Feature Article

God Of War Story Recap: What To Know Before Playing Ragnarok

GameSpot may receive revenue from affiliate and advertising partnerships for sharing this content and from purchases through links.

Here's everything you need to know ahead of God of War: Ragnarok.

2018's God of War packed a lot of story into its 20-hour campaign. Not only did it have the Herculean task of reinventing the franchise's central anti-hero, Kratos, but it had a whole new world of myths and legends to introduce--chief among them, Kratos's son Atreus, a character whose secret identity will play a large part in God of War Ragnarok, which releases later tonight.

So whether you played the original back in 2018 and want a story recap, or you're just jumping in to prep yourself for Ragnarok, let's break down the story so far. Or just click below to watch a video recap.

Please use a html5 video capable browser to watch videos.
This video has an invalid file format.
Sorry, but you can't access this content!
Please enter your date of birth to view this video

By clicking 'enter', you agree to GameSpot's
Terms of Use and Privacy Policy

Now Playing: God of War (2018) Full Story Recap

The journey begins

God of War kicks off its grand narrative of gods and monsters in a very human way.

Our central anti-hero, Kratos--AKA the Ghost of Sparta--has relocated to the Norse wilderness, far from his homeland of Greece. There he has settled down, married a woman named Faye, and had a son that they call Atreus. We catch up with him in somber circumstances: Faye has passed away and he's chopping a tree marked by his dearly departed wife for use as a funeral pyre.

His relationship with Atreus is somewhat strained as well, and the pair find themselves in this tense dynamic as they set off to complete Faye's last request: to spread her ashes atop the highest peak in all the Nine Realms. Their journey is cut short before it even starts, though, by the arrival of a heavily tattooed stranger, who we later learn is the Norse god Baldur--and he doesn't mess about. He goads our Kratos into an epic fight to the death, and we're only 15 minutes into the game.

Either way, Kratos beats the crap out of him, and that's saying something as the lad is clearly immortal, but I'm getting ahead of myself. With the stranger dealt with for now, Kratos and Atreus set out on their quest to the top of the mountain. The pair head on their merry way and make it to the stunning fjords of the Lake of Nine. After sacrificing his axe on the whim of some ancient graffiti on a submerged tower, a lot happens in a very short span of time. First, the lake's water drops a good 50 feet lower, sending the pair on Norway's most dangerous white water rapid ride, before they encounter the largest snake you will ever see.

This turns out to be the World Serpent--a giant snake supposedly big enough that his body can wrap around the entirety of Midgard, the realm of mortals. With his giant body dislodged, the lake reveals a fair share of its underwater secrets, chief among them the central Realm Travel temple, and the nine Realm towers--hence the name, the Lake of Nine. With an onward path cleared to the mountain, the pair head for the foothills, bumping into not one but two charismatic dwarfs on the way. The pair, named Brok and Sindri respectively, turn out to be estranged brothers who went their separate ways when they disagreed on how to run their blacksmith business.

Kratos and Atreus next come across a huge mountain with a face, which presents something of a problem for the adventurous pair. The entrance to the mountain is blocked by plumes of foul-smelling dark smoke, which is known as the Black Breath. Fortunately, a witch, who is later revealed to be the goddess Freya, pops up to offer her advice on the matter, and directs Kratos and Atreus to find and use the light of Alfheim to dispel the Black Breath.


As you can't just order an Uber to take you to a whole other realm, Freya introduces the pair to the Bifrost, which allows gods and men--but mainly gods--to access and travel between the nine realms. The trio travel to Alfheim, but Freya is pulled back through a portal to Midgard for reasons that aren't made clear just yet.

Kratos and Atreus explore Alfheim and find themselves embroiled in a war between the Light and Dark Elves. They eventually find the light of Alfheim, and Kratos steps into it with the Bifrost held aloft to restore it. While he's in the light for what feels like mere moments, hours have passed back outside where Atreus has been holding off an entire army of Dark Elves with Kratos's axe. Atreus is furious with Kratos, but he slowly thaws on the subject when his father tells him he felt like he was only gone for a short time.

The mountain

Back at the mountain, they use the bifrost to dispel the Black Breath and start their ascent of the highest peak in Midgard. On the way they encounter a giant lightning dragon attacking Sindri, which Kratos slays, because that's just what he does.

They reach the top of the mountain and overhear a conversation between the stranger from earlier, who is now revealed as Baldur. He's with his nephews, Modi and Magni--the sons of Thor--and they're chatting to Mimir, who has been imprisoned in a tree and tortured for years. The three are talking about a certain marked man traveling with a child. When the trio of gods take their leave, Kratos and Atreus chat with Mimir, and he informs the pair that they've actually not reached the highest peak in the nine realms, as it's actually located in Jotunheim.

