Worth the Wait? (God of War: Ragnarok)

Contributed by DJMMT

I loved the original God of War (2005). Not just for it’s amazing gameplay and epic graphics of the time. I also loved the story. The setting, use of Greek mythology, and adherence to the writing style of the source material in how characters, including Kratos himself, were written and portrayed was great. I also respect the fact that even though they did end up making several sequels, the end of the first game closes with a hard conclusion. There are no massive unanswered plot holes. No glaring conflicts to be resolved. The game simply ends with the expectation/understanding that this very well could be the only time we ever encounter Kratos, and at the time that was fine. It’s so sad to see how the games industry has gone since then. Everything needs multiple sequels, plots are never wrapped up properly, and everything needs to be retreaded, remade, and reused. It’s extremely rare to see something like the original God of War made at AAA level today. Some companies, like Ubisoft, have outright said that they will no longer be making standalone one-off stories.

When they announced a sequel for God of War, I was ecstatic. Though the game absolutely didn’t need a second installment story wise, it was such a beloved game that it garnered enough praise and demand for a sequel. That’s how games used to work. The industry didn’t tell us that another game in a series would be made. We used to tell them which games were deserving of a sequel. I bought God of War II day one. And I had no regrets about that decision. It was an excellent game. But already we could see the franchise, the company, and the games industry falling into the norm we have today. Games were no longer about telling the best stories. They were about hooking people into unfinished plots and manipulating them into buying a sequel. God of War II, as good as it is, and it is, has one of the worst, or rather unfulfilling, endings I’ve ever seen in a video game. It ends in the worlds biggest cliff hanger by literally having Kratos and an army of Titans hanging on the side of a cliff at the end of the game, as they climb to the top of Mount Olympus to fight the gods. To be clear, it was still an excellent game.

I did not get to play God of War III in the opening week, because I didn’t own a PS3 at that time. I ended up watching a friend play it opening day. Later, he let me borrow his PS3 so I could play it. Sometime after that, I ditched my XBOX 360, for unrelated reasons, got my own PS3, and eventually got God of War: Ascension on day one. I consider it the weakest of the games in the series. And yes, that does include the handheld titles Ghost of Sparta and Chains of Olympus. Both of which I played ports of on PS3. Yet I did not regret buying Ascension. Though I was a little flustered that they tricked me into paying for a season pass that ultimately added no single player campaign DLC. I still ended up getting the platinum trophy. Years later, I bought God of War (2018) day one on PS4.

With the exception of God of War III, I have played every home console God of War game the week of release. It’s basically a tradition going back nearly two decades. While I am super excited for God of War: Ragnarok, it is with a heavy heart that I must accept that I won’t be playing it day, or even week, one. I wanted to purchase the Jotnar Edition. To be more precise, I want the pin set and the hammer. It really irritates me that the pin set isn’t available with the Collector’s Edition, because that’s literally the only additional item not included in the CE that I want. Honestly, if I could just buy the pin set in the Santa Monica Studio store, I’d do that and just buy the digital deluxe edition and call it a day. Sadly, I was not able to find a Jotnar Edition here in Taiwan. I don’t even know if that edition will be available here. Though we often get those kinds of things, so I’m not sure why that would be. That being said, we did not get the Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice Collector’s Editon, nor the Ghost of Tsushima Collector’s Edition. But really it’s not my inability to get the physical edition I want that is preventing me from playing the game day one. The bigger issue is hardware.

I still have a regular PS4. Not a Slim and not a Pro. I’ve never cared about slim versions of consoles. I still have a working PS3 fat version, though I don’t use it anymore. The Pro, on the other hand, is something that I continue to feel a great deal of anger over. I do not like half upgrade consoles. The entire concept irritates me. There are instances of other consoles in the past getting slight upgrades, but none have been so drastic as the PS4 Pro. Unless you count the Wii U as an upgraded version of the Wii, rather than a new generation of console. I think that’s an incorrect definition of the Wii U, but everyone is entitled to their own opinion. I don’t want to rehash all my arguments about why I consider the PS4 PRO an insult to early adopters. I’ve written that blog post before. I also don’t consider myself an early adopter of the PS4. I just happened to have gotten it a bit earlier than the announcement of the PS4 PRO. Had I of been aware of the PS4 PRO, I would have absolutely waited for its release before upgrading from my PS3. But I would never buy two consoles in the same generation for any reason other than hardware failure.

I have owned two Nintendo Switch consoles. One standard and one OLED. I did not purchase the OLED one to upgrade the standard one. I purchased it as a replacement, because the battery in my standard Switch was damaged. I would never have purchased a second Switch just to upgrade the same generation hardware. So obviously, I’m not going to buy a PS5 and a PS5 PRO. But given the option between the two, I’d buy the PS5 PRO. The problem is that we have no idea when/if a PS5 PRO will be released. So now I’m stuck in this odd limbo about whether or not I should buy a PS5 or wait for an upgraded version.

A major issue with the prospect of a PS5 PRO is whether or not Sony will even release an upgraded PS5. Given the supply issues in the wake of Covid, and other factors, the PS5 hasn’t been adopted at the rate Sony had hoped. So there’s much less motivation for them to release a PS5 PRO to begin with. I wouldn’t be surprised if they never end up releasing one. And to be clear, that would be the ideal scenario for me. As I already said, I don’t like mid-gen console upgrades. This isn’t PC gaming. These aren’t the kind of issues console gamers are supposed to have to deal with. It irritates me because I know that if I keep waiting and never buy a PS5, Sony will never announce a PS5 PRO. But the second I buy one, they’ll make the announcement. The most angering part is that this didn’t need to happen. The anxiety I have over getting the weaker console is the byproduct of the existence of the PS4 PRO. A console that was completely unnecessary, and honestly is the major reason PS5 games are being held back now. Without the PS4 PRO, I’d argue that we wouldn’t be seeing PS5 games held back for PS4 compatibility.

Even God of War: Ragnarok is built for the PS4 experience, as admitted by one of the developers at Santa Monica Studio. I’m sorry, but that’s not acceptable. I understand the reasoning behind it.  There are currently more active PS4 users than PS5 users. It’s no surprise that they would want to tap into this player base. Nevertheless, I have opted not to play God of War: Ragnarok on PS4. Whether they release a PS5 PRO or not, I’ll be playing the next God of War game on a next gen console. Because the game deserves to be played at its best. I will weather the storm of spoilers and break nearly two decades of tradition in order to experience Kratos at peak performance. The real question is will God of War: Ragnarok actually be worth the wait? Waiting to play an amazing game at its best makes sense. But waiting to play a mediocre game is a recipe for disappointment. I’m confident that this game will be amazing, as they’ve only disappointed one time in nearly 20 years of making this franchise. But since the game was made to be played on PS4, is there any actual value in waiting? The major difference, other than loading times, will be the adaptive triggers, which I have seen reported as having an effect on the gameplay experience. But is that alone important enough to the experience to make it worth the wait? Only time will tell. In any case, sadly I won’t be playing God of War: Ragnarok on day one.

XPG Terrence

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