As many things do, games too need to evolve. Eras shift, trends are born and then die, to give way to new ones. Better ones? Someone once said “new is always better”, but, surely, he was wrong. New is not always better, but, if we’re talking about video games, new is, indeed, welcome, even if it doesn’t manage to upstage the old. Kratos, the raging god killer star of the series “God of War”, has had his share of hack and slash, mindless button stomping and titan killing. The old games were fun, brutal technical marvels, but they do belong in another era.
As trends shifted, so did the principles of AAA mainstream gaming. Action-adventure games now tend to tell better stories, more diverse, with deeper meanings and complex characters. They also tend to include RPG mechanics, among other things. Well, Santa Monica’s God of War, the -long awaited before its release and hugely praised after it- reboot/sequel of the famous PlayStation series, ticked all the boxes. It was a great game, and still is. A technical showcase for Sony’s machine, the PS4 at the time, with a well-written story, some expertly crafted cinematographic tricks and meaty, strategic combat, God of War had it all.
Now, against many of our best predictions, Kratos’ latest adventure can be played on PC. It’s been a while since the original PS4 release; it was 2018 and God of War was a trend setter. It was a game of a high caliber, one that would surely have other games treading the same path. Now, some years later, it’s still a magnificent game, standing tall to this day, not being yet surpassed.
Really, it’s a wonder that the PS4 was even able to pull this off, from a technical viewpoint. God of War is an incredibly pretty game, showcasing graphics that were probably ahead of its time, setting the bar for years to come. Even today, on the “next gen” era, it’s hard to find games that look and play this good, excluding Naughty Dog’s works or Red Dead Redemption 2.
So, it’s impressive to see this game looking even better, on the PC. This is a meaningful port, full of updates in graphical quality, in fidelity, boasting a stable performance in higher numbers than Sony’s consoles could reach. Aspect ratios like 21:9 are supported, native 4K resolution is here, you can play on ultrawide monitors, technologies like Nvidia DLSS and Reflex are implemented nicely, the textures look better, the shadows take a substantial update and, in general, God of War looks better than ever. Also, technologies like Reflex are bringing important feats to the gameplay experience, like significantly reducing input lag and making a difference in combat responsiveness.
If you have a capable PC, you will see impressive results. For those needing the comparison, there’s the “original” graphical setting, which is, well, the original. You can play the game with the settings of the original version, and then you can tinker with them to max out what you like. As a result, on a fitting computer, you will see faster loading times, you will not see the checkerboarding and artifacts which were apparent on the original version, and you will enjoy a much clearer version of the game. Also, the level of detail is increased on higher settings, the fog looks better and more realistic, there’s no flickering, the shadows’ resolution is much higher, and the lighting is also improved significantly. The pop-in effects are gone, the details are more complex; every place you explore now “pops” more.
The only downside can be found in the optimization, because the scale is not always tipping in the right direction. While the PC version’s performance is good and stable, hitting higher frame rates like 60 or 120 -with some drops in busy scenes and fights-, you will find that raising the various settings’ quality can be very taxing on your machine, to the point where it might not be worth it, in some cases. Getting a bar to move from the “good” to the “great” doesn’t always produce very obvious improvements, and the hit on performance can make those improvements seem trivial.
The core of the game remains the same, understandably -even if some additions could be welcome. The controls are great, controllers are supported nicely and -if you want- you can play with a mouse and keyboard, even though it’s not the better way to experience God of War. You can play with a DualSense or an Xbox gamepad, but you can only remap the keyboard/mouse controls. In general, there are enough settings, and you can change some effects like reducing the movement of the camera.
This is a great port, but there’s not enough here for someone who has played and finished God of War on a PlayStation console. Or, rather, there’s not enough here for people who finished God of War on PlayStation recently, because, in the event that you played it when it originally released, it’s high time you replayed it. It holds up better than you’d think. If you haven’s played God of War, well, it’s a no-brainer: you should go buy it right now on PC. This is the better version of a fantastic game, filled with impressive, fun and difficult fights, with top-notch exploration, some clever environmental puzzles, incredible level design and a surprisingly deep and affectionate narrative about a father-son relationship -and a bit of monster killing, of course. Also, while in today’s scene, it’s refreshing to go back to a more laid back world design, with enough side content to not be short, but with nothing close to a huge open world full of markers.
In the end, if you didn’t play God of War until now, you definitely should. Don’t worry about its age. This is a marvelous game, standing the test of time easily, even looking and playing better than recent similar games. The better version of a great game can only be one thing: absolutely fantastic.