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A Review of God of War 2018’s Trophies and the Game itself- “Keep your expectations low and you’ll still be disappointed”

Gamingtodaynews1f - A Review of God of War 2018's Trophies and the Game itself- "Keep your expectations low and you'll still be disappointed"

Hello everyone, I recently platinumed God of War 2018 so I want to give a quick review on the Trophies and a really long one on the game itself.

About the trophies:

The first thing I noticed was that many of the non-story trophies tended to be linked with others. For example, in order to get
35 fire and brimstone - A Review of God of War 2018's Trophies and the Game itself- "Keep your expectations low and you'll still be disappointed"

Fire and Brimstone (Complete all of the Trials of Muspelheim, which is by the way my favourite trophy to get in this game), you're gonna beat a Valkyrie who gets you the item you need to fully upgrade the Blades of Chaos nabbing you
29 why fight it - A Review of God of War 2018's Trophies and the Game itself- "Keep your expectations low and you'll still be disappointed"Why Fight It? . But in order to even enter Muspelheim you need to get the language ciphers (which gets you Trilingual), and while you're at it you may want to fully upgrade your health and rage beforehand (both their own seperate trophies) and going through all this likely gives you the materials to craft the Traveler and Ancient Armour sets (which are both a trophy each). That's around 5-7 trophies from pursuing one goal to speak. Which is fine. It encourages the player to go for specific stuff and rewarding them along the way.

However, some trophies aren't as straightforward.

Darkness and Fog: (Retrieve all treasure from the Workshop’s center chamber) is exceptionally boring because you have to grind collecting 70,000 Mist Echos in Niflheim (my average was around 3-5000 per run so yeah). Yeah, that's what I wanted in my God of War game, grinding. To make things worse, you also need 3 anchors of fog, a resource that drops from specific chests and is RNG. I've read various forums of people lamenting they spent 11 hours grinding for the Fogs. I got mine in 9 attempts but that's still a terrible approach. Trophies shouldn't be so dependent on RNG. Make it so the player can spend x Mist Echoes to craft an Anchor if their luck isn't good. You can tilt the odds in your favour by opening other chests first and maxing out the Luck stat (which has been useless up until this point) but still, all the grinding in an area that Kratos can just avoid if he jumped like a couple feet on a platform wasn't fun. Also, to tie back to my linked trophies part, doing this also gets you
28 worthy - A Review of God of War 2018's Trophies and the Game itself- "Keep your expectations low and you'll still be disappointed"Worthy
(Fully upgrade the Leviathan Axe).

Beneath the Surface (Explore all the Lake of Nine has to offer). This one is a little unclear what it means by explore. Some people got it by removing all the fog. Others did it by going to every location. Others 100%-ed the area. This trophy is said to be buggy and even got a patch early on. Mine popped when I docked on a random island for a sec. I wish this trophy was a bit more clear, maybe "find x docks" or something. It's a similar case for
14 death happened here - A Review of God of War 2018's Trophies and the Game itself- "Keep your expectations low and you'll still be disappointed"
Death Happened Here (Fully explore Veithurgard), some people had to 100% this area to get the trophy. I got mine by just defeating the troll and opening the chest after him. This trophy also got a patch to fix some bugs with it.

