‘God of War’ PC review: Kratos grows up in a mature reimagining

Papa’s got a brand new battleaxe

Sony seems to have finally gotten the message and is bringing a veritable horde of previously PlayStation-exclusive titles to PC, meaning that PC-only players now have the chance to experience years of PlayStation magic all at once. God of War is one of Sony’s glittering crown jewels, but how has it held up?

The original release of God of War all the way back in 2018 was superlative, with the game leaning heavily into the cinematic by presenting the entire game as if it were taking place in a single shot, and leaning on the movie-classic trope of the Sad Dad. Most importantly, it traded in the series’ obsession with tits and button-mashing for something that managed to tell a thoughtful story and combat that was both rewarding as well as interesting.

Spoilers, if you haven’t in any way encountered God of War since it was released: it’s a damn good game. While this PC port doesn’t contain any new content – it’s the same game as PS4 owners got to grips with a few years back – it does add a raft of new features to bring it up to date using the latest bells and whistles. We’ll talk about those first, then we’ll look at why this is Kratos’ bald-headed best and why it’s worth playing, even if you haven’t encountered the other games in the series.

So, upgrades. Here, this means true 4K resolution, unlocked framerates and ultra-wide support if your rig can handle it, and a bunch of different graphical settings that’ll let you tweak your settings to get the best performance possible. Nvidia DLSS and Reflex support will help with performance, and there are even customisable controls if you want to play it on a keyboard and mouse… although you really shouldn’t. There’s support for a PS4 Dualshock 4 and PS5 Dualsense controller, so maybe opt for one of those instead.

God of War: Ragnarok
God of War: Ragnarok. Credit: Sony Santa Monica

None of these additions make this a definitive version of the game, so it’ll play just as well on the PS4 or PS5. However, after years of lacklustre ports without even basic graphics options, it’s good to have a properly customisable experience.

God of War works, mostly, because it’s a deconstruction of the bullshit male-gaze nonsense that we got from the God of War series before this soft reboot came along. Before that, Kratos was a man that murdered his way between orgies, and now we see him trying to make peace with the violence he’s wrought while bringing up his son Atreus to be a better person than he was. Kratos isn’t a perfect man – he’s still an angry man at heart (being a former God of War will do that to you), he’s just trying his best to repress it and be better. Which is tricky, particularly when he has to go toe-to-toe with a ton of enemies from Norse mythology. This really ticks him off.

Also, rather than “kill all of the gods”, this quest is much smaller in scale, too. Kratos’ wife and Atreus’ mother Laufey has died and after cremating her body they are now going to scatter her ashes at the highest peak in the nine realms – it’s her final wish and it’s an important goal for them, but it’s their quest – the stakes feel high, but only for our duo.

As the situation gets more intense, Kratos and Atreus’ relationship gets examined and both develop their skills. It’s expected to have your hero get better equipment and more skills as you progress through the game but watching Atreus become more sure of himself, both narratively and in terms of the skills he brings to combat, is a real highlight. Layer in the fact that Atreus has his own anger-management issues and it’s a nice enough story to sink your teeth into as you fight through the game. Giving us Kratos as a real person – with flaws no less – instead of just an avatar of destruction is a bold move that fully pays off and while there are lashings of Joel from The Last of Us – also a Sad Dad doing his best to be a better person – Kratos’ story feels more poignant because we’ve actually seen him indulging that appetite for destruction before this point.

God Of War: Ragnarok. Credit: Santa Monica Studio
God Of War: Ragnarok. Credit: Santa Monica Studio

God of War’s combat is, well, it’s what you’re going to spend most of your time doing in the game, and while you use a fairly limited selection of weapons, the first time you throw the Leviathan Axe it’s impossible not to grin. Kratos is a force of destruction, and his weapons are an extension of him – punches crunch, the axe comes down hard enough that Kratos could tear apart a planet. When you feel that power, even the fights against smaller enemies become engaging: it’s cool to slay a troll, but hunting down wights and tearing them apart – mundane though it is in the game’s epic scope – is immensely satisfying.

Armed with the benefit of hindsight, I think there actually is a point where you can get tired of Kratos antics, and if you’re not bought into the story entirely by this time then the game can start to drag as you start your 30th fight against enemies you can easily tear apart. But, the joy of the combat twinned with the storytelling will get most people through to the credits.

We reviewed God of War for PC. It’s available now from 14 January, with pre-downloads from today.

The Verdict

God of War still holds up brilliantly, and this PC version adds the bells and whistles to rival even the latest and greatest in PC gaming. Strap yourself in and enjoy one of the best third-person action games of the PS4 generation.

Pros

  • A well-made port, with some welcome technological improvements
  • Combat is weighty and satisfying
  • The story is a massive improvement to prior entries

Cons

  • Constant fighting can start to drag toward the end
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