Gaming

God of War Ragnarok Review

A journey of EPIC proportions

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God of War Ragnarok is epic. It lives up to the hype and is an absolute masterpiece. 

Everything we mentioned in the Early Impressions article pretty much held through and only kicked up a few notches higher as the game progressed. That said, it is incredibly hard to review the game while completely dancing around the spoilers. Regardless, that’s what this review will try to accomplish. 

If you want to go in completely blind, just know that you’re in for one of the best gaming experiences ever. As God of War Ragnarok is a masterclass in gameplay, combat, writing, and overall presentation. Again, we will certainly not spoil any big story moments, but if you feel that learning anything at all about how the game plays might be a spoiler then this is your warning. 

Play the first game

I know we said you can just rely on YouTube for the recap. But you’ll have a better level of appreciation for Ragnarok if you labor through the first game. Everything from how things are presented, how puzzles and combat work, and how the story progresses just feels more satisfying if you do so. 

Deep and satisfying combat

The biggest change that Sony Santa Monica Studios made with God of War 2018 was how it was presented which affected the combat heavily. Gone is the fixed camera with a wide angle view. In its stead, is the more modern, more intimate over the shoulder shot. Putting you right in the thick of the action. 

That was a huge gamble at the time. But one that paid off. Because the combat was in line with the story being told. Much of the same is true for Ragnarok. The kills are all still quite graphic with you feeling the weight of every hit.

WARNING: VIDEO BELOW IS NOT FOR THE FAINT OF HEART

The studio did not reinvent the wheel here. They didn’t need to. As you may have seen in the early impressions in trailers, the biggest addition to combat is the sense of verticality. Kratos can now grapple, to higher platforms adding a new dynamic to how you’ll execute your enemies. 

Speaking of enemies, there’s a greater variety of enemy-types. And these aren’t just re-skinned versions of ones you encountered earlier. The enemies will also force you to learn the various skills and techniques at your disposal. 

The Weapons 

You still have the Leviathan Axe, Blades of Chaos, Shield, and your bare hands at your disposal. The Axe and Blades have a sort of power up now. For the Axe, you can press the triangle button to imbue ice which adds Frost status to your attacks. Meanwhile, the Blades can be swung by pressing triangle again multiple times adding Burn status to your attacks. 

The Shield has variety too. Developers have revealed that you’ll have a selection of Shields at your disposal. Other than the one you used in the first game you’ll have a choice of a Shield that prioritizes parrying, and another that absorbs attacks and then disperses it — similar to how Black Panther’s armor worked in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. 

Armor and play style

You’ll also have your choice of armor that will certainly affect your play style. Personally, I’m pretty bad at parrying and sometimes forget to block and/or dodge. That’s why I went with a high-defense build. 

But if you’re skilled enough, a build that prioritizes strength and parrying might be the most rewarding animation-wise. There will be plenty of options even at the early hours of the game. So, you can definitely have a pick of armor that will fit your play style.

Atreus now more experienced

Like usual, you’ll have Atreus by your side as you combat enemies. Now a more seasoned fighter, Kratos’ son has more melee attacks at his disposal in addition to his bow abilities. 

You’ll also be able to do more with him as his skills have expanded. 

Some enemies will even force you to use Atreus in battle. That’s how deep the combat in God of War Ragnarok is. It’ll challenge you to use nearly every skill and weapon at your disposal. 

Environmental puzzles

Much like the first game, Ragnarok is littered with environmental puzzles that present a different challenge. You’ll also be forced to use a combination of old and new abilities to complete them. 

One new thing they added is the ability to yank certain obstacles with the help of the Blades of Chaos. Some puzzles will also require you slay enemies first. While others will have you moving from one area to another first before completely being allowed to move forward. 

These are all fun and present a decent challenge without slowing down the game much. They’re a nice break from the beat-to-beat story and combat that you’ll be faced with as you go along on this journey. 

Writing, storytelling, and dialogue 

What elevates and connects everything together is the phenomenal writing of the game. Everything from how scenes transition to one another, to the witty banters in-between, as well as the dialogue in cutscenes just flow and work seamlessly together to tell this massive, epic story. 

