Let’s get right to it—we finally have a release date for God of War: Ragnarök. The release date is now officially set for 9th November 2022, and was announced in the latest trailer that showed up a few days ago. This is great news for gamers and fans in anticipation of the latest entry among one of the most iconic and legendary video game franchises out there.
First things First..
As a gamer, this year is truly a treat for me, as I am a huge fan of the Soulsborne genre, and the God of War franchise. Elden Ring early this year, and now with Ragnarök at year’s end? Perfectly balanced, as all things should be.
That being said, the recent trailer and the details that came with it (which we will talk more on) came as huge announcements, as many have been (impatiently) awaiting more concrete news on anything Ragnarök since September 2021, when they Santa Monica released a gameplay footage trailer, along with the official name reveal. Since then, not counting the May 2018 announcement of accessibility functions (where they basically reused footage from 2021) they had essentially gone radio silent save for some devs reporting that the game is on schedule as people kept asking more and more about a definite release date, and kept wanting for more details.
The fact that a release date was not announced following a gameplay trailer (which is generally a red flag) along with talk of production hiccups and delays led some, if not many to grow concerns whether that game could indeed make its release window in 2022 (which is an already delayed period from it’s original 2021 release window). In recent memory and trends, when release dates are pushed back, let alone not specified following an invested demonstration of the game, it usually has ended up with less-than-optimal results.
Having said that, I believe that also speaks to the expectations we have today in the industry to be given as much detail from the get go. It’s easy to forget amidst the anticipation that sometimes, less is more, and that it builds up to a good pay-off in reception. It should also be noted that a similar level of tight lipped approach and 4-month gap was utilized in announcing the release date of God of War (2018). And BOY did they deliver. But enough of the past. Let us delve into what we have seen in this present, and gauge what to expect in the future..
CGI: Concern or Confidence?
Right out of the gate, the first thing to note is that it’s a CGI trailer.
CGI trailers are great eye candy. They offer visuals and cinematic presentations that are a treat for viewer. But as gamers and critics have more often than not learned over the years, a CGI trailer is often deceptive of what the finished product delivers on both visual fidelity and gameplay functions (thanks Ubisoft) which have generally ended up disappointing people on the expectations part. My personal view is that gameplay footage is more valuable as it depicts the core product ergo the GAMEplay of a GAME. And while in game cinematics and gameplay presentation are blurring closer and closer, I’d still like to see more of gameplay with the in-game mechanics when release dates are this closer.
Santa Monica in this regard however, have already shown us a gameplay footage prior to this, so I’m giving it the goodwill here on that, and it’s indicated straight away that it isn’t actual gameplay anyway. And my view of seeing more gameplay footage near to release date isn’t always a surefire tell of a game’s final reception. It does work a lot though, so for any casual viewers and new gamers out there, I’d strongly recommend to look past the CGI and look to the gameplay promos to get a better bang for your buck come purchasing time.
In all honesty though, I’m just glad we finally got some content after a long time for God of War, so my initial first thought was put on hold quite fast, as the 30 second trailer kicked in earnest.
The scene hits off with some ravens flying into heated battlefield atop a treacherous cliff, where Kratos and Atreus are ferociously fighting off a horde of draugr who appear have fiery abilities imbued in them.
Ravens are symbolic within the Norse mythology, particularly with Odin, as he uses magical ravens to spy and gather information to keep him well informed at all times—not surprising as Odin prides and strives to be all knowing across all realms. In particular, the ravens Huginn and Muninn are considered his chief scout ravens, and tend to travel across Midgard (atleast) and gather intel. While it’s not clear whether these are specifically them or just some other flock, what is clear is that at this point, the ravens aren’t doing silent surveillance, but rather, open recon.
Kratos and Atreus are fighting draugr who appear to be far more organized and ferocious in their fighting, as if with purpose. They’re also imbued with strong fiery weapons and skills, which may lend credibility that they’re perhaps not necessarily just native to Midgard—which is possible, as since the events of the last game, both father and son are now effectively branded as credible threats to (Asgard and ) the realms. Thus, the part where other realms could be actively sending challenges to Kratos and boi is on display.
