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aka: God Of War 2018

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Kratos: Now you are ready...
Atreus: For what?
Kratos: A new beginning...

"No. We are not men. We are more than that. The responsibility is far greater. And you must be better than me. Understand?"
Kratos
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God of War is a 2018 sequel to God of War III and the eighth installment in the God of War Series, developed by SCE Santa Monica Studio for PlayStation 4.

Long ago, a Semi-Divine warrior named Kratos destroyed the pantheon of Classical Mythology in a Roaring Rampage of Revenge after the gods took his wife and daughter. Centuries later, in a land far to the North, the now immortal Kratos tries to live quietly with his wife Faye and their young son named Atreus. However, after Faye dies, Kratos and Atreus must leave their home to fulfill Faye's last wish: to scatter her ashes from the top of the highest peak among the Nine Realms. In the process, the father and son find themselves crossing paths with all manner of gods and monsters of Norse Mythology. At the same time, Kratos, who has spent Atreus' life a cold and distant father, must learn to finally open himself up and forge a genuine bond with his son.

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The game is a departure from the rest of the series in that it abandons the Stylish Action aspects of previous games, taking the action down a notch in favor of a more grounded and gritty Hack and Slash style of gameplay, reflected in that Kratos' main weapon is now the Leviathan Axe or that the camera never goes far from Kratos' shoulder. Moreover, the game features Atreus as an Assist Character and focuses on the strained-then-mended relationship between the two, as well as their self-discovery throughout the journey. He still fights legendary monsters and Norse Gods, though.

God of War was released on April 20, 2018.

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God of War contains examples of:

  • A God I Am Not: Kratos would certainly prefer this to be the case. He moved to Midgard specifically to avoid his Divinity and would much prefer to live a normal person. However he is forced to once again embrace his Divine nature when he realizes it's hurting Atreus not understanding his God status. He does however admit that he did a terrible job as a God and is determined to teach his son to be a better God than he was.
  • Abandoned Mine: The Völunder Mines. The miners left a long time ago, and the tunnels are now inhabited by draugr. There is also a mean-looking Soul Eater that Kratos can kill to fulfill a favor for Brok.
  • Abusive Parents: This is one of many themes that pops up regularly in the game, with even Kratos himself showing signs:
    • Kratos is a downplayed example at the beginning of the game—the below examples are much worse, but his insecurity has had very negative consequences. Kratos's deliberate efforts to hide his past as the Ghost of Sparta from Atreus have resulted in Kratos coming off as distant, abrasive, and impossible to please, which has obviously damaged the boy. As the game wears on, Kratos undergoes Character Development and learns to bond with Atreus.
    • When Modi flees from Kratos, Thor assumes Modi abandoned his brother Magni and beats him within an inch of his life.
    • Freya took away her son Baldur's ability to feel anything in order to give him near-Complete Immortality without even asking him, and refused for a century to give it back to him no matter how much he begged, even though she could have at any time. Unlike Kratos, who realized he was wrong and changed, this was her smothering her son and wishing to protect him in a completely selfish manner, and even him trying to kill her would not make her budge.
    • Odin has traces of this. Odin tricked Hrungnir, here a mentally handicapped giant, into making a drunken fool of himself for the court of Asgard, but neglected to tell Thor. When Thor arrived, he slew the giant, only to be pinned under the corpse. The court just kept laughing.
    • It's even in the subquests. A spirit in Fafnir's storeroom was betrayed and murdered by his son. Tracking the son reveals that he hated his father for leaving him with his grandfather while he ran the family pirate crew, and strove to show his father up, hence the betrayal. The father is resentful, but still loves his son enough to not rat him out. When he learns his son regretted his actions and died fighting against the pirate crew when they rebelled to avenge his murder, the father moves on to the afterlife, at ease his son is in Valhalla.
  • Adaptational Heroism:
    • Fafnir, of the Volusunga Saga, makes an appearance as a Dwarf-turned-Dragon whom Kratos and Atreus can free during the course of the game. The fact that he's a kin-slaying murderer whose greed caused him to transform into a dragon in the first place isn't brought up. The worst that is mentioned is Sindri describing him as an "aggressive collector" of magic artifacts. That said, Sindri also notes he hasn’t seen him in a while and assumes he is dead, so there isn’t so much added heroism as there is a lack of knowledge of any perceived evil.
    • The Aesir-Vanir War is alluded to by certain characters who make it seem like a one-sided affair. Yes, the Aesir attempted to kill Gullveig (Freyja), but in their defense, she was actively turning them against each other.
    • Jormungandr, the World-Serpent, who will end up poisoning the sky and water of Midgard at Ragnarok, thus killing all mankind, is a heroic figure in the story and even saves Kratos and Atreus on a few occasions. Then again, given that Atreus is Loki, the prophecy foretells the journey he and Kratos are on is the one that sets in motion the sequence of events that heralds Ragnarok and his own birth. There is a lot of ironic self-serving here.
    • Atreus, who turns out to be Loki, is an interesting example. What Loki was actually like is slippery—every mythological figure has varying depictions, and the attempts of early scholars of Norse mythology to make the stories neater and more Christian only muddled things more. Loki's atrocities and role in Ragnarok are well-known, but he was also depicted as an example of the Trickster Archetype—mischievous, but heroic, and an ally of the Aesir. For the most part, Atreus is a kind, sympathetic boy, but does show a darker side as well. In any case, the event serving as Loki's Start of Darkness in the popular understanding—causing the death of Baldur by tricking Hodr into shooting him with mistletoe—is shown very differently here. Atreus takes a punch from a violently psychotic Baldur that was meant for Kratos, causing Baldur to accidentally stab himself with mistletoe tied to Atreus's quiver strap. Atreus may be subject to an in-universe Historical Villain Upgrade to explain the inconsistencies.
    • A number of Giants get a heroism upgrade to justify the Aesir being the bad guys. The etymology of Jötunn can be interpreted as anything from evil spirit to gluttonous to devourers, and in mythology, they were generally rapacious spirits of entropy and destruction that were harmful toward humans (though there were benign and neutral ones). The Aesir, though warlike and bloodthirsty, were ultimately protectors of humanity. Here, the Giants are a wise race of philosophers and artists who want to usher in a world "where gods grow good". Very few of them are seen in a negative light, and are often the victims of the conversely much crueler Aesir. That said, Norse Mythology is more Order vs. Chaos, with the Giants being the "Chaos" side, than Good vs Evil and their "evil" nature is likely in part another thing coming from Christian values being implanted into the stories as they were organized and collected by scholars.
    • In the myths, Hrungnir and Odin get into a bet over whose horse is faster, which ends with Hrungnir chasing Odin to Asgard. The gods welcome him hospitably, but he soon becomes drunk and rowdy, making threats that he'll kill the Aesir and take their womanfolk back to Jotunheim. Thor is called to deal with him, resulting in Hrungnir's death, with some interpretations saying that they had an honorable duel. Here, Hrungnir is presented as a charming simpleton who Odin met one day wandering Midgard. Finding him amusing, harmless, and gullible, Odin invited him back to Asgard. He gets him drunk and goads him into all manner of boasts and antics, all for the amusement of the court. Drunk, Hrungnir makes the same threats he did in mythology, until Thor shows up, who takes one look at the drunken buffoon and strikes him dead.
    • Also, the story of Hrimthurs, which in myth isn't the name of a person but of a people, as it literally means 'Frost Giants'. In the myths, the giant who built Asgard's walls with the help of Svaðilfari did so because he wanted Freyja's hand in return for it. Here, he intentionally built the wall with structural weaknesses so that it can be destroyed at Ragnarok by the giants, thereby avenging his father's death at the hands of Thor, and seemingly tells this tidbit to Freyja before he gets killed by Thor.
    • Surtr, the Fire Giant destined to burn Asgard and engulf the world in flame, is painted in a very heroic light, and is even known as "Surtr the Brave". Although his part in Ragnarok remains unchanged (i.e., he will destroy Asgard, dying to Thor and Odin in the process), the world will be born anew from Asgard's destruction. Until then, he lives a lonely existence in Muspelheim, ever honing his blade, knowing that he is destined to die... all in service to a grand cycle that's bigger than himself. Mimir even describes him as "brave and generous" for embracing his purpose despite the patience and sacrifice it demands.
  • Adaptational Villainy: Many of the Aesir Gods are portrayed as more vicious and cruel than in mythology.
    • Baldur was regarded as the most kind and pure of all gods in the Norse pantheon. Here, he is a psychotic madman who wants to kill his mother for making him invulnerable and inadvertently taking away his senses (and she only did this for his own protection).
    • Odin himself gets hit with this pretty bad, as the emphasis on his more negative traits makes him worse than Zeus. The All-Father is shown as a controlling Evil Overlord that spies on every living being in the Nine Worlds, is willing to kill anyone he perceives as a threat to him (even if they aren't at the moment), including other gods such as Tyr, tortures others as a hobby, and has a knack for finding new ways to inflict pain on his victims (one of them being Mimir, who was a close friend of his in mythology whom he brought back to life after being beheaded by the Vanir). It's said that everything he does is to prevent Ragnarok, but his actions paint him in a self-serving light, out to preserve his own power.
    • The Aesir in general, though primarily gods of war and death in the original mythology, are portrayed as being far more brutish and savage than they were in the mythology. Odin's slaying of Ymir is treated similarly to Zeus overthrowing the Titans — i.e. an usurpation. According to the Poetic Edda, however, Odin only killed Ymir after he "became evil". Considering what the Titans eventually revealed themselves to be in the original trilogy, though, it's possible things aren't quite so black-and-white as we're led to believe with the Aesir and Jotnar.
  • Adaptation Expansion: Taken Up to Eleven. In God of War (PS4), it is revealed that Kratos was known as Fárbauti, to the giants of Jötunheim. The actual Fárbauti of Norse myth is given little to no characterization beyond his role as the father of Loki.
    • In a more conventional sense, the novelization of the game details just how Kratos made it to Midgard after the events of Greece, as well as how he survived his attempted suicide in III, detailed in All There in the Manual below.
  • Adult Fear:
    • When Atreus is hunting a boar in a maze-like foggy area, Kratos has to call him to figure out which way he went. He gets audibly distressed when Atreus doesn't answer.
    • When Baldur and Kratos are fighting for the first time at Kratos's house, Baldur sees through a hole in the roof that there are two beds. Baldur immediately begins asking Kratos who else lives there and who he's hiding, prompting Kratos to really bring the pain.
    • Kratos becomes furious (automatically activating his Spartan's Rage) when Atreus is taken by dark elves.
    • Later in the game, Atreus becomes dangerously ill and it clearly terrifies Kratos. His voice and body language during this section show obvious anxiety.
    • It's bad enough to have a past you're ashamed of, which you don't want to tell your kid about. And then you have to tell him just part of the truth, and he starts heading down the same path anyway.
  • After the End: While it's not the full-blown Ragnarok yet, it's clear that once Kratos and Atreus leave their woods, something is very wrong with the realms. Nearly all of them are deserted, with the dead rising up in droves all over the place, and the two are told second-hand that the people who used to live in the area are either all dead or long since fled Midgard. Some of the Lore Scrolls found seem to hint this is because of a "plan" Odin is enacting on purpose.
  • All There in the Manual: It's revealed through the novelization just how Kratos managed to survive being impaled by the Blade of Olympus in the previous game: he realized he couldn't die by his own hand, and after trying to throw himself off a cliff, a gust of wind carried him back onto his own feet, as if some force of nature was preventing him from offing himself. So he decided to just travel to a distant land through ship.
  • All Trolls Are Different: Trolls are rare monsters that Kratos can encounter. They are tough enough to constitute a Boss Battle by themselves. They come in several colors, but all are as big as the cyclops, have tusks, and wield giant stone pillars imbued with magic which they can use in a limited fashion.
  • An Aesop: In-Universe example. Idle conversation with Atreus lead to Kratos bluntly telling him several of Aesop's fables, such as the tale of a frog and his son looking for a new home and the son almost jumping to his doom inside a well. It references Atreus' own recklessness, which Kratos repeatedly warns him about. Kratos references learning the stories from an old man, who might have been the Aesop.
  • Angst? What Angst?: In-Universe, Atreus openly accuses Kratos of not even caring that Faye is dead. Kratos promptly shuts him up, informing him that he's grieving for her in his own way.
