God of War Ragnarok Ending Explained, and How it Sets up the Series’ Future

What does God of War Ragnarok's ending mean for the series' future?

Posted By | On 05th, Jan. 2023

God of War Ragnarok Ending Explained, and How it Sets up the Series’ Future

God of War Ragnarok took on the complicated task of satisfactorily finishing off the series’ Norse mythology saga much earlier than many would have guessed (especially given the fact that we got six games in the series’ Greek saga), but it’s fair to say that, by and large, the game pulls it off rather well. Even so, this is far from the end of the series itself- there are, of course, going to be more God of War games, even if it might be a while before another one gets officially announced, and though Ragnarok’s ending makes it clear that the series’ current arc is over, there are still clues left behind that might point to what the future might bring.

To that end, here, we’re going to go over God of War Ragnarok’s ending, explaining its most crucial developments, before then moving on to how (or if) it sets up future stories in the franchise.

THE ENDING

Atreus spends most of God of War Ragnarok desperately trying to make sure that the fate of his father – that Kratos will die, and that Atreus will end up working with Odin – don’t come to pass, while of course, ensuring that Odin can’t accomplish his own nefarious goals is something he’s constantly working towards as well. Kratos, on the other hand, just wants to protect Atreus, even if that means his own eventual death. That, in turn, means that the father and son frequently disagree on what their course of action should be throughout the game- which, funnily enough, means that Atreus does indeed end up going to Asgard and working with Odin, even if he’s only doing it to serve his own purposes. It doesn’t help that Atreus has promised Angrboda that he won’t tell anyone about Ironwood and the things he learned there, which means there’s a lot of crucial information that he’s unable to relay to his father.

By the time God of War Ragnarok is approaching its conclusion though, Kratos and Atreus are finally on the same page, as are all of the allies that they’ve gathered, including Freya and Freyr, Brok and Sindri, Tyr, and of course, Mimir. As they’re planning their final attack on Asgard though, the game throws a surprising twist our way, revealing that the Tyr that Kratos and Atreus rescued from Svartalfheim much earlier in the game isn’t the real Tyr at all- it’s actually been Odin in disguise all along, and he’s been manipulating and spying on them the entire time, Atreus in particular. In that shocking moment, Odin reveals his true form, kills Brok, and flees. In the post-game, you can find and free the real Tyr- but that’s not important right now.

Brok’s death has a massive impact on many in the game’s core cast, Sindri in particular (obviously), but ultimately, it spurs them on to refocus their efforts, head to Asgard, kick off Ragnarok, and kill Odin- because if there’s one thing that they all agree on without any hesitation whatsoever, it’s that Odin needs to go. That in turn leads them to Musphelheim to find the fire giant Surtr, who is said to play a key role in Ragnarok and the destruction of Asgard. Surtr, however, is initially reluctant to go along with Kratos and Atreus’ plan, since doing so would mean the death of the giant Sinmara, his wife, though the two eventually manage to convince him to find another way to do what needs to be done while leaving Sinmara out of the whole process.

god of war ragnarok

With Surtr enlisted as well, Kratos and Atreus arrive in Asgard, where the former blows Gjallarhorn, which he had taken off of Heimdall after killing him earlier, and opens up the gateways to all the other realms, allowing their own army comprised of many races and all their other allies to pour through. A seething and resentful Sindri arrives as well, bringing an explosive device of his making in tow, which he uses to destroy the imposing wall that surrounds and protects Asgard, while in the background, a massive Surtr – who has now taken on the form of Ragnarok itself – begins laying waste to the realm.

Also in the background, the World Serpent arrives, having been given life earlier in the game when Atreus and Angrboda insert a giant’s spirit into a snake’s corpse- now significantly larger, the Serpent fights against Thor, but just as Kratos and Atreus were told by Mimir in God of War (2018), one of Thor’s strikes hits him so hard that he’s sent flying back to the past, into Midgard, where he will eventually meet Kratos and Atreus for the first time during the events of the 2018 title. Yep, the God of War series sure loves messing about with time.

The assault on Asgard begins gathering momentum, though soon, Kratos and Atreus make a revelation that stops them in their tracks- that Odin has used a group of refugees from Midgard as bait, having them camped right outside the wall so that they will die in the attack. This is something that obviously doesn’t sit right with Atreus, not least because his friend Skojldr is part of that group of refugees, but calling up Kratos’ old lessons, he tells himself to “close his heart” to their pain and do what needs to be done, that war requires sacrifices.

god of war ragnarok surtr

Kratos sees this, and realizes the error of his ways. He tells Atreus that he was wrong, and that he should open his heart to their suffering, because that’s who he is, and as far as Kratos is concerned, that’s what makes him a better person and a better god than Kratos ever was. That, of course, is a massive personal stride for Kratos’ own character as well- and together, father and son decided that while Odin does have to die, they’re not going to needlessly sacrifice the lives of countless in their attempts to ensure that happens. Asking their allies to try and hold the now-mindless and destructive monstrosity that is Ragnarok, Kratos, Atreus, and Freya forge ahead into Asgard, rushing towards Odin.

