The latest entry in the God of War series has changed the formula a lot from previous entries, and understanding how this new adventure works can be confusing both for returning fans and new players.
The sections below will outline what you can expect to find in God of War, without spoiling any major plot points or story elements, instead focusing on basic mechanics and structure.
God of War 2018 isn’t a reboot, but it is set far and away from the lands of Greece that Kratos adventured in during past titles that this game may as well be a brand new take. While there are certain callbacks to his past, you won’t have to play the previous titles to understand what’s going on in this story.
EditDad’s got a Brand New Axe
Kratos also has a new weapon this time around – the Leviathan Axe. It may not be quite like the Blades of Chaos, but it can be used in a variety of ways: performing light and heavy attacks and combos, freezing certain objects, and thrown at enemies and the environment, which can be called back to you at the press of a button.
Even without his new axe, Kratos can also engage in hand-to-hand combat that may deal less damage, but can rapidly stun enemies to set up for a finishing blow. He also has a retractable shield used for blocking incoming attacks, and can offset enemies by holding up the shield at the last moment.
Combat is no longer zoomed out as it was in previous titles, as now combat goes from over the shoulder in a much tighter method that will zoom out a bit as combat unfolds. Kratos cannot lock on to enemies, but can easily move between targets with his attacks, and can do a quick turn pivot by holding down on the D-Pad. Even with a more focused style, you can still string together combo attacks with weapons and Atreus’ arrows, combined with juggling enemies in the air with heavy attacks or smashing them into the environment or each other.
While previous titles in the God of War series were a bit more linear in design, this God of War is a bit more open – but only to a certain extent.
The main journey that Kratos and his son embark on will take them through certain regions of Midgard. Many of these region hide collectibles, chests, and other items that can be found off the beaten path or behind puzzling contraptions – though the routes don’t get too big.
However, there are certain regions that open up to allow exploration over a greater area that hides many other regions – and even hidden regions that can easily be missed. These smaller areas aren’t related to your main journey, but often hide collectibles, side quests, and other mysteries.
In addition, upgrades and abilities gained over time may unlock certain areas or treasures that weren’t available earlier – similar to the Legend of Zelda or Tomb Raider.
The world of the Norse people is still big enough that there are areas to traverse by boat, and a sort of fast travel eventually becomes available.
EditMad Dad and his Rad Lad
Kratos’ has a son named Atreus that will join him on his adventures, and must quickly learn how to aid his father in combat.
While he starts off weak, Atreus’ combat abilities should not be underestimated. With a command from Kratos, Atreus can fire off arrows that can damage and distract enemies that Kratos is targeting. Arrows fired by command will deplete his quiver, which recharges over time.
As Atreus grows in ability, he’ll be able to rapid-fire less damaging arrows on his own, and distract, knock down, or choke enemies in close combat that can set up enemies for Kratos to hit with a big attack.
As you adventure through the realms of the Nordic Gods, you’ll start to find currency and crafting ingredients that can be used at dwarven shops to create and upgrade a variety of goods.
Here you can improve your weapons for both Kratos and the boy, buy armor, and upgrade them to improve their capabilities. You’ll also eventually get sockets for armor that interchangeable enchantments can be placed in.
All these items and more can be purchased for the hacksilver you find in chests, urns, and on corpses, as well as from defeating enemies. Certain armor and other items will also need specific crafting components to forge: Once you either find these ingredients or discover the items that need them, you can check your resources page for more info on where to find more.
EditGaining Levels, and also Experience
Kratos has an interesting way of becoming stronger over the course of your adventure. There are two measurements: your level and your experience, that work in different ways.
Instead of gaining experience to increase in level – experience is instead a type of currency used to purchase skills for your weapon abilities, and also used to upgrade certain Runic Abilities. Experience is gained in many ways: from completing quests and side quests, finding collectibles, killing monsters, and more.
Since experience does not factor into your overall level, it is your weapons and armor that instead determine the level of Kratos’ prowess. As you find, equip, and upgrade your armor and weapon, you’ll gain more points in the main stats that include:
- Strength – increases damage for all attacks.