In anycase, both of them seem to be very well attuned to the fighting styles of each other, as Atreus appears more confident in his open conflict battle movements, and is in good sync with Kratos, showing that Atreus’s growth physically is factored into their battle formation. But a desperate dive blast attack from a draugr has Kratos caught off guard and yeeted off the cliff into the gorge below, as Atreus yells in concern for his father in a voice that carries a significantly higher and more well stabilized baritone befitting of a growing, hardening warrior—infact, it was very different from what I had expected Sunny Suljic’s louder voice range to sound like at this age now, in a good way mind you. I certainly think he has good potential for VA work in the future.
Down in the gorge/we see Kratos has landed hard but still on his feet (more or less) and we get a close up. He looks pretty much the same, although a few things are noticeable. He’s lacking his iconic Blades of Chaos, and isn’t sporting the fur cloak featured in the game’s official covers and some footages. Thus, I’d wager that he either gets them a bit later or has temporarily lost them within the game. His armor seems reverted back to the basic default leather pauldron and vambraces, but with some minor metal plating modifications. This tells me that Kratos certainly acknowledges the threat level around him to have elevated to the point where he needs to be more conscious about his battle capabilities.
While his strength and magical affinities may have increased with age, one cannot deny that Kratos may have regressed a bit on his ferocity and speed, which is acceptable given the fact that he IS getting old, and so he may be more conscious about increasing his defensive capabilities with better armor, shield(s) and so forth.
Speaking of shields, Kratos is quickly surrounded by more draugr, this time with blue eyes, indicating frost elemental foes, against whom the Leviathan Axe would be relatively inefficient. Staying true to the gameplay form, Kratos opts to beat up the nearest three draugr using his fists, feet and well timed shield pop (which I think is an underrated, very satisfying effect when you do a perfect parry). You can see how Kratos has perfected combat and accounted for his age as well, as he uses minimal, precise movements to effectively dispatch enemies, with little concern.
The enemies keep increasing, and Kratos turns to the back in response to tremors felt across the battlefield, made by the giant steps of a great beast.. with a silver shackle on it’s right leg. We don’t see it fully, as only it’s blurry feet movements are seen, as Kratos prepares for more combat.. only for a pair of arrows to whiz past him and take down the incoming enemies. He turns around to look at..
A more confident Atreus
Indeed, it’s Atreus to the rescue, and in what is certainly a major talking point of this trailer, he is walking towards the battlefield with great confidence. He certainly looks very ‘calm and reasonable’ with a steely, focused look across his face as he quietly whips out an arrow and loads it up regroups with his father. Just from this walk alone, we are able to spot a change in Atreus’s demeanor. He seems open to the idea of battle now more than his younger self. This is certainly in line with some of the dialogue in the previous trailers, where he pondered on waging war as the means to prevent Ragnarök. At the time, he certainly seems far more open to the idea of open conflict than Kratos, who has thus far opted to not get involved as much as possible.
Atreus’s subject of focus is made very clear very quickly in the penultimate scenes of the trailer. In regrouping with his father, we are treated to the most significant visual talking point of the trailer—the appearance and presence of Fenrir, the legendary colossal wolf from Norse Mythology, and arguably the most famous mythical wolf out there. The tremors and footsteps came from him earlier, and those versed in Norse mythology may have predicted that it was Fenrir from the silver shackle earlier, which are likely remnants of the Gleipnir chains—unbreakable chains that would have held Fenrir captive until Ragnarök. Though the lighting is dim, Fenrir’s appearance strikes awe to us, as the colossal beast towers over the father-son duo, the trees and even some of the cliffs nearby. Fenrir looks simple but powerful, majestic and feral at the same time. His fur is unkempt, yet his movements are not purely savage. His dark visage is and would be intimidating to just about anyone staring what is effectively a walking death sentence capable of killing Odin if the mythology is to go by.
