NOTE: There are major spoilers ahead for God of War Ragnarok.
We’ve been talking about God of War Ragnarok pretty much nonstop for several days now, and honestly, for a game as this as good one, that’s not surprising in the slightest. It is the sort of game that people will be talking about for a while. God of War Ragnarok ups the ante on its predecessor in every way possible, delivering a much more well-rounded, varied, dense, and high octane experience that easily ranks as one of the series’ best ever outings.
No game is perfect though, and neither is Ragnarok. Though we don’t feel its issues are anywhere close to tainting its mastery in other areas, we do feel that those issues are still very much worth talking about- one in particular. With a title like God of War Ragnarok, and with this game being billed as the conclusion of the series’ Norse mythology saga, expectations were enormously high from the sequence that actually shows the titular Ragnarok event, and though it’s fair to say that the game meets (and at times even exceeds) expectations in most areas, its final act isn’t one of them.
The final sequence – roughly between 40 and 60 minutes long – sees Kratos, Atreus, and all of their allies finally banding together in the wake of Brok’s death and marching on Asgard with a massive army from across the realms, with Kratos blowing into Gjallarhorn and finally beginning Ragnarok. In several key ways though, this entire sequence feels a little… well, rushed.
One of the most significant things that happens in the lead-up to Ragnarok is Kratos and Atreus’ meeting with Surtr. The two of them travel to Muspelheim and find the fire giant, but their attempts to convince him to fulfill his role in the destruction of Asgard are met with resistance. Surtr wants nothing to do with the Ragnarok, because if he were to stick to the path, it would mean the death of his wife Sinmara as well. And yet, a two-minute conversation later, Surtr has figured out a way to basically do what he needs to do at Ragnarok without involving Sinmara whatsoever, and Sinmara herself never has any real role to play herself.
So the question is- what exactly was the point of that? Based on what the story that the game has told, the whole thing seems like an unnecessary contrivance right now. Could that change in the future with things that might happen or be revealed in God of War games going forward? It’s a very real possibility, and sure enough, we’re hoping that’s the case. Maybe Santa Monica Studio will find a way to tie in elements like the Spark of the World, the Rift beneath Odin’s keep, and the mysterious mask together for a big reveal. There’s clearly a lot of threads left unresolved there, so we can’t exactly pass final judgment right now. What we can say, however, is that the way it was executed in Ragnarok itself felt out of place in the main’s story final hour.
Moving on to the main event itself, when you do get to Ragnarok, it feels like it’s smushed a lot of crucial plot resolutions and developments together- many of which probably needed more time to breathe and receive proper payoff. Take Freyr and the Elves, for instance. God of War (2018) and Ragnarok both go out of their way to establish how deep and how far back the conflict between the Light and Dark Elves goes, t the extent that it’s clear that it’s going to take something big to bring this conflict to an end. And yet, right before Ragnarok begins, Freyr decides on a whim to head to Alfheim, reunite the Elves, recruit them, and them bring them all under one banner in a single army to fight at Ragnarok. It all happens off-screen, it all happens seemingly within the matter of hours (if not less), and worse still, Freyr’s explanation for how he managed to pull it off is, quite literally, that the Elves like him. That just doesn’t feel like it’s enough, to say the very least, and it’s one of several things that feels rushed in that whole sequence.
Other things that maybe should have received more attention and screentime also feel like they’ve been relegated to background noise while Kratos, Atreus, and Freya make their final push towards Odin. Take Jormungandr, for instance- a crucial figure in the story of Ragnarok, his battle with Thor a legendary one that we heard of no few times in the 2018 title. To see it being little more than a few sets of animations beig put on a loop in the distant background was more than a little disappointing. Surtr (or Ragnarok, as he’s known by this point) is also essentially just a background prop. You also never see the army of the dead from Helheim- Mimir does enlist them off-screen with what seems like surprising ease and haste, which is a problem in and of itself, but they never actually make it to Asgard for Ragnarok, which is a shame, because boy would that have been a sight worth seeing. Knowing God of War’s history and the series’ propensity for ridiculously epic set piece moments, it’s hard not to look at such things and think of all the wasted potential there.
Given the God of War franchise’s track record, there were certain expectations (pretty high ones, if we’re putting it mildly) in terms of what the scale and scope of the Ragnarok sequence would be, but it’s over a little too quickly, and feels a little too rushed. From the moment Kratos steps foot in Asgard, all of Ragnarok is essentially a few minutes of trekking to the wall while fighting enemies lying in the way, followed by a straight push forward through the broken wall, and capped with boss fights against Thor and Odin (which, admittedly, are solid boss fights, even if they don’t exactly set the world on fire). Compare that to the high stakes battle sequence that kicks off God of War 3, where an army of Titans is climbing up Mount Olympus, colossal forces are going at it in a furious struggle, and while all of that is happening, Kratos himself is locked in a raging fight with Poseidon on Gaia’s back. For an even as momentous and massive as Ragnarok, you’d expect something with that kind of scale and intensity, and the fact that that isn’t the case in this game is a bummer, plain and simple.
That God of War Ragnarok is still, in spite of the issues we’ve spoken about here, one of the best games in the series and one of the best first party PlayStation titles of all time should tell you a great deal about just how incredibly good the game is. Right from its first second, it delivers expertly built combat, exploration, and puzzles, and combines it with a captivating story and storytelling, an engaging cast of characters, brilliant writing and performances, and standout visuals. We absolutely love the game for that- but that doesn’t mean we can’t have gripes with the problems that it does have. And how rushed that climactic sequence feels and fails to live up to expectations is definitely a problem worth highlighting.
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.