game to be in Midgard and another 2 in Jotunheim if the games conclusion is: no, actually nevermind, we write our own destiny? We don't know why, or we don't care to explain, but just know that everything ist fine. What? You are making a game much about prophecy and destiny. And all the giant and norn prophecys are always correct. But suddenly they are not and you don't explain why?

It was supposed to build tension, we would be uncertain as to whether prophecy can be subverted. Is Kratos going to die no matter what, or can Atreus do something about it? I was actually thinking that Kratos might die in this game, so I guess that they made it work somewhat.

From what I understood of the norns, they said that there is no fate, but people are so predictable that they can practically see everything that will happen beforehand. There was a theme of becoming a better person and avoiding the traps of one's own behavioral patterns to change outcomes. I appreciated that they did something different here, and for example the final fight with Thor wasn't just another kill the boss thing, but Kratos tried to reason with him.

Something different: why in the world would you try to craft a cool action sequence with Kratos carrying Freyr on his back when the dialogue makes it laughable/ridiculous? It could have been epic but felt funny at best due to Freyrs comments: "Whoa, dude, maaan, I think imma hurl." (-paraphrase) There was actually no single action scene in the whole game I felt super engaged with. I did not care for Freyr whom we just met. While fighting a giant was cool, I did not care for Angreboda either and the fight itself was not that great anyways. Trying to capture/kill Garm comes close to greatness action-wise (from a storytelling perspective it felt like another sidequest). But nothing comes even close to the 2018 sequence of events with the fight at the top of the mountain, Atreus shooting Kratos and being kidnapped by Baldur, Kratos not skipping a beat and jumping down that mountian, the fight on the dragon, Kratos falling, rushing inside the temple, going to Helheim, fighting Baldur some more and finaly getting Atreus back before crashing into some tower. That was the bomb! The Thor fight in the beginning had different locations, yes. But everything was foggy and I did not really get a sence of place. Could have just been in Kratos' backyard for the same effect. Even when Ragnarök happens it felt underwhelming from an action stantpoint. Jörmongandur is only in the distance fighting Thor - we don't even really get to see that. Fenrir is next to unnecessary as is Angreboda. You cannot see much. Again, everything is very foggy. The only somewhat good action the Asgard attack had, was the Thor fight and the Odin fight. And they happend almost entirely in game. Can you remember in 2018 when Kratos killed that dragon in the mountain? Nothing that cool/actiony ever happend in the entirety of Ragnarök.

About the carrying Freyr thing, you don't think action and comedy can be combined? Movies do that all the time, and I think they managed to be cool and funny at the same time just fine.

I agree that the final war in Asgard could have been a little more epic, too much was happening in the background and wasn't given proper focus. No real engagement in the Thor vs. Jormie fight, or with the Ragnarok creature at all.

I thought the Nidhogg fight with Freya was pretty good, as well as the Garm fight, although the direction in the 2018 dragon fight still stands out. I was so good.

Now to Tyr. I guess the real one is dead (- another thing prophecy had wrong with Tyr leading an army to Asgard. So why spend a game to think about destiny?). The fake Tyr is Odin. And Odin, we are told, is very smart. Than why in the world would he kill Brok? Everything went fine. Not only fine, but perfect for Odin. The mask was complete. They wanted to bring it to Asgard. They wanted to USE THE MASK! "Tyr" could just have said: good luck, here is a secret way to Asgard, I abstain from violence and hang back. But no, he has to be suspicious and grab the mask and talk about taking up arms again. And when Brok confronts him, he blwos his cover and kills Brok! "Tyr" could just have paddled back, gave the mask to Atreus and be done. Does the game want me to beliefe that Odin lost his temper? What an unfathomable choice.

The real Tyr is not dead, he was in a prison in Niflheim that you can find in the post endgame when some new places open up.

You could argue that Odin blowing his cover was a bit weak in terms of writing. Perhaps that could have been done differently, although the twist was really good and I for one did not see that coming. I guess his narcissistic side just had had enough and he thought that he had the mask and everything under control, so he gave into his ego and lashed out.