  • Annoying Arrows: In a scene that didn't make it into the final game, Atreus misses and shoots an arrow into Kratos' shoulder, who barely flinches and simply pulls it out and continues fighting the troll. He doesn't even bother to get angry at the child afterwards. Averted in the final game. While Kratos does most of the heavy lifting, Atreus can kill enemies on his own and can later infuse his arrows with different magical properties. He can even break Kratos out of enemy grabs with them. In fact, his arrows are so potent that during a critical plot point when Atreus' pride about being a god and resentment toward Kratos reaches a head, he purposefully shoots Kratos with a shock arrow, stunning him long enough for Baldur to knock out and kidnap Atreus.
  • Anti-Frustration Features:
    • Should players find difficulty figuring out how to beat a boss, the game will provide hints.
    • If you accidentally forget to pick up a unique item after a battle is over (like a Frozen Flame upgrade for the axe), the blacksmiths will have a "Lost Items" section where you can claim it at no cost.
    • While the Bonus Bosses don't have this luxury, story bosses have mid-fight checkpoints. The Troll in Hel (Máttugr Helson) is a particularly glaring example — the final checkpoint is as late as the last couple of bars of his HP.
    • If Kratos knocks an enemy off a cliff, they instantly die. And their loot drop will magically appear on the cliff-side, so the player doesn't have to hold back for fear of losing their reward.
    • If you don't like the button-mashing prompts or the precision based method of opening the Hidden Chambers, you can switch both to simplified versions in the gameplay options.
    • If your resistance meter empties out after beating the Niflheim Valkyrie it will automatically refilled so you can leave the area.
    • If he didn't have it before, Kratos will automatically recall his axe before entering a mystic gateway.
  • The Anti-Nihilist: Mimir tells the story of Surtr the Brave. Surtr is destined to die after burning Asgard with his flaming sword, so the new world can begin anew. Rather than try to defy destiny or change his fate, he tirelessly hones his blade so he won't fail.
    Mimir: Brave, generous Surtr, who knows he lives but to his doom. All because he chooses to serve a grand cycle, so much bigger than himself. To truly embrace your purpose, and the patience and sacrifice it demands, is to ensure your day will come.
  • Arc Words:
    • Kratos' advice to Atreus whenever the boy fails or is on the verge of despair is always some variation of "Be better". This is as much instructions to the boy as it is a reminder to himself that he mustn't be the man whose fury made him a Villain Protagonist. Becomes even more poignant when he says it to Baldur - another god whose justified anger at a parental figure has spiraled into an uncontrollable blind rage - as he snaps his neck before he can do anymore harm.
    • Several lore markers speak of a prophesied time "until gods grow good". The earliest instance seems to use the phrase sarcastically, in a similar fashion to "when pigs fly". However, its' appearance in Jotunheim hints at something more meaningful.
  • Artificial Brilliance: The game's enemies, especially on the stronger difficulty settings, are mercilessly effective at co-ordinating their attacks in order to exploit the game's complete lack of Mercy Invincibility in order to stun-lock you and beat you to a bloody pulp in short order.
  • Artistic License: The Jotun shrine that Kratos finds in Helheim has symbols at each of the corners: an Egyptian wadjet, the Greek letter Omega, a Japanese mitsudomoe, and a Celtic triskele, all of which are identified as meaning "war", which they really don't.
  • As Long as It Sounds Foreign: Static runes shown on in-game objects are mostly accurate. However, whenever a new location is entered, runes will appear and fade into Latin letters showing the place name, and these are nonsense. They're individual runes fading into individual letters as opposed to whole words fading into whole words, so there's no way the "translation" would make sense. For instance, the runes shown for Dauthamunni actually spell out "lthrjbiotwog gthhfrllngu".
  • Assist Character: Atreus aids Kratos in combat. He can attack enemies and stun them, opening them up for Kratos to attack. He can also be commanded to shoot arrows and use summoning magic. Although he can be endangered by enemies, this is pretty rare, and he's ultimately much more of a benefit than a liability.
  • Awkward Father-Son Bonding Activity: The entire game can be construed as this for Kratos and Atreus.
  • An Axe to Grind: Having lost his signature chain blades at the end of III or so it was thought, Kratos now wields the Leviathan Axe, which can be infused with ice and thrown for further usefulness. It's enchanted to return to Kratos' hand after throwing it, making it a useful tool for hitting faraway objects or solving puzzles. It was forged by Sindri and Brok (the same Dwarves who made Mjolnir) for Faye, Kratos' late wife.
  • Badass and Child Duo: Kratos and Atreus. On their journey, they take down draugr, trolls, cannibalistic reavers, ogres, dragons, Valkyries, and to top it off, a virtually immortal god.
  • Badass Beard:
    • By this game, Kratos has upgraded from a goatee to a full, thick beard that takes up the entire lower half of his face. It might be a combination of a Beard of Sorrow and a Time-Passage Beard.
    • Almost all of the male Norse characters sport a thick beard. Some of these Norse, like the Stranger, can go toe to toe with Kratos.
  • Barrier Change Boss: Final Boss Baldur switches his vulnerabilities during his third phase.
  • Bash Brothers: Magni and Modi, the Sons of Thor. They constantly bicker and argue as one might expect of siblings, but they make a dangerous duo with their own Combination Attack, the Snowblind.
  • Behemoth Battle: Near the end of the main campaign Jörmungandr takes on the reanimated Thamur, albeit briefly.
  • Behind the Black: Used In-Universe to explain to an increasingly incredulous Kratos how Sindri (and, by extension, Brok) keep getting to places before himself and Atreus. According to Sindri, dwarves have the ability to step into the "place between the realms" that beings within the Nine Realms cannot perceive, effectively rendering them invisible. Sindri demonstrates it by vanishing from view as the camera goes behind Atreus's back, being visible on one side of him and then invisible on the other before his hand extends from offscreen to offer Atreus an apple. By Sindri's admission the ability doesn't work on dragons.
  • Bilingual Bonus: The Old Norse rune answers to many puzzles are almost identical to their modern Scandinavian counterparts. Also, a Funny Background Event that will likely pass non-Scandinavian ears is Brok referring to his Beast of Burden as "digr bikkja, dumbr bak-rauf" which roughly translates to "big bitch, stupid ass".
    • In an easily missable moment near the very end of the game, examining the jotun mural with Photo Mode will show that Kratos is identified as Fárbauti in runes.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Kratos and Atreus have managed to mend their strained bond, complete their quest to scatter Faye's ashes, and return home. But along the way, they are forced to kill Baldur to defend Freya, only for her to vow revenge on them for her son's death. As if this wasn't bad enough, the Norse Gods now have their sights on them, as shown by a vision of Thor confronting them in the near future. The jötnar are, seemingly all dead, Fimbulvinter has started and Kratos cannot have the peace he so wanted. To top it all off, the murals of Jotunheim imply that Kratos is destined to die in Atreus's arms, presumably setting the scene for Ragnarok to occur.
  • Blackout Basement: At one point, Kratos and Atreus must return through a pitch-black tunnel in Alfheim, and the only source of light is the dim lantern Kratos has.
  • Black and White Morality: Atreus would like to believe that there are strictly "good gods" and "bad gods", but both Kratos and Mimir try to help the young man gain a wider perspective on the complex morality at play in the setting. It also gets a little disturbing when Atreus decides that godhood means the concerns of "lesser beings" are beneath him in a very Nietzschean turn.
  • Bleached Underpants: Virtually all entries set in the original trilogy’s setting had several female designs be quite fetish-fueled, from clothing that left little to the imagination with lots of exposed bits to outright going topless. This rebirth for the series, on the other hand, has abandoned this aspect — sexuality and nudity aren’t part of this new chapter for the franchise.
  • Big Bad: A Subverted Trope. Although the Stranger whose real identity is Baldur, the Norse God of light serves as the primary foe to the leads, antagonizing them during their journey and being fought as the Final Boss at the end of the game, he is The Heavy to Odin, who makes no apperance in the game, but whose villany is heavily discussed, particularly by Mimir.
  • Big Brother Is Watching: Odin has eyes and ears everywhere through his ravens. One side mission titled "The Eyes of Odin" has Kratos dispatching all of Odin's winged spies.
  • Bonus Boss: All of the Valkyries you can come across during your journey. They're significantly stronger than normal bosses and it takes the best skills and equipment to beat them, but they have no impact on the main story and you are not required to kill them to proceed in the game.
  • Book-Ends:
    • Near the beginning of the game, Kratos fights the Stranger. It ends with Kratos breaking his neck. Near the end of the game, Kratos fights the Stranger again, now having been revealed to be the god Baldur. It ends with Kratos breaking his neck, this time for good.
    • A smaller, but still poignant moment is very early in the game while hunting a deer: Atreus offers his knife to Kratos, who says "finish what you started" and gives some slight help so Atreus can kill the deer. Seeing his son shaken by his first kill, Kratos moves to put his hand on Atreus' shoulder, but backs out. After the two reach their goal, Atreus offers the bag holding of Faye's ashes to Kratos, who says that "we do it together." After they two finish their goal, the camera pans back from the ashes to reveal Kratos finally having his arm around Atreus' shoulders.
  • Bragging Rights Reward:
    • The only way to get the final upgrade for the Leviathan Axe is to clear some of the game's most difficult combat challenges, including beating some of the Valkyries. Same goes for the Blades of Chaos with the Heart of Muspelheim. Sigrun, Queen of the Valkyries, drops some pretty good loot as well, but she's also the most difficult enemy in the entire game. By the time you beat her, you've probably got nothing left to do. You're certainly good enough to clear the final boss without needing anything she could provide.
    • The reward for beating the game's Give Me God of War mode are two shield skins that give no stat bonuses or abilities, and you barely get to see them in-game anyway.
      • Beating Give Me God of War mode in New Game+ not only unlocks the skins, but two optional armors for Atreus. The armors are a particular example of this trope, as the player will have likely already bought Atreus' ultimate armor, rendering the unlocks pointless.
  • Brawler Lock: Both the Stranger and Kratos become locked into one; their physical strength is so equally matched that their struggle starts shattering the ground around them, eventually creating a sizeable rift in the earth between them.
  • Break Out the Museum Piece: When Atreus becomes ill and Freya asks Kratos to bring her the heart of Helheim's Gatekeeper to cure him, she warns him that Hel is deathly cold, that no magic in the Nine Realms can make a blaze there, and that the ice magic of the Leviathan Axe would not avail him against the cold denizens of Hel. Kratos grimly realizes that he must unearth his past and returns home, retrieving the Blades of Chaos hidden beneath the floorboards. The Blades, having been forged in the depths of Hades and infused with magic outside the Nine Realms, nicely fit his needs.
    • To twist the knife of cruelty, the only weapons that he can wield to venture into Helheim and save his dying son—the only family he has left—are the same blades that he murdered his daughter and first wife with, centuries ago in Greece.
  • Break the Haughty: Kratos's second visit to Helheim causes this to happen to Atreus, who has become very much like his father with the thought that he's a god. After getting his ass kicked by Baldur, shooting Kratos in a blind rage, and causing them both to be trapped in Hel, Kratos gives him a "The Reason You Suck" Speech that lets Atreus know in no uncertain terms that he is the reason they're stuck in Hel, that his attitude will not be tolerated, and that he will do what Kratos says from now on, without question. This, plus visions that the place shows Atreus of him murdering Modi in cold blood, finally manages to snap Atreus out of his smugness.
  • Brought Down to Badass: At the start of the game Kratos has clearly been out of the god-killing business for a while and no longer seems to have access to his full range of Olympian powers. Despite this he is still formidable enough to take down a giant troll and hold his own against the stranger (Baldur) in their first fight.
  • Burning with Anger: Kratos' Spartan Rage, best shown during his first fight with the Stranger, whereupon nearby tree roots burst into flame when he enters it. Atreus, who happens to have anger management issues, appears to enter a Spartan Rage-like state when he gets really angry (but it quickly overwhelms him). Like father, like son.
  • Bury Me Not on the Lone Prairie: Faye has asked Kratos and Atreus to scatter her ashes on the highest mountain among the nine realms, which is the ultimate goal of the game.
  • Cain and Abel: Brutally inverted. Modi flees after Kratos kills his sibling Magni, but this makes Thor believe that Modi abandoned his own brother, which results in a brutal No-Holds-Barred Beatdown given to Modi offscreen.
