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    God of War Ragnarök

    Game » consists of 9 releases. Released Nov 09, 2022

    Kratos' adventures through Norse mythology comes to an end in God of War Ragnarök.

    God of War: Ragnarök Discussion Thread

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    Nodima

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    #1  Edited By Nodima

    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.

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    AtheistPreacher

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    @nodima: I agree that so far it's too bad there hasn't been more Thor and Odin, I have to assume that more is coming soon. I am only slightly past where you are, having wrapped up the sidequests in the second world and about to advance the story further.

    Gameplay-wise, for the following comments it's probably important to know that I'm playing on the highest difficulty. These days I'll often stick to Normal, but for this game, like the last one if I recall, you can't switch up to the highest difficulty mid-game. You have to start on it, and if you turn it down mid-game, you can't go back. Because of that, I've been trying to stick it out on Give Me God of War.

    Playing on that highest setting, I'd say it's tuned slightly harder than I'd like, but not unmanageable. What really helps is that if you continue from a checkpoint after dying (and this game is constantly autosaving before every new encounter), you health will be full regardless of what it was entering the fight (though not your rage meter). That's a good thing because I'm the kind of nutball who otherwise would finish a tough fight and be all, "I took too many hits, maybe I'll be too low-health for the next encounter, I'd better do it again." This way, as long as I win the fight, it doesn't matter.

    My very toughest fights have been against those dudes who pop up out of the burning patches of ground, the second one of those out of three I've fought gave me fits.

    But overall, my biggest annoyance about the combat has to be that the game loves to bombard you with lots and lots of enemies, quantity over quality, in a combat system that doesn't seem well-designed to deal with multiple enemies. Not only do your companions suck at drawing any aggro, but the lock-on system feels like a real hot mess. Locking on to an enemy often barely seems to help at all, as they will move quickly around you and the camera will be extremely sluggish to follow, if it does at all. Meanwhile, many times I have tried to flick the stick to change my lock to a different enemy, and it just... doesn't. I've died a lot due to crap like that.

    Moreover--and this is a problem that I believe is specific to Give Me God of War--the fact that damaged enemies will enrage and become stronger if you leave them alone for two seconds just flat-out sucks. I remember hating this system from the first game, and it isn't any better now that quantity of enemies per fight seems to have increased even more. Per above, it's already hard to manage multiple enemies in this game at all, let alone penalize you for using area-hitting attacks by evolving wounded enemies mid-fight. It would go a long way toward balancing this highest difficulty setting if that whole system just didn't exist.

    Beyond the combat, it really does just seem like this is more of what the 2018 game offered. And yes, that game was excellent, but this one comes off as a slightly paler copy of it. It feels less like a world and more like a video game. And for all the Sad Dad memes, there hasn't been a lot of emotional resonance for me in this one so far. There was a moment in the Elf world where Kratos was staring into a column of light that got me a little bit, but that was very short-lived. The dialogue is clever and well-performed, but it ain't givin' me the feels like the first game did. Maybe that will change as the plot moves forward, but I have my doubts.

    I agree that generally speaking, all of our collective high expectations have hurt our experience with this new one somewhat. It's exceedingly well-made and yet lacking that spark of originality and emotional interest.

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    mellotronrules

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    #3  Edited By mellotronrules

    was hoping one of these threads would pop up!

    i think i'm slightly ahead of yall (in slightly less vague terms i'm currently escorting a talking animal with brok) but i think it's more or less the same ballpark.

    some personal context- i played GoW 2018 for the first time right as COVID hit in Mar. 2020, and i finished a NG+ run last week in preparation for Ragnarok. i think i've settled on GoW 2018 as really enjoying it, but notloving it. i did love its interpretation of norse mythology, the incredible environments, and just about every character that wasn't Kratos or Atreus (Freya and Mimir were particularly strong IMO). my central hangup with that game was the characterizations of Kratos and Atreus- Kratos I found more or less one-dimensional and wooden (i understand his unyieldingly stern nature is THE THING, but those archetypes put me to sleep- sad dad or not)...and Atreus was just a kid- functional as a plot catalyst and video game buddy, but i didn't find any personality there that made me pay attention. perhaps lastly- i didn't appreciate how they kept Faye largely conceptual- it's difficult for me to feel sympathy and/or grief for Kratos' lost lover and Atreus' absent mother when she's largely a quest indicator and bag of ash.

    so suffices to say my expectations for Ragnarok were calibrated to 'this should be good popcorn if not amazing.' this attitude was further bolstered by Nextlander Vinny's somewhat ho-hum experience, the thoroughly muted response by the whole of Fire Escape (though honestly expected since they don't seem to dig narrative-forward games these days), and even GB's coverage (though to be fair, GB's greatest proponents of Tam and Lucy haven't been as present near launch).

    well, i'm pleased to report i'm having a really, really great time Ragnarok! i'm not quite hyperbolically positive as some of the Minnmax crew (we'll see where i am at game's end), but i'm very much leaning in their direction relative to the rest of coverage i consume. nearly every aspect feels improved/better to me relative to GoW 2018- the tone of the dialogue is massively improved IMO (Kratos needs foils and a lighter touch- using him as a straight-man for comedy moments is great fun), Freya's had solid development, Atreus is still just a kid but i'll take a moody teen over a naive boy any day, and like everyone else said Thor and Odin have great gravitas (if not a ton of screen time).

