10/10. The game is perfect in every way in what it sets out to do.
|Buy it if you||Don’t buy it if you:|
|– Like adventure games|
– Love story based games
– Haven’t played the game yet, or are looking to see how PC does it better.
|– Don’t enjoy puzzles or a lot of sightseeing.|
– Get overwhelmed with a lot of different button combo’s you could use.
– Downright hate having fun.
On the 14th of January, God Of War (PC) version finally released. And let’s be honest, my fellow PC gamers, we’ve been watching on rather jealously! While PlayStation gamers were having the time of their lives, we could only enjoy streams and videos. With Kratos and Atreus arriving at our technically superior doorstep, it’s time to satisfy that uniquely induced Santa Monica Studio hunger. There is nothing like the thrill of stepping into the sandals of the Greek god of war with vicious intent. While the previous installments (which are still exclusives!) were a rather gruesome spin on Greek mythology, we’re moving to Scandinavia this time around to murder an entirely new pantheon of Gods.
But first, we must ask the most burning question. Is the PC version worth it, or should you stick with PlayStation?
God Of War (PC): Technical aspects of the port
Let there be no doubt. On a PC platform, you are able to maximize your visual fidelity, squeeze out every drop of FPS, and grill a steak on your GPU in the process. What you really want is immersion, and not have the immersion broken because your screen is tearing. God of War is a creative and visual masterpiece that you want to optimize for this reason. Last year, the PlayStation version got a ‘sort of’ 4K upgrade. On PC, you’ll be able to pump out an actual and consistent 4K experience.
I played around with a bunch of settings to get a nice balance of great looks and smooth gameplay. Since it’s nigh impossible to get a decent GPU for a fair day’s pay these days, you’ll find a table with my recommended settings just below. This is slated for an NVIDIA 1080ti GPU card. So even if your system is not running the latest and greatest, you’ll be able to enjoy God of War in most of its glory. Once you nail the best settings for your setup, you’re good to go. Keep in mind that you might need a few attempts to get it really optimal to your taste. Once you have it down, strap in for a wild and emotional ride.
God of war (PC) settings suggestion
Anisotropic Filtering: Original
Ambient Occlusion: Original
Model Quality: High
Texture Quality: Ultra
Introducing new heights for your fan speeds
At the same time, God of War (PC) has been quite successful in pushing my average temperatures and fan speeds into new heights. My system is mostly air cooled, with 6 fans creating an optimal airflow inside the case. On top of that, I also use an AIO liquid cooler on the CPU. Which means another double fan on the top side. When I tried to really push the visual fidelity, my PC did not enjoy it as much as I did.
I can usually average around the 60 degrees Celsius while playing Halo Infinite. When playing God of War for about an hour or two, I made it to an average of 80 degrees Celsius quite easily. As a result, my PC sounds like a Boeing airplane preparing for take-off. Granted, you don’t really need that volumetric fog and those god-rays to be looking that good. But it helps. After all, the animations, death sequences, executions and general details look mind-blowing. In some cases quite literally.
How am I supposed to pull off all these button combo’s?
Yes, I hear you thinking this over the internet. And it’s an important question. You might have played action-adventure games or hack-and-slash games before. If that’s the case, you might also know that a mouse-keyboard setup is somewhat…limiting in this regard. While I don’t like to admit defeat for the PC platform, I must admit that such games benefit from controller support. A good example is Jedi: Fallen Order. Which uses a somewhat similar formula with an over-the-shoulder camera and adventure in every direction. Plugging in an XBOX controller at the time felt positively liberating. And is much smoother than throwing my mouse around the room just to look around.
The great thing is, Santa Monica Studios and Jetpack interactive are going for an all-inclusive mentality going forwards in their game design. This means that, yes, you can absolutely plug in both an XBOX or a PlayStation controller and use that instead. For me personally, I feel like the controller support serves this game quite well. You have no disadvantage against other players or the like, as it is a strict single-player experience. So whatever works best for you, is an option. Feel free to experiment!
God Of War (PC): PC Summary
If your PC is strong enough, you can get a visual experience like there are painfully few on the market. And even if it is not, with some optimization you will be able to get an experience that still surpasses or is at least on par with the PlayStation version. Add in the benefit of controller support, and it’s absolutely a good idea to pick this game up as soon as possible. More so if you haven’t played through it yet, like myself. Let’s take a spoiler-free look at the story next, in case you are wondering if this game is for you.
God Of War (PC): The Story and narrative setting
Have you ever woken up in the morning and chosen violence for your day? And I’m not talking about some weird hipster style corn flakes. I’m talking about getting out of bed, grabbing your favourite axe, going out, and chopping up anything that comes in your path. Be it trees, ghost birds, undead, witches, trolls, humans, and just about anything else that moves or doesn’t move. Now, to be honest, most of these things are also trying to kill you, even the occasional tree. Fair enough, perhaps you need to ask yourself why you went ahead and moved to a frozen mountain land where everything is trying to kill you then. Except for the Dwarves. The Dwarves are nice.