Many would ask why Kratos and Atreus are seemingly facing off against Fenrir when according to what we know from the last game (spoilers ahead) Atreus and Fenrir technically should be on the same side given their names and mythological consistency. But this is retorted quickly upon thought. First of all, the entire God of War series is very much driven on the basis that the mythology is merely loosely followed or just completely disregarded in some cases—and this is fine, as this is what we expect now. Not only that, the nature of how this saga of the franchise has shaped up so far has already left us with far more questions with regards to fate, time travel and so much more that would certainly give us reason to be invested as to how things ended up this way.
That said, they teased Jörmungandr’s reveal in a similar fashion in the last game, although admittedly it was made clear that he was friendly within that reveal itself. No such dialogue here this time. Just a very angry legendary beast looking to throw down.
Father and Son
The final scene swaps to the battle ready Kratos and Atreus—more importantly, a battle ready duo. Atreus is no longer standing behind Kratos, in cover or in hiding. He is standing side by side by this legendary father, not afraid to go into battle, not afraid to take the hits and certainly not afraid of Fenrir. This makes me feel a sense of happiness to see our dear old boi having certainly leveled up in not just physical but mental capacity as well—I could be wrong, as the mindset and mental growth of Atreus is a work in progress as evidenced previously, and could be facing more challenges this time around as well.
There is only one sentence across the entire 30 second trailer, which is narrated by both Kratos and Atreus, and in what is said, and how it’s said, I think there’s a lot to unpack. The singular piece of dialogue is as follows:
Kratos: “when you are at your weakest”
Atreus: “and fear and doubt, are a burden too heavy to bear”
Kratos: “remember this.”
Both: “ You, are not alone.”
This feels like an understanding that the two certainly understand their team dynamic, and are comfortable with giving and gaining strength from each other, as well as any allies that they would be gaining in their fight across the nine realms. There’s also another thought that comes across upon rewinding and hearing it… because this also feels like Kratos giving an advice to Atreus at a point when Atreus needs a pep talk reminder, particularly in a very difficult and dark position. Could this be foreboding of Kratos’s fate in light of the final reveals in Jotunheim from the last game, and with the fact that this is supposed to be the end of the Norse saga of the franchise? Are we looking a possibility that this could be among the final pieces of advice that Kratos could be giving to Atreus were the latter to be going forward on life’s journey alone for some reason? There’s good reason to put money on the notion that Kratos could kick the bucket this time around (some theorize it’ll be Thor who’d be able to do the one thing an entire Greek Pantheon couldn’t, let alone the man himself).
Set Your Calendars
The trailer ends with the reveal of the date 9th November 2022 as the release date, along with both the PS4 and PS5 game covers revealed.
I personally think that the date while a little late on the year end is still a good window for people to play it during this year and enjoy it, particularly as the prime playing period may fall most likely into the year end holiday period. The inevitable comparisons between God of War Ragnarök and Elden Ring in terms of popularity and sales will come up around then, but on one hand, I don’t think any numbers by year end would be honestly reflective of which one did better or not commercially, as one had an early release window and peak play period already, while God of War would have only just started making rounds by year end. And truth be told, I don’t care either way—I love both developers and their games and am happy just to see it happening as is.
But Wait There’s More!
Along with the trailer, more details on the game’s pre-order date (15th July 2022) special editions and collectible editions were revealed across social media. The unboxing of the Collector and Jotnar Editions were done by Ryan Hurst (voicing Thor) and Rafael Grasesetti (Art Director, Santa Monica Studio).
God of War Ragnarök comes in the following editions:
- Launch Edition- Pre-order version with some bonuses
- Standard Edition- Normal version after release date, no pre-order bonuses.
- Digital Deluxe Edition- Comes with the game for both PS4 & PS5, along with some early access to items you can unlock later in game.
- Collectors Edition- Digital code for the game (PS4, PS5) alongside some cool merch with a 1:1 detailed replica of Mjolnir
- Jotnar Edition- Digital code for the game (PS4, PS5) with even more goodies, and yes, the hammer comes with this one too.
For more details on the editions, check out the unboxing segment by PlayStation.
Set your calendars and schedules fellow gamers and fans, as Ragnarök approaches.