  • Call-Back: If there was any doubt that this is the same Kratos, there is a wealth of references to his previous life throughout the game.
    • When the duo come across a relic referring to the Norns, Kratos asks who are they and Atreus says they are the fates. Kratos replies that they can't be good, obviously referring to the Sisters of Fate in II.
    • Once you obtain the Blades of Chaos, Kratos uses them just like he did in the original trilogy, with lots of long swipes and circular motions. He even has several of his classic moves under different names, including the Plume of Prometheus.
    • Just before Kratos kills Baldur for the last time, he repeats "the cycle ends here", the same words that Zeus told him before killing him in II. He refers to the Cycle of Revenge of children killing parents and wanted to prevent Baldur from murdering his mother Freya.
    • One of the treasure maps you can find is named "The Ship Captain's Key", referencing the ill-fated captain who kept running into Kratos in the older games. The map's description even says he was swallowed by the Hydra, which happened in the original God of War.
    • When the Witch of the Woods asks if Kratos knows about the Realm of the Dead, he replies he isn't familiar "with this one" (referencing his previous visits to the Underworld in previous games).
    • Near the end of the game, Kratos once again jumps into the void in a similar manner to how he jumped off the Suicide Bluffs in the first game in an attempt to kill himself. This time, however, he does it because it's the path forward, and there's Atreus and Mimir who come along as well.
    • Also near the end of the game, Kratos once again has to travel into the belly of a gigantic monster, this time being the World Serpent. Luckily, this time the monster isn't trying to kill him.
    • The way Kratos kills the Dragon is similar to how he defeated the Hydra in the first game, impaling the monster with a giant crystal just like how he impaled the Hydra's head on the ship's mast.
    • Once again, Kratos decapitates a mythical being in order to use their head as a tool. In this case, however, it's at Mimir's request and he is revived as a travel companion for the duo rather than being kept as an object to be used.
  • The Call Knows Where You Live: A Stranger knocks at Kratos' home, looking for a fight, which he gets after much provoking. Afterwards, Kratos realizes that Atreus is in danger and they immediately begin their quest to scatter Faye's ashes.
  • Came Back Wrong: Mimir implies that at best he's reanimated, and is still very much dead. The fact that this unpleasant state of being undead is preferable to the torture he endured under Odin speaks volumes. If Kratos tries to visit Freya's house in the post-game, Atreus wonders if Freya will revive Baldur with the same magic she used on Mimir, who muses that being undead is so unpleasant that she would never subject her son to that fate.
  • The Cameo:
    • Athena appears before Kratos to give him a Hannibal Lecture when he regains his Blades of Chaos.
    • Zeus appears as a hallucination to Kratos when he visits Helheim.
  • Canon Character All Along: Atreus is revealed at the end of the game to be Loki from Norse Mythology. This also makes his mother Faye the giant Laufey, and Kratos the "cruel striker" Fárbauti.
  • Character Development: Kratos is not the same bloodthirsty one-man Spartan army he was in the original games. As Word of God puts it, "we are done telling the story of the Hulk. Now we want to tell the story of Bruce Banner." This is best demonstrated with how he tries to warn his son that killing a god has consequences, in contrast with the old Kratos, who didn't give a damn about such matters. Right at the beginning of the game, when he is angered by his son's impatience and inability to listen when Atreus fires his arrow at a deer despite Kratos telling him to hold, Kratos starts his typical shouting when he scolds him, complete with classic God of War chorus building in the background, but once he realizes what's happening, he actually makes an effort to calm himself by breathing in deeply, and finishes his scolding message in a calmer tone, with the chorus disappearing as he does so — a far cry from his hair-trigger unstoppable rage past.
    Kratos: What are you doing?! Now its guard is up! Only fire... [Breathes deeply to calm down] Only fire... when I tell you to fire.
  • Chekhov's Gun:
    • When the Stranger first comes to Kratos' house, Kratos orders Atreus to hide in a hidden room underneath the floorboards. Atreus protests that Kratos usually never wants him to go down there, and a cloth bundle is briefly visible. Later in the game, Kratos retrieves the bundle, which contains the Blades of Chaos that he's hidden from his son.
    • Early in the game, Kratos and Atreus navigate an abandoned tunnel once used by the Giants. Kratos expresses confusion at the tunnel's cramped dimensions, and Atreus has to clarify that many Giants were not literally gigantic. Certainly explains how Kratos never knew that Faye and Atreus are Giants.
    • When Kratos is trapped in the Light of Alfheim, he sees two places he and Atreus will later go: the boat in Helheim and the mountain in Jotanheim.
    • Sindri's mistletoe arrows, which inadvertently allow Atreus to remove Baldur's invulnerability. More directly, at one point in the game, Atreus' quiver strap breaks and Kratos performs a temporary repair with an arrowhead; Freya destroys the mistletoe arrows but doesn't notice the arrowhead, which is what ends up stabbing Baldur.
  • Coming-of-Age Story: The journey to fulfill Faye's last wish serves as one for Atreus.
  • Composite Character:
    • Freya is conflated with Frigga, Odin's wife and mother of Baldur. This is appropriate, since many scholars believe the two to be a Decomposite Character. Mimir mentions in an incidental conversation that Frigg was a pet name Odin gave Freya when they were wed, and eventually used it as a sort of fictional identity to give credit to Freya's more notable achievements, implying that the confusion exists In-Universe.
    • Kratos has taken traits from characters from Nordic legend as well, specifically Fárbauti (due to being the father of Loki) and Hodr (being Baldur's slayer).
    • Chief Developer Cory Barlog has also gone on record to state that the primary inspiration for Kratos' persona in God Of War (2018) is William Munny, played by Clint Eastwood in Unforgiven. Stated by Eastwood to be an Older and Wiser "Man With No Name" from the Dollars Trilogy of Spaghetti Western directed Sergio Leone, Munny (like Kratos) is also an elderly Retired Monster spurred into action by the death of his wife, returning to a life of murder that he tried to leave behind for One Last Job, to build a better life for his child.
  • Contrived Coincidence: As a reward for saving Sindri from a Dragon, the dwarf decides to bestow a quiver of mistletoe arrows to Atreus as a gift for him. This begs the question as to why he would make a normally impractical mistletoe arrow in the first place, particularly with The Reveal that the mistletoe coincidentally turns out to be the one weakness that can remove Baldur's immortality; the only reason given in-game is that dwarves, particularly Brok and Sindri, just love crafting weapons, armor and other things using elaborate and unlikely raw materials.
  • Convection Schmonvection: Kratos and Atreus wander the realm of Muspellheim and climb the slopes of an active volcano, with no worse effects than Atreus (and Mimir's head) remarking about how hot it is. Technically, they should be catching on fire, being only inches away from actual flowing lava.
  • Conveniently Precise Translation: Several puns throughout the game only work in English. For example, the lore marker that tells you about Muspelheim says "The Gauntlet of Surtur". Atreus thinks this refers to a glove, while Kratos (correctly) interprets it as a series of challenges. Except that "gauntlet" meaning glove comes from Old French, while "gauntlet" meaning challenge comes from Modern Swedish.
  • Cool Gate: The Bifrost. It's attached to the World Tree and uses it as a connection between realms, putting down roots that serve as a bridge.
  • Cosmetic Award: The game's Give Me God of War difficulty is borderline impossible for the first couple of hours and still an incredible challenge even after that. You don't get anything for completing it besides two shield skins which you'll barely ever see in gameplay.
  • Crapsack World: Even though Midgard is in a much better shape than what Greece was left at the end of God of War III, it's hardly any better than what it used to be before that either. For starters, it's a Grim Up North land and slowly getting worse, first flooded by a Desolation, then subjected to increasingly bad winters, and finally being overrun by undead. The few humans encountered are cannibals, and Kratos assumes the ones that aren't won't be friendly either. The Aesir are just as bad as the Olympians and implied to have been corrupted somehow, with Odin going drunk with power and reducing the Nine Worlds to ruin and doing everything in his power to prevent others from overthrowing him. Even Alfheim, the most gorgeous location visited by the leads, is consumed by war between the light elves and the dark elves.
  • Crossover Cosmology: Kratos is a Greek god who traveled to the land of Norse mythology. Mimir is also strongly implied to be the Puck of Celtic mythology featured in A Midsummer Night's Dream. The Mesoamerican, Egyptian, Celtic and Japanese civilizations are also implied to have had contact with the Norse pantheon.
  • Cutscene Boss: Subverted in the first fight against the Ogre in the Foothills. At first, Kratos and Atreus seem to kill the Ogre in a cutscene and a group of Mooks show up to fight, but then the Ogre gets back up.
  • Cycle of Revenge: A theme of the game is trying to defy this. Kratos, though he doesn't trust the gods, just wants to live his new life in peace with his son. Meanwhile, his enemies are fixated on vengeance, despite Kratos telling them that Vengeance Feels Empty. Just before he kills Baldur, Kratos echoes Zeus when he says "the cycle ends here." However, it doesn't take, because Freya vows revenge on Kratos and Atreus for killing Baldur.
  • Dark Secret: Kratos' destruction of Greece and murder of his father Zeus have become his dark secret, a shame he wishes to hide from Atreus. He finally reveals his crimes to his son (while still remaining vague), but Atreus isn't that shocked.
  • Deader Than Dead: The fate of anyone killed by a Soul Eater. No Valhalla, no Helheim, no afterlife at all.
  • Dead All Along: Kratos and Atreus follow a path to Jötunheim and expect to see some Frost Giants on the way. Unfortunately, they are all dead because of Odin's machinations.
  • Degraded Boss: After Svartaljofurr is defeated, the game introduces the Dark Elf Lord enemy type, which fights with the exact same moveset but can show up in swarms of two or three.
  • Deliberate Values Dissonance:
    • Kratos' Spartan ways clash heavily with his kindhearted son, who is a Friend to All Living Things. This leads to them butting heads more than once.
    • While exploring Helheim, Mimir explains to Kratos that everyone who dies a dishonorable death goes to Helheim instead of Valhalla. When Kratos assumes this means criminals, Mimir clarifies that it includes everyone who doesn't die in glorious battle, including those who die of old age or sickness. Kratos is briefly taken aback when he hears that dying of old age is considered dishonorable by Norse standards. Mind that's what it was like even in the legends, where the storyteller wasn't going out of its way to portray them as extreme Jerkass Gods like the God of War series does.
  • Descriptiveville: Thamur's corpse gots its new name after Thor killed the titular giant. The corpse landed on a Vanir worshipping village and Thamur's dying breath killed the remaining survivors. The place is now a snow-covered wasteland filled with monsters feeding on the preserved corpse of Thamur and the dead villagers.
  • Developers' Foresight:
    • Atreus has a large number of unique lines depending on what a player does, even some off-the-wall behavior. For instance, if the player has Kratos attack while there are no enemies present (for example, if you're trying out new moves), Atreus may ask "Are you... exercising?"
    • Early on in the story, Kratos has to throw his axe into the Lake of Nine in a cut-scene right after a boat-ride from the Witch's cave. Normally, when entering a boat, Kratos never recalls the axe, but when he enters the boat ths time, he will recall the axe if he does not have it.
    • In the post-game, if the players visit Freya's cabin, they'll have dialog about what she'll be up to now.
      • Oddly enough, if the players return to Freya's cabin after Tyr's vault, there's no explanation why Freya won't reapply her protection rune.
    • Normally, Mimir is present whenever Kratos and Atreus fight the Valkyries. However, since one can enter Muspelheim before reviving Mimir, it's also possible to fight the Valkyrie Gondul before reviving Mimir, and if so, there's different dialogue between the two. Kratos also gives his own responses to Atreus' complaints as they move up the mountain.
  • Do Not Call Me "Paul": After their first visit to Helheim, Mimir recognizes Kratos as the infamous Ghost of Sparta. Kratos promptly orders Mimir not to call him that.
  • Doesn't Trust Those Guys: Kratos rather understandably has an instinctual hatred of all gods, claiming that there are no "good" ones and that they aren’t worthy of worship. This behavior negatively colors his early experiences with Freya.
  • Does Not Like Shoes: The Witch of the Woods (Freya) is always barefoot, even in the snow.
  • Don't Make Me Destroy You: When the Stranger comes knocking on his door, Kratos simply warns him to leave, insisting that the Stranger does not want this fight. The Stranger not only refuses to leave, but starts actively provoking and punching him; Kratos gives in, pulls off a Punch Catch, and lays him out flat.