He then pleads with Kratos to free him from the torture he's been living through for the past century in return for helping them get to their destination, which is currently locked off to them by the giants of Jotunheim. Kratos agrees and Mimir instructs him to cut his head off and revive it using old magic, as you do. Atreus states that they know a witch who dabbles in the old dark arts and they hatch a plan to take Mimir's disembodied head back to her.

Gods and giants

When they reach the witch's turtle-house-thing, she performs the spells required to bring the head of Mimir back to life, and he reveals her as the goddess Freya. Kratos immediately distrusts her on account of being a god--a feeling that might have a little something to do with his past feud with the gods of Olympus.

They leave and Mimir informs them they need to go and talk to the World Serpent, who can help them access Jotunheim. Mimir blows on a big horn, which is impressive seeing as he has no lungs, and after a quick chat with the giant snake, he points them in the direction of a magic chisel that they need to access the realm of the giants.

Charting a course north, Mimir leads them to yet another impressive sight: the frozen corpse of Thamur, a giant who was slain by the god of thunder himself, Thor. They access a chunk of the required chisel, but before they can make it back to the Lake of Nine, they're ambushed by Magni and Modi, the aforementioned sons of Thor. After a tense fight, Kratos absolutely slaughters Magni, sending his brother Modi fleeing off into the tundra cursing the Greek god's name.

A funny thing happened on the way to Jotunheim

After their stunning defeat of an Aesir god--even if he is a minor one--Kratos and Atreus head to the temple of Tyr (the Norse God of War) to locate the travel rune to Jotunheim.

While there, they're attacked by a seething Modi, who pins Kratos down with lightning. Coming to his father's aid, Atreus attempts to attack Modi, which doesn't amount to much as he's a kid, except for a moment when Atreus briefly glows an angry red, showing signs of his father's Spartan Rage. However, he has no idea of the power lurking in his DNA, and keels over in a coma as a result of the power surging through his body.

Meanwhile, Kratos rages out and overpowers Modi, who scampers off whining into the distance. Mimir senses the drastic situation and orders Kratos to take the boy to Freya. When they get there, Freya says that to save him she needs the heart of a troll from the Norse realm of the dead, Helheim. She gives Kratos a word of warning though: His frost axe will be as useless as a chocolate teapot in the frozen wastes of the dead. Desperate to help his son, Kratos resigns himself to unearthing his past and re-arming himself with his iconic Blades of Chaos, a fiery relic of his violent history, which are hidden back at his cabin.

He takes Freya's boat for an extremely reflective boat ride back to the cabin, so reflective that his past literally manifests itself in front of his eyes in the form of one of his old tormentors--Athena, the Greek Goddess of Wisdom. Kratos forces her out of his mind once he dons his iconic blades, and begins the risky journey to hell and back.

Helheim and back

Kratos travels to Helheim, slays the troll and rips its heart out, and just as he's about to turn back towards Midgard, he's stopped in his tracks by a sight that he's not seen for well over a century. He's confronted by the giant face of his father, Zeus, who leers down at him from the green skies of Helheim. Flustered by the presence of his long-dead father, Kratos inadvertently reveals his Greek origins, and Mimir recognizes him as the Ghost of Sparta.

As they leave Helheim, Mimir implores Kratos to tell his son the truth about who he is when he wakes from his coma. And so it's with this heavy weight hanging over him that Kratos returns to Freya. He hands over the troll heart and the Norse goddess revives Atreus, and on the way out of her cave, Kratos finally tells Atreus the truth behind his godly origins, alongside the fact that Atreus also possesses godly powers--although what they are remains uncertain.

A god in the family

With all that behind them, the pair head back to Tyr's Vault, and after making it past some traps that would confound even Indiana Jones, they secure the Jotunheim rune marker. As they journey back up the mountain to the gate to Jotunheim, the news that Atreus is a god starts to fully sink in, and it kind of goes to his head.

The arrogant little god uses his newfound sense of power to take revenge on Modi, by stabbing him in the neck and kicking him off a cliff--a reckless move that does not go down well with his father. They make it back to the top of the mountain, but are ambushed by Baldur, and in the ensuing fight, the gate to Jotunheim is destroyed. Baldur kidnaps Atreus, and Kratos follows in pursuit by jumping right off the mountain and onto a dragon.

The fight continues atop the dragon, and the trio end up in the depths of Helheim. As they make their slow and steady way back to Midgard, Kratos and Atreus witness Baldur having a vision of an altercation with his mom, who turns out to be Freya. They're arguing over a spell that Freya has cast on Baldur--an allusion to the myth of Freya's fear of Baldur dying.