So Brok is dead and they made a huge deal out of it. Only problem is: I felt nothing. He was the comic relief. And his drawn out nonsensical spear sidequest felt like giving him screen time so that his death feels sadder. It is what shit tv shows do when they want to kill off a character: give them an episode focused on them beforehand. Now perhaps others felt more about this comic relief side character biting the dust, and I liked Brok fine, but to make that the end of the game? His funeral and than the credits? Nothing with a Kratos and Atreus focus perhaps? How? Why?

I loved Brok as a character and he was essential even in the previous game. One of the main cast, really. So for me, it was poignant all the way. I was actually hoping that Sindri's revelation about Brok having died and not being a complete soul would have led to a quest to make him whole again, but alas. If he had to die, or any of the main cast for that matter, then a funeral was the perfect ending for the game. There actually were two endings, kind of, the first happening after the final revelations and coming together of Kratos and Atreus, with Kratos being so proud of Atreus as he goes off on his own, and Kratos finding a new path for himself as well. We get partial credits at this point, so I guess you can pick which the ending is for you.

As already said, so much of the games story felt meandering and pointless to me. Weirdly the ending felt rushed. Suddenly things kick into high gear and than it is over. Surtr was such a small quest but felt super, mega significant. On the other hand making the spear felt like it took forever. (But I did not buy into the idea that Kratos needed the spear to kill Heimdall in the first place. And what is even that: He perceives Heimdall as such a big threat that he is ready to kill him, but not to face him immediately. He goes on what feels like a sidequest even though his son could at any moment be murdered by Heimdall. Does not feel like the Kratos that jumped from a mountaintop to get faster to his son.) How is this a narritive choice: making yet another weapon for "the god killer" should take many fights and locations and story sequences and introduce new characters like the lady in the water and concepts like this form and nature thing, even though all the while his son, the only thing said "god killer" really cares about, is in mortal danger. Let's have finding Tyr be many hours long - and let's have everybody except Atreus don't want to be there. But, BUT: Let's have finding Surtr, convincing him to join their cause, and Surtr becoming (-title of the game incoming) Ragnarök, let's have that be just 2 fights and not even half a page of text for the guy. How is that a narrative choice. We spend more time in Muspelheim searching for some wooden mask piece (that did not amount to anything at all) than doing what the game says in the title it is about.

The spear was really the only thing the dwarves would come up with that could kill Heimdall. It was based on the magical ring that kept making copies of itself randomly. It made the spear act randomly as well, so that even Heimdall could not predict the behavior of each copy of the spear. So getting that spear was essential. When Atreus came back from Asgard unharmed, the spear seemed to become unnecessary, but as it turns out, Kratos had to deal with Heimdall either way.

To finish up: I don't get why Kratos said "no" to Odins offer for peace. Odin was a piece of shit. But he did not beheave terribly wrong in trying to prevent Ragnarök. Odin came to Kratos and wanted nothing but peace. Perhaps this was a lie but that was never shown. All we have is Kratos saying "no" to living in peace with his son. That is the inciting incident of the whole story. Kratos could have had no retribution come his way because of Magni, Modi and Baldur. And be on good terms with Asgard. And he said no, actually I don't want peace. Why? That is all he wants for the rest of the game.

I think it was pretty clear that Odin was a master manipulator and ultimarely did not care for anything but himself. Everyone else, even his own family were just pawns to him. Classic narcissist, knows just what to say and how to appear as he wants to be preceived. You got fooled by him ;)

So good game because of its gameplay, graphics, acting (except Freya whos performance was eye-rolling), design, sympathetic and/or interesting cast of characters, etc. But the story, sadly the main reason why I was interested in this game, felt often boring, sometimes tonally awkward and also sometimes even nonsensical.

Please let me know how my take is as insane as it is long. Let me know which one of the norse games you prefere. And let me know your take.

Yeah, those were my two cents in the bolded text. I think Ragnarok managed to build and expand on the previous game, making everything bigger and better and that was not an easy thing to do, because the 2018 one was a masterpiece as well. Some flaws here and there, nothing is perfect, but overall just minor gripes in a magnificent and enjoyable experience.

I would love to see Santa Monica's take on something completely different for a change.