God of War: Ragnarök from Santa Monica Studio and Sony Interactive Entertainment released in 2022 to such critical acclaim that fans are already looking to what comes next. While plans for further sequels still seem to be up in the air, it’s certainly a great time to revisit the original trilogy that kicked off the franchise.
Set within Greek mythology, rather than the Norse backdrop the current iteration of the series relies upon, the original God of Warline is still considered a classic. However, upon a replay gamers might be reminded of a few harsh realities that threaten to really date that initial exciting experience.
The God of War franchise is well-known for its environmental puzzles. These physical challenges have become a key part of the gameplay mechanics as players explore the inventive and detailed world. That’s an element that had carried over from the earlier trilogy.
Game development has come a long way since those days though. Especially when heading back to the 2005 installment, many of the puzzles feel repetitive, or annoyingly complex, but not in an enjoyable way. Whereas they are now a welcomed aspect, the previous iterations feel like a hindrance.
Missing The Emotional Drive
One of the reasons the latest duo of releases in the God of War series are beloved is because they have a relatable emotional core for the player to really interact with. Ultimately, the story can be summed up as exploring the bond between a father and his son, after the death of their wife and mother.
The original trilogy might have had romances and vengeful pursuits, but the harsh reality is that they just don’t connect on an emotional level quite in the same way as the latest releases. Brutal God of War boss battles and inventive lore-making can only go so far; the key is to hit on the right familial notes in this case.
Kratos has never been that likable. It’s just the harsh reality of the God of War series. Even in the latest installments, God of War and Ragnarök, the violent, moody and impatient protagonist has very few redeeming features. But at least there are some.
In many ways, embarking on a path to become the god of war and raining down violence on Olympus makes Kratos even more unlikable. Regardless, players still enjoyed controlling the powerful figure, and he has developed into one of the best God of War characters because of those defining traits and the way he has thus evolved past them.
It’s hard to completely blame the early trilogy for how they look. At the time of their release their visual style was stunning and certainly ahead of the curve when paralleled with comparative releases. But upon a revisit, the harsh reality is that they feel extremely dated.
Older generation consoles just didn’t have the power to truly capture the beauty of Olympus and the mythological settings that the player could explore. What’s more, the character models feel incomplete, especially once players have seen how they are interpreted for current-gen platforms.
There is always a bit of a learning curve for those playing God of War for the first time, as the controls aren’t quite what people might expect. They break a few trends that most of the gaming industry appears to follow. That description very much matches the early days of the line.
The God of War controls were clunky at best, and it was often difficult for the player to properly maneuver Kratos how they saw fit. It’s another sign of the times, the controllers of the PS2 for instance are fondly remembered yet to actually use them feels like stepping back in time – and not in a good way.
Long Loading Times
The PlayStation 3 releases were certainly better in this area, but regardless of the consoles, God of War used to have ridiculous loading times, as did so many other action RPGs. These games are incredibly detailed and require a great deal of space to fully develop on the screen.
It’s a shame as those loading screens can hit the momentum of gameplay hard. Nowadays fans of God of War are well aware of how easily a cut scene will melt into proper gameplay, a genuine selling point of the experience. Those critical emotional gut punches of the other titles are somewhat tarnished by waiting in between.
Choppy Frame Rates
The combination of software and hardware also mean that the games don’t run as smoothly as fond memories would have liked. The harsh reality of God of War is that the frame rate can drop quite rapidly for most of the titles when events on screen get chaotic.
Elemental components like water and fire are notoriously hard to run, and those younger consoles definitely struggle trying to fully adapt the story into reality. It doesn’t always impede gameplay, but the odd frustrating freeze is definitely a downside of replaying those releases.
The Original Trilogy Doesn’t Compare To The Current Run
Regardless of how iconic those earlier titles were and how well they laid the groundwork for the current run on the PlayStation 4 and 5, the God of War trilogy just doesn’t compare well to the latest releases. They show a lot of potential and were phenomenal for the time period.
They are crucial for helping fans follow the story and would certainly produce an amazing experience if someone was to play all the releases in their proper order. But they do not scratch the surface of all the things players can do in God of War and Ragnarök.
Too Many Spinoffs
If someone was to look back in the archives of past installments in the franchise, they might be a little confused as to where to begin. In truth, the harsh reality is that there are so many options, from the Origins Collection, the original versions, mobile spinoffs, and even mini-game variations.
Deciding how to navigate this universe just isn’t as easy as the more recent versions as there is only one release of each. There are technically 8 games in canon, but then on top of that there are collective experiences like Saga that can confuse matters further.
No Remakes Coming Up
What would be perfect for people wanting to start the story at the beginning, was if there was a definitive collection of all the games in order, remade with current-gen visuals, loading times, and controls, that they could purchase all together. It would be a God of War fan’s dream.
As of right now, the harsh reality is that this isn’t happening. The future of God of War is very uncertain, although the popularity and financial success of the line surely means that something is in the works; hopefully, it will be that much-wanted project.