What We Want From God of War: Ragnarok
I must admit that when God of War was announced, I was among the “not my Kratos” nay-sayers. As a fan of Norse mythology, I had a long list of things I was hoping to see, but alas, the game went in a different direction. With the titular Ragnarok on the horizon, this is the perfect opportunity to dive deeper into Norse mythology while simultaneously bringing back some fan God Of War fan favorites.
But with the release of God of War: Ragnarok coming late next year (I’m being hopeful because we could all use a bit of that), there’s an opportunity to bring key parts of Norse mythology into the the world of our favorite patricidal god.
I feel as if this should go without saying, but there are spoilers ahead for those who haven’t finished the first game.
No More Underworld Sequences
In the original Greek trilogy, Kratos died three times and would regularly pull himself out of Hades. Even after that, the newest God of War took us to Helheim (the realm of those who died a dishonorable death) in order to retrieve the heart of the Keeper of the Bridge in order to save his son.
At this point in the franchise it’s expected that Kratos will go to the underworld and it makes sense given he’s a god. However, underworld sections take up a good amount of time that could be spent exploring new ideas. After four visits to the underworld it’s time to spend more time in the land of the living, especially when there are eight of those to choose from.
Access to All Nine Realms
I will admit that I was quite surprised by the amount of freedom players were given use Yggdrasil to jump between realms. Based on previous God of War games, I’d come to expect a far more linear experience, but the 2018 version came fresh with option to explore the world more by traversing between worlds. This ultimately gave players the opportunity the follow winding side-quest paths, uncovering unique treasure chests, and battling the Valkyries that so frequently sent me to Valhalla. But that was only six of the nine realms.
Despite God of War‘s length, we still have yet to visit some of the most significant of the nine realms. Asgard is home to some of the most famous Norse gods like Odin, Thor, Loki, and Tyr, and will surely be a dangerous place for Kratos. Given that time isn’t entirely linear in this trilogy, I’m expecting that the other gods may recognize our young Loki and stir up some trouble. Given that Jormungandr exists in the present, the gods of Asgard may recognize Atreus/Loki as the early father and try to take him from Kratos, initiating another classic murder rampage of Olympic proportions.
Vanaheim on the other hand is home to lesser gods like Njord, Nerthus, Gullveig, and more importantly, Freyr, Freya’s brother and Baldur’s uncle. Freyr, like his sister, might just be a little angry about Baldur’s death. If Freyr isn’t actively searching for Kratos outside of Vanaheim, he’ll certainly be waiting for us at the gates.
Lastly, there’s Svartlfheim, also known as Nidavellir. This realm is the home to a race of dwarves like Brok and Sindri, and who are responsible for creating Asgardian weapons. Mjölnir, Gungnir, and Freyr’s folding ship, the Skithblathnir, were all made by dwarves in Svartlfheim. Should Kratos and Atreus have the opportunity to visit Svartlfheim, I would really like to see a new weapon forged by Brok and Sindri to rival that of the Chaos Blades.
This one feels a bit obvious, but it’s important nonetheless. As we weren’t able to visit Vanaheim or Asgard, we were exposed to significantly fewer gods than any other game in the series. But all of that will change as soon as Kratos and Atreus visit Vanaheim or Asgard. While the two factions of Norse gods, the Aesir (Asgard) and Vanir (Vanaheim) don’t get along, the one thing they have do have in common is a love of Baldur. With a single move, Kratos made enemies of both realms as he finally put an end to Baldur’s life.
A brief cutscene at the end of God of War also teases Thor and his wrath as he appears to Kratos, presumably to take revenge over the death of his sons, Magni and Modi. Whether players will encounter more Norse gods by visiting their realms or being hunted down remains to be seen. Either way, we’re sure encounter many more gods that have it out for us….
Better Boss Variety
…so we can brutally murder them.
God of War: Raganrok is really going to need to step it up where bosses are concerned. My favorite franchise moments have always been God of War‘s boss fights. Each Olympian god/demigod introduction brought a new savage boss fight where Kratos would tear one of this family members apart and earn a new treasure. But in the 2018 version of the game, there was very little variation between the big baddies.
Most boss fights were simply a reskinned, slightly more difficult version of the troll Kratos fights in the first section of the game. The only exceptions to this being Baldur, Magnus + Modi, the optional Valkyries, and the dragon Hraezlyr. Even the unique Keeper of the Bridge boss in Helheim has the same move set as the trolls.