Now if those were all the trophies, I'd say platinumming this game was bad in some parts but not overly tedious. But there are over 100 collectibles to find and there's a perfect storm of issues to make this very teduous. Now say what you will about Ubisoft's games but at least their collectibles are easily marked and their maps are easy to read. In GOW's case, despite it being semi-open world, the map is terrible to read to pick out routes and where exactly to go. Even with multiple guides open, I got lost in places like the Mountain and had to frequently backtrack just to find a good reference point to start hunting. And more than that, even getting around is made worse. If you want to go from a point in the mountain to another part of Midguard, you have to run to a fast travel point, select a location, wait for the fast travel point to load the tree circle loading zone, go inside and wait for it to load the actual area you want to go to and then go there. And if you want to go from one realm to another to get a collectible? You have to run to a fast travel point, select the Temple, wait for the fast travel point to load the tree circle loading zone, go inside and wait for it to load the Temple and then go there, go into the main room, scroll a wheel to find the realm you want, wait for the game to load that area, get out into the ream, find the fast travel point in the temple and select a location, wait for the fast travel point to load the tree circle loading zone, go inside and wait for it to load the actual area you want to go to and then go there. Why are there so many steps along the way to waste my time? In every other game, I just open my map, pick a spot, screen fades to black and I'm there in less than 30 seconds. Even in games like Witcher 3 which don't let you fast travel from anywhere and only from specific points, said points are still everywhere and let you go to any other point. There's no value in GOW2018's approach here. Travelling back to places I've already been to is way more boring than any other game because of all the time it wastes. I get the game wants to maintain its single camera take (which is already a flawed idea) the entire time but there's still a way to make this easier. Just say that the warp doors have linked with the Temple and will take you directy there. The game already uses this excuse at one point in its story. And don't load a bunch of intermediate areas along the way. Assassin's Creed figured this out in 2007 by just loading a void which let the game load way faster while still having some amount of visual continuity. GOW wastes your time with loading and then acts like it has no loading.

Some of it could have been made up with dialogue between the characters while you're travelling around. The game already has a lot of conversations with the 3 main characters for when you're riding around on boats in the Lake of Nine, the issue is that that's only when you're on boats in the Lake of Nine. If you're on land or anywhere not on the Lake of Nine, tough luck. Get ready for total silence from our characters only to start talking as soon as they enter a boat. You could argue players may get distracted from when characters talk on land. My response to that is 1- navigating on land is basically go to a thing and press O and Kratos will do the thing automatically for you like climb or jump so there's nothing really to distract. 2- The story frequently has bits where the characters talk on land. And 3- Just do what Prince of Persia figured out in 2008 and have a button you can press to have the characters talk more on land so the player can choose if they want something to listen to while navigating boring environments. All this means that you're better off listening to Neil Gamen's audiobook on Norse Mythology or anything else rather than relying on the game's own telling of the lore to keep some of the boredom away.

Finally, while most collectibles just involve pressing O next to them, Ravens require you to throw your axe, and their hitboxes seem a little bugged because if you don't hit them from the exact spot even when your axe goes through them, it won't count.

So what would I fix for the trophies list? Firstly, take away the Niflheim one. It actively detracts from the game. As for the collectibles, I'd say just have a general game completion score instead. Reach 70% completion or something across the game and get the platinum. This is better because it rewards the player for what they find and makes some stuff that isn't counted for the platinum like Realm Tears count in place of collectibles if the player wants it. It also works better in-universe because why would Kratos travel all the way back to a realm like Alfheim when he has no reason to just to find a toy mask he can now get when there are some good chests near his house? I am of the opinion that you should use trophies to highlight the best parts of a game and/or to encourage players to get more fun out of a game. Like a good stealth game encouraging players to ghost an area by rewarding a trophy for it. But GOW's mechanics are limited in this regard. I feel the game would be a better trophy hunting experience if you removed many of the collectible trophies. Maybe have more for upgrading your character or using specific combos?

My entertainment for this adventure was Jonstone's Pokemon Black Randomizer Nuzelock. It was honestly more fun than the game

Now that the trophies are done, let's talk about the game itself.

God of War 2018 is one of the most disappointing, unfocused and boring games I have ever played. It cribs so many mechanics and systems from other games without understanding why they had them or making any attempt to innovate or improve using them. It dumbs down its gameplay to make it boring to play in service of a story that has issues that I honestly wonder why not just skip making a game and make a movie instead. It's a game more concerned with being The Last of Us than it is being a good game. I'm honestly surprised how this game got such an amazing reception, especially from GOW fans when it's such a mess and so mediocre. Looking at it as its own game, it's quite flawed, looking at it as a God of War game and sequel that franchise, it's downright bizarre.

Keep in mind, I ignored this game when it first came out because its gameplay looked very different from what I want from a GOW game It looked like it was trying to be The Last of Us so bad. And while I like The Last of Us, If I want to play TLOU, I'd just play TLOU. I got GOW as an early birthday gift from my dad who remembered I liked the old GOW games. So this isn't me being hyped and disappointed. This is me going in with low expectations and still even more disappointed and baffled at why this game is the way it is.

