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God of War (2018) story recap – What you need to know before God of War Ragnarok

This is our history, boy.

So you wanna play God of War Ragnarok? Maybe you’re just jumping straight into the sequel without playing the 2018 game. Maybe you need a refresher before starting the next chapter in the story. Either way, we’ve got you covered, and you should obviously expect lots of spoilers for the previous game in this summary.

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You don’t have to play all the God of War games in order to be fully briefed on the events of the 2018 game, but that history is important. As a bit of a preamble to the actual story recap, it’s good to know that Kratos had an entirely different life in Greece. He killed a vast amount of the gods there, having been betrayed by them on multiple occasions. It was a bloody path of revenge fueled by rage. That’s the Kratos we knew then, but God of War 2018 begins with our hero in a very different place — emotionally and physically.

A Dying Wish

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God of War 2018 starts with a funeral. After the ending of God of War III, Kratos went north, married a Norse woman named Faye, and had a son named Atreus. Faye is dead at the beginning of the game, so her surviving husband and son are holding her funeral. It was her last wish to have her ashes scattered from the “highest peak in the realm,” and that’s Kratos and Atreus’ goal.

Before they head out, Atreus gets some hunting training from his father, during which he is shown to have a good bit of the family rage himself. Kratos’ home is also invaded by Baldur. He’s an Aesir god who knows Kratos’ true identity, which has been kept hidden from Atreus. Baldur seems unbeatable, but after a long fight, he leaves Kratos alone. With that, it’s time to venture out and spread Faye’s ashes.

Winter Is Coming

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Kratos and Atreus begin walking (and fighting) their way to the highest peak. Along the way, they encounter many enemies, both dead and undead, as the winds of Fimbulwinter start to blow. All this death is an omen of Ragnarok itself, though that cataclysm is saved for the sequel. This part of the journey is also where the pair start making allies. The Dwarf brothers Brok and Sindri hail from Svartalfheim, one of the Nine Realms, and they serve as the game’s main merchants. Then there’s Freya, a typical ‘witch in the woods’ who helps point the duo in the right direction. They also catch a glimpse of Jörmungandr, the World Serpent, who’s made his home in the central Lake of the Nine.

After a detour into Alfheim, the realm of the elves, Kratos and Atreus reach the highest peak in Midgard, where the soothsayer Mimir resides. The wise man is fused to a tree, and when Kratos and Atreus arrive, he’s being interrogated by Baldur and his relatives Magni and Modi, a set of twins. Once Kratos gets a chance to talk to Mimir, he learns that the actual highest peak is in the realm of the giants, Jötunheim.

To Hel and Back

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The way to Jötunheim is blocked, so Kratos and Atreus need to find the right runes to let them access it. Kratos lops off Mimir’s head and returns to Freya, whose powers as a goddess are revealed — this will be important later. As the trio (Kratos, Atreus, and now Mimir) start their search for the rune, they are confronted by Magni and Modi. Kratos kills Magni, but his twin escapes. It’s at this time that Atreus also realizes his own godhood and he falls ill after the fight. Freya can save him, but only with a special ingredient from Helheim, the realm of the dead.

To survive there, Kratos must confront his past and dig up his old weapon, the Blades of Chaos. With these once again bound to his wrists, he heads into Hel and gets the troll heart needed to save his son. Atreus gets patched up, and the group returns to the Midgar peak, where another battle with Baldur breaks out. This results in the destruction of the Jötunheim gate, but fortunately, Mimir has a backup plan.

Family Matters

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After a trip through Tyr’s Temple (and another visit to Helheim), the group learns that Baldur is actually Freya’s son, and his invulnerability is owed to a spell his mother cast on him. The group then retrieves Mimir’s missing eye from the belly of the World Serpent, planning to use it to open the way to Jötunheim.

Baldur attacks the group a final time, but due to mistakenly punching a broken mistletoe arrow fastened to Atreus’ quiver, the god’s invincibility spell is broken. This eventually leads to his defeat, and his death infuriates his mother Freya — she’s on her own path of revenge in God of War Ragnarok. Kratos and Atreus, however, settle their differences and come to a good understanding of one another.

The Realm of Giants

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After all that, Kratos, Atreus, and Mimir are finally able to open up the gate to Jötunheim. The land is quite barren, but that’s OK since they’re only here to spread Faye’s ashes. As it turns out, she was a Jötun herself, making Atreus half giant, half god. This is revealed in a series of prophetic cave paintings, where we also learn that she wanted to name Atreus “Loki,” a name that holds special significance in Norse mythology. Kratos sees one last prophecy that shows Atreus betraying him, but he keeps that to himself.

Father and son scatter the ashes, and the journey is complete. They return home, and upon going to sleep, the game’s brief epilogue plays. It’s a dream of Atreus’ in which the thunder god Thor appears at the doorstep, looking for a fight. God of War fans are particularly thrilled about that upcoming clash in Ragnarok.

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Tony Wilson
Tony has been covering games for more than a decade. Tony loves platformers, RPGs and puzzle games.