Repeat God of War before Ragnarok? Ignore The New Game Plus

Kratos stares intensely into the distance in God of War.

picture: Sony

As the prophecies (aka Sony’s giant marketing machine) foretold, Ragnarok comes. Yesterday, Sony’s Santa Monica Studio announced a November release date for his upcoming action game God of War Ragnarok. Maybe you’re itching to play the predecessor again, God of War. I’ve been doing this for the past few weeks and I can tell you: New Game Plus does Not Do it for me.

A few months later God of WarWhen it was first released in 2018, Sony added a new Game Plus mode to the game. As in most similar modes, you can start a new save file with all the skills and gear you’ve earned from your previous playthrough. Enemies scale in difficulty to match your skills. From a pure power fantasy perspective, it’s a blast, and to a degree God of War‘s new game plus makes it repeatable feel like playing through a whole new game.

It also doesn’t make any narrative sense.

Yes, yes, say what you will 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 whole other can of worms, I generally agree. but God of War is an exception.

spoilers for God of War (2018).

A yellow banner image warns readers of spoilers for God of War.

God of War Chill begins with longtime protagonist Kratos swinging an ax at a tree. He lives alone in the forest. He’s rocking a ZZ Top beard. He has a son, a precocious, kind-hearted child named Atreus. Notably, the Blades of Chaos, Kratos’ signature weapons from the original trilogy, are nowhere to be seen. Obviously a lot of time has passed.

The core of God of War‘s story revolves around Kratos and Atreus taking the ashes of Faye – spouse of Kratos, parent of Atreus – to the highest peak in all realms. It is not long before Atreus falls ill with an acute, life-threatening illness, the cure for which lies in Helheim, the land of the dead. (Although the original trilogy was inspired by Greek mythology, the 2018 entry centered around Norse canon.) Kratos’ ax is useless against Helheim’s cannon fodder; He’ll need another weapon.

The scene is a tour de force. It’s worth looking at:

Sony / RabidRetrospectGames

Good stuff right? But here is the red flag: when you start a new game, plus in God of War, start with the already unlocked Blades of Chaos. Kratos literally wears them in the very first scene (along with the armor you had equipped at the end of your first playthrough).

This isn’t a “spoiler” per se, nor does it ruin any plot twists; If you’ve played the game, you know that Kratos is digging up the Blades of Chaos. But it completely defocuses the game’s most emotionally influential moment. It’s also just… weird.

After the news first reported by Bloomberg Last monththe God of War Ragnarok probably coming out in the fall, I decided to play the previous one again. I initially started with New Game Plus. Having the Blades of Chaos from the start just didn’t feel right. And since God of War forces you to enter a game mode from the start of a save file (in other words, you can’t switch from a new game plus to a new game minus), I had to make a choice. I knew The Blades of Chaos would bother me. I couldn’t continue.

It’s not like playing in vanilla mode is a pain in the ass, at least personally. God of War After all, it’s rightly hailed as one of the best games of all time. It has achieved a recognition that only becomes clear with time. Four years later, with my understanding of combat and my knowledge of puzzle-solving covered in a thin layer of mental dust, I’m playing it again God of War almost feels like playing a whole new game, even without the new game plus.