God of War (PS4): Kratos and the Dad-feels

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So a second trip through this game is another lesson that I need to be very, very careful about engaging in the discussion with hyped games, because I'm having a much better time with it the second go round than I did the first. I think this is due to two reasons, with the first being that I have no compulsion to wear my contrarian hat anymore. The game's got some issues here and there but no worse than most other games I've enjoyed in the past.

The second is that it is really, really useful going in ahead of time knowing what abilities are available to be unlocked so that you can better plan your leveling up. I saved some XP to get most of the parry abilities as soon as possible, especially the one that launches the projectiles back. Parry defines at least half of my approach to the game's combat, and if you don't know what you're doing early on then it's going to feel very hack-and-slashy but also damage spongey. Even in the early stages some of the encounters feel like they demand more tactics than the player has at their disposal.

Adding to that is my willingness to just explore and absorb the game world. Strange, because the exploration was the first thing that kept me playing the game when I initially jumped into it. Yet I didn't explore much in the early days before reaching Elf-land, or didn't have a good handle on the equipment upgrading system. This time, I was high enough in level that it provided a decent challenge without being too demanding. Then again, I also better understood what it was I was trying to unlock on the skill tree.

Basically, the game is built in a fashion that it's a lot more enjoyable if you go clean on a second run than when you go through your first.

I've now lowered the water a second time and am having fun exploring again, knowing full well it won't be the last time I do a circuit. The only concern is that I'm trying to do a Platinum trophy run, and that includes getting all those darn ravens and other such things. I imagine Muspelheim and Niflheim will be the most time-consuming for me, but even with a guide, having to wander the realms looking for any stray birds does not sound appealing. Thus far I've done well snagging them all, though, so we'll see what happens.

I'm definitely feeling warmer on this game, now. And stand by my "honorary Darksiders" assessment.

Vector wrote:

End game spoilers:

Spoiler:

Were we not supposed to know Faye was a giant until the end? I thought that was revealed at the beginning of the game. I also thought Brok and Sindri mentioned it as well as Mimir. Kratos and Atreus seemed shocked at the reveal but I thought everyone knew her origin. For a game that had a surprisingly solid story, this felt really out of place.

Spoiler:

The game definitely hints at it but never outright says it until the end. I just played when they meet up with Mimir and they just knew their mom wanted her ashes scattered from the highest peak. That the highest peak is in Jortmundfasdfas;ldfjer and you just went through a bunch of former Giants territory should be the tip-off, but it's presented as a mystery as to why Faye would have Kratos and Atreus go on such a trek. So they don't figure it out, but I think they want to give the player enough to figure it out themselves.

Time for you to replay Sekiro next

I'd like to replay this game again. I'd do NG+ but I don't remember how any of the combat works at this point.

beanman101283 wrote:

Time for you to replay Sekiro next :lol:

I've actually considered it...

No joke, though, with this game using triggers for melee combat instead of face buttons, it took a while to deprogram the Bloodborne reflexes outta me. I kept hitting O to dodge and then I'd get Draugered right in the face.

ccesarano wrote:
Vector wrote:

End game spoilers:

Spoiler:

Were we not supposed to know Faye was a giant until the end? I thought that was revealed at the beginning of the game. I also thought Brok and Sindri mentioned it as well as Mimir. Kratos and Atreus seemed shocked at the reveal but I thought everyone knew her origin. For a game that had a surprisingly solid story, this felt really out of place.

Spoiler:

The game definitely hints at it but never outright says it until the end. I just played when they meet up with Mimir and they just knew their mom wanted her ashes scattered from the highest peak. That the highest peak is in Jortmundfasdfas;ldfjer and you just went through a bunch of former Giants territory should be the tip-off, but it's presented as a mystery as to why Faye would have Kratos and Atreus go on such a trek. So they don't figure it out, but I think they want to give the player enough to figure it out themselves.

Spoiler:

Yeah they scattered a few hints throughout, like how Brokk and Sindri made the axe for Faye. I think it was also at least hinted at that she had some sort of involvement with giants, it was just never explicitly stated that she was a giant. I had definitely figured out that she was probably a giant pretty early on, but I still didn't piece together the fact that Faye was actually Laufey until the big Atreus=Loki reveal.