Let's start with the positives first.

Graphics and animations were cool. Mimir was great and has a lot of dialogue for so many situations. Some story sequences are cool like the first meeting with Baldur and Kratos opening up to Atreus. Atreus was ok, his naviety and wonder at the world was endearing but many of his vocal barks during combat got annoying. Some Norse Mythology stuff looked cool. The ending was nice if a little lacking in impact because you just teleport to the end instead of climbing the one mountain. It doesn't have microtransactions and was made with a lot of care and polish. Seeing Greek Mythology interact with Norse was cool. Spartan Rage was handled well.

Now onto the issues. I'm going to compare this game to both its predecessors because it's still a sequel and to other games because in order to be the "GOAT", it needs to measure up well against them:

Navigation is extremely rigid and uninteresting. You can't even manually jump so traversal is just press O to have the game play itself for you. Press O near a pre-selected gap and Kratos will automatically jump over it requiring no skill or effort from the player. Press O near a pre-selected cliff and Kratos will climb it, requiring you to only point the stick where you want to go and occasionally press O. That's it. What's the gameplay here? What's the challenge? There is none. You can replace a gap with a bridge and nothing would change. Now, other games have similar systems. Climbing in Uncharted is just as simplistic (and I have many greivences with it), but at least in Uncharted 1- There are some cool set pieces attached to climbing, some of which Nate could die and required some effort from the player 2- Climbing could be used alongside stealth and combat and 3- You never had to backtrack through areas you already completed slowly. In Assassin's Creed, climbing is also mostly automated but being a full open world lets the player choose where to climb and what approach to take. 2 players could take different ways into a fort to stealth kill enemies based on where they climb in. So here, even though climbing is simplistic and automated, it still offers the player agency. GOW2018 doesn't do that. It copies climbing from Uncharted because Uncharted had climbing, not because it wanted to do anything with that climbing. I remember there was a tweet where this person asked "what's your most controversial game opinion" and Cory Barlog himself tweeted "Kratos shouldn't jump" and my question is "why?" Why shouldn't Kratos be able to jump? What gameplay benefit is there to not jumping? What do we gain by not being able to jump? Because I tell you what we lose: We lose cool rooms that combine platforming and combat like those cube rooms in GOW3 or Pandora's challenges in GOW1. We lose cool boss fights like with the Fates where the player can swing to avoid attacks and use that to come in to attack. We lose cool puzzles like lining up Harpies and use L1+O to grapple between them, or lining up fireplaces and gliding across them. We lose interesting hidden rooms off the side the player had to jump to access. All this leaves GOW4 with no way to vary its combat encounters or puzzles since the player's base movement is so limited. Not being able to jump means the player has no jump attacks to really juggle an opponent, no jump to avoid certain attacks to vary encounters. So what was the point of removing jumping? It seems it's because it's there to "look realistic" but that doesn't fit because the game has Kratos jumping like crazy in cutscenes. There are so many places in world that would be so easy to get to if Kratos could jump, but no. Kratos, the world's most powerful and wise Spartan, chooses to go around a knee high fence into more dangerous areas just to reach a chest he could have reached with a jump, which breaks immersion more than any of the "realistic" gameplay and camera ever accomplish. It feels less immersive when Kratos could escape poison gas by just jumping a little. I get that games like TLOU didn't have jumping either but that game was set in the real world and featured real characters (and also TLOU2 added in jumping) and was built around that aspect. GOW2018 doesn't do that. It copies TLOU blindly. Imagine if any other game franchise did this. Imagine if the next Halo game took away jumping and every weapon except for shotguns. Imagine if the next Mario game played itself when you got to a pit. What would be the benefit

