God of War Review

God of War, a soft reboot of the fan-favorite action-adventure trilogy that swapped the Greek pantheon for Norse mythology, was released in 2018. God of War reinvigorated the series by focusing on the relationship between the rough-hewn Kratos and his young son Atreus, while staying true to the brutal combat systems and thrilling boss fights that made the series so popular during its PlayStation 2 heyday.

What Did We Think?

We still consider God of War to be the crown jewel of the PlayStation 4’s extensive library, offering an experience unlike any other on the platform, nearly four years later. It should come as no surprise, then, that God of War is the latest Sony first-party title to be released on PC, as part of the company’s ongoing initiative to bring its best first-party titles to new platforms.

After spending a few hours with the game’s PC port, we can confidently state that it is a fantastic way to experience one of PlayStation’s best exclusives.

To begin, a little housekeeping. On a PC with an MSI GeForce RTX 3080 graphics card, an Intel Core i9-9900KF processor, 32GB of RAM, and a 1TB M.2 PCIe NVMe SSD, we played the game. We played on a 1080p 144hz monitor most of the time, but we did take our system downstairs to the living room to see how the game looked on a true 4K display.

Shadows and Ambient Occlusions are Improved

So, how does the PC version differ from the console version? In all honesty, not much. In terms of content, this is the same game that debuted on PS4. Higher-resolution shadows, improved screenspace reflections, and enhanced ground truth ambient occlusion are among the graphical enhancements included in the port.

These new visual enhancements are a welcome addition, but they go unnoticed most of the time. Even with all options enabled, the PC port largely looks the same as the original game.

Shadows are slightly softer, and reflections may be slightly crisper, but the PC port largely looks the same as the original game. The ability to play the game in true 4K rather than the checkerboard solution used in the PS4 Pro and PS5 versions is the only significant visual upgrade in this PC release.

Unfortunately, if you expect this re-release to provide a significant visual upgrade over what’s currently available on PlayStation systems, you’ll be disappointed.

We’d say we’re disappointed. As a modern release, God of War still looks incredible, especially when played on a 4K display. Despite the fact that it takes place in a decaying world, the game’s environments are full of vibrant natural elements that contrast sharply with the crumbling ruins you’ll spend the majority of your time exploring. Simply put, it’s still a beauty.

We had no problems with God of War on PC in terms of performance. Our system easily met the game’s “ultra” requirements, and we experienced no noticeable framerate drops in the game’s opening sections or open-world hub area. God of War maintained a consistent 60 frames per second at both 1080p and 4K resolutions, even when the game was set to Ultra.

Overall, when zooming in, DLSS provides better image quality, and it performs best at Performance levels. Upscaling from that low input resolution to 4K levels with FSR is simply not possible.

The visual differences are much harder to notice once you get to Quality mode, even with close inspection, but FSR is 8% to 10% faster on average in like-for-like sections using the same hardware. The best part is that you can use either method, but either way, both AMD and Nvidia players will get more performance out of their cards, and the implementation is excellent.

If you have a 21:9 ultra-widescreen monitor, God of War supports it, allowing you to enjoy the game’s stunning visuals. That’s a welcome sight at times, as it enhances the series’ incredible sense of scale, which has been a key feature since its PS2 debut in 2005. This great shot shows the World Serpent pulling back as the birds fly by for scale; it’s a great example of the impact that extended mode can have.

Great Implementation

Players with high-refresh-rate monitors will appreciate the fact that the game supports up to 120 frames per second right out of the box. Without Nvidia DLSS, we wouldn’t have been able to consistently achieve that lofty goal on high graphical settings.

Nvidia DLSS uses AI upscaling to improve overall performance without sacrificing visual fidelity, and is supported by a number of compatible RTX graphics cards. Although we were able to run the game at 60 frames per second without using DLSS, at 120 frames per second, the feature became a lifesaver.

God of War’s frame rate fluctuated between 90-120fps on Ultra settings when the game was turned off. The game ran at a buttery smooth 120fps with very few drops with DLSS turned on and a few strenuous settings such as shadows dropped down a notch.

Although it’s debatable whether a single-player action game requires such a high frame rate, we must admit that the game’s combat looks fantastic when run at this speed.

Even if there are noticeable visual compromises required to achieve this level of performance, watching God of War’s gooey enemies splatter into mush under the force of Kratos’ axe looks divine.

In general, the game’s settings menu isn’t particularly noteworthy. The game has the same accessibility features as the console version, and it can be played with any PC compatible controller as well as a mouse and keyboard.

Best Compatibility

The mouse and keyboard controls are mostly usable, but they’re a little strange if you’re used to playing on a PlayStation pad. For example, holding the left CTRL to aim your axe feels clumsy.

Thankfully, the game’s menu allows you to remap all keyboard controls. Regrettably, gamepad controls cannot be remapped, forcing controller users to stick with the PS4 layout. It’s a minor niggle, but it’s a shame given the versatility of most modern PC games in this regard.

We’d be remiss if we didn’t mention how strange it felt to play the game with an Xbox One controller while we’re on the subject of input methods. Seeing a yellow “Y” icon indicating the ability to return our axe felt almost illegal, but there is a small thrill in controlling an iconic PlayStation mascot with a rival’s pad. We may need to get out more, but we’ll take our kicks wherever they come.

After considering all of this, we’re left with only one question: should you play God of War on PC? We can’t recommend this port highly enough to new players. God of War is a must-have release, and we’re ecstatic that one of the best videogames of all time can now be enjoyed by a wider audience.

Final Words

Without the “checkerboarded 4K” God of War came with on the PS4 Pro, full pixel-pumping 4K is now available (and on the PS5 backward-compatible version, which only unlocked the framerate). DLSS supersampling and AMD’s open-source Fidelity FX Super Resolution are available from AMD and Nvidia (also known as FSR).

Both are supported by Nvidia RTX cards, but only FSR is supported by AMD cards. By rendering at a lower resolution and intelligently upscaling for an image that looks nearly as good as native 4K, these two improve image quality.

Nvidia uses temporal data from previous pixels/frames to reconstruct the image in DLSS, whereas FSR is a technique that performs a spatial upscale followed by a contrast-aware dynamic sharpening pass.

On less expensive hardware, both can produce excellent results. God of War shows you the resolution being rendered by the engine and then the output target to the screen in the graphics options menu, which is a nice touch. This means that you primarily move through the same resolution levels across both technologies.

Director Cory Barlog was instrumental in establishing the God of War franchise as an iconic gory and debaucherous video game romp a decade ago. While its antihero, Kratos, had pathos (he killed his wife and daughter in a fit of rage, their ashes permanently greying his skin), it served little dramatic purpose, instead of serving as a grimdark excuse for his god-slaying and orgy-having ways.

Barlog, now a father, has returned to the series with a small army of talented designers, many of whom worked on previous games, to capitalize on the Francisses’ rich but underutilized potential. There’s still a lot of gore, but the guts are now meatier. Some die-hard God of War fans may be concerned that this isn’t the real God of War. We believe they are correct. It’s even better than that.

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