    Kratos: I warned you. You would not listen.
  • Double-Meaning Title: 'God of War' still refers to Kratos himself, but it's more of an Artifact Title now that he isn't really the god of anything in the unfamiliar Norse lands. The other person with this title is Tyr, who is referred to by Mimir as the God of War, but one who fought for peace, and much of the game's story and lore in the latter part revolves around his legacy.
  • Downer Beginning: The game opens with Kratos preparing for his wife's funeral.
  • Dramatic Irony: Kratos spends much of his new life up both trying to raise Atreus to be a truly good person, even outright pleading with Atreus to be a better god than him, when the truth of Atreus' heritage is revealed. With The Reveal indicating that Atreus' true name is Loki, Kratos is pretty much raising the herald of the end of the world, Atreus being fated to bring about the end of the Norse gods.
  • Due to the Dead: The game begins with Kratos and Atreus building a funeral pyre for Kratos' late wife. The primary plot of the game is the two following her last request: to scatter her ashes on the highest mountain in the Nine Realms.
  • Early Game Hell: Not too horrible an example on "Balanced Experience" difficulty aside from a few encounters, but it's played very straight on "Challenge" and "God of War". To start, you have much less options and a much weaker weapon that would out-scale everything in the lower difficulties near the end of the journey. Not only that, because all of the stats are still very low, a small horde of dragurs can seem borderline impossible to deal with without resorting to cheesing.
  • Elevator Action Sequence: Two of them.
    • In the Mountain, several draugr attack Kratos and Atreus as the pulley-style lift works its way upward. After the first time, Atreus asks if they should expect more, to which Kratos replies "definitely." And then a dragon attacks them.
    • When Atreus and Kratos visit the village Thamur has crushed, they use a sand bowl to levitate a large stone plate up to their next objective. The action sequence is spiced up because enemies keep harassing them, preventing Atreus from continually writing the rune keeping the stone whole and floating, forcing Kratos to dispatch them quickly.
  • The Ending Changes Everything: The way the Stranger phrases his words during his first fight with Kratos, it seems he knows who the Spartan is. But when Kratos and Atreus find the murals in Jotunheim showing that the giants predicted the entire story, Kratos realizes Baldur had no clue who he is; he assumed Kratos was a giant because he was sent to find Faye and didn't know she was already dead.
  • Establishing Character Moment: Atreus's early screw-up where he scares the deer they're hunting away. True to form, Kratos grabs the bow away from his son, screaming in his face...before composing himself and firmly reprimanding Atreus, telling him "Do not be sorry. Be better." Ladies and gentlemen, meet the new and (trying to be) improved Kratos.
    • It's cemented later when the Stranger shows up at Kratos' house. The Stranger is seemingly just a harmless, belligerent drunk who challenges Kratos to a fight and constantly insults him. He even throws a few hard but ultimately impotent punches at Kratos, but instead of just ending him then and there, he tanks several of the punches while telling him to back off. When he finally does retaliate, it's with a non-fatal punch across the front yard. He even helps the Stranger back to his feet. It's only when the Stranger punches him into the air that Kratos finally cuts loose and starts acting like the Ghost of Sparta we all know and love.
  • Evil Is Deathly Cold: Like the bottom of Dante's Inferno, Helheim tortures the unworthy dead with the most extreme cold in all the realms. Hel's cold is so antithetical to life that even the gods could not survive long in the realm. Indeed, Kratos looks exhausted after beating the bridge keeper on his first trip, but does better on the second trip since he can start a pair of fires, and is unaffected on subsequent trips.
  • Evolving Weapon: The Leviathan Axe, Talos Bow, and the Blades of Chaos start out looking dull, chipped and iron like and deal low damage. As the Dwarves upgrade them they start glowing, having runes and gold decorations putting on them, dealing more damage and unlocking more skills on their skill trees.
  • Exact Words: Faye's dying wish was for Kratos and Atreus to scatter her ashes from the top of the highest mountain in all the realms. As they find out from Mimir, she never meant the highest mountain in Midgard.
  • Excalibur in the Rust: The Blades of Chaos look worn and rusty after centuries of disuse. The moment Kratos wields them again, however, they light up with their trademark flames and are immediately shown to be as deadly as ever, and with a little bit of help from Brok and Sindri, their old Greek lettering is replaced with Norse runes.
  • Extra-Dimensional Shortcut: The Realm Between Realms can be used by characters to tread on the branches of Yggdrasil to access specific points in the realms. It's also why you can find the dwarves in the strangest spots, despite Kratos allegedly taking the "only way" to a given location.
  • Family Man: This game shows us a re-married Kratos in the lands of the North with his son, and again, after the death of his wife, his main goals are to fulfill his wife's last wishes and to teach Atreus to be a better person both generally and as a warrior.
  • Fantastic Racism: When the Stranger comes to Kratos' house, he makes it clear that he doesn't think very highly of the Greeks, who are "supposed to be so enlightened. So much better than us. So much smarter." Or not. In reality, he thought Kratos was one of the giants, who considered themselves better than Odin and the Aesir, both for their power of prophecy and desire to not take part in his petty wars. Later, the Witch of the Woods says that the Norse Gods "don't take kindly to outsiders".
  • Filk Song: A Father's Arms, Ode To Fury and Follow Father, courtesy of Miracle of Sound and JT Music respectively.
  • Fire, Ice, Lightning: The three elemental damage types of the game are Burn, Frost, and Shock.
  • Fog of Doom: Niflheim is cursed with a poisonous mist that limits the amount of time Kratos and son can spend there.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • There are several hints as to the Stranger's true identity early on: his rugged good looks, fair skin, a way with words through his Hannibal Lectures, and an inability to feel pain are all attributes closely associated with Baldur.
    • Multiple hints point towards Atreus's identity as Loki, giant, shapeshifter, god of stories, kin of the world serpent, father of wolves, and bringer of Ragnarok. When Atreus reads the language on the entrance to a Giant colony, Atreus mentions his mother taught him the language. The World Serpent mentions that Atreus seems familiar. Atreus is associated multiple times with wolves, with his first armor being a wolfskin, his first summon being a wolf, and asking if he can turn into animals, like a wolf, upon learning that he is a god. Atreus also tells multiple stories throughout the game, and admonishes Kratos multiple times for being so terrible at telling them.
    • The Witch of the Woods's horrified reaction to Atreus' new arrows. What are they made of? Mistletoe. On a related note, at the start of the game, Atreus can be seen collecting flowers for his mother's funeral pyre. The first time we see him, he has a sprig of mistletoe in his hands.
    • One of Kratos's stories was about a man who went to prison as a ruthless thief and only his mother, who showed him only love, would come to see him. What happens when he gets out? He goes up to her and bites off her ear. The moral is that loving someone is fine, but you must discipline them as well. Come the reveal about Baldur and his mother, it's clear why he's as psychotic as he is.
    • The main quest icon for The Journey is a handprint- the same one found on Faye's trees that she requested be cut down in the opening sequence. While this makes sense as a quest icon, the true meaning of it comes into play once the true objective is revealed- the Giant's Fingers in Jotunheim, which looks awfully similar to the handprint.
  • Friend to All Living Things: Atreus, at times. While he learns to kill and defend himself under Kratos' tutelage, he is more sentimental than his father, which is noted upon by several characters. He is more inclined to help those in need, pleading with Kratos to spare the time to help, and empathizes with the feelings of animals. This is temporarily abandoned after he learns of his divinity, which goes straight to his head as he becomes more rash and insensitive. It takes him a while, with Kratos and Mimir reprimanding him the whole way and a sobering encounter with Baldur, for him to calm down.
  • Foregone Conclusion: No matter how actively Kratos tries to reign Atreus's darkest impulses in, the fact that his child is in fact Loki determines that Atreus will bring Ragnarok, along with the not-so-subtle implication from one of the paintings that Kratos's death in front of Atreus will be what sends him off the deep end.
  • Gameplay and Story Integration:
    • During the periods in the game where Atreus is unhappy with Kratos, the game stops using the battle quotes where he shows concern for Kratos. Taken a step further when Atreus gets arrogant after learning he's a god, during which he completely stops responding to the player's orders in battle (usually because he's too busy charging the enemies head-on), on rare occasions will even refuse to use a resurrection stone (which bypasses the button prompt and goes straight back to the last checkpoint), and will respond to out-of-battle ordersnote  with a dismissive "Whatever." After Atreus belittles Sindri, Sindri acts coldly toward the duo, especially Atreus himself, until he reunites with Brok and forgives Atreus.
    • Also happens to a lesser extent during "The Sickness". When Atreus falls ill, the journal entries that describe the current objective, normally written by Atreus, are quite clearly written by Kratos.
  • Gameplay and Story Segregation: The New Game+ gives you all the equipment and items from your previous playthrough. However, since the game scripts you into returning to your house once Atreus falls ill, Kratos must return home to retrieve his Blades of Chaos, despite already having them in the new playthrough.
  • Gargle Blaster: Near the end of the game, Kratos comes across a jug of wine from the isle of Lemnos (near his old homeland of Sparta) and decides to share a drink with his son. Atreus states that it smells of rotten eggs and can barely stomach it, but Kratos downs it in a single chug and gives an uncharacteristic "Ahhh!"
  • Generation Xerox: A common theme for the gods, and Kratos in particular, who is trying to avoid the cycle repeating itself with Atreus.
    Atreus: Is this what it is to be a god? Is this how it always ends? Sons killing their mothers? Their fathers?
    Kratos: No. We will be the gods we choose to be. Not those who have been. Who I was is not who you will be.
  • A God Is You: Your Player Character Kratos is still the eponymous God of War, and fights various supernatural monsters with superhuman strength and magical artifacts, though the centuries of chaos from his Roaring Rampage of Revenge in the previous games have caused Kratos to be more reflective about being a God with the power to shape the world.
    Kratos: We are not men. We are more than that. The responsibility is far greater.
  • Godzilla Threshold: When Atreus falls ill, and the only way to cure him is in Helheim, Kratos is informed that no magic in the Nine Realms will help him against the cold or resident undead. With no other options, Kratos returns home to dig up a past he swore would stay buried: the Blades of Chaos. It is clearly hard for him, and on his way he is tortured by visions of Athena, who mocks his attempts to become a better person. Kratos acknowledges that he will always be a monster, but his love for Atreus outweighs his shame.
  • Good Counterpart: The Leviathan Axe. Brok and Sindri forged Mjolnir which Thor used to slay countless Giants. They felt guilty enough about the carnage that they forged the Leviathan Axe, a weapon with similar properties as Mjolnir such as Summon to Hand, and gifted it to Faye, one of the last Giants.
  • Good Wings, Evil Wings: Dark Elves, appearing as enemies from Alfheim onward, have insectoid wings.
  • Greater-Scope Villain: The All-Father Odin himself. He was at war with Faye's people, the Giants, and sends his minions to dispatch Kratos and Atreus, but he is never confronted or seen during the story. He is also the one behind the Stranger, who is revealed to be none other than Baldur.
  • Grievous Harm with a Body: Many of the stun grabs Kratos can perform on enemies involves throwing them or slamming them around, which can damage other nearby enemies.
  • Grim Up North: While Midgard certainly looks breath-taking, it's still a very harsh and hostile environment. Monsters are everywhere, and draugr (undead warriors that refuse to hear the Valkyries' call) are just the least dangerous of them. Meanwhile, the few humans encountered by the leads turns out to be cannibals. The Norse underworld of Hel is a completely frozen wasteland.
  • Guide Dang It!: There's a unique axe handle that increases all of Kratos' stats while adding a shockwave to the end of his light attack combo. The only way to get it is by looking in a certain sequence of directions at the top of Muspelheim's tower, which the game never tells you. The only way to figure this out would be translating the runes on a map that comes with the Collector's Edition of the game.note 
  • Harder Than Hard: "Give Me God of War" difficulty. The game is not kidding when it invokes this during a new game startup.
  • Healing Factor: In cutscenes Kratos recovers from major injuries such as being impaled simply by focusing. Baldur being totally immortal doesn't even seem to need to focus. Atreus seems to have it as well, as he's stabbed, but is no worse for wear only minutes later.
  • Heroic BSoD: Atreus experiences one early in the game when he is forced to kill a cannibal in self-defense. At this point, he understood killing animals for food, or monsters like draugr and trolls for survival, but he becomes very shaken and teary-eyed when killing a human.