The Dynamic between Kratos and Atreus has evolved just as the boy has essentially grown into a young teenager – one that’s eager to know more about his origins as well as the prophecy that was revealed to them at the end of the first game. Atreus wants to push forward while Kratos —  old, tired, and battered — wants to keep the status quo if it means keeping his son safe. 

While the story certainly still anchors on the relationship between the father and son, how they relate with both the returning and new characters also play a huge part. The Dwarf brothers Brok and Sindri return to support the father and son. And as seen on the trailers, Freya is out for revenge against Kratos. 

New characters

Of the new characters showcased though, my personal favorite is the All-Father himself — Odin. Up to this point, we’ve only heard about stories of how absolutely horrible he is as god. But his demeanor, especially towards Atreus, might make you think otherwise. 

Another new character which has interesting interactions with Atreus is Angrboda. There’s this undeniable chemistry between the two and it’s amusing to see it play out.

The performances also take the writing to another level. The voice acting is superb and is helped by how each character model is animated. You get as much information with words both spoken and otherwise. 

The news that God of War is getting an Amazon Prime Video series is a welcome one. If the show’s writers can capture the same magic and wonder of these last two games, then we’re all in for a treat. 

Overall presentation

Ragnarok carries over the one-shot approach from the first game. Although, I have to admit, while this early access we got is pretty excellent as it is, some lag was apparent especially during the latter part of the game. But this is pretty understandable as this Ragnarok is packed to the brim with many quests and collectibles. 

We also have to take into account that the studio wanted to make sure this game is playable on the PS4. On that note, the game doesn’t take full advantage of the DualSense controller. It’s mostly as an add-on and doesn’t feel like necessary implementations the way Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart and Returnal did it. 

You do get multiple graphical options. One that prioritizes resolution and another that focuses on framerate. For my playthrough, I selected the resolution priority, but because the TV I use (the LG C2) has gaming-specific features, I was constantly getting around 119 to 120 fps. 

The accessibility options have also been expanded. The studio made sure that the game will be enjoyed even by those with physical disabilities. 

An epic experience

God of War Ragnarok takes everything good from the first game and cranks it up a few notches. You can expect the same level of excellence in gameplay, story, and presentation but all improved and expanded to deliver a gaming experience that’s nearly generation-defining. 

This is one of those games that you have to play, you have to immerse yourself in, no matter what. That’s how excellent it is.

God of War Ragnarok will launch on November 9 for the PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 5.

Gaming

Microsoft is being prevented from buying Activision Blizzard

Sued by the FTC

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The year started off with a bang. Microsoft, already a respectable name in the gaming industry by itself, announced the impending acquisition of Activision Blizzard for US$ 68.7 billion. Perhaps it’s fitting that the year will end right back where it started. The FTC is officially suing Microsoft to block the monumental purchase from going through.

Announced today, the United States’ FTC (or Federal Trade Commission) has filed a legal claim against Microsoft, stating that the acquisition will allow the company to suppress competition between its rivals in the gaming industry. The commission believes that it has enough to effectively block the purchase. Allowing Microsoft to go through with the purchase will supposedly enable the company to prevent Activision Blizzard’s titles — including the Call of Duty franchise — from coming out easily on other platforms.

Since the announcement of the acquisition, Activision Blizzard has gone through a rocky year. The company had its dirty laundry aired out: a plethora of disagreeable practices from within the company. Exacerbated by the rocky launches of Diablo Immortal and Overwatch 2, it’s not exactly a stellar year for the company.

In fact, it’s not a good year for monopolistic practices either. Recently, Ticketmaster found itself under the microscope after a massive kerfuffle preventing Taylor Swift fans from purchasing tickets to the star’s upcoming concert.

While the deal between Microsoft and Activision Blizzard is still up in the air, it seems company acquisitions aren’t as easy as this year has made them out to be.

SEE ALSO: Microsoft announces a modular Adaptive Mouse

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Buyer's Guide

PlayStation gift ideas for 2022: The best of the best

God of War: Ragnarök tops the list

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Gamers, rejoice! The Christmas season is finally here. That means it’s also the perfect time to secure PlayStation titles and peripherals to boost the gaming experience. Here are some of the best gift ideas for gamers on both PS4 and PS5:

UNCHARTED: Legacy of Thieves Collection

This collection retails for PhP 2,490 and includes both critically acclaimed single player adventures, UNCHARTED 4: A Thief’s End and UNCHARTED: The Lost Legacy.