(For a while I convinced myself that Atreus was actually some sort of convoluted version of Höðr due to the whole mistletoe/Baldr connection. The Loki thing is still a bit of a stretch lore-wise but it definitely makes more sense than that.)

muttonchop wrote:
ccesarano wrote:
Vector wrote:

End game spoilers:

Spoiler:

Were we not supposed to know Faye was a giant until the end? I thought that was revealed at the beginning of the game. I also thought Brok and Sindri mentioned it as well as Mimir. Kratos and Atreus seemed shocked at the reveal but I thought everyone knew her origin. For a game that had a surprisingly solid story, this felt really out of place.

Spoiler:

The game definitely hints at it but never outright says it until the end. I just played when they meet up with Mimir and they just knew their mom wanted her ashes scattered from the highest peak. That the highest peak is in Jortmundfasdfas;ldfjer and you just went through a bunch of former Giants territory should be the tip-off, but it's presented as a mystery as to why Faye would have Kratos and Atreus go on such a trek. So they don't figure it out, but I think they want to give the player enough to figure it out themselves.

Spoiler:

Yeah they scattered a few hints throughout, like how Brokk and Sindri made the axe for Faye. I think it was also at least hinted at that she had some sort of involvement with giants, it was just never explicitly stated that she was a giant. I had definitely figured out that she was probably a giant pretty early on, but I still didn't piece together the fact that Faye was actually Laufey until the big Atreus=Loki reveal.

(For a while I convinced myself that Atreus was actually some sort of convoluted version of Höðr due to the whole mistletoe/Baldr connection. The Loki thing is still a bit of a stretch lore-wise but it definitely makes more sense than that.)

Spoiler:

The moment Sindri gave Atreus the mistletoe arrows, I figured he would eventually be revealed as Loki. Given that Loki was a typically portrayed as at least half-giant and a parent of the world serpent, it all added up. At one point I thought Mimir was Odin in disguise but that was pretty quickly put to rest.

That is so much more Norse lore than I ever knew, going into this game.

Spoiler:

I also didn't get that Faye was a giant until the reveal, and have no idea who Laufey is (nor Höðr). I knew enough about Norse mythology to know who Loki is -- though who doesn't, I guess, given the Avengers -- and the existential threat that he's supposed to represent.

I actually felt like this ending was one of the better that I've seen, in that it gave meaningful closure and set up a deeper world.

ccesarano wrote:

So a second trip through this game is another lesson that I need to be very, very careful about engaging in the discussion with hyped games, because I'm having a much better time with it the second go round than I did the first. I think this is due to two reasons, with the first being that I have no compulsion to wear my contrarian hat anymore. The game's got some issues here and there but no worse than most other games I've enjoyed in the past.

The second is that it is really, really useful going in ahead of time knowing what abilities are available to be unlocked so that you can better plan your leveling up. ... Basically, the game is built in a fashion that it's a lot more enjoyable if you go clean on a second run than when you go through your first.

...

Really interesting take, and I somewhat agree. The game didn't stick, for me, the first time I attempted it, but I went back later and felt like I got it. It wasn't so much a matter of knowing the abilities, or planning where to spend my XP. I didn't have a plan, other than upgrading Atreus first, whenever possible. (Both to roleplay the father role, and also because he's so dang useful.) But I felt like on the second pass I really felt comfortable with the gameplay in a way that I didn't before. The first time, everything felt awkward and I felt like I was fumbling around in any difficult encounter. After returning later, I felt like I started with a higher baseline competency, and was able to perceive how the different moves fit together.

I'm also curious about your "contrarian" comment. Why do you think you had the impulse to react that way the first time?

LastSurprise wrote:

I'm also curious about your "contrarian" comment. Why do you think you had the impulse to react that way the first time?

A few reasons. My initial response to the trailer was "Oh criminy, this is just going to be a bunch of adults ashamed they liked/made the old God of Wars and trying to make up for their embarrassment by being too try hard and 'we swear we're grown ups now!' with the Hollywood imitation cranked up to 11."

And while the Hollywood imitation is still cranked up to 11, I feel like the game isn't embarrassed of its legacy yet is still basically saying "we've grown up... mostly. We still tear Wulver jaws completely down their gullets and expose their interiors, but like... not as indulgent about it". It's not the best story and a lot of the writing feels very stitched together because content was cut (notably many of Atreus' character arcs), but it actually feels very considered in regards to a story about adults trying to save/raise their children and, largely, all screwing up, while simultaneously hinting at the notion of breaking cycles (which is sort of what the whole of Norse mythology is based around and therefore is a fitting use of it).