    the art, environments, and encounters all are leaving a more positive impression on me as well (much more high fantasy, color, and paperback-cover art). i straight up think there's more environmental variety, and i distinctly remember with 2018 it felt like it took half the game to get to that dragon-on-the-mountain fight (and that fight itself was the first time 2018 GoW actually FELT like a God of War). whereas Ragnarok has consistently felt like a fantasy ADVENTURE since the start- great scale, action, banter, etc. i think Ragnarok's emotional core is resonating harder for me than 2018, while simultaneously being more fun and feeling lived-in.

    i also don't find the pacing as lethargic as i've heard from others. it starts strong, and although there are extended lulls for character development, i have no complaints. i'm completely fine with watching 20min of extended, hands-off-the-controller character work if it does its job and makes me care more. but i can absolutely understand how the "do-y" crowd might find it a turnoff.

    the last thing to touch on (since everyone else is)- re: systems and combat; yes, it can feel like a lot to manage. the game isn't really interested in simplifying for you. however- 2018 was much the same, and maybe it's just because i'm fresh off a NG+ jaunt there, but i'm finding Raganrok totally OK.

    i'm generally of the mind with the systems and combat- it hands you an enormous New Jersey diner menu of options- and if you're prone to choice paralysis, that can be a bad time. but if you're ok eating chicken parm every time, you'll be fine. the variety of experience is there, but it's up to the player to avail themselves. some might call it weak game design that they don't vary the encounters enough to naturally get you there- but you still fall into a rhythm, and i'm finding you can get it done however you like. it reminds me of Bayonetta in that sense- a huge list of moves, but adjust difficulty and mash it out if you don't find that part compelling and it will be fine.

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    SethMode

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    I'm enjoying this game so much, it is one of those that when I log on and see others having a meh time or in some cases worse, it really shocks me. So, that's good for me! I love all the characters, I love that it feels familiar to the original but different and bigger, and while it is paced slowly, I think it is effective and works for me.

    My only real negative at this point is that I do think getting swarmed by enemies kind of sucks, and that is largely due to the lock on system being so bad it borders on making me think it is straight broken.q

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    jacksmedulla

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    I’m only 6 hours in so far, but I’m having a really hard time mustering up the patience to play it. The core story and characters are fantastic and what have been keeping me going so far, but the tedium of the “platforming” is slowly driving me mad. I think more than half of the game time so far has been dedicated to pressing forward to run, pressing forward to climb the designated path, and pressing forward to steer the boat. It is too much, and while I think the one cut styling of the first game worked well, it is getting in the way of this game and making the experience incredibly tedious.

    The combat has also been oddly frustrating to me, when compared to the first. I think between the fov and the way enemies tend to encircle you, I have a hard time keeping track of what’s going on. I also find the directional arrows pointing towards enemies off screen that are attacking is doing me more harm than good. I assume that whenever the arrows flash red, that the enemies are attacking at that moment. However, it seems that it’s simply indicating that they WILL be attacking, not that they ARE ATTACKING, so when I see a red arrow, I will start dashing or rolling, only to find that I need to dodge 2 more times while enemies finally get their attack off. Beyond that, parry timing and attack dodging timing seems awkward. I also find it frustrating figuring out which of my attacks will stagger an enemy. Overall, I find myself getting into a groove with the combat about a third of the time, which ain’t great.

    I’ve heard that this game can be 40-60 hours, which seems incredibly daunting at this point, given how frustrating I have found the experience so far. I am getting incredibly tired of AAA games catering the experience around handheld spectacle and prestige presentation over moment to moment gameplay. I want less Horizon and uncharted platforming with painted and highlighted cliffs and crevices, and more (I know I know, tired comparison/) Elden ring and breath of the wild. The current Sony AAA trend is no longer holding my attention like it once was.

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    mellotronrules

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    #6  Edited By mellotronrules
    @jacksmedulla said:

    I’ve heard that this game can be 40-60 hours, which seems incredibly daunting at this point, given how frustrating I have found the experience so far. I am getting incredibly tired of AAA games catering the experience around handheld spectacle and prestige presentation over moment to moment gameplay. I want less Horizon and uncharted platforming with painted and highlighted cliffs and crevices, and more (I know I know, tired comparison/) Elden ring and breath of the wild. The current Sony AAA trend is no longer holding my attention like it once was.

    yeah unfortunately if that's case i'd probably say save yourself some time and move on. if you can't dial in a combat experience with the accessibility features that you find palatable, and at 6hrs the linear nature is already rubbing you the wrong way (the game isn't going to stop directing you where to go or stop giving you hints)- i'd say this type of game probably isn't your jam.

    ER and BotW want you to get lost and 'tell your own story,' whereas GoW (and the majority of Sony AAA) have specific stories they want you to see and will put the bumpers in the gutters to make sure you get there. everyone's mileage will vary on whether that's a good time or not.

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    Nodima

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    I will say that I do find the games structure pretty unique. The story missions tend to be the super linear, A to B sorts, but then at the end of a major story arc the game will suddenly reveal that you were actually encircling a huge open world that contains five or six distinct activities and several environmental puzzles you can seek out. Similar to how the last game was built except that it doesn’t have that root of Tyr’s temple and the Lake of Nine to tether your experience to, and the first area they introduce this concept in isn’t fully fleshed out the first time you experience it.

    So yes, the game’s far more linear from moment to moment than the first game was (though I think this also just feels more true because the story is also less linear than the first game, which was full of narrow hallways as well) but it does eventually open up into a thing you can wind up wasting six or seven hours just uncovering insanely tough mini bosses or allowing for emotional character moments.

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    tartyron

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    I’ll say, 30 hour mark, I thought I was about to close it out and then it told me nope, and now I dunno. Now, I’m a bit of a completionist, and spent a lot of time in each of the points that encouraged open exploration, but at this point it feels like another whole game could await me. So many things presented and almost nothing resolved yet. It’s all such high quality, but man, I kinda want to wrap it up soon.