They’re stopped in their tracks by Thor, who arrives on the scene with Mjolnir sparkling in his hand, ready for action. By this time, however, Kratos has no intention of killing him. Not only has he turned a major corner himself, he also knows that Thor’s daughter Thrud is a friend of Atreus’, and clearly, he sees a lot of his own past in Thor, too- trapped in service to an evil, spiteful master (incidentally, his father) who cares very little (if at all) about the pain that Thor himself has endured. And while Thor isn’t quite on that same wavelength, when Kratos battles him, defeats him, and then refuses to kill him, instead trying to make him see reason, he can’t help but pause and listen to what he has to say. What really makes him come around, of course, are the words of Thrud and Sif, his wife. Thor lays down his hammer, deciding that he’s done fighting for Odin- but of course, Odin can’t have that.

Odin arrives at the scene, and mercilessly, he kills Thor. What follows is a final battle with Odin, with Kratos, Atreus, and Freya fighting together against their sworn enemy in a climactic duel. The fight ends with Odin defeated- though he has one last gambit to play. Throughout God of War Ragnarok, it’s made abundantly clear that the thing he really wants, the thing he wants above everything else, is to use a mysterious mask of unknown and cosmic origins. With Odin’s help, Atreus spends much of the game finding three pieces of this mask and making it whole again. Using this mask, Odin intends to look into a rift he found thousands and thousands of years ago, around which he went on to build his fortress in Asgard.

god of war ragnarok

Defeated in their battle, Odin now tells Atreus to look into the rift with the mask. Atreus, however, isn’t falling for any of his tricks. Not only does he destroy the mask, he also traps Odin’s soul in a marble, similar to many other giants with trapped souls that Angrboda keeps with her in a pouch. This is quite an ingenious moment to, because it serves as very surprising payoff for one of God of War (2018)’s biggest lingering questions.

At the end of the 2018 title, in Jotunheim, Kratos sees a mural on a wall that depicts what looks like him dying with his head in Atreus’ lap, with something escaping through his mouth along with his final breath. This is a mural that Atreus sees as well when he goes to Ironwood in God of War Ragnarok. And of course, as that climactic scene in the game reveals, what that mural is depicting is actually Odin’s end, not Kratos’. The figure in Atreus’ lap is Odin, not Kratos. The mark on that figure’s face is Odin’s eyepatch, not Kratos’ tattoo. The thing escaping his mouth are the blue wisps of his soul, not the World Serpent (as many have predicted for over four years). As it turns out, despite all of their efforts, Kratos and Atreus weren’t able to defy fate after all. The Norns foretold that Atreus would end up working with Odin, that Kratos would kill Heimdall, that Kratos and Atreus would cause Ragnarok, and that Odin would die in Atreus’ arms- and guess what? All of that is exactly what happened.

Of course, at that moment in time, Odin isn’t technically dead yet. His soul is just trapped in a marble… for like a second. Atreus hands the marble to Freya, telling him that after all the torture that Odin put her through for an eternity, what his ultimate fate should be is her decision to make. Sindri, who’s not dealing with his brother’s death in a very healthy manner (to say the least), is having none of that. He snatches the marble out of Freya’s hand and smashes it into smithereens, killing Odin once and for all.

By now, Ragnarok (formerly known as Surtr) has well and truly gone berserk. Asgard is being obliterated, and thankfully, with the help of Angrboda, the heroes of the day are able to escape in the nick of time, teleporting back to Midgard with a great many refugees. This is where we get God of War Ragnarok’s epilogue, and though it’s a short one, it’s also quite eventful. The most direct setup that happens here is for what’s looking like a future story centered around Atreus- so let’s talk about that first.

HOW THE SETS UP ATREUS’ FUTURE

Kratos and Atreus have fought together to stop Odin and destroy Asgard, but as it turns out, both of them have plenty else that they still need to do- Atreus in particular. He’s been having Giant visions that tell him what he needs to do- which, luckily enough for Sony, is to go on his own adventure so Santa Monica Studio can make an Atreus spinoff, or at least an Atreus expansion.

He tells Kratos that he knows there are other Giants out there that are alive, and that he has to try and find and rescue them, so he can start working towards saving his people. Kratos, of course, is not thrilled about the prospect of being separated from his son, but he also knows the importance of Atreus’ quest, and how much it means to him. More importantly, by this point, Kratos has grown to immensely trust and respect Atreus and his judgment, which makes it much easier to let him go out on his own journey. After a tearful goodbye, Atreus departs with Angrboda by his side.

