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Everything we wish we knew before playing God of War


God Of War (2018)

God Of War is easily one of the most visually stunning and incredibly gripping games of 2018 (as we covered in our review of the title), but there is one simple fact that cannot be denied: this game is hard as hell. For experienced God Of War veterans and RPG pros, hopping right in and busting stuff up will be no big deal, but for other gamers like myself there is a bit of a learning curve. There are a lot of different skills to master in this title, and it is all too easy to get overwhelmed if you let that fact get to your head. Panic is not an option when you’re surrounded by foes, desperately trying to remember which one of your half dozen attack options will help most in that scenario.

We have tasked ourselves with putting together a guide to help the rest of you newbies out there who are too proud to ask your expert friends for assistance. There are a lot of things I wish I had known earlier and/or had to keep reminding myself throughout God Of War’s daunting campaign, so I’m here to break down the basics and demystify this hellish beast for those of you in a similar position.


This might seem like an obvious tactic, and maybe it’s just me, but I was constantly forgetting to use my shield when I needed it most. Sometimes you just get caught up in the hack and slash of it all, and providing yourself with a little defense can easily take a back seat. While this won’t be a problem in every encounter necessarily, it’s important to get some defensive practice in early so you aren’t grasping at straws when you really need it. Your health is relatively low before making your way to Midgard, so taking unnecessary damage is going to result in a lot of premature frustration. If you’re getting your shit kicked by mobs of little guys, lord help you when you find yourself face to face with one of the big baddies.

In order to use your shield to the fullest of its abilities (outside of upgrading it), learn to parry as much as you possibly can, as it’s an extremely helpful (and necessary) skill to pick up. Mastering the art of parrying will make the game infinitely easier for you, and thanks to the fact that you don’t take damage during the parry animation, it’s a great way to give yourself the upper hand. The lack of a stamina mechanic in the game means unlimited blocking as long as nothing breaks your block, so keep that shield up and save your health bar for the dudes who really mean business.


Being aware of your surroundings and using the environment to your advantage is a simple but extremely useful tactic that can get you out of many a sticky situation. From luring enemies towards explosive barrels to backing a mob into a corner, it’s important to have your bearings in order to catch them off guard whenever possible. If you’re near a cliff, you may use that advantage to draw foes towards it and throw them off of it, which I can guarantee you is badass 100% of the time. Even better, you don’t have to worry about tossing yourself off a ledge with anyone because it isn’t even possible to do so. Helpful invisible walls, just one of the many perks that comes with being a demigod. Attacks with knockback can also be a huge help when you are aware of your surroundings, as knocking a frozen opponent into a tree or a wall results in an instant kill that will shatter your foe to pieces.


This one is the most important tip I’m going to give you, UPGRADE THE BOY. Atreus is no joke, and neglecting or forgetting to use him would be a major, major misstep on your part. I’ve had my gripes with companions before (see my Far Cry 5 write up for more juicy deets on that), but if I didn’t know better I would say Atreus is the main character of this entire game. A lot of the time his abilities are even more important than Kratos’ when it comes to crowd control and doling out damage when you need a breather. His ability to distract enemies while you heal up or single out other aggros is what ends up tipping the scales in most encounters, especially if you’re attempting them for the 3rd or 4th time. Half the time you are struggling, I can almost guarantee it is because you are not using Atreus to the best of his abilities.

The amount of help The Boy provides throughout the entire game is invaluable, and the more you upgrade him the less daunting mosts quests and bosses will seem. My rule of thumb was to craft better armor and/or upgrade him (whenever I had the coin) before applying any of my funds to Kratos’ skills or gear, which it proved to be extremely helpful. Once you obtain shock arrows, unlocking the chain attack ability will save your life more times than you will be able to count. Charging into an encounter and stunning 3 enemies at a crack will buy you plenty of time to hack away at a few of them, and whatever remains of their health when they snap out of it will be mere child’s play.


Ok I could have went with a number of good axe puns there, but we aren’t going to dwell on that for now. Now picture me grabbing you by the shoulders and shouting right into your ear canal; “WHY AREN’T YOU THROWING YOUR AXE MORE?”. If you’ve already got this down, I apologize for getting excited. But seriously, you gotta be throwing that axe my friend. All the dang time if you can. Stunning (via headshot) and tripping (via leg shot) enemies and recalling your axe effectively will work wonders for you. If you angle your recall just right, you can even hit more guys on the way back then you did when you first threw it, and now isn’t that pretty sweet? Is there a night king looking dude with a big ice shield absorbing all your attacks? No problem. Throw that axe behind him, recall it, and slice that icy butt right off.

Landing axe throws just right does a tremendous amount of damage, allowing you to chip away at trolls and big bad bosses with relative ease.


This one is for all you gear-heads out there. Kratos’ level in the game is defined by the level of your gear, so don’t forget to invest in better gear, upgrade it, and watch those draugrs crumble into dust. XP and hacksilver are not that hard to come by, so don’t hesitate to craft and upgrade everything on you whenever you have the chance. This goes for your rune attacks and talismans as well. Your level relative to the level of the mobs you are fighting is important, so even being 1 level lower than your opponents can put you at a disadvantage if there are a lot of them. There’s not much more to say about this as it’s pretty self explanatory, so just make sure you aren’t necessarily hoarding all your cash unless you have your eye on something specific.


Finally, explore. Do it early and often. It’s a great way to earn a little cash on the side, and it allows you to find a lot of goodies that will assist you when you get back to the primary questline. Any opening you see that isn’t a direct path to your objective is likely to lead to something juicy, so don’t hesitate to explore every nook and cranny. This is either the most or the least obvious tip to keep in mind. Loot lovers will already have that exploration mindset locked down, but for those of you distracted by the seamless transitioning from story to exploration mode, it can be an easy thing to forget. Find all those secrets, get all those coins, and piss away your newfound wealth.

Well newbies, there you have it. The air has been cleared and now you are the greatest God Of War player on the planet, and you have me to thank for it. Happy troll hunting!

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