God of War (PC) Review – Welcome Back, Boy

God of War (PC) Review 

When God of War came out, it was one of the biggest releases of the year. Nearly every news outlet put it in contention for best game of 2018. It won many of these nominations, including the Game Awards title. It was a huge console-selling exclusive for the PlayStation 4, and it revitalized the franchise without losing what made it compelling.

Everything I said just now is what I’ve been hearing people say for the last three years, but I’d never played the game myself. Thankfully, Sony Santa Monica changed that by finally releasing God of War on PC.

If you’re like me and you managed to avoid one of the best games of the last decade so far, the story is simple. Kratos is a Greek god of war traveling with his son Atreus through the harsh, cold world of ancient Scandinavia. The player fights using combo attacks with Kratos’s new Leviathan axe and unlocks the open-but-not-quite-open-world with various puzzles. The rebuilt combat is incredibly fun, but the real star is the growing and nuanced relationship between Kratos and Atreus.

It’s a Great Game, Boy

One of the most striking differences between God of War and other triple A releases of the same time is the seamlessness of the scripted scenes. Instead of awkward loading time before a cutscene, the flow of the gameplay and visuals are almost indiscernible. It’s incredibly impressive that I couldn’t always anticipate the moment when the game returns to the player’s control.

God of War accomplishes what all huge game environments should do: it makes the player want to explore. Every time I loaded up the game I planned to get straight into the main quest, but I always got distracted by the nooks and crannies hidden in every corner, lush or barren.

The game’s not completely perfect. The map disoriented me sometimes. I love armor and weapon systems, but God of War had so many different enchantment and rune options that I felt bogged down by them. It’s a sad day when I dread looking at my loadout.

On a less technical level, it’s an intense game. I’m not talking violence, but general tone. I really had to be in the mood to immerse myself in the world of Kratos and Atreus. It wasn’t something I picked up for twenty minutes on a whim. When I played God of War, I was sitting down for a Serious Gaming Session.

PC vs. PlayStation

I don’t want to expound on the game’s original features too long. COGconnected reviewed the game at launch, and you can check our PS4 review out here. The game’s core elements remain the same as they did then. What makes it different is that I played it hunched in front of my computer screen.

I played God of War on a slightly out-of-date gaming laptop. I thought I’d have to lower the framerate or resolution, but I didn’t. This meant I got to enjoy the game at its peak graphics quality, and it ran butter smooth with few exceptions. The game crashed twice while I was playing it, but I lost virtually no progress both times. I also had very few bugs. Looking back, I’m struggling to remember any bugs at all, although I’m sure they’re there in some respect.

Playing God of War on PC took several forms for me. First, I tried to power through using the classic WASD keys, but that only lasted until the first boss fight. The controls felt too clunky and unnatural to me.

After that, I switched to a wired PS4 controller. After my partner expressed an interest in watching me play, I took my laptop off my gaming desk and out to our living room, where she could see the screen more easily. This was the most enjoyable experience yet, and how I finished out the game.

Therein lies the problem. Playing with a controller in my living room? Wow, that sounds like something else I know. The solution I really wanted was, simply, my PlayStation. Long, cinematic games like this just aren’t the types of games I want to play on my computer.

It’s All Subjective

How you play God of War comes down to personal choice. If you’re the type who still mods Skyrim and prefers to play on a computer come hell or high water, the PC experience of the game is for you. If you’re prepared to sacrifice some graphical quality for playing comfort, then you’re better suited to the console experience.

Of course, it’s a little more complicated if the PS5 is an option for you. Making the decision for graphics isn’t the obvious choice it used to be. The differences between God of War PS5 and PC are slight enough that if you prefer to play on console, I’d recommend going that route.

If you don’t own any PlayStation consoles and this is your first chance to play God of War, then this is your call to action. It’s worth it: there’s a reason everyone was obsessed with this game. God of War lives up to the hype, and it hasn’t aged since its release. All the reasons God of War was so good the first time around haven’t gone anywhere.

I’m glad Sony Santa Monica released God of War on PC. The more people who can play God of War, the better. Maybe you’ll end up just like me: one of those people telling everyone how good God of War is. Finally.

***A PC code was provided by the publisher***

The Good

  • Gorgeous graphics
  • Strong writing
  • Fun gameplay
  • Stunning environments
  • Masterful overall experience

The Bad

  • Clunky upgrade system
  • Subjective PC experience