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    Nodima

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    #9  Edited By Nodima

    Like the last game, though it reveals this side of itself a good few hours later, there's some pretty ripe content for the git gud crowd (or at the very least the @atheistpreachers of the world that jump straight into the dick punch mode). I've met a couple of side bosses that I felt were a simple matter of loadout, but my guy Ormstunga is a genuinely fun little piece of shit.

    Frankly as much as I admired the valkyrie designs I couldn't push myself to master them, even on Normal, but to this game's credit I spent about as much time as I did trying to outwit most of them four years ago scrambling around an obscure little cavern hoping to show this lizard boy what's what. I came close once or twice, and am determined to repair my honor at some point, but man is he a fun little shit.

    In general, I'd say in the three or four hours or so of gameplay since my last post both the gameplay and story have really caught stride. I'll admit that I'm still caught off guard how frequently I'm dying my first time through an encounter on Give Me Balance (though I'm also quite scarred enough by the first game's definition of "hard" - it's one thing to emulate FromSoft, it's another to simultaneously remove their jank and replace it with Santa Monica's brand of arena and position management) but that's balanced by the pure adrenaline rush that comes from immediately recognizing why said innocuous fight went wrong and blitzing through it with terrifying efficiency.

    It's stupid that it took 25 or so hours to get to this point, especially since the game will still often lull you into a sense of complacency (some of the fights seem directly inspired by Hades' level design, but because your Kratos is always your Kratos some of the storyline fights in particular have to be pretty bland) only to then drop, well, some little dweeb like Ormstunga on you as a reminder that this combat system can potentially be quite nuanced.

    Last minute edit: though I don't want to diminish that DOOM Eternal comparison. There is still a lot about the basic getting around a level, either during story missions or the looser side mission areas, that feels quite over-designed. If you're a Nextlander listener you might remember Vinny specifically pointing out the weirdly detailed mechanic of using magic arrows to string elemental effects together...this never stops being obtuse or annoying, even when you get it first try. Puzzles in narrative heavy games like this are always going to break the reality of the game a bit (who would set these runes tied to chests across the realms in such a manor that only someone equipped with a Mjolnir-like axe could plunder them, you might ask) but these almost always strike me as some "game's gotta be a game" ass puzzle design in a way the first game did a pretty good job avoiding.

    But also: far more broad than the previous game, yes. Meandering, definitely. That said, almost without warning, as I'd hoped, the nitpicks are established totally as nitpicks and whatever you're doing, you want to do more of it because the art, sound, combat, character work and when you find time to get to it storytelling are all just so satisfying.

    At a certain point I was exiting a certain cave those who've played enough of this game will know pretty well, following an exceptionally smarmy secondary antagonist and I was reminded of the JRPGs I played as a kid: I can't be sure how integral this is to the main story, nor how deep into that story I am, but boy (er, *boy*) am I enjoying the ride.

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    AtheistPreacher

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    #10  Edited By AtheistPreacher

    Well, I'm now in the third Atreus section and have just met Heimdall, and it seems pretty clear that I'll finally be seeing more Odin soon, so I'm looking forward to that.

    In general I have not loved the Atreus sections. Combat with him isn't as good/fun as it is with Kratos (it tends to be easier with the bow as a better ranged weapon than Kartos' axe, but not as interesting to play), and I also just can't help but feel that it's sort of an interruption to "the real game." I mean, unless upon reaching endgame you can switch between the two characters at will and be Atreus with a Kratos AI, then Kratos really is your primary character, and the Atreus bits are just these sort of weird one-offs.

    I also found the second Atreus section in particular to really drag. Besides being a little too navel-gazy/talky all at once, it actually had what I'd describe as a fake-out at a conclusion in the middle of it and was then followed by a second half concerning his temporary companion's grandmother. It's not that there weren't good moments there, but at some point I was just like, "Dear God, when the hell is this going to end so I can get back to being Kratos?"

    Given my proclivities as a gamer, it's no surprise to me that I've found the wandering around the side-mission sections to be the most fun part. As soon as the game lets me, I immediately head off the beaten path and do all the side-missions that can be done before heading back to the critical path. I enjoy just farting around solving the random little puzzles and fighting some of the tougher enemies.

    Though I have been annoyed that at the difficulty setting I'm on there are some elite fights in which enemies can literally kill me in one hit from full health, which seems pretty shite. I'm thinking in particular of two assholes I just fought tonight who popped out of a Realm Tear in a desert area. I did beat them after something like ten attempts, but man. I like hard games, but leaving the player literally zero room for error is too much.

    Anyway, I'm still liking it and looking forward to continuing on. I still don't like it as much as the first one, but aside from the brutally boring second Atreus section, my opinion of it hasn't gotten any worse since I first posted.

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    Nodima

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    #11  Edited By Nodima

    @atheistpreacher: Regarding the realm tears, for better or worse I imagine that's just on you tackling something the moment you find it that you might not be prepped for. Maybe you had a different experience, but whether it was Travelers, Valkyries or realm tear challenges the last game had a sneaky habit of kicking your teeth in unexpectedly. As a guy playing on mere Balance mode, this game leans into that even more.

    As for your story sections experiences, I found that by the section you just did I was also a little fatigued by the idea - that being said, if Odin has any gifts for the player other than compelling motivations and dialogue, it's his impact on how those sections play. I almost immediately changed my tune the next time I journeyed out.