The combat also has issues. Firstly, the player has so few interesting moves. The pause combos aren't as reliable as your normal ones, some enemy types can't be juggled and instakilled easily. So most fights consist of using all your runic attacks plus your bread and butter combos. The other moves are either not as effective or awkward to use. There's nothing to incentivize or encourage more creative play using what limited tools there are. XP and loot doesn't depend on your performance and you get the same amount regardless of how you perform. In the old GOW games, you were encouraged to be flashy and cool as getting a high combo gave you more Red Orbs, and adding in flourishes like finishers gave you even more red orbs and even health and magic back. On harder difficulties, it became essential to get more out of the combat system since the upgrades would give you more tools to play around and health and magic were always welcome because of how risky combat was and how resources were sorta limited in fights. You also got tons of great moves and magic and abilities to use in combat like the various L1+Face Button attacks, GOW3 had seamless weapon switching allowing you to go wild with combos and have so many options in one chain that it was both fun to play and rewarding because of all the red orbs you were getting. In GOW2018, getting the same xp and loot means there's nothing stopping you from just spamming Executioner's Cleave, Runic Spam and button mashing your way through fights. The camera being so close in and the game's controls being so based on it hurts as well. Combat is made even less fun because you don't have a clear view of the battlefield. The game has to cheat on the player's behalf to accommodate this by making enemies less aggressive when behind the player, limiting how high enemies can be juggled instead of letting the player be capable in dealing with all threats as they see fit. The controls also suffer. Suppose you're fighting a valkryie while locked on to it and want to run to the right. To do that, you need to break the lock on, look to the right (meaning you can't even see the enemy anymore, start sprinting right, then turn back around to look at the enemy. Every other game just lets you strafe right at a decent speed. Lock-on itself is a crapshoot as it breaks when enemies pull the simplest of dodges and just gives up entirely whenever an enemy jumps or goes underground leaving you to have to fight the camera just as much as you're fighting enemies and there's many cheap deaths from this. Kratos also tends to attack in front of where the camera is pointed which can make fighting multiple enemies frustrating as a guy moving slightly to the side means Kratos now is magnetically pulled to another Drauger you weren't targeting. Hell, there's a lot of these magnetic pulls. Enemies will slide to hit even when they were out of range which makes positioning less useful. Even Enemy fireballs will curve midair to try and hit you which can look quite awkward. The game's "solution" is a threat ring around you that indicates oncoming attacks. Except these tell you nothing about what attacks are actually coming. Is it a yellow attack I can parry so I just need to turn around? Is it a projectile I can reflect back or is it one I can only block? I don't know so all I can do is dodge away, oh, and it has to be the long dodge as the short dodge is pointless given the magnetism of enemy attacks. There is a quick turn around with down but that's disorientating and by the time you've turned around and see what's going on, you've already been hit. The old GOW games a had solution that while seeming archaic, accomplished everything GOW2018 is trying to go for. It was a fixed camera that framed the action nicely so you could see everything clearly and respond clearly. If there was an enemy behind Kratos, you could see them starting an attack and respond instantly. Hell, such a camera even helped the game look more cinematic as often there was cool stuff going on the background that you could both see and admire while also killing enemies. Remember the Colussus in GOW2's opening and how cool it was fighting mooks while seeing it try and get you? GOW 2018 doesn't. The game doesn't even need a fixed camera. Just have a dynamic camera. Look at Batman Arkham Asylum as an example. When Batman is walking or in a conversation, the camera is zoomed in closer than GOW2018's camera. When you're in stealth, the camera zooms out and the FOV is adjusted to give you a wide view. When you're in combat it zooms out even more and is slightly overhead to let you see more clearly. Because Batman Arkham Asylum knows that since it has gameplay that relies on the player seeing stuff, it should let them see stuff. It seems that the only reason GOW2018 has such a camera is because TLOU had such a camera. But TLOU was a 3rd person shooter. Having a close camera helps when aiming. The only time GOW benefits is when you're aiming the axe and every other time it's a huge hinderance.