The problem is, Kratos isn’t known for going through life with his care cup \_/ filled to the brim. He’s died before, and has killed more things than I can count, including a pantheon of gods arguably stronger than he is. I do need to nuance that statement. While the younger Kratos was almost exclusively powered by hatred and rage, the older version of him has seemingly mellowed a little. He mostly cared about getting his revenge on the Greek gods in the past, stopping at nothing to achieve it. After successfully and brutally ransacking every Greek god on Mount Olympus, Kratos moved to cold and wooded Scandinavia. There, he started a family, with a wife and his son, Atreus, being born. Now a father, his emotional depth has increased, and he cares for his boy deeply, in the Spartan way.
The story starts a decade later, with Atreus being around eleven years old. Unfortunately, both Kratos and Atreus are in mourning, as Kratos’ second wife Faye has recently died a natural death. It’s refreshing to see Kratos fuelled by other emotions than anger. His love for his now deceased wife is quite apparent and touching. Atreus is still quite young to be dealing with a death so close to him, and his father has seemingly grown stoic and distant in his own grief. It seems appropriate that Atreus should get a Spartan upbringing, with his father being the Ghost of Sparta. But that does not make it any easier to watch Atreus being berated for showing emotion, or compassion. Likewise, Kratos’ general distrust and antisocial behaviour does not always work out for the best. In these moments, it’s Atreus time to shine.
Our ultimate goal is to bring Kratos’ wife’s ashes to the top of the mountain. This will not be an easy journey, as the mountain is quite far away, and littered with death along the way. You have a strong father-son bond throughout the story. Kratos teaches his son how to deal with being the son of a demigod, and how to kill real good. While Atreus serves as an excellent emotional mirror to Kratos, teaching him back about what it means to be human. This allows Kratos to regain some of his humanity through this exchange. The dialogues and cut-scenes are world-class scripts. You feel involved in the story while watching it play out between these two very different characters. They have their own version of love for each other, and it works great for the narrative drive.
Early in the development of God of War, the choice was made not to include fade-to-black screens or other loading screens when transitioning between areas. As long as you follow the story, it’s like you’re really there, walking through an actual world. While this came at great developmental cost, the experience is worth it. We get to move from cut-scene to open world, and then to cut-scene again, with the only changes in between being the movement of the camera. It zooms in when we need to see the faces of the characters, and sits firmly on our shoulder when we’re out murdering. It’s a narrative tool that keeps you immersed and makes the entire journey feel real and believable. Furthermore, it also keeps you playing, so watch out if you only have a bit of time to kill before heading out!
I’m including the music section underneath the story. The reason for this, is that the music is sparse and far between. This does not mean it’s not a phenomenal soundtrack or that you will not enjoy it. But the whole soundtrack encompasses barely an hour and twenty minutes. By comparison, Halo 3 and Assassin’s Creed 2, both iconic soundtracks, are closer to two hours. The music in God of War only kicks in when it is needed for the story parts.
And this is absolutely fine, there are no constant background tracks while you walk through the forests. None when you decide to travel back to your favourite Dwarven blacksmith. But once you are in battle or get sucked into a cut-scene, the soundtrack hits like a train. And that is masterful work if you ask me. It never gets overbearing, it’s just the right touches of music to heighten the scenes. You’ve got beautiful and deep choir tracks, drums, bells and some violins. But it does mean it’s part of the story, and not much else. It’s not likely I will return to the OST on Spotify for anything else but to remember a few good scenes through their soundtracks.
God Of War (PC): Gameplay
Ever wanted to feel really powerful? Perhaps have an Axe that you can throw with conviction, only to flex your hand and have it return to you? Let’s throw in a deployable hoplite shield and permanent tattoos on your body. As well as the fiercest weapons of all: your fists. You are, after all, Kratos, God of War. Slayer of gods and men alike. Whether you are fighting with your bare fists, or using the Leviathan Axe, you feel excessively powerful. Every fight is an enjoyable one, but unless you are playing at a low difficulty setting, it is not forgiving.
Just like Kratos is to Atreus, the game will punish you for any mistakes or transgressions with no remorse. On the higher level difficulties, this unfortunately also means that your enemies become somewhat of a tanky sponge. They die slower, while you die faster. You won’t be able to brute force your way through the game at this difficulty.
You’ll need speed, agility, and good reflexes. These makes combat an enjoyable challenge, but I cannot recommend the highest difficulty for all but clear masochists. It’s too Dark Souls inspired for my liking. Although, I find that you can cheese your way through most fights by just spamming the Leviathan Axe throw. It’s not very enticing to do for long however, it gets boring, but it does work. One level lower will not be easy, but it should be doable for anyone with a little patience and training. Learn to know your enemies’ weaknesses and adjust accordingly. You will not be stopped on your trek to the mountain.