    I totally agree about the Ironwood section, though. That was when I was most curious and almost worried about how this game was going to pace itself out. While relatively insignificant to my overall playtime and a pretty high quality couple of hours overall, I definitely also found myself wondering when I'd get back to playing a God of War game. As far as your spoiler marking though - for me, that was when some of the game's humor kicked into high gear and stopped being a little cheesy. I love the idea of that fight being immediately followed by a "damn, sorry I did that, but hey, thanks for helping me do that" conversation considering the context.

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    Hairyreddog

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    The first game had a tight narrative. The goal was set out in the beginning. Spread mothers ashes at the tallest point in all the realms. The game's immediate story was the trials of how they got there. There were twists and turns but it was a pretty simple story. This story is a mess. Yes it is very well made and has a ton of money thrown at it but it feels like there were too many hands in the fire. Too much going on to keep everything straight. I'll finish it and enjoy it but unlike the 2018 game, I doubt I'll pick it up again.

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    SethMode

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    Happy to report the "position yourself and time your axe return just right" kind of puzzle solution still feels super satisfying every single time.

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    AtheistPreacher

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    @nodima said:

    Regarding the realm tears, for better or worse I imagine that's just on you tackling something the moment you find it that you might not be prepped for.

    I did notice with those particular fellows that they were level 6 with purple health bars. GoW seems to be one of those games where your relative level to other enemies is the biggest single factor as far as difficulty goes, a system I most associate with Borderlands. I was level 4, and made a return to Sindri to see if I could upgrade my equipment enough to hit the magic level 5 threshold and make those jerks easier. Turned out, nope, I just didn't have the mats to reach level 5, so I just had to beat them without getting hit.

    Yeah, I could have left them alone and come back, but I guess I just enjoy getting the side stuff done as early as I can... that and the fact the game has had a tendency to lock off certain areas when you advance the story. E.g., I missed a raven somewhere in a critical path/story section of Vanaheim (I looked it up after the fact and it's apparently this one, for those interested), and now there's an impassible barrier preventing me from returning to kill it. I'm aware that none of the ravens are actually missable, and that I now just have to wait until closer to endgame when the area becomes accessible again, but that kind of stuff still annoys me. So I like to tick all the boxes I can while they're available to me.

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    wollywoo

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    I have no opinion about this game since I haven't played it yet. I don't have as much time these days for PS4 games since they take up the TV, unlike the Switch which is so convenient. But I adored God of War 2018 and I will have to play this eventually. From what I can tell it doesn't diverge much from the first one in terms of style and gameplay, which is just what I want since that one was great. I'm really curious where the story goes, since the first was so compelling.

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    championfetus

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    My biggest gripes with the game boil down to plot and gameplay contrivances, with a hint of combat camera. A lot of characters not divulging information to others where it would hurry the plot or character development along. Looking at you Atreus. And let's be real, Kratos could hulk his way through 99.9% of the objects blocking the linear quest paths throughout the world. As for the combat, I think a larger field of view would solve a lot of my problems. The most heinous fights in this game are multiple bosses in small circular arenas. I have died a handful of times to AoE ground indicators outside of my FoV.

    With all that said, I think the visual spectacle of the game is a joy to experience. The Norse realms are just a cool ass setting for a video game. Especially one with a budget like this.

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    isomeri

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    I'm about 6 hours in and am starting to get a bit bored. The combat lacks impact and using the blades especially feels like flailing at enemies while their health slowly drains. Also, the loot and new equipment doesn't feel very consequential. It all looks very expensive, and I do still want to keep playing for now but I'm not sure I'll see this one all the way to the end.

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    SethMode

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    #18  Edited By SethMode

    I am still very much enjoying the game, but now several very major things have occurred and that's great but it also leaves me constantly thinking: is anyone going to have a normal fucking conversation at any point in this game? It's probably a little bit of it being so new, but it sure feels like this game is one of the biggest offenders of the whole "We don't want to give away everything, but all of the conflict is based on these characters lacking information but--all of the characters are around each other CONSTANTLY and just refuse to take 10 seconds to actually discuss what is happening." thing.

    Spoilers if you haven't gotten to the part where Atreus has an extended "dream" (I assume the first of many) and goes to a special place.

    When Atreus goes to the Ironwood and comes back, for example. It's completely bonkers that you and he are separated for a HUGE section just because Kratos is mad and tells him to go to bed. The kid has been gone for TWO DAYS. I know Atreus can't tell him about the Ironwood (because of COURSE that is a caveat) but I don't know...I thought we worked through all of their communication issues in the first game. I think the game would have been served with just having Atreus come with you and having him simply explain that in this case he really can't tell Kratos ANYTHING and that they just have to trust each other. He sort of said that, but because we needed him out of the equation, Kratos is being all grump dad again for narrative purposes I suppose.

    Certainly not a dealbreaker for me, but it IS getting frustrating/silly/not great writing at this point because it feels like I have about 8 different characters that I'm in a middle of a conversations with, only those conversations are broken up by, often SEVERAL, hours of gameplay.

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    Efesell

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    My only beef with this game are wretches I hate these little fuckers and I’m not thrilled that it looks like every realm is going to have a special flavor of them.

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    SethMode

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    #20  Edited By SethMode

    @efesell: The ones in Vanaheim can get especially fucked.

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    SethMode

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    I just reached a certain major story part and I thought Atreus wasn't supposed to be this fucking stupid anymore.

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    Efesell

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    ChiefBeef123

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    #23  Edited By ChiefBeef123

    The pacing is inconsistent. The conflict between characters feels forced (and a bit hard to believe at times such as Freya resisting her urge to murder Kratos). I thought I would binge this game and have it done within a few days. I'm 12 hours in and haven't touched it in days.

