As the prophecies (i.e. Sony’s vast marketing machine) foretold, Ragnarok arrived. Yesterday, Sony Santa Monica Studio has announced a November release date for his next action game God of War Ragnarök. Maybe you wanted to replay its predecessor, God of the war. For the past few weeks I’ve done this and let me tell you: New game more not do it for me.
A few months later God of the warfrom the initial 2018 release, Sony added a new game plus mode to the game. Like most similar modes, you can start a new save file with all the skills and gear you’ve earned during your game former. Enemies are scaled in difficulty to match your abilities. From the point of view of pure power fantasy, it’s a blast and, to some extent, God of the warthe new game plus lets replay it want to play a whole new game.
It doesn’t make any narrative sense either.
Yes, yes, say what you want about “ludon ********* dis******” or “playing games inherently requires a suspension of disbelief” or whatever . I’m not new here, and at the risk of opening a whoooole other Pandora’s box, I generally agree. But God of the war is an exception.
Spoiler for God of the war (2018).
God of the war cold opens with longtime protagonist Kratos swinging an ax into a tree. He lives sequestered in the woods. He wears a ZZ Top beard. He has a son, a precocious and kind-hearted child named Atreus. Most notably, the Blades of Chaos, Kratos’ signature weapons from the original trilogy, are nowhere to be found. Obviously, a lot of time has passed.
The essence of God of the warThe story revolves around Kratos and Atreus delivering the ashes of Faye – wife of Kratos, parent of Atreus – to the highest peak of all the realms. It doesn’t take long before Atreus comes down with an urgent and life-threatening illness, the cure for which lies in the land of the dead, Helheim. (Though the original trilogy was inspired by Greek mythology, the 2018 entry pivoted to Norse canon.) Kratos’ ax is useless against Helheim’s cannon fodder; he will need a different weapon.
The scene is a tour de force. It’s worth watching in its entirety:
Good stuff, right? But here the red flag: When you start a new game, more God of the war, you start with the Blades of Chaos already unlocked. Kratos literally wears them in the very first scene (along with the armor you had equipped at the end of your first playthrough).
It’s not a “spoiler”, per se, nor does it spoil any plot twists; if you’ve played the game, you know that Kratos unearths the Blades of Chaos. But that totally negates the game’s most emotional moment. It’s also just… weird.
Following the news, first reported by Bloomberg last monththis God of War Ragnarök would probably come out in the fall, I decided to replay its predecessor. I first started with the new game plus. Having the Blades of Chaos early on didn’t feel right to me. And since God of the war requires you to commit to a game mode from the start of a save file (meaning you can’t switch from new game plus to new game minus), I had to make a choice. I knew the Blades of Chaos would bother me. I couldn’t go on.
It’s not like playing vanilla mode is a pain in the ass, at least personally. God of the war is, after all, hailed as one of the best games of all time, and rightly so. It reached a level of acclaim that only clarified over time. Four years later, with my understanding of combat and my knowledge of puzzle solutions covered in a thin layer of mental dust, replaying God of the war almost feels like playing a whole new game, even without the new game plus.