So what’s next for Atreus? Our best guess would be a standalone sequel focused on Atreus that’s relatively smaller in size, but still a self-sufficient game in its own right, similar in scope to something like Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales or Uncharted: The Lost Legacy. Specifically where Atreus is concerned, there are things that haven’t quite been fully wrapped up yet either. There’s everything to do with the Giants that he’s gone looking for, of course, while Angrboda still also has that pouch full of marbles containing the Ginats’ souls. Will they find a way to bring their people back and restore Jotunheim to its former glory? It certainly seems like that’s the story that’s being set up. Meanwhile, there’s definitely still unfinished business between Atreus and Sindri, which is another thread that a potential standalone sequel or spinoff could pick up. Oh, and remember when someone unknown blew the horn in God of War (2018) when Atreus was sick? Who the hell blew that horn? Is the answer to that question something that Santa Monica Studio is holding back for that Loki game?

Either way, it’s clear that though Kratos and Atreus will obviously eventually end up reuniting (even if it doesn’t happen for quite a while), for now, Atreus has to do things on his own- which means we’re probably getting an Atreus game at some point in the future.

HOW IT SETS UP KRATOS’ FUTURE

god of war ragnarok

While Atreus’ immediately future seems to be tied to the Norse mythology setting, it’s clear that where Kratos is concerned, the series is ready to move on. The main overarching arc has been tied up and closed off with very little left by way of loose ends, and there isn’t really much in God of War Ragnarok’s post-game content that might suggest that Kratos is going to have any more major stories centered around him while he’s still in the Norse realm.

Before we speak about what’s next for him in the bigger picture though, we should touch upon a few key moments tied to his story in Ragnarok’s epilogue. Much like the 2018 title, Ragnarok ends with Kratos gazing upon murals- though the impact is much more different this time. Before leaving with Atreus, Angrboda shows them a mural that shows Faye destroying Atreus’ shrines, so that several years on, her son would chart his own path, doing what he believed to be right.

After Atreus and Angrboda lave, Kratos finds and looks at another shrine- one that tells his story. The final panel of that shrine is particularly interesting, because it shows Kratos standing on a pedestal while being showered with love and adoration by people who deem him as their saviour and the hero of Ragnarok. Kratos, of course, has spent an eternity believing himself to be a monster and knowing that there is never going to be any redemption for him- so understandably enough, seeing that shrine showing him getting that kind of widespread adoration leaves him shaken. When Mimir and Freya ask him what he saw in the shrine, he tells them that he saw a “path” for himself that he could never have deemed possible, now finally believing that he may not be doomed to eternal damnation the way he had believed for so long.

god of war ragnarok

Moving on from that, however, what exactly does the future hold for Kratos? Presumably, he and Freya are going to be focused on rebuilding all the Realms going forward and ensuring that they can maintain order, which is something that we see plenty of in God of War Ragnarok’s post-game content as well. But obviously, that doesn’t leave a lot of room for sequels- and sequels are inevitable. So what does that mean for Kratos?

Well, obviously, God of War’s next mainline game will begin a new saga that will head to a new mythological setting. That’s something that was heavily hinted at in God of War (2018) in particular, where you can see symbols representing four mythologies on a panel in Tyr’s temple- Greek (which God of War has obviously already done), Egyptian, Shinto, and Celtic. Of those latter three, Egypt is likeliest to be the next mythological setting God of War will visit. We’re basing that largely on the fact that before God of War (2018)’s development began, Santa Monica Studio (and Cory Barlog in particular) were originally envisioning it with an Egyptian setting. Clearly, they have ideas for what to do with that particular mythology, and we’ve love to see that finally come to fruition. Of course, before the 2018 title’s development began, the developers were also considering a Mayan mythology setting, so that’s certainly a possibility as well.

Regardless of what the new setting will be, it should be interesting to see how Kratos makes the jump to it. We never really got to see how he went from Greece to Midgard, though of course, the story is in a much more different place right now. Given where Kratos’ character arc is right now and where the larger story has come to a stop, we’d assume that there will be much more of a connective tissue between God of War’s Norse and Egyptian games (assuming they will be set in Egypt) than there was between its Greek and Norse games. Now that he is essentially serving as a protector of these Realms, maybe is motivation to go to a new mythological setting would be to fight against a threat to the place he’s come to call his home? Maybe a new pantheon will invade the Nine Realms and begin wreaking havoc, forcing Kratos to take up his arms and travel to a new land?

god of war ragnarok

If that does happen, it should also be interesting to see what happens to the likes of Freya and Mimir. Both have become close allies of Kratos – Mimir is basically like a brother to him at this point – and we can’t imagine Kratos would be happy about leaving any of them behind. So will they travel with him to wherever he heads next? Will they die? And will Atreus eventually wind up traveling with Kratos as well?

One way or another, it’s clear that even though God of War as a franchise can’t seem to stop hitting peak after peak, its future is somehow looking even more exciting.

Note: The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, GamingBolt as an organization.


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