    It feels like a sequel that exists out of business necessity rather than resolving a story. I get that GoW is a huge money maker for Sony, but I wish they would have wrapped it all up in the previous game and then done something new afterward.

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    Efesell

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    #24  Edited By Efesell

    For as much as I actually like what happens during it the lead in and out of the Ironwood Interlude is some of the clumsiest bits of storytelling I've seen in a while.

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    Nodima

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    For whatever it may be worth, I'd say that there's a moment during this game's critical path that is at best charmingly meandering. At worst, it's a scenario sandwiched by another scenario that combined threaten to get way too convoluted.

    I found the descent from that moment (if 2-6 hours can be encapsulated in a moment) to be when the game really hits its stride, though. Even purely as a game. @sethmode raises good points about how this narrative manipulates its characters, but once the @efesell spoiler is out of the way I've found Santa Monica to be pretty clever about the hows, whys and whos of it all.

    But this is also from the vantage of just over 30 hours and a point in the story that feels like both the beginning of the end and the end of the beginning. So I'd still like to point to myself saying roughly 20 hours earlier that this game's pacing is quite wild, because it is. Those couple hours after that bit weren't just when I felt the main story started to find solid ground, but the combat as well.

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    SethMode

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    #26  Edited By SethMode

    Yeah, I still feel like the game is a bit too cagey in the early hours with its info, but once Atreus goes full Atreus and does something stupid, the game really amps things up and I think gets back to more consistent storytelling. I have enjoyed it the entire time, but I feel like things are back on track 100% for me now. More than anything, I'm surprised at how much I enjoy the combat. I remembered liking it in the first one, but something is just really clicking for me this time around and I'm really enjoying it. It might have the most satisfying parry system I've ever used, from a purely force feedback perspective. Between that and the feel of the axe slapping into Kratos hand, the game really satisfies little satisfying details like that.

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    Efesell

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    This is a minor gripe but this game has very annoying "help" dialogue for its puzzles.

    Every time the puzzle is obvious there's still nonstop "What if you..." dialogue while I'm in the process of solving the puzzle and on the off chance there's something that is a little tricky to see immediately no one has a goddamn thing to say about it.

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    SethMode

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    @efesell: Yeah, I saw it mentioned by others, but didn't really notice it for a while. Well, I guess those weren't considered real "puzzles" because this game is the worst at doing that whole forced guidance thing. It's either right away, like you said, or, you're doing the thing but maybe missing and they keep barking "What if we tried --" and like, YES, I'm doing that could you please shut up?

    Having said all that, I do like that this game outright shouts at you when you are going off path or even when you are staying on path. I know you can go back and do everything, but not enough game make it clear where the main path continues and will cut you off from things (even if only for a little bit).

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    Nodima

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    Regarding the post-game mopping up: there are still some neat story beats to stumble into and that makes the retreading old areas more engaging than it would've been otherwise (I was honestly shocked to find I'd even missed regular side quests as far back as Dwarf Realm)

    ...But, while they rightly recognized that the combat challenges could use more variety than 9 Valkyries and the Muspelheim towers, at least in my experience I've hit a pretty hard cap of mid-level 6 despite my grips and gear being level 7-9 and being that the story is finished I'm not sure what I'm supposed to be doing to upgrade my base weapon levels which are all at 6 and I imagine the main anchor.

    So it's made chasing these challenges down way more frustrating than it ought to be because they don't mention what level these challenges are and some of them are clearly designed around endgame gear. They're not even placed along the general progression of the main game to hint at how hard they'll be: Alfheim, for example, has one pretty easy Berserker challenge and one impossibly hard one, right next to another fight that is pretty simple on paper only the enemies are so strong they can basically one-shot me right now.

    I'm not sure why I'm putting off just looking up a guide for quickly leveling up because I'm actually pretty eager to complete all these challenges (particularly because I only beat 2 or 3 valkyries back in the day) if I can but until if/when I do, this is becoming mildly annoying because several of the challenges aren't all that close to fast travel portals either.

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    ThePanzini

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    #31  Edited By ThePanzini

    @nodima: The enemy health bar gives you an idea how tough the fight will be orange will be tough and purple much more so and the skull icon being almost impossible.

    I've been going back to check previous areas so far I've noped out of two fights, which have been the grave stones.

    I'm 40hrs and about 2/3 through the game reaching the last Svartalfheim Vanaheim open area I believe, which you get access to by following the dog.

    My armour is 7 and weapons are 6-6-7.

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    AtheistPreacher

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    @nodima said:

    I've hit a pretty hard cap of mid-level 6 despite my grips and gear being level 7-9 and being that the story is finished I'm not sure what I'm supposed to be doing to upgrade my base weapon levels which are all at 6 and I imagine the main anchor.

    Huh, that's weird. I have yet to finish the main story and my weapons are 7-6-6, my armor is 8-8-8, and my overall level just hit 7. So it seems weird that you'd be stuck at mid-6 overall despite having completed the story while I haven't. But I think I've been prioritizing the side stuff much more than you.

    One thing you should do if you haven't already is three sidequests that will each upgrade one of your weapons by one level. The quest names are "Born from Fire," "Hel to Pay," and "The Lost Lindwyrms." I found the "Born from Fire" fights to be pretty hard, but the others weren't so bad. There are other weapon upgrades to get in order to get them all to 9, but these are the easiest ones IMO. The others are mostly held by Berserkers and other really tough bosses, I haven't gotten many of those yet, probably will be the next thing I go for. Here's guides for upgrade locations for axe, blades, spear.