  • Hey, You!:
    • Kratos rarely calls Atreus by his name, most often calling him "boy" and infrequently "son." Once Mimir's severed head joins the "team", Kratos only ever refers to him as "Head".
    • Kratos himself is only referred to by his name a few times by Mimir and Freya. Mimir also realizes that he's the Ghost of Sparta.
  • His Own Worst Enemy: By the Norse era, it becomes apparent that while Kratos hates all gods, he hates none as much as himself for his Jumping Off the Slippery Slope Never My Fault complex and role in the Cycle of Revenge. He even admits, when pressed, that he is a monster. In a sense, his own past is the Arc Villain of the game.
  • Historical Villain Upgrade: An Implied Trope with regards to Kratos and Loki, who seem destined to be viewed as bringers of Ragnarok and pitiless killers in spite of the fact that they're just trying to bring an end to the Cycle of Revenge.
  • History Repeats: The "children-killing-their-parents" cycle from the previous games (Kronos killing Ouraunos, Zeus defeating Kronos, Kratos killing Zeus) is alluded to late in the game when it's revealed that Baldur wants to kill his mother Freya for granting him invulnerability, which had the unintentional side-effect of removing all his senses other than sight and hearing. Kratos tries to stop him from killing her, partly because Freya was a genuinely nice and loving parent trying to protect her child (if in a very misguided manner) who doesn't deserve death, and because he sees a lot of his younger self in Baldur. At first, he tries reasoning with him, saying that Vengeance Feels Empty since killing Zeus did not give him peace and it came at the cost of destroying his land, but Baldur doesn't listen, leading to a fight ensuing between them that ends with Kratos being forced to put him down to stop him for once and for all, saying that "the cycle ends here" and they must be better than this. When Atreus finally learns about his father's past, he thinks that he is fated to walk the same path as well, but Kratos assures him that they will avoid that. However, the Jotun mural at the end shows Kratos dying in Atreus' arms, implying the cycle will continue.
  • An Ice Person: Kratos' new battle axe is able to freeze enemies on impact. He and Atreus also encounter enemies who use ice attacks on their journey.
  • I'm a Humanitarian: The Reavers are a cannibal group met very early in the game who attempt to eat Kratos and Atreus.
  • Insubstantial Ingredients: Dwarves, like in the myths, are capable of using abstract qualities as materials to forge magical artifacts.
  • Ill Girl: Gender-inverted with Atreus, who is said to be very weak and sick (much like his half-sister Calliope from the previous trilogy), and is just recovering from his illness by the time the game starts. It's one of the reasons why Kratos is so protective of him.
  • Implacable Man: The Big Bad is a mysterious man known as the Stranger, who possesses monstrous superhuman strength, can move at blinding speed, and manages to tank Kratos' direct blows. And Kratos is someone who killed Hercules and Zeus in the previous game by punching them to death. It's actually Baldur, similarly a son of divinity and blessed with near-Complete Immortality.
  • Improbable Infant Survival: Averted. While enemies can't directly attack Atreus, if left unchecked, they can grab and eventually kill him, resulting in a Game Over.
  • Inconvenient Summons: Ratatoskr often throws complaints and insults whenever he's summoned to find items.
  • Ink-Suit Actor: The Stranger is clearly modeled after his voice actor, Jeremy Davies, and has a lot in common with Davies's character Dickie Bennett from Justified in particular.
  • Interface Screw: When Kratos is trapped in a cleft of rock and the Stranger threatens to see who Kratos is hiding (i.e., Atreus). You can see the rage bar filling up as the Stranger talks, until Kratos smashes his way free and proceeds to pummel him.
  • Interface Spoiler: An arguable bug, since the rest of the dialogue around this section deliberately avoids this: when entering the Witch of the Woods' Cave, she occasionally says goodbye. Her subtitled name for this one line, instead of titling her as the Witch, instead says Freya.
  • Ironic Echo:
    • When he's being bratty, Atreus will spit back Kratos's frequent line about needing to "focus."
    • "The cycle ends here", spoken by Kratos to Baldur before killing him to stop his roaring rampage of revenge, was first spoken by Zeus before he killed Kratos for similar reasons.
  • I Wished You Were Dead: Kratos gets a vision showing Atreus speaking to his mother's corpse, asking "Why couldn't he have died instead of you?", showing the distance between father and son. However, he retracts the statement immediately afterwards.
  • Jawbreaker: Exaggerated with Kratos' Finishing Move on the werewolf enemies. Kratos rips the werewolf's jaw off, then keeps ripping through its skin until he's torn off flesh down to the creature's stomach.
  • Jerkass Gods: While not seen as much as the Greek gods, the Norse pantheon isn't much better than they were. Odin is a Control Freak that loves to spy on everyone in the Nine Worlds and tortures his former allies as a hobby, Thor and his sons are abusive brutes, and worst of all is Baldur, a psychotic savage who wants to murder his own mother. The only exceptions are Mimir, who becomes a steadfast ally to Kratos after being tormented by Odin for so long, and Freya, who is exceptionally nice to everyone, including her own murderous son, even though — even as — he is trying to kill her.
  • Jerkass Has a Point:
    • Baldur is this towards Freya. While Freya only meant well with her protective spell, Baldur is correct about how much harm she actually caused him.
    • During the period of the game immediately after Atreus has learned of his godly heritage and has become a jerk, he gets fed up with Sindri's complaining about his brother Brok and calls the dwarf out on it, telling the dwarf to either make up with his brother or not, but either way stop whining about it, calling it "the little problems of little people". Sindri is very clearly hurt by these words and becomes cold towards Atreus afterwards. However, the next time he's seen in story progression, he's arriving to make up with his brother, implying that he gave Atreus's words serious consideration. Even Brok agrees, saying it's what Sindri needed to hear.
  • Jump Scare: Twice — and only twice in the entire game — there's a Draugr hidden in a large chest that will jump out and attack Kratos when he opens it, acting as a sort of reference to the classic Chest Monster.
  • Just Before the End: The Post-Game occurs at the very start of Fimbulwinter, known in Norse Mythology as the three-year period of non-stop harsh winter which serves as the harbinger of Ragnarok.
  • Kick the Dog: Mimir is full of stories of the Norse gods doing this, mainly via Odin and Thor. Towards the end of the game Baldur also commits one when he beats up Jormungandr, who has nearly always been polite and fully willing to help the heroes when he's not just lingering around the Lake of Nine, to get him to spit Kratos and Atreus out, setting the stage for the final battle.
  • Last of His Kind: The Giants are all gone, with the World Serpent being possibly the last one remaining. It's revealed that Faye was a Giantess herself and her son Atreus is therefore half-Giant.
  • Late-Arrival Spoiler: The game spoils a number of plot points from the earlier games, including that Kratos is the son of Zeus and that he kills Zeus at the end of God of War III.
  • Lighter and Softer:
    • The Greek mythology games were, start to finish, the story of Kratos’ Roaring Rampage of Revenge that didn’t end until he had killed everything. This game, on the other hand, revolves around Kratos and his son going on a journey to spread the ashes of Kratos’ wife/Atreus’ mother per her last request. Kratos is avoiding the Norse Gods instead of picking a fight, he instructs Atreus to not kill as an indulgence, and there are even side-quests to help out spirits trapped in Midgard.
    • The gore this time around is primarily limited to the various monsters encountered, with any humans or gods killed onscreen showing little if any bloodshed.
    • In every game up to this point, Kratos obtained some poor creature's severed head as a piece of equipment. Rather than swinging around Medusa or Helios this time around, he gets Mimir, who's friendly, wise, and humorous despite being, you know, a severed head.
  • Like Father, Like Son: Even though Atreus was closer to his mother than to Kratos, he certainly inherited several traits from his father (such as his occasional rage in combat) and begins exhibiting his more negative traits after learning of his divine heritage and being declared a warrior by his father, where he becomes more arrogant and detached from others, believing himself superior. Kratos strongly disapproves of this because he doesn't want Atreus to follow in his footsteps. At the end of the game, it's revealed that Atreus is destined to bring about Ragnarok, the same way his father was the Marked Warrior that brought Olympus' downfall.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall:
    • Kratos tells Atreus that he's ready for a new beginning. It's indeed the beginning of a new cycle.
    • The first conversation between Kratos and Atreus has the latter asking the former if he's felt something change. Kratos tells him not to dwell on it. It's the beginning of the game and the presentation and gameplay are already very different from previous installments in the series.
    • After finally defeating the tough Bonus Boss Sigrun Atreus comments that his fingers are sore and Kratos responds that what he did was no small feat and that he should be proud, both comments that could well be addressed to the player.
  • The Lost Lenore: Kratos constantly thinks back to his dead wife Faye, and how she would have treated Atreus in his shoes.
  • Mangst: As a Spartan, Kratos has his own way of mourning for his loved ones. At one point, this causes friction with his son, who mistakes his lack of visible grief for Faye's passing as indifference.
  • Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: Was Kratos really haunted by Athena in that one scene, or was it simply his guilt manifesting as the sister he killed? Notably, Mimir didn't see Athena at all.
  • Meaningful Echo: Throughout the game, Kratos responds to many of Atreus' curious, childlike questions with an annoyed "I do not know". During the credits, when Atreus starts wondering how much Faye had foreseen and what it all means, Kratos says "I...do not know", this time sounding genuinely uncertain.
  • Mêlée à Trois: The final boss battle has this kind of setup between Kratos and Atreus, Baldur, and Freya. Kratos and Atreus and eventually Jörmungandr are trying to stop Baldur from killing Freya, and Freya's trying to stop them from killing Baldur by trapping all parties in vines before escalating into reanimating a giant's corpse. Needless to say, it gets very chaotic very fast.
  • Mercy Invincibility: Averted. Fortunately, this goes both ways and allows you to unleash a No-Holds-Barred Beatdown when you've got some attacks you can chain together; unfortunately, the enemies are masters of stun-locking Kratos.
  • Mook Chivalry: Defied. Enemies will rarely wait to attack you one at a time, preferring to instead smother you with constant aggression to keep you on your toes. Crowd control and spacing plays a big part in the combat of the game as a result, with most runic attacks having some form of AOE to help get enemies off of you. You even have an indicator that lights up when if enemy behind you is about to strike. You're taught this very early, just to reinforce how relentless the enemies you face will be. This gets turned Up to Eleven in the higher difficulty modes.
  • Minimalist Cast: The Nine Realms are surprisingly empty. There's Kratos, Atreus, Freya, Brok and Sindri, Baldur, Jormungandr, Magni and Modi, Mimir, and Thor is talked about a lot and you see him for a few seconds at the end. In total, there's approximately eleven people that are shown onscreen and have plot relevance. The majority of locations you can visit are completely devoid of (living) inhabitants. (According to some dialogue, everyone who's not an adventurer, a warrior, or a murdering bandit is either dead or has fled because of the various disasters.)
  • Missing Mom: Atreus' mother Faye is a Posthumous Character.
  • Mr. Exposition: Mimir is a head full of exposition hanging from Kratos's belt.
  • Mythology Gag:
    • Pun not intended, but on a meta level, an early concept idea for Kratos was as a warrior with a baby strapped to his back. Add in the fact that Atreus occasionally piggybacks on him when climbing up walls and it's come full circle.
    • Atreus talks about the Fates at one point. Kratos responds that Fates can be fickle. He would know.
    • Also in a gag toward actual Norse Mythology, Loki (in this case Atreus) ends up accidentally stabbing Baldur with a mistletoe dagger when he is punched by him, leading directly to his death by negating his immortality.
  • Nay-Theist: After all these years, Kratos' opinion of deities hasn't improved one bit. Early in the game, when he and Atreus come upon a bucket bearing sacrifice to Odin, he dismisses it as foolishness since "humans should not pray to monsters".
  • New Game+: Added later on in a patch. It lets players carry all the gear and upgrades they've collected into a new playthrough (including the Blades of Chaos) and introduces brand new gear as well as a new Perfect rarity.
  • New Weapon Target Range The Blades of Chaos so prominently used in the previous games are excellent against hordes of targets and offer excellent crowd control, even if their damage is weaker than the Leviathan Axe... and it just so happens that a horde of weak enemies has amassed outside Kratos' home in the time he took to re-equip himself.