Also, GOW2018 now takes RPG elements from other games. I am not opposed to such a system if it's used well. It can add depth and allow players to fine tune their playstyle, it can encourage exploration. But GOW2018 handles it poorly. Firstly, until Level 10, your stats are useless. Even if you wear armour with better stats, the game will ignore them and only look at level. So if you're a level below an enemy, even if you have better stats, you will take more damage, not less. The reverse is also true. Wear armour with a higher level than the enemy with worse stats and you will take less damage. And since you get level ups at specific intervals, this makes the system needless and redundant since your progress isn't even controlled by the player's actions. Exploration also suffers, aside from how boring traversal is (and how poorly areas are telegraphed so you can't tell if you can't actually explore a place or you can and just need to look for the very specific path to press O to), many of the gear you pickup is useless. I was getting level 3-5s when I was level 6-8. You can only upgrade a piece of gear like 3-4 times max and materials to upgrade them with are very rare if not limited to a couple per playthrough and are specific to specific gear. The best gear is given to the player from crafting them from Brok and Sindiri rather than found in the wild. All this means that 99% of the time, when you're exploring and solve a puzzle or find a chest or treasure map or whatever, you get a useless enchantment or tailsman that's worse than what you already have with a perk like "reduce freeze" even though you never get frozen in this game. The only worthwhile exploration is for health and rage upgrades, so the system is the same as the old GOWs only with a lot more crap in between. And even if you find gear that suits your playstyle and is a good level, you're only going to eventually abandon it once you find anything with a better level. You can't dismantle gear to get resources, just Hacksilver which is already super plentiful. The game does have a decent skill tree which is all it really needed. The Skill tree works a lot better than the gear system because it makes the player objectively more powerful but in order to use said power the player needs to figure out how to incorporate it into their moveset. The issue is that like I said earlier, most of the moves don't add much and worse, many moves make playing worse. Unlike some games, you can't turn off upgrades if they don't mesh with your playstyle. Unlock the Running Heavy Attack and you have to manually stop if you want to do a normal heavy if you were running. Unlock the dodge attack and dodging- attacking can be less useful as Kratos takes an extra step back to do a new axe throw move even all you wanted was to get in close to attack. Unlock counter-heavy and it's much harder to do a counter+Executioner's Cleave.

Let's compare this to Assassin's Creed Odyessy and see how it handles its RPG system, it's a game who made the full jump to an RPG from a franchise that initially wasn't. In that game, any gear you get can be dismantled to get their perks which you can apply to any other weapon which makes exploring for gear feel more rewarding. If you find a piece of gear you truly like and suits you well, you can pay extra to keep upgrading its level based on common materials rather than a one off rare item. Gear scales to your level so you're more likely to find something useful. Oh, and stats matter more than level. You can be a few levels below an enemy but make a build where you wear gear that boosts your Assassin Stat and use a 3x critical strike to instakill enemies so you can actually make distinct builds. The skills can be unequipped and equipped as needed so you don't have conflict with what you could already do.

The game also tries to present itself in one camera "take", which while impressive, comes with a whole set of issues. Many of the transitions between areas can be stretched out as the game needs to keep rendering in the meantime while other games would have just cut to black and loaded faster. It was also likely a huge development sink for resources as areas and cinematics had to be constructed in far more specific ways. But the kicker is that the game doesn't even maintain visual continuity. Being a semi-open world action game with RPG elements, the player frequently has to open menus which breaks visual continuity thus defeating the point of having 1 take in the first place. Other games that have one take like Portal and Half Life are truly in one-take. No menus to open to ruin the experience. And if we count games like Dead Space as having 1 take, they even have a diegetic menu and HUD which go a step further than what GOW does and even does it well.

GOW2018's puzzles are also lacking. No creative set pieces or set ups here. Just boring "throw the axe to freeze a thing", "throw the axe at x things quickly" and "carry Hel's wind". There are basically 2.5 basic puzzles that this game repeats at nausem with no development or improvement.

So simply traversing this world is boring, the combat is more frustrating than enjoyable, the gear system adds nothing but more tedium….. but all that's for is the story. Surely the story would redeem all this?

The Story and Lore also have issues.