    Other than that, doing all the activities in that whole big southern Vanaheim section that you reach from doing the "Scent of Survival" sidequest gets you lots of mats for upgrading grips and armor. There's tons to do there, I haven't done it all yet but I'm already fairly swimming in upgrade mats compared to when I started.

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    infantpipoc

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    I want less Horizon and uncharted platforming with painted and highlighted cliffs and crevices, and more (I know I know, tired comparison/) Elden ring and breath of the wild. The current Sony AAA trend is no longer holding my attention like it once was.

    If those Elden Ring or Breath of the Wild types can be finished in say 20 instead of 100 hours, it would be much appreciated. AAA polygonal extravaganzas are expensive on both the money they cost and the time they take.

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    ThePanzini

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    #34  Edited By ThePanzini
    @infantpipoc said:
    @jacksmedulla said:

    I want less Horizon and uncharted platforming with painted and highlighted cliffs and crevices, and more (I know I know, tired comparison/) Elden ring and breath of the wild. The current Sony AAA trend is no longer holding my attention like it once was.

    If those Elden Ring or Breath of the Wild types can be finished in say 20 instead of 100 hours, it would be much appreciated. AAA polygonal extravaganzas are expensive on both the money they cost and the time they take.

    The cut scenes, slow walking, platforming, climbing and squeezing through narrow gaps are there to mask loading.

    If your going to create highly detailed environments you have to load these assets somehow, the move to next gen and SSD is going to eliminate a lot of these barriers.

    Breath of the Wild has very few different enemy types, Ragnarok addressing one of the big criticism of the previous title does come at a cost the need to load more often.

    People stopped buying shorter full price games, which is why were seeing triple-A 30-50hrs games.

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    glots

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    Outside of some complaints, like some of the story beats and the very helpful npc buddies throughout the whole experience, I had a blast with this game. It definitely didn't reinvent the wheel, but still threw enough new things at me to make it as enjoyable as the 2018 one.

    It took me little over 40 hours to beat the story, with all the bigger realm quests and a handful of challenges completed, and I really didn't become bored during that whole time. I'd say that probably has to do with both this year being void of AAA games that would've personally grabbed me and the world in this not being a completely open, sprawling sandbox, so I didn't feel overwhelmed at any point.

    Also Bear McCreary did a banger job with the soundtrack.

    Also also, in regards to the story, they really had to go and kill Brok, goddamnit. Kinda surprised how much of a downer ending it was for Sindri.

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    mellotronrules

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    #36  Edited By mellotronrules

    @nodima: The enemy health bar gives you an idea how tough the fight will be orange will be tough and purple much more so and the skull icon being almost impossible.

    I've been going back to check previous areas so far I've noped out of two fights, which have been the grave stones.

    that's a hot tip that i thought was the case but nice to see it confirmed.

    don't be like me, kids. i got access to the berserkers and immediately went traipsing through the 9 realms seeing what all the fuss was about. i managed to take down 3 or 4- but when the game puts a hot red bar and a skull on the screen- don't be like me and take that as challenge- come back later with some better gear.

    now if you'll excuse me, i have an appointment with my therapist to discuss what 'getting one-shotted' is and why i can't let things go, apparently.

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    SethMode

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    now if you'll excuse me, i have an appointment with my therapist to discuss what 'getting one-shotted' is and why i can't let things go, apparently.

    Well you're going to have to wait until my session is over.

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    SethMode

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    So, this is going to be an odd question for someone who has spent 30 hours playing this already but...is there something about the map that I'm missing that makes it even a LITTLE bit better? Currently I would say it vacillates between frustratingly obtuse, irritatingly slow, and completely useless. I don't remember this being the case in GoW, but it's been a while since release.

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    Nodima

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    It's the exact same map format as the last game, the trouble is that all of these areas are both more linear and more dense, if that makes sense. Dwarf Realm is a good example as it is all riverways and loopy islands, which causes both me and the compass, apparently, to completely disorient all the damn time.

    @thepanzini They did that in the last game as well so I've been known that, I'm moreso complaining about how sometimes you'll have to spend 5-10 minutes traveling from a warp door to the location of the fight only to immediately recognize it's not for you...so then you have to slouch back the way you just came to go try something else. It would've been nice for these challenges to track a little more neatly along the difficulty path of the main game - or at least hint at their power level from the Favors page in some way - 'cause it's just lame to waste time like that.

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    SethMode

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    @nodima: Okay good, so I'm not completely nuts! The compass too, at times, feels so...schizophrenic. I just kept feeling like I was missing something because the number of times I have gone down the wrong damn river path so far....

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    Efesell

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    @nodima: Also in the prior game a lot of those high level encounters put a warp gate right next to them as as sort of "Yeah we know".

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    ll_Exile_ll

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    @efesell said:

    @nodima: Also in the prior game a lot of those high level encounters put a warp gate right next to them as as sort of "Yeah we know".

    Yeah, every Valkyrie chamber in the first game had a warp door in them. This game feels way more stingy with the warp doors than the first. There were a couple times I had to spend 5-10 minutes travelling through intricate level design and re-solving traversal puzzles just to get to a collectible I missed. That great level design really loses its luster when you have to sludge through it 15 hours later to pick up something you missed and then backtrack through again to get back to the warp door. They add a few more warp doors in the postgame, but it's too little too late considering I had already cleaned up all the collectibles and stuff before the end of the story (aside from the things that are locked off until the postgame), and even still they don't add that many to help get through long linear sections.

    It definitely feels like they could have been more generous with the placement of warp doors.

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    tartyron

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    I finished it a few days ago. I was mostly satisfied, and I think most of the plot decisions were fairly smart ones. I'm also fairly confident in saying The next game, if they continue to use the IP (and they most likely will) will be primarily playing Atreus/Loki and the Sindri thread will be a large factor in it.