  • Never Trust a Trailer:
    • The official trailer showed a part where Kratos is knocked several feet into the air by a troll before crashing to the ground. In the game proper, the one landing that hit on Kratos is actually the Stranger.
    • The same trailer also suggested that Atreus could understand the World Serpent's language, as Kratos asks him what it's saying and Atreus responds "He wants to help us!" In the actual game, Atreus' respond to Kratos asking what it's saying is "I don't know!", and they eventually get the help of Mimir to speak with him.
  • No-Holds-Barred Beatdown:
    • When an enemy's stun meter is fulled, Kratos can grab a hold of it and deliver one, sometimes with player interaction.
    • A few moments of Kratos's fights with Baldur have Kratos simply pummeling a prone and helpless Baldur.
  • Non-Indicative Name: Giants in Norse Mythology aren't necessarily large. In fact, a number of them were shapeshifters, and could easily pass as human. Invoked when Kratos and Atreus are ascending the Mountain, and the former comments that some of the passageways seem far too small for giants. Atreus explains that the "Giants", more accurately called "Jötnar", are a people moreso than a descriptor of their size... though in the case of some Jötnar, "giant" also means giant.
  • Not His Blood: When Atreus blocks Baldur's punch to protect Kratos, Kratos initially panics at the sight of blood on his son...but the blood is actually Baldur's, who had just stabbed himself on Atreus's mistletoe quiver strap and removed his own invulnerability.
  • Nothing but Skulls: Boy howdy but there are piles of dead bodies and bones everywhere to show what a Crapsack World you're exploring.
  • Not So Different: The Stranger is essentially the psychotic berserker that Kratos was in earlier games, something that the latter is completely aware of. There’s also the fact that both have issues with the gods who are their parents in Kratos’ case Zeus, in the Strangers’ Freya. Also the Strangers’ Ice powers seem to be an elemental inversion of Kratos Spartan Rage.
  • Off the Rails: Kratos and Arteus' journey seems to be disrupting the prophesied progression of Norse mythology, especially Ragnarok. They kill Magni and Móði, who were both supposed to survive the calamity. Then they killed Baldur far earlier than expected, possibly kicking off Ragnarok earlier than expected.
  • Offscreen Moment of Awesome: When Kratos gets sucked into the Light of Alfheim, he's only gone for a few moments from his perspective. But when Atreus pulls him back out, he accuses him of disappearing for a "long, long time" and the camera pans up to reveal dozens of dead Dark Elves in piles nearby.
  • Older and Wiser: Kratos is trying a lot harder to temper his trademark Unstoppable Rage and serves as a good, if stern, father to his son Atreus.
  • Once per Episode: This installment continues the franchise long recurrence of Kratos somehow ending up in the land of the dead and having to fight his way out, though this time neither he nor Atreus have actually died.
  • The Oner: The game is presented as one long, uninterrupted camera shot, aside from a few flashes to white during the middle of the game and when stepping out of the Space Between Realms. Cutscenes start seamlessly after normal play, and flow back into gameplay after finishing smoothly.
  • O.O.C. Is Serious Business:
    • The Witch of the Woods is exceptionally kind and friendly... except for one moment where she is horrified upon seeing Atreus' new arrows and immediately demands he hand them over so she can destroy them in her fireplace. Her jarring reaction shocks Atreus, who by this point really liked her. This is supposed to be a clue to players, since those were mistletoe arrows and they are the only one thing that could harm her son Baldur.
    • Atreus becomes much more abrasive once he finds out he's a god, going full-on Smug Super. Both Kratos and Mimir note this change in Atreus with open worry, especially after Atreus insults his friend Sindri.
  • Optional Boss: There are certain boss encounters that are entirely optional for players, such as the Valkyries.
  • Our Dwarves Are All the Same: Sindri and Brok are dwarves that fit the traditional mold as short, bearded men that excel in smithing, but then Norse Mythology was the basis of the archetypal dwarf. Unlike most modern examples, however, they are also proficient in magic, which they use to step into the Realm Between Realms to avoid confrontation or set up shop in otherwise inaccessible locations. Brok is gruff like one would expect, but his skin is bluish-grey from handling raw silver (a real-life condition called argyria). Sindri, meanwhile, looks normal but is a bit of a germaphobe.
  • Our Elves Are Better: Ljósálfar (light elves) and Svartálfar (dark elves) from Norse myths appear when Kratos and Atreus explore Alfheim. In contrast to the typical "humans but with pointy ears" portrayal, the Ljósálfr are depicted as floating angelic beings, while the Svartálfar are dark humanoids with insect wings. The Svartálfar are in fact invading the realm and are seen killing hapless civilians, but Kratos warns Atreus to not be too quick to think the Ljósálfar are entirely innocent in this affair, since they don't know anything about what started the conflict.
  • Our Giants Are Bigger: The Giants are an ancient race that opposed the Aesir and are all but extinct by the time the game starts. They are almost as big as, if not bigger than, the Titans from the original series! As in the original myths, they do have magical powers and can shapeshift to appear as normal humans...just like Atreus' mother does. The World Serpent is also a Giant as well, though one in the form of a snake instead of humanoid.
  • Our Gods Are Different: In the original Greek entries, the Greek Pantheon can shift their size and if they die, they'll either explode violently, or turn into flies that triggers a calamity that rages the cities in centuries to come. This entry however, the Norse Gods appears to be a different breed of Gods who are human-size (at least the on-screen ones), and the only supposed size shifters are the Giants. While Kratos warns Atreus killing a god bears horrible consequences, both Magni and Modi don't explode nor turn into flies after death, but instead dies like a human would, but their deaths would trigger Ragnarok with Baldr's death.
  • Our Ogres Are Hungrier: They look similar to a hairless gorilla, but have scaly arms and spines growing out of their backs.
  • Outside-Context Problem: Kratos is a heroic version, due to being a God from a different realm, and subject to different rules.
    • Merely his presence throws the Norse world into turmoil, since Midgard is heavily bound by prophecy, and this prophecy does not include Kratos. As such, he is able to kill people who were scripted to survive Ragnarok. This is what causes Modi to freak out when Kratos kills Magni; it's not just that Kratos killed a God, not just that he killed his brother, it's that by all the rules of the Nine Realms, this should not be possible.
    • At the end of the game, it is implied that Kratos' actions have triggered the beginning of Ragnarok, a full century before it was supposed to happen.
    • Kratos' Frost Axe is useless in Helheim, the frozen realm of the dead, whose inhabitants are immune to ice damage and where no fire from all the Nine Realms can burn. His Blade of Chaos, however, are exempt from this rule.
  • Papa Wolf: Kratos towards Atreus, naturally. Though he has a very stern way of showing it, he does genuinely care for his son and is patient with him, considering he is debilitated by a sickness and living in a very harsh region surrounded by monsters and undead. It's best shown when the Stranger threatens to harm Atreus while he is hiding in their home; for likely the first time in centuries, Kratos explodes into a Spartan Rage to curbstomp his foe.
  • Patricide: Going into Fafnir's Storeroom and going all the way to the end will have you find out that the leader of the raiders that looted the place was stabbed in the back by his own son. While the now-deceased leader had done the same to his own father, he didn't think his son was ready to lead. Cue a later quest where we find out that the killer was then murdered by his crew for doing the deed.
  • Physical God: Kratos is told he is still the God of War, and by this logic, Atreus has Divine Parentage.
    Atreus: So I'm a man now? Like you?
    Kratos: No. We are not men. We are more than that. The responsibility is far greater.
  • Playable Epilogue: After the main story's end, you're free to continue exploring to collect any items or fight any enemies you may have missed, free of harassment from the local gods. You're encouraged to, in fact, with Atreus suggesting defeating all the Valkyries. Some new dialogue will also appear here and there, and the setting has noticeably changed since you can no longer contact Freya and snow is falling almost everywhere, symbolizing the onset of the Fimbulwinter preceding Ragnarok.
  • Plot-Irrelevant Villain: While the Stranger is nominally the Big Bad as the threat that menaces our heroes across the entire journey, the focus of this game is on the journey itself, with killing him being at best a secondary objective to showcasing Kratos and Atreus and their relationship. Ultimately, their final showdown has nothing to do with the heroes' quest or even the Stranger's mission, but to defend Freya, a friend and ally to the leads, from him.
  • Plot-Mandated Friendship Failure: Kratos and Atreus's relationship remains teetering on the edge throughout the game but there are two instances in the game where their relationship hits their all-time low.
    • In the first instance, Kratos goes into a beam of light and has visions of the past; Atreus pulls him back out, revealing that he spent hours fighting Dark Elves alone while Kratos was gone for only a couple of minutes from his perspective. Atreus spends the next section of the plot furious at Kratos for abandoning him, acting outright insubordinate at times, until Kratos explains what happened and (in his own way) apologizes.
    • Another far bigger one is during the third journey to the mountains where Atreus becomes Drunk with Power and lets his status as a god gone through his head due to misinterpreting Kratos's line about him. Not helping is the fact that even when Atreus kept egging for the truth and after bellitling everyone he comes across, Kratos refuse to tell him why which ended up making Atreus more resentful of him and more jerkass culminating in the end when he fires his own father with shock arrows so he can fight Baldur himself. This last until the end when Kratos reprimands him and the latter becomes remorseful of what he had become.
  • Poor Communication Kills: Kratos's Fatal Flaw is no longer an inability to accept responsibility for his mistakes like in the original trilogy. Now, it's his inability to open up and explain things that causes problems for him and his son.. Due to his hands-off distant parenting, Atreus has grown up thinking his father resents him for being weak. This has resulted in Atreus being both somewhat bitter towards Kratos while also being overly eager to prove that he's strong, hoping this will earn him his father's love. The reality is that Kratos is too afraid to get close to Atreus due to his past and wants to hide his nature as a god from him. This isn't just damaging their familial bond — it's actually killing Atreus. Because he is unaware of his godhood and thinks of himself as a mortal, the inherent contradiction in his nature is warring within him, manifesting as a life-threatening illness. This comes to a head after Kratos sadly claims that Atreus is cursed due to the divine blood he inherited from Kratos. Atreus ends up overhearing only part of what Kratos said, leading him to believe that Kratos thinks Atreus is a cursed weakling. This convinces Kratos to finally start opening up to his son. The first thing he does is reveal that he is a god, and even after this he keeps key tidbits away from Atreus that cause the boy to go Drunk with Power. Case in point, Kratos mentions that there are consequences to killing gods after Atreus kills Modi, and refuses to elaborate: predictably, Atreus blows him off and continues on his path down the slippery slope.
  • Portal Crossroad World: The Lake of Nine is a great lake on which is built the Bifrost, a magic bridge which can grant access to the nine realms.
  • Post-Victory Collapse:
    • After Kratos supposedly kills the Stranger for the first time, he spends a few seconds on the ground gasping for air before getting up and slowly walking back to the house.
    • A gentler example occurs in the denouement. After all their adventures, when the duo finally return home, they immediately go to bed.
  • Posthumous Character: Faye, the wife of Kratos and mother of Atreus, is already on her funeral bier at the beginning of the game, but Kratos and Atreus talk about her a lot and her actions set the plot in motion.
  • Precision F-Strike: While the dialogue in the original trilogy was exempt of strong swearing, here some instances of “fuck” and “fucking” are present, particularly in Brok's dialogue.
  • Purple Is Powerful: Enemies several levels above your own have purple health bars. Likewise, legendary gear, the strongest gear available in Midgard, is signified in the subscreen with a purple bar.
  • Psychological Torment Zone: Beyond a certain point in Helheim, illusions of an individual's past begin to appear to torment them with their regrets. These cloud-based "illusions", however, are real objects in the world that anyone present can see, leading to awkwardness when Atreus witnesses Kratos killing Zeus. Father and son also get to learn of Baldur and Freya's falling out this way.
  • Rated M for Manly: Reconstructed. While Kratos doesn't want to give into his Spartan Rage, the game makes it clear that there are perfectly legitimate times to pick up a weapon to fight with. In addition, the whole basis of the game is Kratos teaching his son how to be a man. If the previous games could be considered a Deconstruction of this trope, then the series as a whole could be seen as a Decon-Recon Switch of it.
  • Reality Ensues:
    • Kratos' apparent downgrade in combat prowess from the previous games makes sense when you remember that he's spent years trying to live in peace. He's not as good in a scrap as he used to be because he's out of practice.
