The value of side quests in games has grown exponentially over the last decade or so, and we see games with excellent, engaging side content with great frequency now. Another game that has fallen right into that category is God of War Ragnarok, a game that, it’s fair to say, knocks the ball out of the park where its optional content is concerned, both in terms of quality and quantity. SIE Santa Monica Studio’s latest smash hit is densely packed with things to do, and that quantity doesn’t come at the cost of quality either, because there’s no shortage of incredible side quests in the game. Here, we’re going to talk about a few of those side quests that stood out to us the most.
NOTE: There are spoilers ahead for God of War Ragnarok.
THE WEIGHT OF CHAINS
One of God of War Ragnarok’s best side quest becomes available very early on in the game. Found in the semi-open world lake area of Svartalfheim, The Weight of Chains revolves around a massive aquatic creature as large as a small island that’s been trapped in chains in that same spot for an interminably long time. Learning the story about the part Mimir had to play in the creature’s imprisonment in his younger days and the regret he feels over that makes for an incredible backbone for this short story, while Kratos’ insistence on helping free the creature, given his own past experiences with endless servitude, adds more steel to the storytelling. The payoff, too, is incredible- if a little heartbreaking.
FREYA’S MISSING PEACE
God of War Ragnarok spends a great deal of time revealing more about Freya’s past, and a lot of that comes through this particular side quest. Found in Vanaheim after she becomes Kratos’ companion character, this side quest sees Freya, who’s desperate to break her ties with Odin, seeking out three personal treasures that serve as mementos of their time together, and by extension, the pain that he caused her. Learning so much more about her past is fascinating, while the growing bond between Freya and Mimir also takes centerstage.
SECRET OF THE SANDS and SONG OF THE SANDS
Sure, these are two side quests, but they’re very similar to each other at their core- and they’re both excellent, so you definitely shouldn’t be missing either of them. Both are focused on Kratos and Atreus’ attempts to free trapped Hafgugas (more commonly known as “those giant jellyfishes”), in the process clearing up the storms in Alfheim’s desert. From a pure gameplay perspective, both side quests serve as excellent blends of brain-teasing puzzles and challenging combat encounters, while the payoff upon completing both of them is also an unmissable visual treat.
THE BROKEN PRISON
This is one of the game’s many post-game side quests, and it’s one you’d be remiss to skip. Close to its climax, God of War Ragnarok reveals that the Tyr that Kratos and Atreus rescued had been Odin in disguise all along- so what happened to the real Tyr? Well, we find out in this quest. Kratos and Freya chance upon a shattered piece of Asgard in Niflheim, an abandoned Aesir prison that not only serves as an excellent backdrop for the quest, but also culminates in the rescue of the real Tyr. The interaction between Tyr and Kratos, where the former alludes to knowing Kratos, is particularly interesting, especially in light of the things you find in his vault in God of War (2018).
Found in Midgard, this side quest obviously focuses on the former Valkyrie queen and a tragic part of her past, as its name suggests, but Mimir is just as important a character in this small plotline. We learn about the relationship between Mimir and Sigrun in God of War Ragnarok, and that serves as the heart of this side quest. Interspersed throughout its solidly designed puzzles and combat encounters are bits and pieces of information on Sigrun’s past and her family, and it’s heartening to witness how Mimir takes in all of this.
FIT FOR A KING
One of the longest side questlines in the game, but also one that’s likely to be a fan-favourite. The Berserker Souls are God of War Ragnarok’s analog of the Valkyries in the 2018 title- super hard bosses that will test all of your skills and are probably best left alone until deep into the game, if not even the post-game. It’s a thrilling and incredibly rewarding gauntlet of boss fights, ending with an exhausting (in a good way) duel with King Hrolf, probably the second most challenging fight in the entire game.
What’s the most challenging boss fight? Well, funny you should ask…
DEFEND YOUR VALOR
Appropriately enough, the most difficult boss fight in God of War Ragnarok is another Valkyrie queen- Gna, who’s taken up leadership of Asgard’s most fearsome fighters in the wake of Odin’s death. Even after Odin’s death, Gna continues to be a threat in the post-game, and this side quest sees Kratos and Freya finally tracking her down and Muspelheim and taking her on in a thrilling battle. This is, bar none, the most difficult boss fight in the entire game, and it’s absolutely brilliant.
