Do I Need to Play Other God of War Games Before Playing Ragnarok?

God of War Ragnarok is the eleventh God of War game coming out. That’s right, eleventh. What happened to the other ten? Don’t know about it? Do you need to know about it to play Ragnarok?

The answer is no because God of War (2018) and Ragnarok follow Norse mythology, not Greek. All the previous God of War games followed Greek mythology. Greek mythology and Norse mythology are separate universes. God of War (2018) starts the Norse saga and is a good starting point. So is God of War (2018) required reading to enjoy Ragnarok?

God of War Ragnarok follows the famous events from the standard Norse telling of Ragnarok. So, players who understand Norse mythology but know nothing of God of War should feel right at home. If players don’t have an understanding of either Norse mythology or God of War, then reading this comprehensive summary may help the series past and present.

God of war 2018
God of War 2018

God of War (2018) – NORSE Mythology (Present)

God of War (2018) – not to be confused with God of War (2005) – was the first mainline game to enter Norse Mythology. The game followed Kratos and Atreus’ adventure to the highest peak of the nine realms. The duo’s mission was to spread the ashes of Atreus’s mother—Faye. Atreus is eager to start the journey, but Kratos is more experienced and reluctant.

On their journey, Kratos’s status as the only remaining Greek god drew a lot of unwanted attention. When Baldur appeared and threatened to reveal Kratos’s past, Kratos agreed to the journey. Try as he might, Kratos cannot escape from Baldur. When their paths sync, Kratos faces his son and reveals the truth.

God of War 2018 – Story trailer

God of War (2005) – GREEK Mythology (Past)

God of War stars the titular character—otherwise known as Kratos—as he embarks on a journey of revenge. Kratos was a spartan soldier that conquered entire regions in ancient Greece. Unfortunately, no one can have the perfect reign. When Kratos lost, he became indebted to the god of war Ares.

Kratos served Ares well, but Ares could see Kratos had a lot of untapped potential. Ares devised a plan that had Kratos murder his own family in an attempt to unlock his power. With Athena’s help, Kratos eliminated Ares and took his throne on Mount Olympus as the new god of war. God of War won the world over with an astonishing 94 Metacritic score.

God of War 2005 – Trailer

God of War 2

In God of War 2, Zeus used the Blades of Olympus to absorb Kratos’s power. Drained of everything, Kratos was tossed to the underworld. Zeus’s betrayal sent Kratos into a spiral of hate, anger, and grief that he couldn’t stay dead. Kratos broke out of the underworld and found the sisters of fate to make use of their powers.

He used their threads of destiny to rewind back to the moment Zeus betrayed him. Kratos made use of his second chance and managed to overpower Zeus. Kratos and Zeus then entered combat, but their battle had deadly ramifications. Athena — the only person capable of helping Kratos — died.

After Athena’s death, he decided to go further back in time to ally himself with the titans during the war. God of War 2 did as well as its former with an astonishing 93 Metacritic score.

God of War 2 – Story Trailer

God of War 3

In God of War 3, Kratos led a charge to kill Zeus and the Greek pantheon. After slaying Poseidon, he was thrown back to the underworld — a slight pause to his vengeance. Kratos now sought the flame of Olympus to defeat Zeus. After killing Zeus, Kratos killed himself with the blade of Olympus, still plagued with guilt. God of War 3 kept the series high bar by scoring a 92 score on Metacritic.

Honorable Mentions

So, God of War (2005), God of War 2, God of War 3, and God of War (2018). That’s four games and the keen-eyed viewer will notice I said ten earlier. All the games on the list are mainline products that continue to push a singular story forward. Titles such as God of War Ascension or God of War: Ghost of Sparta focus on Kratos’s past. Those games only work to contextual moments already experienced in published games. Still, Ascension and Ghost of Sparta are exceptional games in more ways than one.

For example, Ascension introduced different blade types to combat. Different blade types affect enemies in different ways. This system is carried over to the most recent God of War. The Axe and the blades affect the enemies differently in God of War (2018). 

Additionally, Ghost of Sparta was a stepping stone in making Kratos more human. The game paid more attention to Kratos’s family bonds instead of monsters to destroy.

Sony Santa Monica’s upcoming title God of War: Ragnarok can be enjoyed as a standalone title. Kratos spent his legacy wiping out the entire Greek pantheon just so players can have a fresh start. Kratos’s past adventures can be categorized as backstories for context, but not required reading. It’s like watching a movie and asking why a character has a particular haircut. This a question that might arise during subsequent viewing, but rarely develops into a research study.