    • As the water's lowered in the Lake of Nine, more places to explore are revealed. A lot of dead fish are revealed too, unable to escape the change in water levels with how fast the water drained. Most of the boat docks found early on become useless as well.
    • After centuries of disuse, the Blades of Chaos are heavily rusted.
    • In the post-game, the ruined village by Thamur's corpse is no longer accessible; it was completely destroyed in the final battle, thanks to Freya using Thamur's corpse to battle Kratos.
    • Once our heroes return home completing after their journey, they immeadiately go to bed. They've gone at least a day without sleep since Kratos was stuck in the Light of Alfheim.
  • Reality Has No Subtitles: Kratos can speak Norse, but Elven speech or Jörmungandr's language cannot be understood other than through a translator.
  • Recycled Title: The official title isn't God of War IV despite it taking place after III. It's just called God of War.
  • Retool: Fittingly, going along with the Recycled Title, the game also serves as a "Soft Reboot" of the series. While the past games are still in continuity, this game takes place centuries after the events of those games and changes the setting from Ancient Greece to Scandinavia. Similarly, the gameplay has also been tweaked from the fixed-camera, individual-room style of the past to an over-the-shoulder, free-roaming action game.
  • Refuge in Audacity: Tyr's temple has a lot of obstacles and trials one must overcome to unlock the path to Jötunheim. The final and most egregious one: the portal is only open on the mirrored underside of the temple, and one must flip the whole temple on an axle to access it.
  • Rewatch Bonus:
    • The first conversation between Kratos and the Stranger takes on a different light when you watch it knowing some of the information revealed later in the game. Namely, Baldur was likely looking for Faye/Laufey, a giant who would have known what he wanted, not Kratos, who had no idea. Also, the Stranger doesn't actually know who Kratos is and believes he's a giant from Jotunheim, rather than him insulting Kratos as a foreign god from Greece.
    • On a similar note, when the Stranger comes and Atreus is told to hide under the floorboards of the house, he mentions that Kratos told him to never go there. That’s where the Blades of Chaos are buried, and Kratos didn’t want Atreus to find them. There's also a brief blink-and-you'll-miss-it camera movement towards the spot where Kratos hid the blades when they begin their journey.
    • Magni's death and Modi's horrified reaction seems like an average sight for long-time players, until the end of the game. The ending reveals that the Giants have made another tapestry based on their prophetic visions of Ragnarok. Modi wasn't just traumatised by the death of Magni, what Kratos did was unthinkable. He killed a demigod who was prophesied to survive the apocalypse. Magni's death should have been impossible, Modi has lost all of his confidence due to a prophecy failure and Odin wants Kratos because of the second Ragnarok tapestry.
  • Ribcage Stomach: Jörmungandr's belly, which Kratos and Atreus visit late in the journey to retrieve Mimir's missing eye.
  • Rock Monster: The Ancients, humanoid piles of rocks that are tough enough to warrant a Boss Battle. They are powered by a magical core at the center of their chests, which can shoot balls and beams of energy but is also their weak point.
  • RPG Elements: The game is mistaken as a full Action RPG by certain fans due to this; the game utilizes an experience point system used to level up runic attacks and learn new skills, with the individual level being based on the armor stats. Not to mention, Atreus acts as a second party member with his own upgrades and armor different from Kratos' set.
  • Rule of Symbolism: The scene where Atreus briefly activates Spartan Rage before it knocks him out is used to show how Atreus could become like Kratos. In a more sinister form of symbolism, the frost giant murals show that Kratos will die in Atreus's arms, setting off everything he hoped to avoid with Atreus bringing Ragnarok.
  • Rust Proof Blood: Mótsognir left a blood trail that leads to his corpse. He presumably died centuries ago, so it is particularly absurd for the blood to even visible anymore, let alone still red.
  • Sadly Mythcharacterized: Par for the course for a God of War game, though the setting and story internally justify much of it. For some details, check out the character page.
  • Savage Wolves: Kratos and Atreus occasionally fight wolves on their journey, but Atreus points out that the ones that attack them are either starved or rabid.
  • Scars Are Forever: Kratos still carries the scars of his previous life. His skin is still grafted with the ashes of his first family, his scar from being impaled on the Blade of Olympus is still visible, and when he unwraps his forearms at the end of the journey, so are the impressions of the chains from the Blades of Chaos. Seeing as the scars were inflicted by magical weapons, and the ashes are a curse, this is a justified example.
  • Scenery Porn: The game is rich in gorgeous mountainscapes with breathtaking views, and some realms like Alfheim give us some beautiful architecture to traverse.
  • Schmuck Bait: When Kratos travels between the realms on the branches of Yggdrasil, he can jump off the branches if he wants, despite being warned by everyone around him that it's a bad idea. What happens? He dies. Except when he and his son obtains a secret protective rune which allows them to land near the location of Jötunheim's hidden portal.
    Brok: And whatever do you, never, never, EVER, never, ever, ever, ever, ever throw yourself over the edge of the path... lest you want death.
  • Screw Destiny: Despite the various entries listed in You Can't Fight Fate below, it seems that a lot of Norse prophecies didn't account for the existence of a god outside their mythology, and Kratos manages to derail a lot of what they thought without even meaning to. Notably, Magni and Móði are both prophesied to survive the events of Ragnarok, which is still centuries away. Destiny didn't do much to help them there.
  • Self-Fulfilling Prophecy: When Freya gave birth to Baldur, the runes foretold that he would die a needless death. Desperate to save him, Freya made him nigh-immortal, with the side effect of removing his senses of touch and taste. The inability to feel anything, however, drove Baldur insane and ultimately makes him try to kill his own mother out of resentment, leading to Kratos killing him to save her, thus causing the very needless death Freya had tried to save him from.
  • Sense Loss Sadness: The Stranger constantly gripes that he's unable to feel anything. The reason he sought Kratos out in the first place was hoping that, because Kratos doesn't use Norse magic, it would be different. It isn't. Baldur missed feeling things so much that when he's wounded by Atreus's mistletoe arrowhead, his combat dialogue has him begging to feel more pain.
  • Serial Escalation: Averted, despite the misleading publicity about Jörmungandr. Although Kratos pulls off some pretty impressive feats during the course of the game, his quest is quite the step down from the extermination of Olympus and all its gods. For instance, Trolls who are roughly the size of the Cyclops from the original games constitute a boss battle. Additionally, Kratos's main goal is more humble, as he simply wishes to scatter his wife's ashes in a very specific place instead of slaying powerful gods and creatures.
  • Sequel Hook: Freya vows to avenge Baldur's death, and when Kratos and Atreus return to their home, Atreus dreams that they will be visited by a hooded figure revealed to be Thor.
    • Another minor hook is when Kratos thwarts the Dark Elf invasion on Alfheim, and the dying general ominously tells Kratos that he's making a big mistake.
    • Mimir mentions the legend about a weakness built into the walls of Asgard.
    • A mural that predicted the whole game's story shows the eventual death of Kratos in the arms of a crying Atreus.
    • Two conversations with Mimir, Brok, and Sindri in the post-game reveal that while Kratos and Atreus were in Jotunheim, Fimbulwinter, the three-year-long winter that precedes Ragnarok, had begun... But all the prophecies about it stated that Fimbulwinter wouldn't start for another hundred years, yet it did as soon as Kratos killed Baldur. As Mimir puts it, prophecy never accounted for Kratos.
    • A random conversation with Mimir has him telling Kratos that Freya came to ask where Odin is keeping her Valkyrie wings, implying that Kratos may end up fighting her in the next game.
    • The side-plot with Tyr shows that he had the power to visit far-off lands like Egypt, Japan, and Central America as well as Greece, and over the course of the game, Kratos and Atreus gain that power for themselves.
    • And, of course, there's The Stinger that shows Thor arriving for Kratos and Atreus one year later
  • "Shaggy Frog" Story: During the boat rides Kratos can tell stories to Atreus to pass the time. However, Kratos doesn't tell the full story. For example, when he retells the Tortoise and the Hare he leaves out the part where the hare overslept which allowed the tortoise to win the race. Saying the tortoise won the race through steadiness and discipline.
    Atreus: You... haven't told a lot of stories, have you.
  • Shock and Awe: Atreus shoots a lightning bolt out of his bow at one point during the troll battle. This ability was a gift from Sindri, who used a dragon's tooth to imbue his bow with electric magic.
  • Shoot the Dog: The death of Baldur in a nutshell. Kratos obviously doesn't want to kill him, but is forced to do this because Baldur is too crazed at this point and no one can reason with him, not even his mother.
  • Shout-Out:
    • The Shattered Gauntlet of Ages, a Magikarp Power glove, is a clear nod to the Infinity Gauntlet. It can even be given six enchantments with obvious counterparts in each of the Infinity Stones: Andvari’s Soul (Soul), Asgard’s Shard of Existence (Reality), Eye of the Outer Realm (Space), Ivaldi’s Corrupted Mind (Mind), Muspelheim Eye of Power (Power), and Njord’s Temporal Stone (Time).
    • Mimir is a one-eyed man tangled up in a tree, much like the true form of the "three-eyed crow" in A Song of Ice and Fire.
    • According to Cory Barlog, the opening scene of Kratos chopping down a tree and lugging it on his shoulders is a reference to the opening of Commando.
    • The challenge for killing Trolls is Troll's Toll.
  • Shut Up, Hannibal!: When Kratos takes up the Blades of Chaos once again, Athena's ghost appears and tells him no matter what he does, he will always be a monster. He replies that this is true, but he is no longer her monster, before walking right through her as she disappears.
  • Sibling Yin-Yang: Brok is bold and abrasive, while Sindri is delicate and meek.
  • Sir Swearsalot: Brok swears casually and frequently
  • Small Role, Big Impact: Sindri. If it weren't for him, Atreus would have never received his mistletoe arrows, one of which he used to hold together his quiver strap, which Baldur punches at the climax of the journey, breaking the spell over him and finally making him vulnerable.
  • Snow Means Death: In the final battle, the last thing Baldur sees before he finally dies is falling snow. This works on two levels, as the new snow is the beginning of Fimbulwinter, the end of which will begin Ragnarok.
  • Something Completely Different: Pretty much the entire game. The setting is Norse Mythology, rather than Greek, which results in Kratos fighting draugr, trolls, and dragons in snowy forests and mountains, and he ends up traveling to different realms. The game's tone and storytelling are also radically different, revolving around a father-son drama instead of the Roaring Rampage of Revenge of the previous games.
  • Super Mode: Spartan Rage causes Kratos to unleash his rage and forgo his weapons in exchange for pummeling enemies as fast as he can with his bare fists. Not only is he invulnerable while in this state, he also deals incredible damage that restores his health.
  • Statuesque Stunner: The Witch is just slightly shorter than Kratos, who is officially 6'6", and is far taller than her son Baldur.
  • Stealth Pun: At the start of the game, after Atreus kills the deer, a troll appears and steals it, triggering the game's first boss battle. The Troll's name is Daudi Kaupmadr, which can also be read as "Dad, He Caught My Deer!"
  • Stylistic Suck: Kratos is not a talented story teller, which Atreus gives him mild sass about. And when Kratos tells a good story at the end of the game ( The reason why he gave his son the name Atreus), Atreus is amazed at it and is disappointed Mimir wasn't around to hear it.
  • Summon to Hand: Kratos can call his axe back his hand after throwing it at enemies and objects.
  • Summon Bigger Fish: When faced with the colossal zombie Thamur Atreus calls on the even-larger world serpent Jörmungandr for aid.
  • Tamer and Chaster: Unlike previous titles, this one does not include sex minigames. The developers felt that they had been a gimmick to bump the rating, and they certainly didn't fit the tone of this game, since Kratos is on a journey with his son to spread his wife's ashes.
  • Tell Me How You Fight: Previous games depicted Kratos as an animalistic berserker who was just as fluid with his chain-blades as he was brutal, but this one takes a slower, more methodical approach with a more subtle battle axe, reflecting, as many of the tropes here listed, his maturity and focus. Hell, he doesn't even jump in this game, let alone double-jump as he could in the original games.
  • Tempting Fate: On their way to Jötunheim, Atreus says that nothing can stop them. Cue Hræzlyr, a gigantic dragon, doing exactly that. Mimir outright namedrops this trope when Atreus says it again while they're inside the World Serpent. Cue Baldur.
  • That's No Moon!: Jörmungandr at first appears to be a part of the landscape before he starts moving.
