God of War is a masterpiece that achieves near perfect synergy between narratively meaningful story segments, creatively brutal combat encounters, and immersive world exploration. It is a must-play, an essential game worthy of overwhelming praise. Before I gush some more, let me get personal with you.
My God of War Backstory
I was in college when God of War first released on PlayStation 2 in 2005. Friends raved of this new, ultra-violent action game with a psychotic main character, named Kratos, on a crusade to kill a bunch of mythological gods. It sounded intense, but I was busy with real life (and didn’t have a PS2).
Over the next 5+ years, more God of War games came out. Eventually, the three main entries and two spin-off titles were ported to PlayStation 3 and released together as part of 2012’s God of War Saga. It ‘twas a few years after this that I finally bought a PS3 and got to know Kratos personally. I was a late bloomer to God of War’s murder-madness, and frankly, some of the freshness was lost. The original trilogy suffered greatly from PS2-era technical limitations and design decisions (bad camera angles, QTEs).
Still, who doesn’t love Kratos? He consistently ranks at the top of most beloved video game character lists. Therefore, his inevitable return came when the simply titled sequel, God of War, released on PlayStation 4 in April of 2018. This new take on Kratos isn’t about revenge. The story revolves around Kratos as a father to his young son. He must put his wild days behind him and be a better person for the sake of his family.
Back around 2018, I could relate to this matured Kratos because soon I was going to be a first-time father to a son of my own. What better way to learn about fatherhood than have an excellent role model like Kratos guide me in an enjoyable video game package? Thus, in mid-2019, I devoured God of War shortly before becoming a father, receiving much diligent dad discipleship under Kratos.
But time stands still for no one! Now it is 2022, and players are blessed with an excellent PC port. Untold millions more shall come under the guidance of Father Kratos. But the blessings continue! At this very time, my wife and I are expecting our second son in a few months. What fortuitous fortune! Is it not right for me to yet again reap the paternal benefits of a second trip through God of War? Yes, for the sake of fathers and sons everywhere, let us begin!
The Game: A Maturing View of the World
Funny business aside, God of War is a phenomenal game. It captures the same violent zeal of the original trilogy but transforms the experience into something much more mature and impactful. Maturity could be the theme of the game, in all ways. Kratos is an older and wiser version of himself. Combat is tighter and cleaner than the early PS2-era games’ hitboxes could ever allow. Arcade violence is refined into more intentional gameplay. Game design has gone from small levels to large-scale, believable worlds.
Perhaps the most mature change is God of War’s much-celebrated single-take (‘no-cut’) camera. The original titles were zoomed farther out, and the cameras often skipped around with the action like nearly all other games. As if channeling a more complete understanding of life itself, this new view of God of War invites you to walk alongside Kratos during his entire journey. It felt like I was filming a documentary of Kratos on his latest adventure, while also playing as him.
Very few other games create such an intimate visual bond with the player, and the no-cut camera is such an honest and pure way to reveal a story. In a world of Hollywood frantic camera shots and video game cutscenes, God of War is like a refreshing entertainment balm. It reminds me of how Half-Life was so revolutionary for making you feel like you were in the shoes of Gordon Freeman back in 1998.
Gameplay & Outstanding Combat
In conjunction with the single-take camera, you only play as Kratos. Your son is by your side for much of the game as an AI companion. Don’t worry, he’s quite capable and of great benefit. Still, it is up to you to often guide him wisely, in combat and otherwise. Such guidance is more relevant than ever in God of War’s large interconnecting zones with very few load times. To be clear, the game isn’t open-world. It’s also not strictly linear. There is a central path through the narrative, but explored areas remain accessible to come back to. Side content beckons if you dare, and portions of the map can be left alone if you choose.
Granted, most of what you do in God of War has been done in other games, but it is so expertly balanced and refined. In a world of tacked-on features, God of War feels complete and cohesive in all its mechanics. Environmental puzzles are well designed, and some of the optional ones can be quite tricky. Most areas allow for some exploration and offer rewards, such as loot and materials.
The found resources play very nicely into the inventory system, which ties into an excellent crafting and equipment system. Gear upgrades are just plentiful enough to be meaningful but not too intrusive like many loot-based games. The same goes with the RPG systems: leveling up, unlocking skills, and so on. They work so well together with the overall flow of the game.
God of War nails combat. The developers have talked about agonizing for months and years to implement the new Leviathan Axe weapon. Such commitment shows because all combat encounters in the game are weighty and reward both quick thinking and strategic playing.
I could spend ages telling you of all the ways God of War’s combat is special, but it all comes down to creative precision. What happens on screen feels like a manifestation of my will as a player. Combat is flashy and fun but also lets you make it your own. There is also an excellent learning curve. The game slowly teaches you how to be better. By the end, special optional bosses will challenge you greatly to play at peak performance, physically and mentally.
Graphics, PC Port, Acting, Narrative
People have been praising God of War’s graphics since 2018. The PC release only heightens that praise. The developers are world-class artists, and the game is gorgeous. If you look closely, some minor PS4-era graphical limitations reveal themselves. Reflections are particularly poor, even on the Ultra+ setting. The absence of Raytracing is unfortunate. Still, the game holds up well and looks better than almost all other games released presently.