In the myth, she goes around and makes every living thing, and a fair few not-living things, promise never to kill or harm her son. They all promise, as the myth goes, and so Baldur is immortal.

The flip-side of this is he can't feel anything, hence why he's such an immoral, crotchety bastard in the game. Either way, Kratos and Atreus make it out of hell by flying (yes, flying) an ancient boat back to Midgard. It's a little bit like that dirigible sequence from The Mummy Returns, only colder and more Scandinavian.

The Realm between Realms

Back in the land of the living, our central pair suss out that Tyr has found a secret back door into Jotunheim, knowledge that was passed on to him as a result of his close alliance with the Giants. Turns out this back door is actually an upside down door found right beneath the Realm Travel temple. And to access it, all you have to do is flip the whole temple. Easy enough! Kratos does just that, and for his troubles, finds the fabled Unity Stone, which will allow the pair to travel to the realm between realms.

Kratos and company travel to this realm between realms via the game's fast-travel system, which is accessed via the branches of the Yggdrasil tree, the sacred World Tree from Norse Mythology. After a leap of faith, they find the missing Jotunheim gate, and restore it to its place on the shores of the Lake of Nine. But there's some good and bad news on the path to Jotunheim. First, the bad news: There's no travel crystal, which means they can't get there. But second, the good news: Mimir can use his eyes to act as the crystal, as long as they can find that missing second eye. Long story short, they deduce that the missing eye is actually in the belly of the World Serpent, because of course it is.

The belly of the beast

All of this leads them to the mad situation of having to canoe into a giant snake's mouth, which is the sort of thing you'll only find in a God of War game. They retrieve Mimir's lost eye, but on the way out are thrown from the snake's mouth to the frozen corpse of the giant Thamur where they encounter Freya and her estranged son, the absolute beast that is Baldur.

After a riotously violent fight, Kratos and Atreus eventually overpower the Aesir god, when they learn that his weakness is mistletoe--a plant found in one of Atreus's arrows. With his immortality over, Baldur finally takes revenge on his mother by strangling her. But before he can commit matricide, Kratos steps in and does everyone a favor by breaking the tattooed lad's neck.

Freya u-turns from near death at the hands of her own son to absolute devastation at Baldur's demise in mere seconds--an emotional rollercoaster that surprises Atreus until it's pointed out that any parent would mourn for their child, no matter how much of an asshole they were. Freya curses Kratos for his treachery and vows to make him rot in hell. But first, she leaves to bury her dearly departed little god.

Jotunheim, finally

With Baldur consigned to the cemetery of dead mythical gods, our two heroes and their godly head finally arrive at the gates of Jotunheim.

But on their way to the peak of the mountain, they land upon a treasure trove of lore courtesy of the seemingly omniscient Giants, including Faye, who it turns out was also a giant. Yep, they discover a giant fresco on the walls of a mountain-top temple that basically foretells every last detail of their adventure. Not only that, the stone tapestry spills the beans on two major spoilers that have yet to pass. First, Atreus is referred to as Loki by the giants, a name that Kratos confirms when he reveals that name was Faye's first choice for the boy. Naturally this throws up a whole load of questions, which will no doubt be further explored in Ragnarok.

But secondly, Kratos--and Kratos alone--also finds part of the fresco hidden behind a curtain that foretells his death, which throws up another tantalizing teaser for events to come in Ragnarok. And to be fair, he's had a good innings at this stage, so he's not too fussed. After all these bombshells, the pair make their way to the peak, and finally scatter Faye's ashes as per her final requests.

But wait. There are still a few bombshells yet to be dropped.

There's the small matter of the arrival of Fimbulwinter, which you probably haven't heard of. What you definitely have heard of is what it leads to: the cataclysmic end of the Norse world, Ragnarok.

Please use a html5 video capable browser to watch videos.
This video has an invalid file format.
Sorry, but you can't access this content!
Please enter your date of birth to view this video

By clicking 'enter', you agree to GameSpot's
Terms of Use and Privacy Policy

And finally, upon returning home, Kratos and Atreus lay their weary heads down for a well earned rest. Seemingly, they sleep for several years, and when they awake, they're greeted by none other than Thor himself, who's come to avenge his two dead sons. Only several years haven't passed, and the pair awaken a second time with Atreus regaling his dream of Thor to his father, but with the rather ominous caveat that it felt more like a prophecy. Yet another juicy tease for the next game. And with that, bring on Ragnarok I say!

For more, check out our God of War: Ragnarok review. And read up on everything we know about Kratos' next adventure, including special edition details. Just be wary of spoilers that have started to circulate on social media ahead of the game's release.

Got a news tip or want to contact us directly? Email news@gamespot.com

Back To Top