I was struggling at the beginning of this game since I chose to play it for the first time on Give Me God of War difficulty. I was looking for advice on google on how to play the game properly, but I honestly ignored most of it because I didn't really find it that useful so I wanted to make this post for anyone else who's getting into the game because of sales or something:
Early game is definitely the hardest part of the game until you do the optional content, every time you unlock a new feature, the game gets easier since the enemies don't really get harder mechanically, they just get more HP and more damage. If you're struggling early on, that's normal and don't be disheartened by it for the rest of the game. Now onto the actual advice!
Your bread and butter moves in the early game:
Executioner's Cleave is probably the first skill you should get, it's just all around good for finishing off enemies (but not really for damage at the start of the fight) because the execution animation makes you safe from enemy attacks the entire time.
Mashing R1 or using the R1 + R1 + R1 + R2 combo is a noobtrap IMO, the attacks are too slow and especially the 4th hit combo makes you especially vulnerable due to the long animation, the only time these combos are worth doing is barehanded because of the extra stun damage and knockback into the wall of the 4th hit. Instead, do R1 -> L1 -> R1 -> L1 -> repeat. (Note your bindings might be different but for me R1 = Light Attack, R2 = Heavy Attack, L1 = Block). Doing this results in your animation cancelling your attacks with blocks, greatly increasing your safety and damage.
The last thing to keep in mind is your bread and butter combo, demonstrated
The combo performed is while holding down Aim (L2 for me), axe throw SPECIFICALLY at the legs to knock your enemy down (R1, possibly turn the aim assist off if it messes up your aim), dodge into the enemy (O or X, for me it's O), then immediately after Light Attack (R1). This results in a quick axe throw and dashing punch to your enemy. Early on I had issues dealing with the amount of enemies around me and enemies firing projectiles at me, this combo's mobility lets you get around the map dealing damage while keeping ahead of mobs and projectiles.
Follow-ups to this combo are continue to R1 barehanded, L1 animation cancelling isn't as necessary as it is with the axe since the animations aren't as bad, I usually do this if the enemy is close to stunning or by a wall. Alternatively, you can press Triangle to recall your Axe and just attack with the axe if the enemy's health is low. Regardless, DO NOT FORGET TO USE ATREUS his arrow damage and stun is incredibly important, make sure to not miss out on his damage unless you need to save his arrows to cancel certain enemy attacks/defenses.
Fun fact, you can also use the above trick (with practice)
to navigate areas and fights far quicker than sprinting.
Your axe throws are an incredibly safe way to clear early levels, don't be afraid to abuse it. At the same time though, the Axe Throw skills aren't a really big priority because they won't impact how well you can clear content, just how fast you can clear it, kind of a win-more skill IMO. I'd avoid it early on when you don't have that much XP to spare.
I learned a lot of these mechanics from God Breaker Games, definitely check him out for more in-depth tutorials if you're interested in what I posted here.
The very first skill I would get is Agile Strike under Shield Combat, this is the skill I show off in the bread and butter combo. Insanely useful, pick it up right away.
Executioner's Cleave is a pretty good buy for the reasons I mention earlier but honestly if you're not having any trouble, you can skip it. This skill is mainly there to help players who are kind of struggling dealing with the enemies early on.
Avoid Axe Throw (Ranged Combat) skills because they don't really help you in situations that are bad, only in situations that are already pretty favorable.
Atreus skills are exceptionally helpful, especially Teamwork, Acrobatics, and Ferocity which you should rush right away as it really helps take away the stress of fights vs. multiple enemies which IMO are kind of unfair in the early stages of the game. Atreus power upgrades are really strong on lower difficulties but aren't as impactful on higher difficulties, don't ignore them but don't level into them until you've already got all the skills of an equal or lower cost that I mention you need.
Sprinting attacks are all really good since you'll be sprinting around the battlefield a lot, I'd place these at a pretty high priority, just below the first 3 Atreus skills I mention earlier.
Countering Blast under shield combat is so insanely useful. Others may disagree but I think it's really overpowered. You get so much utility from the skill aside from not having to mess up your positioning dodging projectiles all the time, it naturally synergizes with L1 + R1 animation cancelling, even if you fuck it up you still block the projectile, and if you parry, it gives you invincibility frames to dodge multiple incoming attacks. One trick I abused a lot was to leave the Ranged enemies alive and just keep redirecting their attacks back at the melee enemies for a safe source of DPS while not having to worry about having to aim at the Ranged enemies and DPS them down before they enraged. I definitely think this is probably one of the best 3 skills in the game, pick it up ASAP.
Slightly less important but still important are Block Break and Countering Strike. Mobs are a huge source of difficulty in this game and Countering Strike allows you to break up those mobs and make encounters more manageable. Possibly get it anywhere between 3rd skill after Countering Blast and Agile Strike, to 6th skill after those 2 and the 3 Atreus skills.