CASUALTY OF WAR
Deep into the game, you unlock a massive new area in Vanaheim- a crater that once used to be a scene of bustling civilization, but was utterly destroyed when a battle took place between Thor and Faye. A frozen bolt of lightning still sticks out of the ground into the sky as a memento of this battle. Details of this duel and of how the crater was destroyed are revealed in a collection of side quests in the questline called Casualty of War, and though none of them would stand out on their own, collectively, they tell an engrossing story.
IN SERVICE OF ASGARD
Yet another early side quest, and yet another one that makes a strong impression in Ragnarok’s initial hours. Upon your arrival in Svartalfheim, you’re told about the mines polluting the semi-open world lake area we mentioned earlier- three mines spewing noxious and poisonous waste into the water and land around them, which, as it turns out, were built because of Mimir when he was still young and wanted to impress Odin. Learning more about that story and about Odin’s oppression of Svartalfheim remains captivating throughout this quest, while it also remains engaging on a gameplay level, especially since it takes you all over that chunk of the map.
RETURN OF THE RIVER
The Vanaheim crater is home to many excellent side quests, one of which we spoke of earlier, and another one that stands out is Return of the River, which sees Kratos opening up a massive damn in the area and allowing the river to flow back in. The parched and dry canyon is filled back up with rushing water, which is rewarding enough on its own as far as payoff goes, while the fact that the river’s return also opens up several previously inaccessible areas makes it that much sweeter.
TRAIL OF THE DEAD and THE BURNING SKIES
Vanaheim’s crater area is brimming with dragons to find and kill, and while each of those boss fights is suitably excellent, the one that stands really stands out is the one that ends these two particular side quest. While most of the other quests we’ve spoken about so far have had a strong narrative side to them, these two stand on their feet purely on the back of excellent design in terms of both puzzles and exploration. Of course, the boss fights against the dragons at the end of both quests also serve as a great way to close things out.
THE ELVEN SANCTUM
On the northern edges of the Barrens in Alfheim, you’ll find the titular Elven sanctum that serves as the backdrop for this side quest- and there’s quite a bit to like here. Sure, the quest itself is a short one, but you learn some very interesting things about the Elves- in particular, the war between the Light and Dark Elves. Of course, the highlight of this brief but memorable side quest is the fight at the end The Maven, which is easily one of the game’s more challenging boss encounters.
SCENT OF SURVIVAL and FOR VANAHEIM!
A pivotal sequence in the later hours of God of War Ragnarok sees the former Traveler Birgir seemingly sacrificing himself to allow his allies to escape. Soon afterward, of course, the game reveals that Birgir is actually arrives. Immediately upon returning to Freyr’s camp, you kick off the “Scent for Survival” side quest, which instantly unlocks the crater area- which, in turn, unlocks the side quest where you rescue Birgir. Not only is this an excellent collection of quests for the role it plays in unlocking one of the game’s best locations, it’s also memorable on its own, not least because of the fact that it also ends with a boss fight against a dragon.
THE MYSTERIOUS ORB
Another early side quest, and another unmissable ones- though maybe for different reasons to the other ones we’ve spoken about. The Mysterious Orb isn’t heavy on exposition or narrative revelations, but it does focus on Lunda, who you can’t help but be constantly amused by (if only for the amazing way she speaks). This quest is also where you’ll find Lunda’s armour set, which might not be what you’ll want to wear when you’re heading into battle with the likes of King Hrolf or Gna, but definitely serves as one of the best armour sets you’ll find in the early hours of the game.
A VIKING FUNERAL
If you’re looking for an epilogue-style chapter at the end of God of War Ragnarok’s story, this is it. Kratos and Freya head to Svartalfheim, where they attend Brok’s funeral. It is, of course, a great way to say goodbye to the fan-favourite character, but there’s some other interesting narrative developments in the quest of all, especially thanks to an appearance from Sindri (who’s still very, very pissed off about the death of his brother).