    The issues I had were in design, and the map and warp gates are the primary issues. I gave up on a lot of the collectibles because it was so dense and the warp gates were so few and far between, and the map was not helpful at all in narrowing down where to backtrack to collect them. Yes, the checklist helped and I'm glad they broke those out to sections of a map instead of a global listing for each realm, but it still was too much ground to cover. Looking at you Vanaheim River section. That said, the best section of the game, gameplay-wise was The Vanaheim Crater. That was all dense but smaller puzzles and exploration. That was dope to clear out, or at least I liked it a lot, because it didn't take forever to backtrack through.

    Also, one traversal gripe I had was the climbing. Plenty had shortcuts to set up afterwards, but too many didn't. Climbing to allow a conversation is one thing. Climbing again in silence, that's a chore. Any ledge that didn't let me just jump down or chain up was a total drag after the first time through.

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    AtheistPreacher

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    #44  Edited By AtheistPreacher

    Well, I've now seen credits roll (my clock is at around 60 hours), and I have some thoughts. I'll start with gameplay, because I'd rather have the big spoilery story discussion at the end.

    I decided to clear out all the Berserkers that I could prior to entering the postgame, which was eleven out of twelve of them, minus the "King." And doing those fights on Give Me God of War difficulty only reinforced to me that my biggest problem with this game is a combination of the lock on system sucking and that the difficulty primarily came from enemies you can't frickin' see. I never had a big problem with any boss enemy that was just a single enemy, but high-level double-bosses and triple-bosses, and ones with adds, were a bloody nightmare.

    I think a core problem of the lock-on system is that it simply doesn't always do the thing it's named for. Sometimes your actual aim will move off your lock target, not to mention the camera is very slow to catch up for quick-moving enemies circling around you. I assume they did that so that you can manually aim a ranged weapon at a weak point and not give you vertigo, or something like that. Regardless, if I was worried about either of those things, I would just unlock! Simple! Why not have a lock-on system that actually keeps the enemy centered on your screen?

    Also, in large groups of enemies I feel like the lock-on never does what I want it to. Sometimes I can't seem to get it to move at all, and at other times it whips me around 180 degrees to an enemy behind me when I don't want it to. Easier just to not lock at that point in some cases, but this can cause its own problems with proper kiting and keeping stuff in view.

    Meanwhile, when you're not locked on, sometimes the camera will "stick" to enemies anyway. I noticed this most in that terrible Crucible level in which you need to beat enemies and then pick up and chuck orbs into a void. I'd unlock, pick up an orb, and try to aim at the void, only sometimes my reticle would follow a nearby enemy anyway.

    That locked and not-locked sometimes aren't well-differentiated that way also sometimes meant that I just couldn't tell if I was locked onto something or not. This would particularly happen with enemies who warped/disappeared, and as a consequence of doing that, broke my lock. But in the heat of battle, I wouldn't always notice, and then spend several seconds assessing whether I was locked onto something or not, and often locking and unlocking multiple times in quick succession before I was sure it was working correctly. Ugh. What a mess.

    @championfetus mentioned that they thought a larger of field of view would solve a lot of problems. I agree with this, too. The red and yellow peripheral arrows are crap because they're simply not good indicators of when an enemy is actually about to hit you. Your field of view is so small that you basically just have to guess, and/or spend ridiculous amounts of time rolling around, probably to little effect, because it's usually impossible to keep all enemies in front of you/in sight.

    All of that said, I did still enjoy the combat in this game overall quite a bit, but man, I just wish that the lock mechanic didn't feel so broken, and that hard fights could derive difficulty more from single hard enemy movesets, and not from swarms of enemies attacking you when you can't possibly see them all. It can make a fight feel frustratingly random.

    OK, now, story discussion. MAJOR spoilers follow, so truly don't read if don't want to hear a lot of detail about the ending.

    I'll start by talking about a few of the big plot twists and how they did and didn't meet my expectations. One I was right about in a general sense, but wrong in the particular, and the other surprised me in its sheer conventionality.

    First, I sort of suspected from the beginning that Odin was impersonating someone. The guy has dozens of birds spying for him all over the realms, can warp around via same, and just seems to know everything in general, the ultimate spymaster. But honestly, I thought it was Angrboda, I didn't think it would be Tyr. I mean, there she was influencing Atreus all by herself, calling him Loki, and even randomly showing up in Muspelheim when Atreus was going through it with Thor, which just seemed suspicious (like, maybe Odin killed her and switched with her at that point rather than was being her the whole time?). Anyway, all of that of course colored my reactions toward her until I realized at the end that she was actually on the level!

    Regarding Kratos not dying in the end. That actually surprised me. Now, obviously he couldn't die permanently because I knew there was a post-game to do. But with the seemingly inevitable prophecy being told, and paired with all the stuff about Sindri having gathered three-quarters of Brok's soul to bring him back, my working assumption had been that Kratos would die, and that there would then be an Atreus section where he gathered the four portions of his soul and brought him back. Instead Kratos just... didn't die. Kind of seems to go against the whole fate concept. I was ready for the ending sequence to be a lot... messier. Instead the good guys won and the only bad thing that happened was that Freyr died, which everyone as a whole didn't actually seem all that upset about.

    The Atreus sections grew on me a bit, at least in the sense that they got more fun and interesting narratively speaking. The final one with the Thor bar fight was funny as hell and the conversation afterward was also pretty good. His combat never really got that much better, but I learned to live with it.