Firstly, The prior GOW games never established that other kinds of Gods and Realms can exist and can operate independently from each other. We also never learn how exactly Kratos ends up on Midgard that's so separate from the Greek Lands that GOW3's devastation doesn't affect it or how he changed from GOW3 Kratos and settled with Faye or how he even got the Blades of Chaos back. When we meet Kratos in GOW 2018, he's already moved on from his Angry GOW3 days offscreen. He's no longer consumed by his anger and need for revenge. Kratos whole character development happened off screen. Imagine the Professor Hulk stick from Avengers Endgame where Bruce goes from unable to summon the Hulk in one movie to having merged with him by the next and we see none of that and it's on the main character. Even the Star Wars Sequel Films at least showed us how Luke became so bitter. All this makes his character less interesting since the important stuff that makes him who he is going forward isn't shown. I'm not invested in Kratos struggle since I have no context for why he is the way he is now. I have no invesment in Atreus even though Kratos does because I haven't met him before. When all these characters talk about how great Faye was and how she's leading them on this quest, I'm left wondering what is it about her that's so great? The story wants to have its cake and eat too. It wants us to treat this story as a new start while also referring to events that happened before it to push its story and wants us invested in it without giving us that context.

Hell, even this depiction of Kratos isn't new. GOW1 showed him show his humanity with the hallucinations of his family, Chains with Caliope, 3 with Pandora. And a lot of these sequences were a lot more impactful because of the contrast of how Kratos normally is making his humanity stand out a lot more. GOW2018 doesn't "add" this aspect to Kratos, it just makes it present 24/7 which ironically ends up making Kratos feel a lot more one-note than when he was out there getting his revenge because his revenge at least had him confront more of his inner demons. What's the difference between Kratos at the beginning of GOW3 and at the end? He sees how his revenge has destroyed so much and tries to make some amount of redemption (and spite Athena) by impaling himself with the Blade of Olympus. At the start of GOW2018, Kratos has already achieved his peace and loves Atreus, he just hasn't opened up yet about his past that has had no relevenace so far to the plot and at the end, he opens up because Atreus is sick from not knowing he's a God. Far less dramatic since his feelings or outlook haven't changed, he just gets more confidence. The story also has some big hiccups like Atreus becoming spiteful comes out of nowhere and goes away just as fast. Even Cory Barlog admited they dropped the ball here. I also find the overall conflict with Freya and Baldur less interesting because it has nothing to do with Kratos or Atreus. Hell, why is Mr. "They do not concern us" suddenly now concerned about Freya's wellbeing? Freya doesn't even want him to help.

The storytelling itself hurts the game as a whole. The story has the game be full of boring walking sections or other distractions that kill the pacing. Whether it's carrying a pig for several minutes, or the entire opening section which takes 10 minutes to even get to a fight, going to the mountain-seeing it's blocked by black mist- backtracking back to the Temple (which takes another 10 minutes) – going to Alfheim and fighting through an Elf Civil War to get a light just to clear said mist……. twice. GOW2018 loves wasting your time with slow, boring padding. And don't take it from me. Even Cory Barlog has admitted they were worried the game would be too short so padded it. Even if the story was good, having all these boring segments dilutes their positives as this short story is stretched to its breaking point. All this just makes me ask, if you're making a game where even the very basic act of movement is up to the whims of the story robbing the player of even the most basic agency, where the combat is frustrating to make a cool "cinematic" camera work regardless of how it affects the gameplay, where the entire story is told through cutscenes you can't even skip…… then why not just make a goddamn movie? With a movie or TV show, you control the pacing so the audience doesn't spend hours backtracking through the same area with controls less complicated than Candy Crush, and instantly sees what happens next. And hey, it won't be at least 20 hours long.