The second reason I balked was because I felt like the gameplay was being transformed into some weird mainstream interpretation of what it once was, and it also just felt weird to take Kratos out of Greece and put him in the North. It felt unnecessary, that they ought to have adjusted "God of War" to allow for any character from any mythology (I mean, wouldn't it be nice to mess with the Egyptian pantheon more often?), so on and so forth. To me, this God of War and the reuse of Kratos was completely unnecessary.

And I think that's true in some regard, but even without having played the original God of War games, it is clear that knowing who Kratos was makes a lot of the story elements of this game work all the better. We get why Kratos doesn't trust the Gods and why he doesn't want to tell Atreus about his past, and a lot of other small moments in discussions. As I said, while the developers grew up from those old games, they're not ashamed of them. Not wholly, at least.

So I was a contrarian through assumptions based on how the game looked and the shift in mechanics and setting. However, whenever I see endless praise with little criticism, I always end up feeling the need to point out all the flaws people seem to be ignoring, and it causes me to focus too much on the negative. The one thing that kept me going with God of War were the puzzle and exploration elements, which, coincidentally enough, I recall Kat from USGamer writing an essay on how awkward it felt when put next to its realistic graphics and super serious story. A feeling I did not share, because one of those things I can't stand is people being embarrassed they're playing a video game. How dare a video game have mechanics and stuff to entice the player into engaging with its world more, etc.

But that's all two years old. Now everyone is talking about Last of Us Part 2, which I don't plan on getting anyway. I already beat this game and was a major grouch about it for a good chunk of time before warming up to it slowly.

Some of those moments I critiqued before still remain. They turned a fight with a dragon into something boring and tedious. The best part of the fight with the Stranger was when they just let me fight him instead of trying to pretend they're a movie. I'm far enough in the game where I'm buying epic level gear to then upgrade but because of how the enhancement sockets work and having to max stuff out, it's vague and unclear what the armor actually improves (and it turns out, right now, it technically doesn't, it's about the same. Which means I gotta do activities to get the materials to upgrade the armor, even though I wanted upgraded armor for those specific activities...).

But now that I know what the game is and what to expect, I'm cool with it. I'm having a good time. I'm already about 70% Midgard explored and I only just got the very talkative Mimir to join the party. Those flaws don't stand out because I'm not trying to convince anyone the game is imperfect, which is how initial release hype and impressions often feel to me.

Really, though, it all comes from a place of personal pride that I gotta grow out of. That, or just remove myself from conversations about big title games that I know are going to get a lot of love.

LastSurprise wrote:

That is so much more Norse lore than I ever knew, going into this game.

One thing I really enjoyed about the game is how deep they went on some of the weirder parts of Norse mythology, especially some of the more confusing/contradictory elements.

Spoiler:

Like how there's a lot of confusion between dwarves and svartalfar (dark elves) in the Norse myths. Are dark elves just another type of elf, or is it another name for dwarves? Do they come from Svartalfheim or Nidavellir? Different myths portray them very differently. The answer, according to Mimir, is that dwarves and dark elves are completely different species, but the Aesir are so self-absorbed they never bothered to learn the difference so they refer to them interchangeably.

Similarly the confusion between Frigg and Freya, who are alternately described as Odin's wife in various myths. According to Mimir Frigg is Odin's fake girlfriend, who he made up after Freya left him so he could attribute all Freya's accomplishments to Frigg rather than give his ex-wife any credit.

There's lots of weird little tidbits like that crammed into the game, clearly the writers were having a lot of fun digging into the old myths.

That is so good, muttonchop. Mimir is fantastic at layering on those little bits of lore. There were times I stopped rowing the boat just to hear him finish his stories.

Vector wrote:

That is so good, muttonchop. Mimir is fantastic at layering on those little bits of lore. There were times I stopped rowing the boat just to hear him finish his stories.

Yeah, I always stopped rowing for Mimir stories or Kratos Boat Fables.

