In my professional opinion as a veteran industry analyst, God of War Ragnarok stands as a slightly better overall game than the excellent God of War (2018). While its predecessor pioneered a bold new direction for the franchise that earned justified acclaim, Ragnarok refined, expanded and perfected nearly every aspect of this new vision.
Ragnarok Improves on God of War‘s Strong Foundation
God of War radically reinvented the series with a fresh new setting based on Norse mythology. It introduced a more grounded and intimate story focused on Kratos becoming a caring father to his young son Atreus. This emotional core earned tremendous praise, as did the game‘s stunning visuals and innovative over-the-shoulder camera presentation.
Ragnarok retained all these successful elements while improving and building upon them. It expanded the narrative scope to an epic conclusion while keeping the father-son dynamic central. The visuals are even more gorgeous, taking advantage of the PS5‘s power. The camera work and fluid combat animations remain top-notch. Developer Sony Santa Monica expanded the combat capabilities, enemy variety, gear/RPG systems and explorable world. Nearly every gameplay system and technical area saw welcome refinements.
Critics and Fans Agree: Ragnarok Is a Triumph
Looking at critical and fan reception makes it clear Ragnarok delivered an experience equal or superior to God of War for most players:
- Ragnarok earned a 94 metascore on Metacritic based on 113 critic reviews. This matches God of War‘s score.
- Reviewers commonly praised the meaningful narrative conclusion, superb presentation and refined gameplay.
- Fan rating averages are also effectively equal – God of War 9.1 vs Ragnarok 9.0 on Metacritic.
- Ragnarok has grossed over $620 million in sales in just the first few weeks. Engagement is sky-high.
Narrative Focus Shifted, But Emotional Impact Remains
A key critique for some is Ragnarok‘s choice to split the narrative more between Kratos and Atreus by having them spend time in different realms. This segmented the story‘s focus compared to the tighter single viewpoint of God of War. The trade-off was getting to explore more varied environments tied to Norse myth.
Atreus stepping toward independence while still connecting with his father provided satisfying character development. Kratos still earns memorable emotional moments, like a touching reunion with an old ally. Overall, the writing and voice acting retain the poignancy and depth that defines God of War‘s modern era. Players just need to adjust to the parallel storytelling structure.
|God of War
Combat, Progression and World Design Greatly Expanded
Where Ragnarok clearly pulls ahead of God of War is in gameplay diversity, depth and content amount. Kratos now has access to a wide array of combat abilities and weapon signatures to customize his fighting style. Players can spec out gear for unique stat bonuses that support different tactics. Atreus also becomes fully playable in certain sections, with his own upgradable skills. All of this allows for greater combat and progression variety.
The expanded world also contains much more to discover across the 9 Norse realms. God of War‘s condensed take on Midgard encouraged focused exploration. Ragnarok embraces player freedom, letting you sail between realms and approach zones in any order. Side content like Favors expands dramatically. Collectibles and lore items are ample rewards for thorough investigators. The scope and density give this adventure epic proportions.
Enhanced Enemy Design
- Over 35+ enemy types to test varied tactics
- Larger, more complex arenas with dangerous environmental hazards
- New big boss fights like Thor test mastery of combat skills
Both Games Are Essential PlayStation Classics
While Ragnarok earns a slight edge overall based on evolution of strong systems and expanded content, both of these God of War titles are instant classics that define the PlayStation experience. Their technical mastery and engaging narratives centered on the love between father and son make them unmissable adventures. God of War charted a bold new path. Ragnarok concludes Kratos and Atreus‘ unforgettable Norse journey on the highest of high notes. I strongly recommend all PlayStation fans play both to fully appreciate this magnificent series.