Now that god of war franchise has found its footing as an over-the-shoulder action adventure, it’s interesting to see the iterations made into gameplay since the 2018 installment. God of War Ragnarok takes its predecessor’s foundations and greatly improves upon them in different environments, with more options than players had before. Between God of War Ragnaroks amulet enchantments and relic customization, piecing together players’ stats and abilities can be quite overwhelming.
The menu screen contains many tabs for players to experiment with, and the fact God of War Ragnarok introducing a brand new weapon for Kratos is also exciting. But the gun players apparently don’t get as much attention God of War Ragnarok‘s shield, which arguably shakes up the fight the most out of any other item in the game and offers custom tools.
The Shield in God of War 2018 did as much for combat as the Leviathan axe
god of war‘s Leviathan Ax has been widely praised for its satisfying weight when cleaving draugr and planting it in an enemy’s collarbone. Similarly, the mechanic of being able to retrieve the weapon back into Kratos’ grasp at that point felt like it, and the impact of it rushing back into the player’s possession after each throw is still exciting in God of War Ragnarok.
The ax only marginally shifts between god of war (2018) and Ragnarok, which is a positive because of how well designed it already was. The retractable shield that debuts in god of warhowever, is undergoing dramatic changes in Ragnarok. IN god of warthe shield has its own skill tree of mechanics that players can unlock to give it more attacks in tandem with bare-handed strikes.
The shield can eventually deflect projectiles back at enemies, counterattack with ground mud, and is pretty well rounded without drastic changes. Still, it gave god of war a bigger structural overhaul than the ax because it advises players to approach combat with strategic parries and rewarding counterplay, which really sets it apart from the mindless hack-and-slash combat of god of war the franchise’s original Greek mythology game.
God of War Ragnarok’s shield gives players an opportunity to hone their own style
This shield is broken at the beginning of God of War Ragnarok, treating players with the freedom to choose shields that may better match their own preferred playstyle. Some shields are locked behind narrative progression, but they all offer a unique change that fans can experiment with when collected or crafted from the dwarves’ shop.
The Dauntless shield offers high-risk, high-reward parries that stun and boost players’ subsequent shield bashes. However, Onslaught Shield provides players with a shield rush mechanic that allows Kratos to charge at enemies while blocking incoming attacks, and enemies that are hit from a greater distance are launched. The Guardian Shield is Kratos’ original after being repaired, offering a standard shield check; it breaks enemy guards, and parries can be followed up with an R1 or R2 counterattack, representing the unlockable skills from the previous game.
Shatter Star Shield’s unique mechanic is a blow that knocks enemies backwards; holding block charges the shield, even though blocking attacks actually drains the charge, and unleashing a shield strike before an enemy attack lands absorbs the attack. Finally, Stone Wall Shield introduces the shield slam, launching enemies when fully charged. Attacks that are blocked charge the shield, and guard-break attacks that would normally have to be parried can be blocked with Stone Wall Shield.
On top of these choices, there are also upgradeable shield rounds God of War Ragnarok which can complement the players’ combat options. It’s a unique playstyle considered for anyone, and this kind of design would be excellent to see in greater detail going forward.
God of War Ragnarok is available now for PS4 and PS5.
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