Whelp, closing in on the Platinum and 100% completion. Curiously, the game actually provides some give for some of the achievements and labors. For example, you're told to kill 51 Ravens, which I have done and have gotten the achievement. However, Midgard still says 42/43 Ravens, meaning they give you one spare. Or it's some weird mistake on their part, I dunno. You can also get the Realm Tears labor completion via the Niflheim Realm Tears and not all the ones in Midgard.

Queen Valkyrie was still really tough to take on, despite my being better equipped and with a greater understanding of the mechanics. I watched my saved video from 2018 where I fought her and I barely used relics, the talisman, or Atreus' summon. I figured it would be a cake walk this time, and nope. It was almost like she brought out some new tricks, even, or so it felt. It was also a moment where the frustration began to wear on me a bit. In a fight like that, the controls stop feeling so responsive because you need immediate response. Kratos needs to be able to drop and rise his shield immediately in order to get some of the timing on those parries. She has five separate attacks where she jumps into the air, where one cannot be canceled with the ax throw, one has really quick timing before she tosses projectiles and does a lot of damage, and the remaining three all have reasonable timing. Reacting for the three times you wanna knock her down could mean severe punishment if it turns out to be the first two.

Regardless, took her out, leaving Midgard completion around 97-98%. I managed to "complete" Muspelheim, though I think it's "hidden trials" are done in an annoying, grindy fashion. The first hidden trial requires 70 kills within the time limit in order to get the Gold, and I got 62. I thought I'd be good to immediately try again, but nope. Gotta choose three trials to redo to get the keys and then... try to kill enemies without getting hit. And the hit that screwed up my run? A Wulver was swinging at the kid and grazed Kratos during a Runic attack (why don't Runic attacks have invincibility frames?). I popped the achievement, but some of the armor upgrades I want require at least one Gold completion, which is what's really frustrating. Even if I get a Gold, will I have all the resources needed? Or will I need more to max my armor?

Of course, I don't really need to anyway. I have 2/3 Realm Tears in Niflheim unlocked and all the treasure chests opened. Two or three runs through Niflheim to collect the mist echoes and I'll be done that. Then the only achievements will be Ancient Armor Set and Shrines (which really has me confused as to how I'm missing shrines in my original game).

Interestingly enough, I'm surprised that neither Niflheim or Muspelheim have demanded as much time grinding as I expected. On the other, man, are they still grindy, yet I still really like them as content.

I'm glad I went back. I'll feel good putting it down for a while, and I should pretty much have it 100% complete.

With the exception of the labor to pin enemies to the wall with an ax. Sitting at 11/30 for that, because good gravy enemies just aren't weak enough for that throughout most of the game.

ccesarano wrote:

With the exception of the labor to pin enemies to the wall with an ax. Sitting at 11/30 for that, because good gravy enemies just aren't weak enough for that throughout most of the game.

Do a practice for at the first Muspelheim trial. It will always spawn weak enemies and can quickly rack up pinning enemies after about 5 minutes.

I started playing God of War a couple of days ago. I've played and beaten a couple of Gods of War before, but other than "angry strong man does angry things to Greek gods (and anyone who stands in his way", they weren't particularly memorable from a story perspective. That said, I'm enjoying the heck out of this entry in the series; yes, he's angry - but he seems much more tired, worn out, and frustrated (at first) with his son's inexperience; very connectable for me.

Anyway, the real reason for posting:

muttonchop wrote:
Vector wrote:

That is so good, muttonchop. Mimir is fantastic at layering on those little bits of lore. There were times I stopped rowing the boat just to hear him finish his stories.

Yeah, I always stopped rowing for Mimir stories or Kratos Boat Fables.

Mimir's a recent addition to my story, and I'm also pausing my travels to finish listen to his stories. Excellent. Also, some real comedic timing to be had:

God of War wrote:

Mimir: "In fact, we would do well to sit here in silence for the next few moments, and reflect on Odin's capacity for cruelty."
[3 seconds pass]
Mimir: "And so-"
Kratos: "Reflect longer."

You know what else is fun: if you dock in the middle of a story, Mimir or Atreus will comment on saving it for another time, then the conversation seamlessly picks up the next time you get back on. I loved that.

LastSurprise wrote:

You know what else is fun: if you dock in the middle of a story, Mimir or Atreus will comment on saving it for another time, then the conversation seamlessly picks up the next time you get back on. I loved that.

It was an excellent touch. Something that more games, like GTAV are doing. Its such a small thing, but adds exponentially to the experience.

