God of War Ragnarok arrives on PlayStation 5 and PlayStation 4 on November 9, and the number nine holds a lot of significance for the franchise. In Norse mythology, the Nine Realms all branch off of Yggdrasil, the world tree. These aren’t other planets — think of them as nine different dimensions sitting on top of each other.
If you check the Ragnarok listing on the PlayStation Store, you’ll learn that “Kratos and Atreus must journey to each of the Nine Realms” in the sequel. So what exactly does each realm entail this time? Since we visited most of them in the previous game, we can use that experience and classic Norse mythology to make some educated guesses. Get your preorder in, then read on — and be aware that spoilers for God of War 2018 follow.
Returning Realms from God of War
This is the simplest of the realms, where mortals dwell. You can think of it as our Earth. It’s where the vast majority of God of War took place. Kratos’ homestead, Tyr’s temple, the mountain — all of this is found in Midgard. Expect plenty more exploration of it in the sequel.
This is the home of the elves, and in God of War, it’s presented as a land dotted with islands across a vast lake. This is where the Light and Dark Elves clashed, and with Ragnarok approaching, it wouldn’t be surprising to see the conflict spill out into other realms.
This is the land of death, and while many cultures view such a place as dark or fiery, Helheim is actually a realm of ice. Kratos journeyed here to acquire a special ingredient to save Atreus from the brink of death. While he’d been in Greece’s underworld plenty of times before, this was different. The trip required him to pick his bloodied Blades of Chaos back up. In Norse mythology, Hela rules Helheim, and she’s actually a daughter of Loki — Atreus’ giant name, as revealed at the end of the previous game. That family tie could come into play when we return in Ragnarok.
Speaking of giants, their realm is inaccessible for almost the entirety of God of War, as the gate had disappeared. It’s restored at the climax, allowing Kratos and Atreus to journey to the lost land composed of tall, cracked mountains. It serves as something of an epilogue to the main events, and we don’t spend too long there. Considering Atreus’ love interest Angrboda is a Jotun herself, we expect to spend significantly more time there in Ragnarok.
This is one of two optional realms in God of War. It’s a land of fire, and it featured a series of combat trials as Kratos scaled a volcano. It’s one of the first realms in Norse mythological history and the home of the fire giant Surt. He’s a big part of the Ragnarok tale, burning away Midgard with his flames and battling Freya’s sister Frey. God of War Ragnarok might not go into as much detail on Freya’s family tree, but Surt could still play a significant role by bringing apocalyptic flames.
The other optional realm in the previous game is Niflheim, the land of mist. It’s a series of timed challenges, an obstacle course filled with choking poison. Hel also ruled over this realm in later Norse mythology, so there are two opportunities for her to play into Ragnarok’s story.
New Realms in God of War Ragnarok
Alfheim is for the elves, and Svartalfheim is for the dwarves. It’s an underground realm where they mine and forge — this is where Brok and Sindri from the previous game originate from. It was closed off then, but if we’re going to be exploring it in Ragnarok, our guess is that it’ll be home to some optional side quests for the dwarf brothers.
There are two main families of gods in Norse mythology: Vanir and Aesir. Aesir reside in Asgard and are more well known, but we’ll get to them in a moment. Vanir gods include the aforementioned Freya, who played a significant role in God of War. We actually got a glimpse of the realm outside the window of her hut in that game. It only makes sense that we’ll actually explore her homeland in the sequel. It’s mostly left in ruins after the Vanir-Aesir War, and even in proper Norse mythology, little is known about it. Looking through the window, we can see a forest with all sorts of colors, quite different from the wilds of Midgard.
Finally, we have Asgard. The great city is home to Odin, Thor, and the rest of the ruling Aesir gods. Ragnarok is the destruction of all realms, even this mighty one, so we expect it to be the climactic setting of the game. The great wolf Fenrir has been revealed to be in the game (as seen at the top of this article), so we also expect him to tag along for the journey. He’s prophesied to swallow Odin, after all.