Since the beginning of the series, God of War has been known for it’s many dramatic and violent boss fights. Kratos tears Hades’ soul out with his bear hands, tears of the head off Helios, and impales Hephaestus after electrocuting him. Each one of these bosses award Kratos with a key plot item or ability, something that was largely missing from God of War (2018) after the introduction of Atreus and rune ability system.
As the series continues, I would like to see a return to an earlier formula that puts a greater focus on bosses and the rewards gained from them. I believe that the aforementioned realms of Vanaheim and Asgard would provide the perfect opportunity for many of these boss fights against Norse gods. Also keep in mind the Hildisvíni (Freya’s magic boar) and the giant turtle. Now that we’ve made an enemy of Freya, there’s sure to be other beasties that aren’t as friendly.
A wider range of weapons
While I loved the Leviathan Axe, the range of weapons will have to continue to evolve. After the grand return of the Chaos Blades, the writers would only be repeating old tricks if they were to bring back another weapon like the Blade of Olympus. God of War: Ragnarok could take this opportunity to introduce some of the many other famous Norse weapons.
Between the introduction of Thor and the possibility of visiting Svartlfheim, there are plenty of opportunities to add new weapons and abilities to Krato’s arsenal. Assuming that Kratos and Thor go head-to-head early on in Ragnarok, it would make good sense to replace the Leviathan Axe with Mjölnir. The magical one-handed hammer would be an easy way to swap out the Leviathan’s ice effects for the God of Thunder’s lighting and give Odin good reason to seek vengeance (aside from the death of his grandchildren).
But that’s the low hanging fruit of Norse weaponry; Thor isn’t the only one with fancy dwarven boons. Dainsleif, a legendary sword belonging to King Hogni, is a cursed blade that would fit well within the world of God of War. The sword is said to inflict wounds that never heal (would have been nice for Baldur), guaranteeing an eventual death for your target. However, once drawn it must kill or else it can’t be sheathed again.
Arguably the most significant weapon in all of Norse mythology is Odin’s spear, Gungnir. Imbued with sacred runes, Gungnir grants its bearer great strength and accuracy. It was with this spear that Odin pierced his side and hung himself in the World Tree as a sacrifice to himself. It was this sacrifice that caused the Nordic runes to reveal themselves and their secrets to Odin, making him the All-Father that we know.
An artifact as powerful and important as Gungnir will likely end up being a key item that Kratos will have to steal or pry from Odin’s dead hands.
Fenris and Hel
This one feels like a given, but it’s too significant to exclude from the list.
In Norse mythology, Fenris (or Fenrir) is the son of Loki and the frost giantess, Angerboda. Fenris has two siblings, Hel and Jörmungandr. Fans of God of War will likely know Jörmungandr as the World Serpent that met in the last game. Jörmundandr immediately recognized Atreus as his father, which was players’ first clue that there is some sort of looping timeline present in the new trilogy.
One version of the Ragnarok tale says Jömungandr and Thor get into a tremendous battle that knocks the serpent back into the past while the inflicted wound covers Thor in so much poison that he takes nine steps before succumbing to the poison. This interpretation of the story may be one explanation as to why Jörmungandr recognizes Atreus before the beast was technically born.
But should the timeline function in a manner that we do not yet understand or have clues for, it’s also possible that Atreus’ son (Fenris) and daughter (Hel) already exist in the world. If that’s the case, it’s almost certain they too will recognize Atreus.
What remains to be seen is whether or not all three of Loki’s children will fulfill their roles in Ragnarok as told by the mythology, or if Kratos and Atreus’ existence in this world will change Ragnarok itself.
Answers To the Mural Mystery
The end of the last game revealed that Atreus’ mother, Faye, wanted to name Atreus Loki. This small detail provided clearer lore context around Jörmungandr and Atreus’ future. But a mural on the wall depicts an even darker future for our heroes. The mural portrays Atreus supporting someone, presumably Kratos, as they die. There’s also a series of rune markings coming from Atreus’ mouth and the word “betrayal” to the right. Many have speculated that this is another case of God of War patricide, but I feel that’s too obvious.
The face and right hand/waist of the adult are precariously damaged, leading me to believe that it’s not Kratos, but rather a character we have yet to meet. As Atreus and Kratos would be the obvious assumption, it would serve little purpose to obstruct Kratos’ face. Supposing it is Kratos, why blur the area where Mimir’s head would hang? I think that it’s likely that Mimir betrays Atreus and Kratos, resulting in the God of War’s death, sending him to Valhalla where he will once again (sigh) escape back into the land of the living.
No matter what Cory Barlog and his team create, I have no doubt that it will be another fantastic addition to the series that’s filled with surprises. My only hope is that the next story is able to show us more of the rich Nordic world they’ve already established.