Heading back to Midgard this week but don't remember where God of War (2018) left things? With the release of God of War: Ragnarok impending and the end of Fimbulwinter approaching, it behooves you to remember! Luckily we've rounded up all the important plot points in at least 3,000 words less than the nearest wiki entry! So here's a quick recap of God of War to get you ready to face Ragnarok, and all the unanswered questions it will hopefully answer.
God of War (2018) story recap
Before 2018, there were a bunch of other God of War games serving as the backstory for Kratos, who is no longer the angry young man of the PS2 era and is instead a mildly simmering sort of middle-aged dad. All you need to know from those is in his home of Ancient Greece he waged war against the pantheon of gods there on Olympus, because they were unworthy of their superiority over mortals, of which Kratos numbers among them as a half-mortal son of Zeus.
In his battle against the Olympian gods, sparked by his being tricked into killing his family by the former god of war and Kratos' mentor, Ares, he slays his father Zeus. Presumably in the centuries since then, he leaves Greece to go north to Scandinavia and meets Faye, a fierce warrior woman whom he has their son Atreus with.
Backstory over! At the start of God of War (2018) Kratos builds a funeral pyre for Faye out of trees she marked with a handprint, then scoops up her ashes to scatter from 'the highest peak in all the realms'. The trees he chopped down were actually linchpins of a spell that was protecting their home from being seen by Odin's ravens, and caused Baldur to finally find the quarry he was looking for. After an initial fight with Baldur, Kratos discovers the Aesir god is immortal, or at least immune to having his neck broken. Bummer!
Heading out on their journey to scatter Faye's ashes, Kratos and Atreus encounter a Vanir god called Freya, skilled in Seidr magic and former queen of the Valkyries. She recognizes that Kratos is a god, but that Atreus doesn't know. This is the cause of a sickness in him from his conflicting experience of his own identity. She lets him keep his secret and gives them a rune of protection to hide them from the Aesir again on their journey.
On the way to the mountain's summit, Kratos and Atreus drain the lake of the nine revealing Tyr's temple and Jormungandr, the world serpent, and meet a couple of helpful dwarves called Brok and Sindri, but find the way up the mountain blocked by a black mist. They head to Alfheim, the realm of the elves, to retrieve a light that will recharge the Bifrost – a key to realm travel – and allow them to dispel the mist.
Once they make it to the top, they overhear Mimir, the smartest man alive, being interrogated by Baldur and Magni and Modi, the sons of Thor, about where their target could be. Once they have left, Atreus and Kratos reach the summit of the mountain where Mimir, cursed to be trapped in a tree rooted to the mountaintop, tells them it isn't actually 'the highest peak in all the realms'. That's in Jotunheim, the realm of the Giants, which has been sealed off for centuries.
Channeling some frustration at this news, Kratos frees Mimir by chopping off his head and then taking it to Freya to revive him. There she notices that Atreus has a quiver full of Mistletoe arrows and disposes of all but the one being used to repair his quiver strap. Claiming them to be evil. Sus.
Under Mimir's disembodied guidance, the trio head off to find a bunch of objects that will help them open a secret path left by Tyr to reach Jotunheim, through a gate at the summit of the mountain. On the way they fight Magni and Modi, and Kratos kills Magni, but not before goading Atreus enough to make him angry and fall into a coma because of his sickness.
Returning to Freya for help healing Atreus, Kratos has to go to Helheim, the land of the dead, to recover an ingredient for his medicine. He has to get his sweet burning Blades of Chaos out and sees a ghost of Athena haunting him and a cloud that looks like Zeus in Hel, so Mimir kind of figures out his whole deal.
When he revives Atreus, he tells him they are gods and that makes Atreus into an incredibly arrogant little prick. This bit of the game was very annoying. You probably blocked it out. Anyway it ends when Atreus murders Modi, who had been beaten up by Thor for failing to capture you and letting his brother die and was already weakened and defeated.