What about the PC port? It’s wonderful! PC players will be very pleased at a day-one release that is virtually issue-free. The technical excellence bolsters the brilliant gameplay and narrative experience, and the PC graphics options are solid. New technology features like nVidia DLSS and AMD FSR are welcome. You also get ultra-wide screen support, improved textures, and 4k resolution with uncapped framerates.
God of War’s narrative is driven by mesmerizing character performances. The casting. The acting. The dialogue. The line deliveries. The smooth animations. It is all amazing. Standout performances are delivered by Kratos, his son, fan-favorite Mimir, and more. The maturity of Kratos and character development throughout the game are special things to behold. The audio design is chunky and delicious, adding more heft to an already weighty game. A solid orchestral score is also included.
The story, itself, is a personal journey to deliver something as a last wish of sorts. I could tell you more, but I want you to enjoy the acting and narrative for yourself. It’s as good as you’ll find in any medium, and God of War’s telling of its tale interweaves very nicely through your exploration and gameplay experience.
One story run will take about 20 to 30 hours. Once the narrative is complete, there will likely be plenty of content to clean up around the world. It is all nicely tracked on the map, showing unopened chests, unfound collectibles, and hidden bosses. A completion run could get you closer to 40 hours or more. God of War also features a great New Game Plus mode that lets you get even more powerful a second time through. The story is very much worth replaying at least once.
Criticisms & Cautions
God of War is almost flawless. My only major gripe is story-related. There are several big, unresolved plot points, and the ending felt too abrupt. To use our documentary comparison, God of War’s ending feels like the production crew had to suddenly shut down and drop the cameras right when things were getting good. In 2022, we have the benefit of knowing that a concluding second part (God of War: Ragnarok) will come out and pick up where events left off. Still, right now it is a little unfulfilling to have so many threads dangling. Hopefully the sequel will come to PC sooner rather than later.
Having played the prior games will certainly make Kratos’ story more meaningful. One or two huge scenes will lose a lot of emotional impact if you don’t know the backstory. Plus, there are direct references and interactions that will make little sense for the uninitiated. Before I played the game back in 2019, I took several hours to watch a few YouTube ‘movie’ versions of the prior games to refresh my memory. It’s worth the time investment; just watch out for recent videos that might spoil this new game.
There is a stereo versus surround sound issue with God of War, which also vexed many players on the console. If you have anything other than two-channel stereo enabled for your computer audio, the game will force multi-channel audio, even if you choose to use headphones. This means the dialogue will become incredibly quiet when not directly in front of you. The solution is to force stereo in your audio control panel.
God of War also seems to use its own unchangeable game controller thumbstick deadzone settings, instead of using the Steam/Windows settings. Hence, my old, slightly wonky controller was unusable since the camera would swing around on its own. You may have the same issue if your controller thumbsticks aren’t in near-perfect condition.
DSOGaming’s PC Performance Analysis notes the game uses DirectX 11, instead of the DirectX 12 or Vulkan renderers. This may be an issue for some AMD users. God of War also lacks an Exclusive Fullscreen mode, defaulting to Borderless Window. Read the full performance analysis for more information.
The game is meant to make you feel close to the action with a limited, fixed FOV. Combat is trickier at this close view, but there is a quick-turn button and on-screen enemy attack warning markers to help you out. I recommend turning camera sway and shake down to zero to avoid motion sickness.
Keyboard and mouse controls are solid. The keys can be rebound to your liking, but negative mouse acceleration has been noted. Even if keyboard and mouse controls are functional, this is very much a controller game.
All in all, character-driven action games simply don’t get better than God of War. You get a well-crafted story with huge action combined with extremely human and personal moments. You do video game things, but there is a trueness to this world that compels you to take it seriously, as if you are witnessing actual epic and sacred history.
In case I wasn’t clear, God of War is a masterpiece. It is a triumph of storytelling, a technical accomplishment, and a supremely well-designed video game. Moreover, the PC version is the definitive way to play it. Become a follower of Father Kratos today. The fate of your family may just depend on it (not really).
- One-shot camera take
- Top-notch storytelling
- Memorable cast, acting
- Rich, rewarding combat
- Excellent pacing, design
- Beautiful world, locales
- Graphically stellar
- Exceptional animations
- Crunchy, quality audio
- Enjoyable gear, upgrades
- Side content, secrets
- New Game Plus mode
- Superb PC port
- Virtually bug-free
- A masterpiece: play it now
- No raytracing
- Low quality reflections
- Limited, fixed FOV
- Lacks Exclusive Fullscreen
- Unresolved plot points
- Uncertain sequel PC release
Playtime: 50+ hours. Nick spent about 20 hours playing through most of the story. He plans to put in another 15 or 20 to craft all the best gear and overcome all the extra combat challenges. He also finished the PS4 version back in 2019, putting in about 30 hours then.
Computer Specs: Windows 11 on an Intel i7-12700k CPU, 32GB of 3600Mhz memory, and a nVidia RTX 3070 graphics card. Game installed on a Gen4 NVMe SSD.
Also read the God of War PC Performance Analysis.