2018’s God of War is notable for multiple reasons.
It leans on Norse mythology rather than Greek mythology for one, and also sees Kratos equipped primarily with a magical axe. It’s the fact that it humanises Kratos that most stands out though. If you haven’t played prior God of War games you might miss it, but the truth is he was a total bastard. With his family slain by his own hands, he would stop at nothing to get revenge, even if it meant killing gods. But now he’s put all that behind him. He’s learned to control his anger. It’s perhaps because he’s managed to settle down and actually have a family again.
God of War begins at the start of another tumultuous time in Kratos’ life. His wife, Faye, has just died, leaving him to look after their son, Atreus. Together, they’re to climb the highest peak in the nine realms and scatter Faye’s ashes. And while Kratos initially deems Atreus not quite ready for the task, an encounter with a mysterious visitor forces them to embark on the perilous journey.
The relationship between Kratos and his son is compelling. Atreus has been kept in the dark about his father’s violent past, and even the fact that he’s a god. Kratos also isn’t particularly good at displaying affection. Atreus takes it as a sign of rejection, and somewhat resents his father for it. But at the same time, Atreus is a child, unaware of the darkness that lies in the world. And so, with Kratos’ thankless commands and terse replies, and Atreus’ smarmy comments and many, many questions, you get the feeling that there’s no love lost between the two of them.
It’s not true though, and as you battle your way through this epic game you’ll discover that. Kratos, given his past, just isn’t great at showing emotion. He also wants his son to be better than he was, and be prepared for the harsh world that lies ahead of him. Some of those dangers quickly make themselves known as the pair set off to fulfil Faye’s dying wish; as you can expect of a video game, making their way to the highest peak in the nine realms isn’t an easy task. It’s filled with one setback after another, in fact. But thankfully, Kratos is more than capable of overcoming the brunt of them. Though he might need a bit of help with some.
With its new setting and a calmer Kratos, it perhaps shouldn’t come as a surprise that God of War features a revamped battle system. Kratos has retired his double-chained Blades of Chaos, and now makes use of the Leviathan Axe. It’s a versatile weapon; Kratos can swing it, hacking enemies at close range, or throw it, maiming enemies at a distance before summoning it back to his hands. Sometimes, though, it’s advantageous to get more handsy with your opponents. Fighting with your bare fists is also an option, and is particularly effective at stunning opponents, allowing for a swift execution.
What makes God of War‘s combat system so wonderful, aside from the more up-close-and-personal nature afforded by the new over-the-shoulder camera, is the fact that you can seamlessly move from one combat style to another. Throw in a variety of advanced manoeuvres to be unlocked via skill trees, a range of runic attacks, and another weapon to unlock that’s best discovered for yourself, and you have a game where combat never becomes a chore. While you’ll always be control of Kratos, you can even call upon Atreus to assist you with his magical bow and arrow and runic summons. Needless to say, there’s a hell of a lot of depth.
It’s the balance between exploration and combat that seals God of War as one of the best games ever made, however. The world presented here is superbly detailed, and while it’s not totally open, you do have a great deal of freedom. It always pays to go off the beaten path and explore – if you don’t find a valuable item such as a health-boosting Iðunn’s Apple, you’ll at least grab a handful of hacksilver that can be spent to acquire or upgrade your gear later. There’s also a wealth of side content to undertake should you wish to do so, challenging you to solve tricky puzzles and overcome powerful adversaries.
God of War is a very good game, then. One of the best, even. And so it’s great to be able to say that this PC port is nothing but a triumph. A wide range of settings are available (you can view them all here), allowing you to take the visuals beyond its console counterparts. And of course, you can also take them a little lower if your PC isn’t quite up the task. The truth is though, whether you play God of War at its lowest settings or highest, it’s still a treat for the eyes.
Using a NVIDIA RTX 3070 paired with a Ryzen 5 3600, we’ve been playing at Ultra settings, utilising the DLSS Quality setting to upscale from 1440p to 4K. It doesn’t allow for a locked 60fps experience, but it comes very, very close. Those who do want to achieve a locked 60fps should be able to do so with relative ease, and the game allows you to go all the way up to 120fps if you wish. Best of all, we haven’t noticed any stuttering issues, graphical anomalies or any other bugs. Every time we’ve sat down to play God of War on PC, it’s been a smooth, trouble-free endeavour.
They say good things come to those who wait, and in this case it rings true for PC gamers. This PC port is undoubtedly the best way to experience God of War, boasting improved visuals and additional features such as ultra-wide support and NVIDIA Reflex for reduced latency. Ultimately, this is a brilliant port of a phenomenal game, instantly making it a must-have for any PC gamer seeking out an engaging adventure full of intense combat and thoughtful puzzles.
God of War PC Review – GameSpew’s Score