After gathering all the bits they need to open the gate to Jotunheim they return to the summit but Baldur is waiting for them. They get into a fight and destroy the gate and end up in Helheim, where Atreus becomes significantly less of a prick and also you find out that Baldur is immortal because Freya is his mother and she put a spell on him to protect him from harm.
The spell also means he can't feel pleasure or pain which makes him murderously angry and swears to kill her. Also it turned out that Odin had told Baldur he would reverse the spell if he found Faye, who was the real target he was after the whole time, not Kratos.
With the summit gate collapsed, Mimir says he knows of one more secret route that Tyr left behind when he helped the Giants leave, but it was only known to the guardian they left. Long story short the guardian was Faye, Atreus' mother, and she was a Giant. They gather all the rune and eyeballs they need to open that gate and then Baldur gets in the way again.
In the fight, he punches Atreus and the Mistletoe arrow holding his quiver together gets impaled in his hand, breaking the immortality spell Freya had placed on him. He's real happy about it but still wants to kill his mother so Kratos has a big scrap with him. Eventually he is beaten, and Kratos stops short of killing him. But then he starts strangling Freya who is willing to sacrifice herself so her son's vengeance can be sated. But Kratos wants to end the generational cycle of revenge and violence by....killing her son, Baldur. She isn't happy about it and swears vengeance against him. Great job.
Kratos comes clean with Atreus about his entire past, killing his father, the Olympian gods, etc. Then they go to Jotunheim and climb the highest peak in all the realms, finally. There they find walls covered in murals depicting Faye as the guardian left behind, but also all of the events of the game so far, in unnerving detail. They also refer to Atreus as "Loki" as that was the name Faye (or Laufey, as her Giant name) wanted for him, but they went with the name of a Spartan comrade of Kratos'. Atreus also now realizes he is quarter god, quarter mortal and half Giant.
Kratos also spots a bit of the mural covered up, depicting Atreus cradling what looks like a dying Kratos, and then Atreus heading off on his own with a pack of wolves. He says nothing about this to his son. They scatter Faye's ashes and return to find out Fimbulwinter has started, centuries before prophesied, and presages the coming of Ragnarok. Also Mimir says Freya came to him asking where her Valkyrie wings were, so she clearly has some thoughts of revenge still. Not great!
At the end of the game you can head all the way back to your home and go to bed, but Atreus has a dream where they wake up three years later, Fimbulwinter ends and Thor is standing outside the house.
Unanswered questions for God of War: Ragnarok
- Is Freya still mad at us for killing her son now that she has her sweet battle angel Valkyrie wings back? This one isn't unanswered, it's yes, she's real mad and will probably be a co-antagonist along with...
- Are we finally going to fight Thor this time? He just kept getting mentioned so much it was weird not to fight him in 2018. When are they gonna get to the Thor factory!?
- Are we finally going to fight Odin this time? He's the master architect of every single bad thing we heard about in 2018, we want to hurt him.
- Will the Valkyries return? Freya is probably going to take the crown back from Sigrun so will she order them to kill us? And they're just going to forget how we freed them last time? Unfair!
- What does Svartalfheim look like? It was one of the only realms we couldn't travel to, along with the Aesir home of Asgard and the Vanir home of Vanaheim.
- Will we see gods or locations from other cultures? Tyr's murals depicted him sharing knowledge between pantheons of gods from Egypt, East Asia and other cultures around the world.
- Will Atreus be able to turn into a wolf? He asked if it was one of his god powers as soon as he heard he was a god. It seems too much of a setup to ignore with that mural in Jotunheim too.
- Does Kratos have to die to avert Ragnarok? Some spell stuff looked like it was coming out of Atreus' mouth when he was cradling Kratos on that Jotunheim prophecy mural. Might be important with the end of the world upon us.
- Do we have to go back to Niflheim? That mist labyrinth was tedious.