Dive into complex history from the point of view of thieves Nathan Drake and Chloe Frazer. Its PlayStation 5 option is remastered with improved visuals and framerate.

God of War: Ragnarök

Already widely considered as the game of the year, Santa Monica Studio’s sequel to the 2018 God of War features Kratos and Atreus going on a mythic journey across nine realms together before Ragnarök arrives.

Kratos will use his weapons like the Leviathan Axe and Blades of Chaos as he puts everything on the line to fight for family while facing fearsome enemies from Norse gods to wild beasts.

God of War: Ragnarök is priced at PhP 3,490 for PS5 and PhP 2,990 for PS4.

Horizon Forbidden West

From Sony comes an action RPG wherein Aloy braves the Forbidden West, a frontier that conceals mysterious threats.

The adventure will take gamers to a far-future, post-apocalyptic world of Horizon where land is dying and vicious storms keep ravaging what’s left of humanity.

That said, it will be up to Aloy to uncover the secrets, forge alliances, and defeat the enemy to prevail.

Horizon Forbidden West is available at PhP 3,490 for PS5 and PhP 2,990 for PS4.

Gran Turismo 7

Gran Turismo 7

For those into racing, Gran Turismo 7 brings together the very best of the Real Driving Simulator.

The game reintroduces GT Simulation Mode, on top of the head-to-head GT Sport Mode, GT Campaign, Arcade, and Driving School.

With over 420 cars available at Brand Central and the Used Car Dealership from day one and over 90 track routes including classics, Gran Turismo 7 promises both unparalleled detail and experience.

You can purchase the game for PhP 3,490 for PS5 and PhP 2,990 for PS4.

The Last of Us Part I

The Last of Us Part 1

The multi-awarded game gets a PlayStation 5 treatment. Protagonist Joel smuggles 14-year-old Ellie out of a military quarantine zone, which jumpstarts a brutal cross-country journey.

This package includes The Last of Us single-player story and celebrated prequel chapter, Left Behind, which explores the events that changed the lives of Ellie and her best friend Riley forever.

The Last of Us Part I costs PhP 3,490 as well.

Gaming peripherals

As for accessories, you should get your hands on the DualSense Wireless Controller for PS5 which now comes in new colors. The controllers are now available in Midnight Black, Cosmic Red, Starlight Blue, Galactic Purple, and Nova Pink, as well as Gray Camouflage.

It is available in all PlayStation authorized dealers starting at PhP 3,990.

Speaking of those colors, one can now customize their console itself with the PS5 Console Covers which are priced at PhP 3,090.

To complete the immersive gaming experience, the PULSE 3D Wireless Headset delivers with PS5 system’s Tempest 3D AudioTech and comes with dual noise-cancelling microphones.

It is available for PhP 5,590 in Midnight Black and Gray Camouflage.

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Gaming

Xbox will raise prices of new titles next year

Will soon cost US$ 69.99

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New video games are expensive. Since the launch of the PlayStation 5, stores have been charging US$ 69.99 for every new release. On the flip side, Microsoft has kept its own slate of titles at the usual US$ 59.99 price point. However, that’s about to change next year. The company is raising the prices of first-party Xbox titles to US$ 69.99 next year.

In a recent statement (via The Verge), Microsoft has announced that new next-gen titles coming from Xbox Game Studios next year will face a price hike to reflect their “the content, scale, and technical complexity.” The announcement specifically names Forza Motorsport, Redfall, and Starfield (incidentally, one of the most anticipated titles next year) as part of this starting slate.

Prior to today’s status quo, new titles always sold for US$ 59.99. By itself, the old price tag is already hefty. However, it was one that was eventually accepted, especially after increasingly longer playthrough times.

Now, however, players are once again in a renewed state of justifying the expensive prices of new games. Titles are US$ 10 more expensive these days. Plus, special editions, which are becoming more common, have even higher price points.

If anything, Microsoft has waited until after the holidays before hiking prices up. If you were looking at a new title for your Xbox Series X/S, the holidays might be the best time to grab it. Or, as always, you can pay the monthly price of an Xbox Game Pass to access a trove of titles including new ones.

SEE ALSO: Xbox outsells the PlayStation for the first in 11 years

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