Like an ancient Norse myth that sat dormant for years before seeping into the zeitgeist, God of War Ragnarok is coming. First teased last year, the much-anticipated sequel to 2018’s God of War finally popped up last week as the splashy capstone of a PlayStation showcase.
The first significant gameplay reveal packed a lot into three minutes, including sweeping vistas and some moments of combat, all alongside characters old (Mimir! Freya! Brok!) and new (Thor! Angrboda!). God of War Ragnarok is still a ways off, with a broad 2022 release, but we’re officially at that moment in the hype cycle where the info drip feed starts info-drip-feeding. Here’s what you should know.
Like its 2018 predecessor, God of War Ragnarok will deploy what’s colloquially known as the “guaranteed to make NYU film boys talk about your project” technique. In other words, it’ll play out over one, unbroken scene. Ragnarok narrative director Matt Sophos confirmed as much on Twitter.
Cory Barlog, who directed the 2018 game, is passing the torch. Heading up Ragnarok is Eric Williams, who’s worked on the series since 2004. But Barlog is still involved with the game. Here’s Williams describing their collaborative process to IGN:
There were tough times, I’ll be straight up honest, where he was like, ‘Hey, I think you’re messing this part up. Look at it again.’ And I’d be like, ‘Okay, fuck you.’ And I’d walk out of the office and then come back like 10 minutes later and be like, ‘God damn it. You’re right. Let me go look at that.’ Then other times he’d be like, ‘Hey, I thought about that thing again. Maybe don’t put as much stock into that as I was saying.’
You saw him (or, well, his hammer) pop up at the end of last week’s trailer. But the God of Thunder isn’t the only member of the Norse pantheon to make an appearance in Ragnarok. His dad, Odin, will also pop up, voiced by Richard Schiff, best known as Toby on The West Wing. Both father and son are presumably pissed about the deaths of their kin by Kratos’ violent hand in the first game.
Norse mythology famously features nine realms. The 2018 game let you visit, with varying degrees of depth, six of them: Alfheim, Helheim, Jotunheim, Midgard (where much of the game takes place), Muspelheim, and Nilfheim. Three others—Svartalfheim, Vanaheim, and the glimmering mead hall of Asgard—remained gated off. You’ll visit all nine in Ragnarok.
But, as Williams told IGN, you won’t just retread old ground for two-thirds of the game. Ragnarok is set in the throes of Fimbulwinter, an earth-changing event that precedes Ragnarok by three years. For Midgard, that means a layer of frost. For the other eight realms, though, it’s not necessarily a permanent winter. Expect changes to the six regions you visited in the first game.
In Ragnarok’s gameplay reveal trailer, you may have spotted a moment in which Kratos uses the Blades of Chaos—twin knives attached to long chains—to grapple to and shamble up a ledge. That’s because, unlike the first game, fights in God of War Ragnarok won’t just largely exist on a flat plane. Williams told IGN that Ragnarok will have some degree of verticality, and teased an “almost king of the hill”-style mode of combat.
But when God of War Ragnarok does come out some time next year, it’ll do so on both PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 5.