- Runic – Increases both Runic Attack and Elemental damage.
- Defense – Reduces all damage taken.
- Vitality – Increases maximum health and decreases time stunned from enemy attacks.
- Luck – Increases perk activation chance from Enchantments, and increases XP and hacksilver gained.
- Cooldown – Reduces recharge time of Runic Attacks and Summons, as well as Talismans.
your level and the stats you have increased will determine how effective you are in combat against enemies. If you are close or above their level, their health bar will be green. Tough enemies have orange health bars, and those far above your power will have purple health bars.
There’s no right way to increase your stats, as different armor sets and enchantments offer different stat bonuses – it’s up to you to figure out which stats you want to focus on to reflect your playstyle.
God of War can be a bit challenging, but there are a few things you can do to make the grand Nordic adventure easier on yourself.
Those pots, boxes, and miscellaneous containers lying around may look innocuous, but sometimes you’ll find Healthstones, and even more importantly, Hacksilver! Most of these finds are paltry, but overtime your efforts will amount to a great fortune. Sometimes though, you’ll be lucky and find a hoard of hundreds or even thousands hidden in odd places.
There are more than just Artifacts to scour for in the Nine Realms. There are also Nornir Chests (the chests locked with runes), which grant health bar and rage bar boosts;Legendary Chests, with Runic Attacks inside; Odin’s Ravens, which grant XP as part of a Labor, and a few more which are sure to help you become stronger. Keep those eyes peeled and explore.
You can see a list of Labors under the Goals tab in the menu. Keep them in mind as you continue your journey so you can actively work toward earning that sweet extra XP they grant.
It’s worth mentioning that XP doesn’t affect Kratos’ or Atreus’ level. You have to use the XP you earn for it to mean anything! Every so often, check the Skills tab, and SPEND the XP. You can tab over the different sections with the D-Pad. XP may seem scarce at first, but you’ll be swimming in it eventually, so use it on the Skills related to the attacks you the most.
Check out the video below for 7 Skills to Get First if you’re unsure what to spend your hard-earned XP on.
See the Gaining Levels, and also Experience section above for more detailed information on leveling up Kratos.
Occasionally you’ll run into an out-of-sorts enemy that is a few levels above you. If you’re intent on killing it, try keeping your distance – I mean, really, stay as far away as possible – and continuously throw your Leviathan Axe at the enemy’s weakpoints if it has them. Probably not as exciting as close-ranged combat, but definitely safer and more reliable.
EditWandering Doesn’t Mean You’re Lost
If you’re having a hard time, take Atreus’ advice and divert off the beaten path of the Region you’re in. There are a ton of hidden areas accessible by boat in the Lake of Nine, for example.
Do some exploring, and you very well may walk away with some rare Armor, Enchantments, Runic Attacks, or Axe Pommels. Plus, plenty of extra XP for more skills and Hacksilver for better Armor!
EditBuy and Upgrade Armor
Like XP, don’t be stingy with Hacksilver. Because XP doesn’t affect you’re strength, all of your stats are reliant on your gear. You can tell if a new piece of Armor or Upgrade will positively or negatively impact Kratos’ level by the green (positive) or red (negative) triangles that appear next to the level in the Shop menu.
Note that most armor can be upgraded (for far less than it costs for the initial purchase), but they will eventually reach a cap. For this reason, you may want to focus on buying or finding one set of armor to fully upgrade based on your stat preferences – then wait for more armor to become available as the story progresses to buy and upgrade a new set as better tiers become available.
You can always get more Hacksilver, so use it!
We don’t mean literally, but pay attention to his equipment and Skills as much as Kratos’. His armor gives him extra abilities that will help you in combat, like passing you Healthstones or giving you opportunities to do extra damage.
Purchasing his Skills makes Atreus much more useful and active in combat as well. Plus, Atreus’ stuff is generally significantly cheaper to purchase than Kratos’, so get to it. You’ll regret it if you wait, and with enough skill and gear invested in him, he’ll become one of the most useful tools in your arsenal.