God of War

Some Gameplay / Combat Critiques I have about GOW and hope are tuned up in Ragnarok

God of War 2 - Some Gameplay / Combat Critiques I have about GOW and hope are tuned up in Ragnarok

Most of these critiques have come from my 1st and currently 2nd playthrough on GMGOW difficulty. I’ll also inadvertently discuss what I love about the combat as well and why it holds a delicious amount of depth as an action game. There’s spoilers about a certain weapon and in general in this post as well. The first part is about the RPG mechanics, and the other is about the actual combat itself. These are just my opinions, I love the hell out of this game and I welcome criticism of my own ideas for this game’s gameplay as well.

RPG Mechanics 1. Having or favoring certain attributes in order to make a “build” is basically nigh non-existent until about 40%-50% through the game (I’d say a little after you first encounter Mimir). On one hand I can understand why it’s designed this way because these attributes can make you very powerful if you had them in abundance early on. On the other hand, because getting 1-4 points into anything except Strength & Defense (and maybe Luck) is so minuscule when it comes to the other stats, you’re basically not encouraged to utilize these other RPG elements because they’re very punishing if you do (especially on GMGOW).

I’m willing to let this one slide because there are a lot these gameplay elements that are introduced slowly throughout the game, so things like Runic, Cooldown, Vitality, and Luck aren’t as important early on, but I feel like they certainly take too long to become more of a factor when considering your play style.

  1. Gear shouldn’t have an impact on your level, instead you should have to spend XP to level up and the only significance your level would have is for further unlocking the skill tree (which you also use XP to unlock). So rather than leveling up your weapon to unlock skills, it just increases the stat that it’s tied to. So upgrading your Axe should give you 20 more base Strength (up to 100, so 5 times), your Blades 15 more base Runic (up to 75), and I believe your Shield should also be upgraded to give you 10 more base defense (up to 50), and even a way to level up your Rage which would level up your Vitality by 12 (up to 60), and Atreus’s Arrows which would level up your Runic by 8 each (up to 40).

The reason why is because the game gives you many opportunities to gain (and even farm) XP. They practically give it away, from the Labors, Main Missions, and Side Quests. And with the Luck stat, it only takes about 10 Luck for a labor to go from giving you 500 XP to 700+ XP. I’ve done every side quest and almost all the labors and I never run out of XP (I have run out of Hacksilver though once I started Niflheim).

  1. The other reason why I don’t think your level should be tied to gear is because many times I’d have to sacrifice my gear for a higher level set at the expense of my play style, even if the stat gains are small (or in some cases have even less stats overall). The reason why that matters is because, even above your stats, if an enemy is a higher level than you, they will do a proportionally larger amount of damage to you and take less damage from you. Even how deep you are into the level matters, so for example, it’s not enough to be level 5 and another enemy is level 5, once your halfway through level 5 that’s when their health bar turns from yellow to green (the enemy becomes weaker), but rearrange your gear or talismans that lower the blue meter on your level indicator to just barely having leveled up and then suddenly the enemy health bar goes from green to yellow (the enemy becomes stronger).

There’s an interesting RPG system set in place but none of that matters if you aren’t the same level as the enemies, which I think kind of destroys the point of having stats in the first place. Some gear can have lower stats than others but because it’s a higher level or a more rare kind of gear then it’ll level you up more, which again, when it comes to the enemy scaling, that’s what rules above anything else.

  1. Speaking of, I mentioned that I think the only purpose leveling up should have is to unlock more of the skill tree, well I also think that enemies shouldn’t even have a leveling system. I still think that on GMGOW they should be able to “level up”, but just buff them to where they have about 40% more base stats once they do. Instead of a scaling system that’s based on enemy levels, just increase every enemy’s base stats for every chapter by 5-30% (excluding side quests as well as Muspelheim and Nilfheim).

So in chapter 1 let’s say Draugr have 6 Strength and 8 Defense, once chapter 2 starts that’s when they have stronger stats, say 8 Strength and 11 Defense. I think having a flat percentage of scalability provides way more freedom for how to build your Kratos, rather than just making it all about having the rarest gear with the highest level.

  1. And as a side note, even on GMGOW, you’ll get pretty OP if you explore and do all the side quests as soon as they’re available. Now I don’t mind this that much because you earned it but because of the nature of the RPG mechanics you’ll reach a point where you won’t have to utilize different techniques anymore in order to survive a battle (more on those in particular later). So for example there are some skills that are harder for enemies to interrupt than others, it’s an essential part of the move itself. Vitality helps increase the chances of you not being interrupted by an enemy attack but even if you have barely any Vitality at all it won’t matter because you’re just that much higher of a level than they are. It seems like the higher your base level is the more powerful you are in Strength, Defense, and Vitality regardless of whatever stats you actually have (which again is likely because the enemy scaling is heavily dependent on this factor).

