God of War‘s 2018 release is easily one of modern gaming’s greatest accomplishments. If you’ve been lucky enough to get your hands on a shiny new PS5 (or you’re hoping Santa might be particularly kind this year), you may already have it by default. Having God Of War and not playing it, especially on PS5, should be considered some sort of crime.
It’s included in the fantastic selection of games you get for subscribing to PlayStation Plus on PS5, and it was updated to take advantage of the newer console’s increase in power. God Of War now runs at a solid 60FPS in 4K, performance equatable to how the game’s PC version will look when it releases in January.
But that’s old news. I’m currently replaying the game for the first time since 2018, determined to finally bear down on that infamous optional boss fight with as much practice as possible. And let me tell you, if this game had launched as a PS5 title, nobody would bat an eyelid. It’s practically indistinguishable from some of the console’s most visually spectacular titles.
All of this is compounded by the sheer excellence the game exhibits at every turn. Whether it’s the impactful, nuanced combat or the sprawling epic of a story, this is a game for the ages. It currently exists at a level of quality that will see it through potentially generations of play. And this is a game built for hardware technically about ten years old by now. It’s impressive stuff.
Of course, if you don’t have a PS5, you’ll be able to experience the game in much the same way when it releases on PC next month, and I probably don’t need to sell you on how cool that’s going to be. So many more players are going to be infinitely tossing and recalling the symbolic Leviathan axe in a just a few weeks, and that makes me incredibly happy.
God of War is emblematic of the gaming industry growing up in so many ways. Looking back at how this franchise started – a rage-fuelled action game that drowned players in breasts, glorified violence and gallons of blood – it’s hard to believe that it’s now telling such an emotional story. It is a reinvention in some ways, and a fantastic example of character growth in others.
Do I need to play the original games to enjoy God of War 2018?
No. Not in the slightest. In fact, for many people, I expect playing through that entire gamut of games would probably put them off playing God Of War entirely. That’s not to say that those games aren’t good, because they were amazing for the time. Even God Of War 3 – a PS3 title – still holds up to this day. But they’re certainly very different from the experience God Of War offers, and playing them doesn’t really contribute to it in any way.
There’s no background information you need beyond what the game organically reveals anyway. Kratos is a fallen champion of the Greek gods, he was betrayed by them a bunch of times. The first betrayal saw him tricked into killing his wife and young daughter. Driven by inhuman rage, eventually becoming a god himself, he wiped out the entire pantheon and found himself in Midgard – the land of Odin, Thor, and really big snakes.
Kratos seems to be trying to live out his life peacefully, but the gods have other plans. He’s fathered another son, their relationship is difficult, and what plays out from the outset is a powerful, personal story. It’s contrasted sharply against godly drama, but every element of this game comes together into a glorious whole.
So – play it on PS5 if you can. Play it on PC when it launches next month. Dust off a PS4 and play it on that. Just play this game if you haven’t already. It’s a media masterpiece – enough said.