The choice of weapon is important as well, as your fists allow you to build more stun damage on enemies. That means they will get stunned faster, and you will be able to perform an execution on them. On the other hand, your Axe can be thrown and summoned back to your palm. It can be outfitted with runes and upgrades, allowing you to freeze enemies, or chop them up faster.
Likewise, your armour, as well as that of Atreus and his bow, can be upgraded. You can acquire new skills to use with your weapon of choice, powerful new moves that will destroy groups of enemies, stun them, or allow you to escape with your life. It holds room for several types of play styles, so try looking at the upgrade trees and planning ahead. It will allow you to specialize and get your favourite moves sooner, although admittedly, there aren’t a ton of options. Don’t forget your Spartan rage, allowing you to beat anything into submission with a fiery salvo of fisticuffs which do increased stun damage. Fun.
Get ready to hear Kratos yell that word a lot. Atreus makes himself useful in combat, and he can pick up new skills along the way as well. He is outfitted with his sturdy bow, allowing him to pick off targets at range. He can also distract bosses or lesser enemies, allowing you more time to deal with other threats.
With the touch of a button, ‘F’, you not only pay your respects, but command Atreus to fire an arrow at your designated enemy. These arrows recharge over time, and can also be upgraded. Once you acquire some XP, you can even sink this into Atreus’ skill set, allowing him to start straight up choking the undead. Oh, and he also starts throwing magical spells around at some point. Or how about an armour upgrade that allows him to find you healing items occasionally? Not to mention, he’s skinny and can fit into places that Kratos can’t. Good for thieving. And solving puzzles.
Upgrades and adventure
To upgrade anything, you will need a lot of hack silver. This can be found in the world in small amounts, by chopping up corpses, boxes or breakable vases. There’s also bigger amounts, these you can get from selling collectible items to the Dwarven smiths. The collectibles include things like toys, magical masks and mythical drawings of ancient prophesies. They give you some lore insights as well as a sellable item in most cases.
You can also find chests in the world, some basic ones gaining you a larger sum of hack silver. Or a larger one requiring a puzzle solve, which in turn gives you a decent new rune, or an upgrade item for your health or rage meters. Keep a good lookout, yet some areas you will need to return to later to solve the puzzles. The map helps you remember where to look for inaccessible paths if you ever need to return.
Your Leviathan Axe has another use as well. It is actively incorporated in a lot of puzzles you will come across. It has a basic freezing effect. You can use this to freeze items into place, like a gate or bridge, that would otherwise close as soon as you let go of it. Some areas offer winding pathways, and you will sometimes backtrack through an area, using a path that was inaccessible before. It’s clever game design, and supports the no-loading-screens mentality quite well. Atreus provides lore insights, and can pick up on new languages almost instinctively. This is quite helpful, as long as you find the occasional cipher for him to learn new words. There are several Nordic languages to learn too, so be sure to ask him to read any written runes you come across.
If you get stuck on a puzzle, Atreus is usually there to give you some helpful tips, and you will feel like an idiot for not figuring it out sooner once you realize the solution. Or at least that’s how it was for me!
The nine realms
That’s right. You don’t just get to go to one part of the Scandinavian countryside. You’ll journey all over to; Midgard, Alfheim, Asgard, Vanaheim, Niflheim, Muspelheim, Helheim, Svartalfheim, and Jotunheim. That means this game is absolutely PACKED with content for you to discover. It’s such an expansive game that you will require about 52 hours to do every single thing there is to do. If you are in a hurry and just want to get the story out, with not too many side quests, it should take you about 33 hours. Quite a bit of playtime for the price then!
You will meet strangers and strange objects along your journey to the top of the mountain. A lot of these people and ‘interactables’ have a story to them. You can choose to do side quests for extra juicy XP shots. These will allow you to upgrade your skills faster, and get rewards for your weapons and armour as well. They often come with great banter and lore between Kratos and Atreus as well, so I highly recommend doing as many of them as you can.
God Of War (PC): Conclusion
God of War took too long to come to PC. Let’s be blunt about it. We got robbed as a PC community for about three years. It’s a masterpiece crafted by passionate people. It oozes and resonates this throughout the quality of the game. I sincerely hope that its sequel, God of War Ragnarök, will not take three years to get ported. There are no concrete plans for a PC release at this time, however.
This means that God of War (PC) is the only Kratos’ featuring game to be present on our glorious platform for the foreseeable future, dear friends. At least we can be happy that it is finally here, and that Jetpack interactive did such a good job at porting the game without any technical issues or cutting off content. So grab your axe, check if you won in our God of War giveaway recently, and get to chopping your way through the many Scandinavian realms!
We would like to thank Sony for providing us with a game key. Congrats on purchasing Bungie too.