The story being exclusive to cutscenes with the gameplay being so unconnected at best and hamstrung at worse feels like a slap to me whenever someone says "GOW2018 shows games have better stories than movies", clearly they don't when being more movie than game is what makes them on par. The sad thing is that the game is frustratingly close to actually nailing something here. According to Cory Barlog, he wanted this game to be about parenting and how "as a parent, you can't do your kids' exam for them, all you can do is prepare them for it". The story has sections where Kratos teaches Atreus but we don't in gameplay but there are systems built in for it. Atreus notices whenever the player does things like trips, stuns or even just swings their weapons in empty rooms. The game also keeps track of little challenges like trip x enemies and has Atreus note things in his journal. Rather than level Atreus through a menu, have the player experiment in combat and have Atreus learn from that. Do trips and Atreus learns how to do them and you can even have some short fun sequences as Atreus tries to pick up from Kratos, now repeat these for some of the other techniques and things specific to enemies and you get a better sense of teaching Atreus. It doesn't even have to be just combat, if you frequently break crates to look for health, you can have Atreus doing them as well based on you. If frequently button spam, Atreus could be more unprepared in combat and thus encourage the player to play better to not have Atreus pick up bad habits. The sky was the limit and this could have been one of the few ways GOW2018 could have made itself feel unique as a game while also telling its rather same old story. I know this can be done because the game actually does something like this once. During his bratty phase, Atreus refuses to listen to the player's commands and will start fights on his own which has the player feel Kratos' confusion and frustration. More of that instead of that being the only instance and the rest being the same story I've played like 4 times already and seen 10 more times as a Movie (seriously, it seems AAA games and movies Love The Road). Of course, the game would need to be shorter to make it feel better but I feel that's worth it.

In Closing, GOW2018 is a very flawed game, nothing it does is truly unique or special. Normally with these kinds of games, I can see the entertainment someone could have here, but I genuinely do not see what's even good about this game, never mind "game of the decade" worthy. There are countless games that do what GOW2018 tries but better. If you want a slow focused story with a close camera done well; play Hellblade. If you want a story with a father/child relationship done better; play The Last of Us or the Walking Dead Season 1. If you want an open world RPG that actually is a good RPG with a flair for the mythological; play Assassin's Creed Odyessy. If you want a game with an amazing in-depth combat system worth mastering; play Devil May Cry. If you want to play a game with 1 camera take and actually do it; play Portal or Half Life. Now, you may say I am being unfair. "GOW isn't that type of game anymore", to that I ask: "why make a sequel?" Why not just make a new IP or actual reboot then? And even as a new game, the new GOW suffers compared to all these other games I compared it to. Let's say I wrote this piece on a different game. I recently played Assassin's Creed Syndicate and while that game was flawed, if I were comparing that game to others, I would never use GOW2018 as a positive example of anything, and for all of Syndicate's faults, it at least accomplished its objective of making you feel like a badass Assassin in Victorian London. Even the older GOWs accomplished their goals of making the player feel like the God of War. I can't say the same for GOW2018. Even Assassin's Creed Odyessy made me feel more like Kratos than GOW2018. And based on how restrictive GOW2018 is, I feel more like a child than a parent. Which is fitting because this game doesn't seem to think very highly of its players ("The boss health is below the screen").

So that brings to the why? Why is GOW2018 like this? From looking at all the behind the scenes material I could, here is my guess: Cory Barlog wanted to make a game about Kratos and his son based on his own life experiences. That's admirable, along the way, they weren't confident in old Kratos' appeal and the success of the new Kratos, so they cribed from other games to try and make something that would appeal to everyone. Everyone likes TLOU so copy that, every game is now an RPG so copy some of these and all this diluted the focus of the game. GOW2018 is now pulled in so many different directions with people unsure of what it actually wants along with Cory trying to make his father/son story with apprehension from Sony Execs. The end result is this. If GOW2018 dialled back on all this fluff and was just an 8 hour game of Kratos and Atreus climbing a mountain with decent combat and no RPG or open world stuff, it might have ended up being more focused and a better game. If the devs were more confident, they could have done what Odyessy did and actually naviagted so many gameplay elements and pulled off an RPG well but that would have required more than what the team imagined. Whatever the case, despite its many, many, many faults GOW2018 is sitting as one of gaming's most cherished despite not deserving it and likely serving as the inspiration for other games going forward. Will GOW Ragnarok be more of the same as a team that's convinced of their own hype sink deeper into their own flaws? Or will it be a chance for the devs to know what they want and actually be able to make it free of interference. Only time will tell. I'll end with saying I don't hate GOW2018 despite all my criticisms. It's clear it was made as an especially artistic work and not some quick soulless cashgrab like Fallout 76. But on the other hand, I had more fun with Fallout 76 because it at least it was a game from beginning to end and not a movie masquerading as one that robbed what little agency I had.

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