It is beyond clear that the God of War game franchise has stood the test of time, remaining consistently ahead of the industry since its inception. With game releases that span from PSP to mobile, and all through each generation of the PlayStation consoles, God of War shows absolutely no signs of slowing down. With God of War Ragnarök heading to PlayStation consoles in 2022, it’s the perfect time to rank this tentpole franchise.
God of War: Betrayal is the only version of the franchise that was released as a mobile game on Java. And because of this, most fans believe this is the worst God of War game in the franchise, and that it shouldn’t have been made — which is a pretty harsh judgement.
Betrayal was unlike any other God of War game as it was a 2D side-scroller with a wide array of techniques that tended to remind people of the original Ninja Gaiden for the Nintendo Entertainment System. Despite its pitfalls, it surpassed the expectations that people had for it as a mobile release, but at the end of the day, expecting a mobile game to stand up to the latest generation remaster is asking a bit much.
8. God of War: A Call From The Wilds (Facebook Messenger) 2018
Another odd release, God of War: A Call From The Wilds is a text-based Facebook game that works through Facebook Messenger. As a text-based companion adventure to 2018’s God of War, it paled in comparison and left lots of fans wondering why it was seen to be necessary. Unlike the other video games, players take up the role of Kratos’ son, Atreus, who has to progress through the various chapters to beat the game.
A Call From The Wilds probably deserves its place at the bottom of the list of God of War games.
7. God of War: Ascension (PS3) 2010
God of War: Ascension was part of the original prequel series and set up the story of the original God of War game franchise. Chronologically speaking, it is the very first game in the saga. Although Ascension is considered much less compelling than the rest of the standard series, it shares the story of a much younger hero and tells us some of the origins of Kratos’ story.
As a technical predecessor to the others, Kratos is trying to free himself from his blood oath to Ares, which led to the events of the first game. God of War: Ascension is famously known for throwing players straight into the thick of it, starting them against a tough boss near the beginning of the game and immediately immersing them in the action.
There are, of course, some enjoyable aspects, such as the unique multiplayer mode, which was a relative success with various game modes and maps from within the franchise, allowing you to team up with a friend to brutally massacre Greek monstrosities. It is also the only game to have a competitive mode, trying (unsuccessfully) to translate the game to a PvP (Player versus Player) format. Most players found that the execution of the PvP was messy and preferred the PvE (Player versus Environment).
Despite the controls being similar to the original games and the combat described as “as tight as ever”, with a huge amount of the focus for the combat being placed on the Blades of Chaos, the game didn’t get much love from fans. This might be because the rest of the game felt barren to most of the players who felt it was an unnecessary prequel. Of course, not everyone agrees. Some consider God of War: Ascension to be a hidden gem.
Ghost of Sparta is one of the PSP games that was created as part of the prequel series. Adding more life to the God of War franchise, it is set between the events of God of War and God of War II, where Kratos is in Atlantis with his Mother who is sending him on a journey to find his long-lost brother. To do this, he has to battle against the Greek God of Death, Thanatos. Witnessing the tragic loss of Kratos’s brother Deimos provided players with some much-needed deeper insight into Kratos’s twisted past and his family backstory.
Aside from the 2018 release, this is known as one of the franchise’s most emotional moments. In incredibly high praise, IGN reportedly said, “The developers at Ready at Dawn managed to top what they did with Chains of Olympus, delivering a longer, deeper, and more graphically beautiful game than even they thought was originally possibly”.
Ghost of Sparta was one of the most well-received PSP renditions of God of War and is considered one of the best-looking games on the handheld platform. It proved that Kratos could transition well from a home console to a handheld device, and holds up to the bigger games released on the PS2 and PS3.
Despite all of its upsides, the gameplay and controls are similar to the previous PSP entry and Ghost of Sparta struggles to make its own identity among the others.
God of War: Chains of Olympus was the first of the games that moved to the handheld PSP, and kicks off the prequel series. This addition to the world-famous franchise sees Kratos as he searches for the Greek Sun God, Helios, on a journey during which he encounters his daughter in Elysium, the Greek mythology version of heaven, a resting place for the blessed after death.
Despite making the move to PSP, everything from the set pieces to the boss fights in Chains of Olympus was designed with as little compromise as possible. And despite the limitations of the handheld console, the game holds up to the rest of the franchise and is even the 7th best-selling PSP game of all time. It is the most successful God of War game on handheld consoles, creating a beautiful Mount Olympus that is unlike the one we usually see in Greek mythology, a fantastic treat as Kratos waged his revenge battle against the Olympian gods.
The PSP game is a very enjoyable spin-off with its combat mechanics and narratives being highly praised by fans. Despite the puzzle-solving elements being much weaker than the rest of the God of War games, Chains of Olympus is one of the best hack-and-slash games out there, thought to be a worthy addition to the franchise. In fact, the only drawback was how short the game was.
After making us wait three years after the cliffhanger at the end of the second game in the original God of War series, we were graced with Kratos’s final quest in the realm of the Greek gods, a fitting conclusion to the original trilogy. In God of War III, Kratos searches for The Flame of Olympus and Pandora’s Box while on his quest to defeat Zeus. Following a difficult cliffhanger, the game had a mind-bending ending itself, despite the plot falling flat in certain areas.
