A few years ago, I played a game that fundamentally changed the way I thought about both a character and an IP. I’d never really cared much for Kratos or the God of War series, but the fundamental alteration of his character in the 2018 reboot/sequel from a rage-filled monster hellbent on destruction to a father trying to do his best and a widely more-nuanced character changed that. Combined with engaging combat, a genuinely interesting narrative and a beautiful world, the game was one of the best I played and easily secured our 2018 Game of the Year award. Now, almost four years later, the game’s audience has expanded significantly with an incredibly solid PC port.
Many of the changes in the God of War formula come in the form of alterations to Kratos himself and his personal journey. Following the conclusion of God of War 3, he travels to the world of the Norse gods, intent on laying low and changing his life. Instead of being the bloodthirsty monster we knew, he’s reigned in his rage and instead focused on being a more rational and balanced person. The game begins just after the death of his second wife Faye, as he and his son Atreus begin a trek to fulfil her final wish and scatter her ashes at the highest peak in the Realms. Unfortunately, their journey is dogged by the emergence of Norse gods who recognise Kratos for who he is and are intent on killing him. Revealing much more of the story would quickly spoil it, but suffice to say, it’s incredibly well written and engaging.
Where the story really shines is in Kratos’s characterisation and interactions with the various other characters. From the antagonistic Norse gods to more helpful characters such as the Witch of the Woods, everyone feels distinct and interesting in their own ways. This is especially true of Mimir, whose humour and stories are a particular highlight throughout the game. In fact, the only real frustration from the game’s characters comes from a small section of the game where Atreus begins to lean into some particularly whiney and arrogant mannerisms that make him annoying to be around. While it’s completely deliberate, a little less of it would have been welcome.
The other way the game really changes the God of War formula is in its combat. Previous games were a bit loose, with button mashing being a total viable way to wade your way through your enemies. Here, combat is much more deliberate, and closer to a Dark Souls then its predecessors (although it’s nowhere near as difficult as a Souls game). There’s a very deliberate feel to combat, with windups to attacks that leave you open to damage, and enemies that can quickly kill you if you aren’t careful. You’ll need to make heavy use of the lock on, guard and dodge as you progress to really excel at the game. One real joy of combat is flinging Kratos’s Leviathan Axe across the battlefield, only to recall it and have it hit enemies again on the return journey.
Beyond story and mechanical changes, God of War has some of the most beautiful environments we saw on the PS4. This was the game that convinced me to upgrade to a PlayStation 4 Pro, with its more open environments bastions of colour and beauty. This is further enhanced on PC, with two levels of increased detail and fidelity (High and Extreme) on top of the original game. Both the game’s worlds and characters looks absolutely amazing on PC, with incredible detail and fluid animation across the entire game. With the game having already looked utterly fantastic, you’re in for a treat here.
Leaning into the PC specific details of this port, there are both some welcomed features and some missing ones as well. With options like DLSS, FSR and ultra-widescreen support, the game has a myriad of PC-specific features that will make everyone happy, while it also runs fantastically and scales really well with your rig. With that said, there are a couple of small annoyances, with the lack of fullscreen (the game only supports windowed and borderless options) and FOV sliders being the worst omissions.
Overall, the PC port of God of War takes an already amazing game and enhances it even further. The story, combat and characters still remain just as engaging as ever, while the enhanced visuals and solid performance and scalability add to the package. My feelings haven’t changed since the original release, with this being a game I highly recommend everyone needs to play.
- Kratos remains an engaging and nuanced character - Narrative is incredibly engaging and well-acted - Game looks absolutely beautiful and scales well
- Atreus gets pretty annoying at one point in the story