I'll admit I just teared up a bit when Kratos revealed the truth to Atreus... and chuckled at Atreus' reaction.

Ever since I finished the game last year, I've been meaning to get back in to wrap up the optional challenges in Muspelheim and Niflheim. Well, a couple days ago, I decided it was finally time!

When I left off, I was one or two challenges from the highest level of Muspelheim -- so, very close to that Valkyrie. I found that it didn't take me too long to regain my reflexes, and actually managed to bring her down in (I think) 3 tries. I'm wrapping up some collecting before I press on to Niflheim.

It is eerie to revisit some of these zones after killing all the enemies there, and after hearing all the banter between Kratos, Atreus, and Mimir. In really makes part of the world feel desolate in a way that is totally different from the main game.

Good on you, LastSurprise! I ended up eventually dropping the difficulty to get through the grind faster.

Thanks!

Last night, I beat the Valkyrie in Helheim. It was a weird fight. I felt like I didn't do very well -- she hit me multiple times with that move where she jumps up, and also with that move where she dives right at me -- but the Helheim armor really boosted my health and defense, so I was able to take quite a beating.

Still to go: clearing Midgard (at around 90%, still collecting), finishing the Valkyrie and realm tears in Niflheim, and then on to Sigrun!

So: I've cleared Niflheim, which definitely felt like a bit of a grind. I killed the Valkyrie there, and closed the realm tears -- that battle against the three revenants definitely was harder, for me, than the Niflheim valkyrie fight. I killed the ravens. I found the last artifacts, and a Jotnar shrine I somehow missed. And although there are still a few boxes left unchecked on the map, I have only one large objective -- and one trophy (plus the platinum) left: Sigrun.

I went into this fight overconfident. I knew it was reported to be ridiculously difficult, but I'm at level 9. I have maxed Niflheim armor. Enemies die quickly, and I could brute-force my way past the final two valkyries. Using this for scale, I figured Sigrun couldn't be that bad.

Of course, I was wrong. Very wrong. Disastrously wrong.

Sigrun is the closest thing to a Souls boss that I've seen outside of a Souls game, and without the precision of a Souls-like. Stick and move, learn how to counter, and whatever you do...

DON'T GO FOR THE EXTRA HIT!!!

I remember this taking me about 20 or so tries over maybe three days. And I am probably light on both of those.

Spoiler:

But I am not good at video games.

UpToIsomorphism wrote:

DON'T GO FOR THE EXTRA HIT!!!

Man, that's the most essential advice out there.

I might have made 20 tries yesterday. I certainly made at least 10. And I got better as I tried to be a bit more tactical and less aggressive, but I'm still not quite there.

I definitely get a little bit more aggressive the fight goes on; I need some patience. Also, I might need to back out of the arena and fill up my rage meter. I have a berserker stone but not a full meter, and it would really help to rage twice.

I will note again (as I did upthread) that the final Valkyrie was one of the greatest videogame challenges I ever tackled. I dropped the difficulty to Easy, looked at a walkthrough with a "cheese" strategy, and still died probably two dozen times before managing to win.

beeporama wrote:

I will note again (as I did upthread) that the final Valkyrie was one of the greatest videogame challenges I ever tackled. I dropped the difficulty to Easy, looked at a walkthrough with a "cheese" strategy, and still died probably two dozen times before managing to win.

Same with me but I am not positive on the fight at all.

I came so close just a moment ago. Had her down to the last two bars, but just couldn't finish.

I have no evidence to suggest it, but I'm curious if that fight level adjusts. I was maybe level 7 gear when I fought her on my initial run-through, yet when I played her this year with level 9 gear she seemed to have as much health and deal as much damage. Her attack patterns seemed a bit different as well.

Nonetheless, the Valkyries were the one thing that had me sucked into this game on the first playthrough and are largely why I decided to come back around a second time. If the sequel can have more fights of skill like that and fewer quicktime event battles, then it'll be an instant favorite for me.

Spoiler:

They won't, because games press praised the last fight as being "amazing" despite being all spectacle and little substance.

And it's finished!

beeporama wrote:

I will note again (as I did upthread) that the final Valkyrie was one of the greatest videogame challenges I ever tackled.

Yes, agreed. Such a feeling of accomplishment after I finally got it done.

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