The 3rd game was a huge step up from the first two games, graphically speaking, as well as in terms of boss fights, with unique new gameplay elements like the use of Icarus’ Wings. The game itself was also massive in scale, seeing Kratos in jaw-dropping scenarios, and in his biggest boss fights yet (arguably the best in all gaming). This included challenges against Cronos, Poseidon, and Zeus.
Although there was a remastered version for the PlayStation 4 (described as the best way to experience the game), God of War III is the 9th highest-selling game on the PlayStation 3, and the graphics are so gorgeous that it still stands up to today’s works.
The second instalment to the main story, God of War II tells the story of Kratos who has recently become the new God of War after killing Ares in the previous game. Betrayed by Zeus and banished to the underworld, Kratos is on a revenge mission. His revenge is almost complete when one of the biggest twists hits him: Zeus is his father. This is where we get to see Kratos’s deeply flawed character and learn about how relentlessly power-thirsty he is. This was also the longest playthrough time of the Greek-based games, as Kratos must journey through the Island of Creation looking to change time itself.
The first game was a really difficult act to follow, but somehow Santa Monica Studio pulled it off and God of War II managed to live up to the expectations, moving leaps and bounds with their second entry and building on every single amazing design aspect that they could find in the original game to create something special. Described as one of the most polished games they have made, God of War II is often called near-perfect and a game you can return to repeatedly.
The gameplay and story improved significantly as it introduced more magical abilities elements, which helped to increase the scale of the action sequences found in the games (and gave players more room to experiment with their combat). This is especially true for one of the franchise’s hardest bosses, Zeus. Some of the levels of God of War II, like Typhon’s Lair and the Palace of the Fates, remain some of the most memorable in the series, especially after revealing that the Sister Fates were one of the sets of villains in the game.
The second instalment in the original franchise ended with a very hard cliffhanger and was one of the major talking points of the game because fans felt like they had been cheated. The game ends on arguably its most exciting part, only adding to the ire of fans and wasn’t resolved until the events of the third game.
The birth of an era, God of War is where the brutality began and started one of the most loved game franchises that have graced the gaming world. Iconic for good reason, God of War was an unforgettable introduction to the famous hack-and-slash game and the iconic Blades of Chaos. These weapons brought a unique flow to combat that appealed to players with all levels of skills.
Unable to free himself from the blood oath, the fallen Spartan soldier is on a journey and story of revenge against Ares for tricking him into killing his family, and in defeating him becomes the next God of War, representing his first adventure into the realm of the Greek gods which influenced the design of many of the weapons, locations, and enemies.
Although it had a violent introduction to the gaming world, God of War quickly became the most exciting combo-based combat game, with puzzles, and a wide variety of enemies and bosses. Many fans feel that it is a must-play for newer fans of the series, mainly due to the vital plot points that are contained in the game.
As the original of the series, God of War went on to win several Game of The Year Awards and is considered to be one of the best games of all time (surely the best of the original trilogy), especially as it has withstood the test of time.
The latest instalment (save for God of War Ragnarok which is coming out soon), the best game in the franchise, simply titled God of War, made a lot of changes from the previous games and Cory Barlog made the smart move away from Greek and into the world of Norse mythology.
In the latest game, Kratos is trying to live a peaceful life raising his son. Set years after the original God of War trilogy, Kratos has lost his second wife, Laufey the Just (Faye for short), who was a Frost Giant from Jōtenheim, effectively moving the franchise into the unforgiving world of Ancient Norway. It is here that he and his son Atreus have to climb to the highest peak in the nine realms to scatter his late wife’s ashes.
Of course, it wouldn’t be a new section in the franchise without introducing a new weapon and in this one, we meet the Leviathan axe, already on the same iconic level as the legendary Blades of Chaos.
2018’s God of War completely changed the overall tone and mechanics of the previous trilogy, which was a huge risk for the game producers, but it was a risk that paid off because the game was a masterpiece with huge-scale action sequences that were beautiful, with stunning visuals, ingenious level designs, and a memorable cast of characters. The PlayStation Exclusive was masterfully tuned, with a new combat overhaul that made the fights feel far more personal than they used to.
The game also has one of the most emotional storylines to date. It was thought that players had never seen a hack-and-slash game with such a compelling narrative — especially with the chemistry and growth of the relationship between father and son.
The last instalment brought back the fierce love for the franchise that old fans had, as well as spawning a whole new generation of fans. 2018’s God of War is the highest-selling PlayStation 4 game of all time, and for good reason.
Luckily, the creators didn’t go with their original idea, which was to remove Kratos from the game entirely, introducing a new protagonist. While they did try a lot of new things, I for one, am grateful that they didn’t stray too far from their roots, because I think the entire franchise would lose its appeal without the iconic Spartan warrior — unless they had a really good reason for retiring him, of course.
With a wonderful amount of upgrades over the years, and remasters that have ported the older games over to next-gen consoles, God of War is a game franchise that has seriously survived the test of time. With their next game coming out very soon, Kratos and his world-ending thirst for revenge have almost lasted for two decades.
The PSP releases are the best-selling games on the hand-held platform, and 2018’s God of War is the best-selling game on the PlayStation 4, making it the best-selling franchise that Sony has under its belt. Opinions may differ, but the 2018 release is probably ranked among people’s favourites. Could this change with God of War: Ragnarok?