    I sort of wish Thor didn't get done so dirty in the end, he was a really cool character, a much more interesting portrayal than the traditional modern one (read: the Marvel version). Cool in general that Santa Monica Studios went and made Thor and Odin the bad guys and the giants the good guys, reversing the tired tropes.

    And boy, Richard Schiff really did make for an interesting Odin. When I first saw him, I was a little shocked to see how much they made him look like Schiff, like Toby from The West Wing had aged twenty years and lost an eye. And it seemed like the writers very much geared his lines toward his acting style. One line that especially struck me this way, for some reason: when Sif shows up and says that Atreus killed Heimdall, Odin doesn't say "Why are you here?" but rather, "I'm sorry—you are here why?" That just struck me as a very Richard Schiff way of talking.

    Also, speaking of the voices and the script. One odd thing I kept noticing was that there was often a mismatch between the delivery of a line and the emphasis in the text. I.e., a line would appear on screen with an italicized word that was clearly meant to be a stress, and yet the actor just didn't stress that word. It happened over and over again. This strikes me as a lack of direction from the VO director rather than a problem with the performers because it seemed to happen frequently with every single character. The acting overall was quite good, I thought, but that mismatch was sometimes distracting to me.

    Finally, here's one end-game thing that I really didn't see coming at all, and that honestly both annoyed and sort of gutted me: Atreus just leaves after Ragnarok to go and gather the giants, and you're left with only Freya for the postgame. For all the talk about him being an annoying teenager and making bad choices, the emotional core of these two games has always been the Kratos-Atreus father-son relationship, and the idea that he's just gone for the postgame feels very wrong to me. It makes me wish I'd done the entirety of the Vanaheim Crater etc with him while I still had the chance (though I did do a lot of side-content before the postgame, thankfully). Freya is fine, but she's not "boy!" And weird as it sounds, and jaded as I might be about video game stories, the fact that he's now gone has sucked out a lot of my enthusiasm for the postgame. What can I say, I wanted to do it with the two of them together. (Also, Atreus' kindness and generally sunny disposition are objectively a better counterpoint to Kratos' dour "straight man" than Freya, who is a little too similar to Kratos in her anger and damaged-ness.)

    Also, I was struck by the pointlessness of doing a lot of the really fiddly collectible-gathering by the fact that I'm missing something like six ravens... and yet since Odin is super-dead (Sindri seems to have... hammered his soul out of existence?), why exactly does eliminating his bird spies matter? I mean, yes, I know, they're just video game collectibles, one shouldn't look too hard for logic in such things. But I can't say that I'm actually all that eager at this point to go around collecting all the things, and may well just not bother. I've already beaten the game and all the Berserkers save the King on the game's highest difficulty, which is plenty enough for me, I don't particularly want or need the virtual bling of a platinum trophy. But who knows. Maybe I'll play something else for a while and come back later when I've had a chance to cool off from the whole experience a little.

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    SethMode

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    @atheistpreacher: I skipped a portion of your post out of fear as I'm right near the end, so I'll come back later but I just had to chime in about the combat. I love it when it is clicking, but you're spot on about when you're being mobbed. One on one fights feel great 99% of time, but you add even basic fodder enemies to the equation and it doesn't so much become a challenging thrill as a thrill born out of frustration. At least, for me. I'm happy to be done with it more than I'm happy to have experienced it.

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    ThePanzini

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    @sethmode: tbh the fodder are a none issue after the early game teething problems because you have multiple ways to get health back or can take a hit later on.

    The only times I've encountered problems with off screen damage is facing multiple boss or elite opponents at once.

    Particularly that one berserker challenge where you face off 3 to 1, because Atreus can't reliably aggro more than one you need fight one boss while keeping the camera focused on another.

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    SethMode

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    @thepanzini: That's...more or less what I meant (although not specifically the 3 on 1 fight because that one is a real shit kicker because of that). The Berserker fights/arena boss fights where they had fodder enemies, when I was trying to go at them while "underleveled" (i.e. - their health was in purple) I found I had a bigger issue with anything they would summon in than the boss themselves, is what I meant. I don't like their addition in general, because it feels like the less inspired "instead of making this guy more challenging let's just add more shit and overwhelm them, how challenging!" approach.

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    AtheistPreacher

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    #49  Edited By AtheistPreacher
    @thepanzini said:

    @sethmode: tbh the fodder are a none issue after the early game teething problems because you have multiple ways to get health back or can take a hit later on.

    Sorry, but I have to beg to differ, it isn't just an early game thing. Some of the worst instances are the Muspelheim/Crucible trials, which are less about bosses and more about large mobs with weird conditions (I talked about one in particular in my long post above). There are always new enemies arriving for those to further complicate your shitty lock-on camera no matter how fast you clear them, and playing those on Give Me God of War, you can't take enough hits or get enough health back for any appreciable margin of error, no matter what your build is. And when I say "margin of error," I mean "being hit by one of four offscreen enemies whose attack timings you just have to guess at and pray to RNGesus." Nothing about that shit is fun for me, it's just a chore.

    Also, while I agree that the multiple Berserker fights are probably the hardest thing, any boss who also summons mobs had this problem. There was the poison Berserker guy who summoned mobs and he was bloody frustrating, too.

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    SethMode

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    This was the gentlemen I was specifically referring to in my post. Fuck that fight when his power bar is purple. Same with one of those purple orb subbosses in the Crucible. 1v1? No problem. 1v? Yikes. And I just don't think it should be that way...like, I'm being punished by the system just as much as I'm being punished for my screw ups (looking DIRECTLY AT YOU "damage/attack/whatever you're supposed to be conveying to me indicator").

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