How are you all finding the game so far? I'm about 20 hours in and I guess the least spoilery way I can think of to put that into context is I'm doing the side quests in the second open world. Since Game of the Year is upon us I probably won't get as verbose as I do in some other threads; for now, I think the most succinct way I can express my thoughts are that this game reminds me a lot of Horizon: Forbidden West in that all the core elements that made me love and exalt the first game have been elaborated on in such broad strokes littered with minute details that it actually feels a little overwhelming.
The game also repeatedly reminds me that this was directed by a guy whose sole focus has been combat and gameplay systems for over two decades. The pacing of this game is meandering as hell, arguably even more so than Forbidden West was, but more importantly Ragnarok seems determined to answer the question "what if DOOM Eternal were a third person character action game?" Every room seems to have an environmental hazard or some kind of sentry, enemies are festooned with status buffs and/or debuffs, poison seems to be everywhere and it seems about a quarter of the generic enemies are set to explode when defeated. The result is impressively frenetic, but sometimes it's hard not to long for a good old fashioned one-on-one beatdown with a Traveler or the like. Significantly less charming are all the environmental hazards (and, frankly, loot mechanics) that seem needlessly complicated just to squeeze in another gameplay interaction between seeing the loot and getting the loot.
Like Justin McElroy says during the Besties podcast discussion about the game, I'm fully aware that my expectations were probably unreasonably high for this game and I think it's still getting enough things exceptionally right that the quibbles I have are nits more than nags, but I can also totally understand the Nextlander crew's reaction to how combat heavy this game is if you already didn't click with it the first time around because not only is there a ton of combat, there's a ton to the combat that as Vinny points out you can kind of brute force and ignore but if you really want to play well, you really need to remember what all of Kratos' skills are and find combinations of loot and sidekick abilities that fit your preferred playstyle.
Most frustrating aspect of the game so far, though? Odin and Thor are pretty freakin' incredible during the game's introduction and they've been nowhere to be seen since. If I was all too happy to see the Far Zenith Kryptonians fade into the background for much of Forbidden West, I wish these guys would swing by the house a little more often for a nice cup of wine and some banter, if only to liven things up a bit since most of Kratos' squad behaves like they've spent most of Fimbulwinter playing The Last of Us Part II on a loop.