  • Thanatos Gambit: Faye is aware that her son will bring about the apocalypse, and also knows that her husband would never allow it. So she uses her burial requests as a means to ensure that the gods find Atreus, as well as leading Atreus and Kratos to discover her heritage. Faye tells Kratos to cut down specially marked trees, conveniently failing to tell him that those trees happen to be creating the magical barrier that is preventing the gods from finding them. Once Baldur shows up, Kratos has no choice but to start the journey. By having them scatter her ashes, they discover that her child is Loki, and Kratos learns that his death will ensure Ragnarok begins.
  • Time Is Dangerous: According to Mimir, the Vanir once used time-stopping magic with regularity until they realized stopping the sun and moon meant Skoll and Hati might catch up to them and devour them, which would start Ragnarok.
  • Time-Passage Beard: Kratos now sports a huge beard, showing that a lot of time has passed since the previous game, enough to start a new family.
  • Time Skip: After concluding their quest, Kratos and Atreus return to their home and sleep in their beds, with the next caption saying that "years later" passed during this time, and they are awoken by the arrival of Thor. This is revealed to be a vision had by Atreus.
  • Took a Level in Kindness: By this game, Kratos is a relatively calm, yet stern father to his son. He does still have his Spartan Rage, and does yell at him at times, but is actively trying to rein it in.
  • Tomato in the Mirror: Atreus discovers at the end that he is not only half-Olympian, but his mother was a Giantess. He takes the revelation rather well, more mildly shocked and curious than anything.
  • Tough Love: Kratos can appear distant, harsh, and cold towards his son, but he genuinely wants to prepare Atreus to survive — as he explains, being a god like him means they will have a target painted on their backs until the end of their days.
  • Tranquil Fury: Kratos seems to be in this state during some points of the story. He's trying to conquer his demons and keep himself emotionally controlled, but a few times, the control slips. Especially notable compared to the previous games, where he ran on Unstoppable Rage.
  • Training from Hell: Because they are on their own in a harsh and unforgiving land, Kratos is pushing his son to be a self-sufficient hunter and (eventually) a capable warrior. At times, he can come off very brusque and cold, but it's understandable because Kratos was raised as a Spartan.
  • Translation Convention: Played straight with regards to dialogue, but averted elsewhere. While Kratos can speak Norse, he cannot read or write it, so his son has to do the translating for him.
  • Treasure Room: Tyr's Vault, full of treasure (and more importantly gifts) from all the worlds, as Tyr traveled around the world and the nine realms, making friends who trusted him with many precious artefacts. It's also full of death traps and monsters.
  • Uncomfortable Elevator Moment: Happens after a particularly bad argument between Kratos and Atreus when the latter begins asking too many questions about his past, such as where his Blades of Chaos came from and how he knows about the consequences of killing a god. Kratos refuses to answer, with Atreus becoming passive-aggressive in return. Only Mimir is able to react with embarrassment at the situation.
  • Unstoppable Rage:
    • Kratos is trying to subvert this, both for himself and his son. Kratos is a patient yet stern father to Atreus, and is actively trying not to be as angry as he used to be.
    • When Atreus starts slashing at an already-dead beast while screaming in fury, Kratos stops him and tells him to rein it in. He doesn't want his son to end up like him.
  • Unexplained Recovery: Subverted: How Kratos lived after stabbing himself with the Blade of Olympus and ending up in Midgard is never explained in detail, but the Healing Factor he displays in cutscenes suggests simply being impaled just isn't that big a deal to a god.
  • The Un-Reveal: When Atreus falls ill and Kratos is bringing him to Freya, a horn is heard on the outside and Mimir comments that someone just called the World Serpent. It's never revealed who that was and why, so presumably, it will be addressed in a sequel.
  • Valkyries: The choosers of the slain are depicted as sinister winged humanoids that wield scythes in combat and are fought as mini-bosses. Turns out, they have been corrupted by Odin with arcane magic and they can only be released by fatally wounding their physical bodies so their spirits can escape.
  • Void Between the Worlds: Magic doors can be opened to travel into the "realm between realms", which appears as part of the World Tree Yggdrasil. It is basically the game's fast travel system. It also becomes plot-relevant since Tyr has hidden the missing portal to Jötunheim here, out of Odin's reach.
  • Vomit Discretion Shot: Late in the game, the player has to retrieve Mimir's missing eye. When they ask Sindri about it, he starts gagging and ends up running off to the side to vomit. After he returns, Brok continues discussing the subject, which sets Sindri off again.
  • Weapon of Choice: The Leviathan Axe and the guardian shield and the Blades of Chaos.
  • Wham Line:
    • When Kratos and Atreus meet Mimir at the top of the mountain in Midgard, Atreus explains that Faye wanted them to scatter her ashes from the highest peak in all the realms. Mimir's response?
    Mimir: Oh, then you've come to the wrong place, little brother. The highest peak in all the realms is not here in Midgard. It's in Jotunheim, realm of the giants.
    • Atreus falls fatally ill partway through the game, and Kratos has to retrieve the cure in the Norse realm of the dead, Helheim. But he is then warned that his frost axe will be useless to the Hel-Walkers roaming the land, and therefore he'll need to find "something else." In response, he says:
    Kratos: Then I must return home. Dig up a past I swore would stay buried.
    • During the ending, after learning that his mother was a Giant, which makes him half-Giant, Atreus drops this bombshell:
    Atreus: My name on the wall. The Giants called me... Loki?
  • Wham Shot:
    • When Kratos gets in Freya's boat to retrieve the Blades of Chaos, he enters a dark tunnel and the camera gives a pan over his shoulder...revealing the specter of Athena giving him a condescending smirk as the boat continues its way downstream.
    • At the end of the game, when the leads find a mural in Jotunheim revealing that their journey was predicted all along, Kratos sees a little picture covered by a sheet showing him dead in Atreus' arms.
    • When Kratos and Atreus return to their cabin at the end of the game and go to sleep, Atreus has a vision of a hooded figure coming to the cabin during a thunderstorm. When Kratos demands to know who his are, the figure reveals a VERY familiar hammer.
  • What Measure Is a Mook?: Kratos tells Atreus that to be an effective fighter, he has to shield himself from feeling remorse for making enemies suffer. When Kratos orders Atreus to kill a troll he has pinned down, Atreus hesitates when the troll starts begging for mercy.
  • What Measure Is a Non-Human?: The most visceral acts of violence in this entry are performed only against creatures that don’t look fully human, in contrast to the original trilogy where anything and anyone was a potential target. For example, when Baldur loses his invulnerability, he only receives a few axe wounds and a snapped neck before death, which is quite tame in comparison to what Kratos has done to humans and humanoids before. There’s also Mimir — when Kratos decapitates him so he can tag along and impart wisdom, there’s a noticeable discretion shot in order not to show Kratos doing the deed, which is far tamer than Kratos ripping off Helios's head to use as a tool, which was shown in ''explicit'' detail.
  • Wild Wilderness: Kratos and Atreus live in the woods, and spend quite some time trying to survive by hunting and fighting the hostile wildlife.
  • Wind Is Green: Helheim is depicted as very windy and everything related to it is teal green. It's this realm where Brok upgrades your Blades of Chaos to store the (green) Winds of Hel temporarily for switch-related puzzles.
  • Womb Level: Kratos and Atreus sail into Jörmungandr's belly to retrieve one of the plot trinkets. Downplayed in that it's a very short section.
  • Would Hurt a Child: No one seems to have a problem with harming Atreus, despite the fact that he's Just a Kid. This is somewhat understandable with the mindless Draugr, but not so much with the Norse Gods, who seem bent on ruining the day of anyone they come across. Appropriately enough, this is the one thing that ensures Kratos will give in to his base instincts. Whether you are divine or mortal, if you value your life, do not touch that kid.
  • Written by the Winners: The "usual take" on Norse Mythology is present (like Atreus saying that the mother of Baldur is the goddess Frigg), but then Mimir explains that a lot of the stories have been modified by Odin and the Aesir to make themselves look good. For instance, "Frigg" is a fictitious character created by Odin out of a desire to attribute to his actual wife "Freya" all the latter's accomplishments so a Vanir wouldn't look too good.
  • Wrong Context Magic: When Atreus falls ill and Freya needs an ingredient found only in Helheim in order to cure him, Kratos is told that Helheim is a land of deathly cold where no magic from the Nine Realms can sustain a flame, and thus the frost axe that he's been relying on up to this point would be useless against the undead there. Out of options and desperate to save his son, Kratos is forced to unearth the Blades of Chaos which, due to being forged by Greek magic, are able to maintain their fire even in Helheim. Lampshaded by Brok, who immediately starts marvelling over the Blades of Chaos the first time he sees them.
    Brok: What? Hey! You reek of foreign magic. Sweet Nanna's nethers, what are those? I've never seen the like.
  • Year Outside, Hour Inside: The realms have different timescales, so time spent in one doesn't match up with time in another. While entering the light of Alfheim, only a few moments pass for Kratos. When Atreus pulls him out, Atreus complains that Kratos was gone for "a long, long time." Word of God says that it was over a day from the boy's point of view. This ends up working out to Kratos' favor when Atreus becomes critically ill and Kratos has enter Helheim, as hours in there are seconds in Midgard, so his little time to work with becomes more manageable. Later, after returning from Jotunheim, Mimir says the duo had been gone for days when they had only been gone for less than an hour.
  • You Are Not Ready: Kratos repeats this line to Atreus a lot, as he's still young and Kratos thinks that he won't be able to 1. face the dangers of the world on his own, and 2. handle the Awful Truth of Kratos' past crimes, nor the truth about their Divine Parentage. Part of Kratos' development during the game is to learn to trust a little more in Atreus while reigning in the latter's darker impulses.
  • You Cannot Fight Fate: One of the major themes of the story. There is a lot of prophecy in the Nine Realms, and despite people's best attempts to avert fate, it always comes to pass. This being Norse Mythology, the prophecy most people are concerned about is Ragnarok. Odin seeks to find a way to avert it, gathering numerous prophecies and fates so he can eliminate eventual threats to his rule before they arise.
    • According to Mimir, Thor and Jörmungandr's battle during Ragnarok will be so intense that it breaks the World Tree, disrupting the weft of time and sending Jörmungandr back in time to before his own birth, allowing him to grow to his legendary size.
    • One prophecy is particularly important to the plot: When Baldur was born to Freya, she foresaw him dying needlessly, so she made him invulnerable to all things (with the exception of mistletoe). The blessing, or rather curse, left Baldur unable to feel or taste anything, so he grew to resent his mother. Even when the spell is finally broken at the climax of the game, he is too bitter to move on and tries to kill Freya, and Kratos kills him to protect her.
    • When Kratos and Atreus reach Jötunheim, they discover that their entire journey had been ordained and foreseen by the Giants, down to the last detail — and when Atreus scampers off, Kratos finds a mural depicting him possibly dying in Atreus' arms... an event that has yet to come.
    • When Kratos and Atreus return from Jötunheim, Mimir informs them that Fimbulwinter, a snow that will last for three years, has begun; at the end of it, Ragnarok will begin. However, it wasn't supposed to come about for another century or so. Only time will tell if the actual events will be different.
  • Somewhere, a Herpetologist Is Crying: When Jormungandr wakes up, we see his eye opening. Snakes don't have eyelids, though they do have a nictitating membrane in each eye. Jormungadr appears to have two in each of his eyes in addition to his eyelids.
  • You Killed My Father: What sends Atreus down the road to Ragnarok might be the death of his father.
  • Your Princess Is in Another Castle!: Kratos and Atreus make it to the highest peak in Midgard to spread Faye's ashes. Mimir reveals that the highest peak "in all the realms" is actually in the realm of Jotunheim, and that their journey is far from over.
  • You Should Have Died Instead: While he never says it to Kratos, a brief journey through the Light of Alfheim has Atreus telling his dead mother "It should have been him, not you."
  • Zombie Apocalypse: Downplayed, since the story isn't centered around it, but still present. The living dead infest the countryside, presenting a constant menace to Kratos and Atreus on their journey. This is because the Valkyries have been imprisoned in mortal vessels and locked away, preventing them from fulfilling their purpose as sorters of the dead.

 
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God of War 2018

Kratos Fighting The Stranger at his home. Right when you think you're winning, The Stranger heals. "Care to try again?"

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