God of War: Ragnarok’s initial reveal last year didn’t really get the blood pumping, mostly because it wasn’t much of a reveal anyway- more like an acknowledgement of a sequel’s existence, along with a launch window that was never going to be met. At the recent PlayStation Showcase though, Sony and SIE Santa Monica Studio lifted the lid on God of War: Ragnarok at long last, and ended up showing a surprising amount. On top of confirming the game’s official name and showing quite a bit of new gameplay footage, they also revealed a surprising number of details on the game’s story. And it’s hard to parse through those details and not be excited about what they could mean for where Ragnarok’s story will be headed.
It makes sense to kick this thing off with one of the biggest and most surprising details Santa Monica Studio dropped about God of War: Ragnarok, which also, in many ways, encompasses all the other story-related details that were revealed. More often than not people have generally assumed that God of War would have at least a trilogy in the Norse realm before moving on to another mythology, but it looks like it’s wrapping things up more quickly than we’d imagined. God of War: Ragnarok will be the conclusion of the series’ Norse saga, which, for starters, means that it’s not only going to be much longer than the 2018 game, but also have a much more high-stakes, large-scale story.
It is obvious, then, that Ragnarok will happen. In fact, that was something that game director Eric Williams pretty much said in those exact words during the post-show interview following the PlayStation Showcase. The game’s trailer makes it clear that Kratos and Atreus are trying to prevent Ragnarok, which is why they end up tracking down Tyr (more on that in a bit)- but obviously, we know that they’re not going to be successful. And if Ragnarok is going to happen, then there are a few things that are likely to happen as well. Norse mythology’s world-ending event ends with the death of most (if not all) of the major players in that pantheon, and God of War’s own history would suggest that that as well- with the Norse saga pretty much ending the same way the Greek one did.
Then again, it doesn’t have to. God of War (2018) was all about subverting expectations in more ways than one, and it pulled that off really well, and if Ragnarok sticks to that style, it may very well end up doing the same. And we can’t be too sure about which points from actually Norse mythology they will bring over as is either. God of War always uses its mythological settings in very interesting ways, sticking to a lot of the main beats, but also putting in unexpected twists and turns every now and then and somehow making them fit perfectly. Though we can have a pretty good idea of the general direction the game is headed in, it’s hard at this point to nail down the details.
Even so, some character-specific details are much better defined even at this stage. The relationship between Kratos and Atreus, for instance, is going to continue to be at the heart of this experience, to no one’s surprise, and it looks like things are just as strained as they were for most of God of War (2018), if not more. Atreus is restless and wants to do something about the oncoming Ragnarok, not to mention his identity as Loki. Kratos, on the other hand, doesn’t want to get involved in any of it, and is thinking only about protecting his son. That’s an interesting dynamic for the duo to be in as the game kicks off, especially when you consider the fact that it is set a few years after its predecessor. If he’s really been forced to basically just stay at home and do nothing after all that they went through in the previous game, he must be getting antsy as heck by the time Ragnarok begins.
And of course, we can expect both characters and, more crucially, their relationship grow and change throughout the course of the game. Atreus’ arc in particular should be an interesting one, especially if the game leans into the fact that he’s Loki. Following the launch of God of War (2018), creative Cory Barlog said that the developers were essentially going to tell the origin story of Loki, and its exciting to see how they’ll do that for Atreus’ character. In Norse mythology, Loki is the one who causes Fimbulwinter after the death of Baldur, and the one who’s responsible for the downfall of Asgard. So far in God of War, Atreus has caused Fimbulwinter due to the death of Baldur- will he also be responsible for the downfall of Asgard?
Of course, Loki isn’t the only who one who brings down Odin and Thor and all the rest of the Aesir. He’s aided by his sons, the World Serpent and Fenrir the wolf. We’ve already met the World Serpent in God of War (2018), and it would stand to reason that Fenrir will have an important role to play in its sequel. Especially seeing as God of War: Ragnarok’s trailer also revealed Angrboda, one of the last remaining Giants, as another new character, who, in Norse mythology, is the mother of the aforementioned World Serpent and Fenrir. It should be interesting to see what sort of a dynamic she has with Atreus.
To be precise, it’s supposed to be Jormungandr that kills Thor, and Fenrir that kills Odin. Obviously, we can assume that in God of War: Ragnarok, it’ll be Kratos and Atreus who’ll be killing those two, but there’s also a good chance that they have some assistance during those boss battles. Fenrir could jump in and help them kill Odin, while the World Serpent could help them take down Thor. After all, they already had his help when they took down Baldur. But does that also man that Jormungandr himself will also die, since he and Thor are fated to kill each other?
And of course, another crucial character that we have to talk about is Tyr. It’s more than a little shocking that they actually showed him in the trailer, which confirms that he is still alive, contrary to what God of War (2018) strongly suggested. Tyr is, in fact, imprisoned somewhere by Odin, and as the trailer tells us, not only do Kratos and Atreus set out to rescue him in order to prevent Ragnarok, they end up finding him as well. Of course, we don’t know what Tyr’s relationship with the two is going to be. God of War (2018) established very clearly that Tyr was a pacifist and sought peace above all else, so it would stand to reason that he would help Kratos and Atreus in an attempt to stop Ragnarok. But again, we do know that Ragnarok will happen- so how will that affect Tyr’s relationship with Kratos and Atreus? Will he see how how obsessed they are (mostly Atreus) with killing Thor and Odin and co and switch sides?
And of course, there’s still so much that the trailer didn’t reveal or even touch upon that has to be in God of War: Ragnarok’s story- for instance, the entire Alfheim arc ended on something of a cliffhanger in the previous game. The dragons that Kratos and Atreus freed might also come back. And given all the things that Kratos and Atreus discover about Faye at the end of the previous game, you’d think that we’d continue to learn even more about her in Ragnarok. Oh, and lastly, is time travel going to be a thing in this game again? The very nature of Norse mythology and, of course, God of War’s own history would suggest that there would have to be some time travel shenanigans in there.
It’s fair to say that Sony and Santa Monica Studio revealed God of War: Ragnarok pretty much exactly the way they should have. It was a meaty trailer, accompanied by most details being revealed by the developers themselves, already giving us so much to talk about when it comes to the gameplay, and especially the story. What’s most exciting is that this is just the first trailer, and there’s so much that is still being held back- quite a bit of which, in all likelihood, will continue to be held back right up until the game’s launch. And if God of War: Ragnarok has got us excitedly talking about potential directions its story could take with just what it’s shown in its first trailer, we can’t wait to see what else it will have up its sleeve over the coming year.