In the midst of Fimbulwinter, Kratos and Atreus seek to prepare for the foretold submersion of the world underwater, traveling the Nine Realms to encounter the pantheon of Norse mythology as friends and foes. That is the set-up to the highly-anticipated God of War Ragnarök, the sequel to the almost unexpectedly all-conquering God of War (2018).
The soft reboot for the series was bold, taking an iconic character from the setting of Greek mythology to Norse, but it paid off big time for Santa Monica Studio and Sony. Now, with the GoW release date set for November 8, 2022, games like Forspoken and Hogwarts Legacy have wisely delayed their releases to 2023. If the first game is anything to go off of, the PlayStation exclusive will be just as much a technical marvel as it is a superb story with slick gameplay mechanics.
However, 2022 has been a colossal year for triple-A gaming, with there being many contenders for the top spot. Does God of War Ragnarök have what it takes to topple them all? It just might, and here’s why.
Assessing the competition to God of War Ragnarök
God of War Ragnarök has a tremendous amount of momentum coming towards its November release date, with the haul of accolades looted by its predecessor setting the bar very high. It is, however, exclusive to one console, and while console exclusives still sell well, there are many classy competitors of 2022 that released on multiple platforms.
Gamespot details that the best-selling game of the year to date is Elden Ring, followed by Lego Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga – both of which are on multiple platforms – but fellow PlayStation exclusive Horizon Forbidden West holds a firm fourth place. For sales, these are the names to beat, along with Nintendo Switch exclusive Pokémon Legends: Arceus.
In terms of reception and overall quality in the premium space, there are a great many more games that could tussle for the title. Dying Light 2: Stay Human was another highly-anticipated sequel to a great first entry, and on the way, there’s still Bayonetta 3, Sonic Frontiers, Pokémon Scarlet and Violet, and The Callisto Protocol – which has a tremendous following already.
It’s a hefty field of competitors, and at any given awards ceremony, a fair few of them could be close in the running. However, the first God of War had to face off a similarly mighty batch, with the other finalists for The Game Awards’ Game of the Year Award being Assassin’s Creed Odyssey, Celeste, Marvel’s Spider-Man, Monster Hunter: World, and Red Dead Redemption 2. The studio knows how to dazzle players and critics alike.
God of War came out at the perfect time for Viking fever, and to this day, Norse content still draws in the audience. You only have to look as far as the Norse and Viking-drenched series of The Last Kingdom and Vikings – or rather the Vikings’ spin-off, Valhalla – to see. The former was so well received through to its finale that a film, Seven Kings Must Die, is already in the works. BGR reports that Vikings: Valhalla accrued over 80 million hours watched in less than a week – and received near-impeccable reviews.
Elsewhere, the theme also draws in entertainment-seekers, even in one of the more competitive spaces. In online slot gaming, you’ll find a creation for just about every theme imaginable, but developers have to act quickly to catch trends. The Betway top games page demonstrates perfectly how popular Norse is right now, with four slots in the theme sitting pretty among these most popular games. Thunderstruck II and Masters of Valhalla headline the top-ranking games.
It’s been quite incredible to see the massive reactions and hype kicked up from almost every snippet of information put out for God of War Ragnarök. The prime example is the Editions unboxing video, featuring the Collectors and Jotnar Editions. It’s been viewed over 3 million times on the PlayStation YouTube channel and led to the two boxes selling out in less than five minutes, despite their hefty price tags.
Most recently, at a State of Play from PlayStation, a hefty story and gameplay trailer was put out, sending the hype to a fever pitch. Fans are very ready for this colossal release now. Just as a little comparison of the intrigue for the build-up, Elden Ring’s Official Gameplay Trailer, Story Trailer, and Overview Trailer en route to release amassed 11.3 million, 6.4 million, and 3 million views, respectively, combined across the Bandai Namco Europe and America channels on YouTube.
For the next God of War game, starting just over a year ago with the Reveal Trailer, then the 30-second “Father and Son” Cinematic Trailer, and the most recent 2022 Story Trailer, the videos have been viewed by 17.2 million, 10.5 million, and 5.1 million times, respectively, on the PlayStation channel. For both games, there were a few less game-orientated videos and some on other channels, but this demonstrates a good comparison between the two.
If it lives up to the potential established in the first game, God of War Ragnarök will blow all other 2022 games out of the water, despite the field being incredibly strong so far already.