God of War Ragnarok finally made its way to public release, managing to sneak in before the end of the year and enter the GOTY conversation with stellar review scores. We’ll see how many sales Sony racks up in a short time here, but for now everyone is racing to play.
As someone who has already spent 40 hours on my review copy of God of War, I have some tips for you to get started. No spoilers ahead, just some gameplay tips that will help you have a better time.
Here are ten things I wish I had known when I started God of War Ragnarok:
1. You will have more XP and money than you know what to do with in the end
I think it’s important to know how the economy of this game works from the start. In short, you really don’t need to worry about what to spend XP or money in the early parts of the game. Scale of rewards, you might get 1,000 XP or Hacksilver in the early stages , but you’ll get 10-20,000 as you complete missions and challenges towards the end of the game. So spend freely, as you should be able to purchase all major upgrades for yourself, Atreus, and your gear at the end of the game There is no real bottleneck.
2. Diversify your combat to improve your skills
A new addition to God of War Ragnarok is that the more you use a skill, you can eventually upgrade it to increase its damage, defense, element, or other stats. As such, the more you can diversify your combat across ax and blades, the more overall buffs you’ll unlock, as opposed to just… parrying and doing small, easy combos. Use all skills often!
3. Come back later for these puzzles
It’s not exactly a new mechanic in video games, but let me be clear on some confusing things you may encounter on some early maps. There are two things, what looks like a small gust of wind coming out of a wall, and what looks like a yellow glowing patch, that you can’t interact with early on. You will get a tool that overcomes these obstacles later in the story. Second, there are strange, floating, and broken runes around you. You will need to progress through the story to a certain point to learn how to use them. No amount of experimentation will get you past this stuff. This will be clear when you get to the point where you can interact with them.
4. You can over-level for tougher minibosses
There are new minibosses that replace the Valkyries that you’ll eventually unlock in fights around the map with. I won’t say what they are, but many can be quite tricky. I found that for some of them, ignoring them and then backtracking when Kratos and his gear were on a higher level was the game, because you can level them up, they won’t adapt to you. The same goes for things like combat challenges, most of which won’t scale with your level.
5. Side Quests Are Essentially Not Optional
As my friend Gene Park noted in his review, the side quests here are almost at The Witcher 3 level, if not beyond. As such, I really wouldn’t consider most of the big side quests optional here. Some clearly are, like the hack of all of Odin’s Spy Crows, which are just collectibles. But things that are true side quests are often hugely important story beats for specific characters in the game, and shouldn’t be ignored. I would complete all major side quests before the finale to flesh out the full cast as much as possible.
6. End Game Currency To Maximize Armor Sets
By the end of the game, you’ll likely have completed enough activities to max out a handful of full armor sets at their highest power. For the final piece of the puzzle, you’ll need to perform well in a final set of combat challenges that will get you maxed out for your chest protectors. Side quests and challenges will also allow you to reach the final damage levels of your weapons.
7. You can and will come back to almost anything
You might be wondering if you have to do everything in a certain area or else you’ll miss out on content that you can’t finish later. With very, very few exceptions (a lush realm that feels like a “pause” in which I would recommend doing all the side quests), you will return to every realm you unlock and be able to fully explore their mysteries. There is also no “point of no return” before the end of the game, another common question. You will be able to continue exploring, albeit in a slightly modified way. You will see.
8. My favorite armor set of all
There are a lot of great armor sets you will unlock, but my favorite was the one crafted by a dwarven blacksmith which could be crafted quite early in the game. It gives your fists poison damage when attacking enemies without weapons, then a massive 40% melee damage bonus against poisoned enemies. So I would often throw my axe, let it dig into an enemy, then smash them with my fists to inflict massive damage. I used it for probably 80% of the game and it was my main set.
9. Don’t Forget To Upgrade Your Rage Skills
In Ragnarok, Rage is now a bit different in that you’ll have three different skills that stem from it. One is pure healing, the other is damage and healing, the other is pure damage. Each of them has three levels that you’ll level up through XP alone to increase their power, and since they’re not in the skill tree and not in gear pieces, that’s something that could be easy to ignore. But these are very important improvements.
10. Switch Weapons Often In Battle
There are many more combat rewards to diversify your choice of weapons in this sequel. Initially the ax and blades will get a skill where the blades do more damage to frozen enemies and the ax does more damage to enemies on fire, so you want to swap often. Later, I unlocked armor sets that rewarded you for quickly using special action skills on different weapons. There’s a lot of synergy like that, so watch out, in addition to some enemies that are weak to different weapon types, like in the last game.
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