Okay, now for the combat itself.

  1. Generally speaking I feel like the transition between the OG God of War games to these new ones were extremely solid. In my opinion it’s undoubtedly more in-depth and more satisfying to kill enemies in this game than the originals, this one is a lot more “grounded” in the sense that Kratos is a bit more bulky and slow which gives off a sense of his combat feeling more realistic and believable. Oddly enough, I found the bosses to be a lot more fun in the older games, probably because they were more cinematic and usually very over the top with QTEs that usually involved killing the boss with their own weapon or using the environment against them.

Other than most boss fights, killing enemies feels good because the sheer variety in move sets and combat mechanics are pretty insane, and I have very few problems with the combat (most of my problems with this game comes from the audio and RPG mechanics). I won’t go into every detail here but I do feel that before I start complaining that it warrants mentioning that this game’s combat is delicious and one of the few games that make me feel like a badass because of how I use the character and not just because of a QTE.

  1. With that being said, I think the elemental properties of Kratos’s and Atreus’s weapons are just a little underutilized. If the devs wanted this game to have RPG mechanics, why wasn’t there an aspect of the game that emphasizes what elements that enemies are weak to? So, the Axe is Frost damage, Melee & Shield does Stun damage, Blades are Fire damage, Light Arrows inflict Weakness damage, and Shock Arrows do Electric damage, right? Well in this game while they do have physical properties, I feel that alongside them there should have been inherit enemy weaknesses that are more susceptible to taking higher damage from particular damage types, that way there’s a reason to use EVERYTHING besides just for the physical properties they have.

And about Stun, I know that Stun isn’t an elemental property in the game and every enemy has a Stun meter, but I think the game could make it one alongside having the Stun meter mechanic, and instead make Light Arrows still have properties that increase the Stun METER better than the Shock Arrows can, but still make Light Arrows primarily about inflicting Weakness on enemies.

  1. Speaking of Atreus’s Arrows, I rarely found myself having to use Light Arrows once I unlocked the Shock Arrows. I have found it useful a few times in the Muspelheim trials so it may have been just because I haven’t experimented enough with them, but I find that Light Arrows provide diminishing returns as a means of increasing Stun or doing any damage in comparison to the Shock Arrows, especially since the electricity can chain between enemies.

  2. In my first playthrough on GMGOW I found that I preferred the Blades over the Axe, but this time around I felt like the Axe just had more diverse uses than the Blades do. The overall consensus is that the Axe is better for taking out singular targets while the Blades are better for crowd control but the Axe also has a lot of crowd control options as well, such as the sprinting jump-and-slam attack, the R1, R1, R1, R2 slam attack, the multi-target axe throw, and the stance switching attacks all are forms of crowd control. The Blades are a bit faster, but with what seems to me an even less diverse move set, which I found not to be worth swapping to the Blades for.

Being able to send fire elemental damage through the chains when you throw them at someone is pretty cool and useful if you’re into the Runic stat, and chaining enemies towards you like Scorpion never gets old. Other than that, I don’t usually use the Blades unless I want to use the Runic attacks and I don’t have enough time to swap to another weapon among the chaos of getting swarmed.

  1. That also brings up another point, I understand this game is supposed to feel more realistic, but I feel like swapping between weapons is too slow. I can appreciate for the sake of tone that it actually takes a bit of time to swap between your arsenal, but I feel like it ruins the pacing and adrenaline rush you get when facing a battle. On a certain level I think it’s a clever way of making the player commit to their weapon because swapping it at the wrong time can punish you and can even mean your death in some cases, it gives off a Dark Souls kind of vibe to the gameplay.

With that said, I’m sorry to say this but I don’t think Dark Souls is the pinnacle of good combat, I think it’s pretty mediocre actually (with the exception of Bloodborne, but that’s another discussion lol). I know it’s not THAT slow but I still think it could be just a touch faster, and I don’t think Kratos should slow down his movement speed when swapping weapons either.

  1. And my final, not too serious criticism on the gameplay would have to be that the bosses aren’t all that cool. All of Baldur’s fights were badass to watch AND play. The dragon in the mines was really awesome my first time seeing it but overall the fight itself wasn’t all that intriguing, more so annoying on repeat play throughs. Magni & Modi were alright, and the Valkyries were pretty good for the most part, but nothing that really blew me away.

And that’s basically it, another thing outside of the gameplay I hope we get out of Ragnarok is to introduce two more weapons, introduce the use of items (such as Mimir’s head both inside and outside of combat, not just in cutscenes), explore more diverse environments (I’m particularly excited to see Vanaheim), and fight many more of the Norse Gods.

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