Stance Change Skills – I never found the Axe's skills that useful but the Blades of Chaos has a very good stance change skill. It can be awkward to use these during a fight though so I only ever used them during Amulet of Kvasir slow down time procs
Runic Attacks – Wolf summon was the best for Atreus, I literally cannot think of a situation where I wanted something else
Hel's Touch is the Light Runic attack I use if I'm trying to stun enemies, but overall I think Tyr's Revenge is easier to use due to the longer duration. But later on in the game, I found Njord's Tempest to be the best Runic Attack Because you could switch to your Blades of Chaos and use its Runic Attacks during the Tempest for minimal DPS loss. Wrath of the Frost Ancient is really OP vs. Ancients, especially if you get a Slow Time dodge to use it.
For Heavy Runic attacks, just use Ivaldi's Hammer until you get Glaive Storm. Mists of Helheim and Frost Giant's Frenzy feel like they might have some niche use but honestly I don't care because Glaive Storm is just so overpowered.
For your other weapon – The Light Runic Attacks all are kinda meh IMO, I like Blast of Hephaestus the most because it's one hit so it's hard for bosses to jump out of it unlike the multiple hit attacks that are really unreliable but Wrath of Artemis is okay for stunning and Spartan Charge is decent for gapclosing on enemies.
Heavy Runic Attacks are basically just Hyperion Slam for encounters, Hyperion Grapple for bosses, not sure if the others are good for anything
What gear should I be using?
Early on just prioritize Strength, then either Defense, Runic, or Cooldown. Luck and Vitality are wasted stats because you'll never stack enough health to really matter, it's better to just build damage so you kill enemies faster and reduce your chance of getting hit as a result. Later on, you'll unlock more Runic Attack slots, and by the time you get your second weapon, I'd recommend focusing more on Runic and Cooldown, then Strength as you can use Runics for damage more reliably in encounters. Luck is a troll stat just ignore it, Vitality too to a lesser extent, then Defense is okay as a bonus not really worth considering.
WHAT REALLY MATTERS MOST IS YOUR LEVEL. I really hate the level system in this game because it even controls whether or not enemies get stunned by your attacks, which is so impactful that I cannot stress how important it is to fight enemies that are the same level or lower than you. When you get to endgame, I find the best gear to use is Sindri Chest, Valkyrie Wrist and Waist, and if you're bad at dodging, Shattered Gauntlet with the correct enchantments (google it) Kvasir is the best talisman because the slow time on dodge effect is OP, the one you manually activate isn't nearly as good IMO but becomes very useful against Ancients or when you get the Kvasir Enchantment to replace the Kvasir Talisman that activates on dodge. Either of the Atreus armors are good except the one that picks up healthstones. Grips don't really matter, I just use them for levels, ones that give you Burst of Strength or Protective Barrier are preferable though IMO
Depends on the monster, I don't remember what anything is called but I'll try to be descriptive. Generally you should focus on one monster at a time but later in the game when you have more Runic Attacks you should just spam your runic attacks as much as you can. Early on I just use the runic attacks to counter attack when enemies are about to hit since runic attacks will stun them if you're levelled properly.
Nightmares are generally easy to kill and are annoying af so you should kill them first. An exception I can think of is if there's a slow moving enemy that's also high level so that your Axe isn't that effective against, or a large area where you can kite the enemies, it might be worth it to just leave the revenants alive and redirect their attacks back at the enemies and save your Axe throw for cancelling other enemies when they're about to empower.
Ranged enemies other than the Nightmares are usually harder to deal with because they tend to be positioned in ways that are harder to reach in my experience. If they're on the ground and far from anything, I'll rush them down but if they're above ground or surrounded by enemies, I'll just ignore them and parry their attacks back at them or other enemies depending on how easily they die (many ranged attackers die in one parry, but some don't).
Revenants are really annoying, either kill them right away or kill them last depending on how good you are at dodging their attacks, personally I like turning on Rage of Sparta when they jump away to catch them without any risk, then turning it off again when I catch up to them and just attack them with my axe or preferably a runic attack. Revenants can break out of your stunlock so just use your Runic Attacks that hit hard in one hit against them.
Dark Elves are too tanky to deal with IMO, they're really overtuned for the portion of the game they appear in. Don't even bother trying to use Leviathan Axe for anything other than Runics for stun like Hel's Touch IMO, unless they get low health then maybe Executioner's Cleave. Usually just use the bread and butter combo, and Barehand + Atreus them to death either by knocking them off edges or into walls and filling their stun meter. Rush down the summoners with the sprinting attack -> runic attack -> bread and butter combo or L1 + R1 -> Executioner's Cleave if they're low.
In Helheim you'll find these corpse looking things that just sprint at you with no weapons literally just spam the Blades of Chaos heavy attack (honestly works for pretty much everything in Helheim, very weird portion of the game in terms of balance). Make sure to reposition constantly so you don't get surrounded by them.
Ancients – Use Wrath of the Frost Ancient if you can. Roll into their beam attacks because the invincibility frames will save you. Not much to say about this.
Traveler – USE THE KVASIR TALISMAN. Their attacks are super telegraphed, super easy to last second dodge. NEVER use your full 4 hit combo, just use L1 + R1 animation cancelling because if you use your full combo, you'll just get stuck in the 4th hit animation and they'll hit you during it.
That's it I think? Nothing else to really say that I couldn't find elsewhere or isn't straightforward. If you have any other advice you think might help comment it and I'll edit it into the post if I'm able to.
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