God of War 5 (aka God of War: Ragnarok) is one of the most anticipated games in the world right now. We break down what we know so far and spend a little time sharpening our blades.
God of War 5 will be the sequel to the 2018 iteration of God of War; a landmark title for Sony that took protagonist Kratos to places we never expected. There had been eight years between its eventual release and its predecessor God of War 3. It felt like the world of gaming had moved on. The hyperviolence and nasty tone of the original trilogy seemed an uncomfortable reminder of a bygone era.
However, by leaving behind ancient Greece, and the maimed corpses of Olympus, Santa Monica Studio were able to transform Kratos into something rather unique. He became a vessel through which the developers could critique the very aspects of their original games that aged poorly. God of War (2018) gave the studio the chance to find redemption for Kratos, and in a way, themselves.
The character and tone of God of War 5
God of War 5 promises to continue what made its direct predecessor so successful. By altering the tone of the original games, the developers were able to add a poignancy no one thought achievable in a God of War game. Kratos is presented as living proof of the damage that violence inflicts on those who use it.
His violent past, while never exactly denounced, is used as a cautionary tale. It is apparent how much Kratos wishes to protect his son from the same cycle of war and revenge that he himself is a product of.
The set-up for this tonal shift – the beautifully meditative introductory passage of the game where Kratos teaches his son Atreus to hunt – is a revelation. The dialogue imbues Kratos with a painful wisdom that raises the emotional stakes of the game.
God of War 5 will reap the benefits of this careful character development. When considering the illuminating ending of its predecessor, it’s difficult to see how it couldn’t.
Spoilers: At the end of the game it is revealed that Atreus is also Loki; a character of mischief in Norse mythology. This suggests that Atreus and Kratos may eventually find themselves on opposing sides; a rift that will cut deep for fans who spent so much time watching the father and son duo slowly develop trust and understanding for one another.
The setting and characters
The title Ragnarok relates to Norse mythology and specifically refers to a time of legend, apocalypse, and war. This tells us a few important things. Firstly, it tells us that God of War 5 will be set in Scandinavia. Secondly, it tells us that Kratos plans to rid these lands of their gods in much the same way he did in Greece.
So far Kratos and his son have managed to dispatch Magni, Modi, Baldur, and a posse of cursed Valkyries. However, that leaves a good number of the main players of Norse mythology still standing. It seems inevitable that the following turn up:
- Odin: The king of the gods and the father of those that Kratos has already slain.
- Thor: The god of thunder and the protector of humanity (who appears in an after-credits scene in God of War).
- Freya: An ally in the first game, the new trailer confirms that Freya will be seeking revenge for the death of her son Baldur (killed by Kratos).
- Tyr: The Norse god of war will have an important role in God of War 5, likely serving as an ally to Kratos and Atreus.
- Hel: The goddess of the underworld.
- Vidar: The very strong son of Odin and a giantess.
- Vale: Interestingly, a son of Odin who avenged the death of Baldur.
- Loki: In mythology he is a devious, shape-shifting god that is ultimately responsible for the death of Baldur. In these games he also happens to be the son of Kratos.
The God of War games are not known for being particularly faithful to their source material. Therefore, it is likely that God of War 5 will take some liberties in regards to who appears and how they are portrayed. Nonetheless, expect most of this cast to turn up at some point to receive some smackdown from Kratos.
God of War 5 release date information
Originally, the game’s first teaser trailer stated God of War 5 would be released in 2021. It turns out we were rightly sceptical of that date, as almost all major titles have been delayed to some degree due to complications stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Highlighting this sensibility, that the game will not be rushed simply to meet a deadline, God of War 5 director Cory Barlog tweeted:
I don't know who needs to hear this…
(certainly not me since I have never heard of it)
WHEN. IT'S. DONE.❤️
(trust that it's what's best for everyone) pic.twitter.com/DVE6hQ9BVA
— cory barlog 🖖 (@corybarlog) February 25, 2021
Official news of the delay broke in a social media statement from Sony’s Santa Monica Studio, the developer of the 2018 God of War reboot and its upcoming sequel. The tweet didn’t reveal an originally intended release date, or a specific new one, but they confirmed “we’ve made the decision to shift our release window to 2022”.
The studio explained that they “remain focused on delivering a top-quality game while maintaining the safety and wellbeing of our team, creative partners, and families”. As disappointing as the news might be for fans, you really can’t argue with decision to prioritise healthy working conditions.
Regardless of where you stand on the debate, the continuing work being put into God of War is ensuring that we will be getting a great game that is actually worth playing – even though it won’t come out until 2022.
— Santa Monica Studio – God of War Ragnarök (@SonySantaMonica) June 2, 2021
What consoles will it be release on?
Luckily it’s not all bad news for God of War enthusiasts at the moment – those who still can’t get their hands on a PS5 will be thrilled to discover that the game has been confirmed for release on the PS4. In a Q&A session on the PlayStation Blog, studio head Hermen Hulst explained that “where it makes sense to develop a title for both PS4 and PS5… we’ll continue looking at that”, including God of War in the list of relevant projects.
There are certainly mixed feelings surrounding God of War‘s new status as a cross-gen title. The game was originally portrayed as a PS5 exclusive, acting as a major incentive to migrate or upgrade consoles, leading to some gamers feeling misled. Many fans believe designing PS5 titles to also run on the PS4 will hold them back, but it’s not shocking that Sony would want to make the game accessible to a wider audience and ultimately sell more copies.
As for a God of War 5 PC port, there have been signs coming from Sony that this is a strategy they will explore more in the future depending on the success of individual release. That said, don’t hold your breath, as Horizon Zero Dawn took almost three years to eventually come to PC.
God of War (2005) director David Jaffe appears adamant that this will be the case. Although it should be noted that, while an industry insider, he’s had zero involvement in the more recent entries of the series.
Seems like #GodOfWarRagnarok will be cross-gen title after all!
W or L?🤔 pic.twitter.com/UJSsLRIWCu
— Joe Miller (@JoeMiller101) January 6, 2021
God of War 5 gameplay trailer finally arrives at September PlayStation Showcase
After a painstaking wait, and a seemingly endless supply of false rumours, we have received a God of War 5 (now officially titled God of War Ragnarok) gameplay trailer. And we are glad to report that it was worth the wait.
Featuring gorgeous visuals, brutal combat, and enough plot points to keep our brains spinning until the game’s 2022 release, it was the trailer that fans have been yearning for.
The trailer, as well as the media announcement that followed, confirm a great deal of our speculation. However, some important new information has come to light.
Firstly, the last game’s director Cory Barlog has stepped aside from the director’s chair and allowed lead designer Eric Williams to take the reigns. In the showcase interview Barlog sited exhaustion as the reason for taking a back seat in God of War 5‘s development.
Also very interesting is that it has now been officially confirmed that Ragnarok will be the final chapter in the series’ Norse mythology period. Where the future of the series lies is anyone’s guess, so we’ll just have to wait and see what hints we get in the upcoming game.
We’ll do our best to keep this page updated with any new God of War 5 announcements, so be sure to check back in with us further down the line.