God of War Ragnarok: Valhalla Review – Facing the Past

God of War Ragnarok is one of the most story-heavy entries in the series, bringing the Norse story arc to an end in a rather satisfying way. However, Santa Monica Studio still had some stories to tell in the Nine Realms that couldn’t wait for the release of the next full-fledged entry in the series. Despite being a free expansion, God of War Ragnarok: Valhalla manages to deliver in full, providing more of what players have loved about the latest two entries in the series.

God of War Ragnarok: Valhalla takes place after the main story. Following Atreus’s departure, Kratos is offered the seat as the new God of War for the Nine Realms that was left vacant by Tyr. Still haunted by the ghosts of his brutal past, the Spartan refuses Freya’s request, desiring only to stay away from power and responsibility as much as possible.

At some point, however, Kratos receives an anonymous invitation to Valhalla. Traveling to Asgard in acceptance, the old warrior and his ever-faithful companion Mimir will find themselves dealing with their pasts to be able to finally move forward as they explore a labyrinth full of all sorts of dangers.

Surprisingly enough, for a free expansion, God of War Ragnarok: Valhalla actually provides quite a bit of story. Despite its short length, it is extremely engaging, providing some decent development for Kratos and even some fan service with references to the first three entries in the series. At the end of the day, the expansion doesn’t really move the story past the ending of the base game, but it does set the basis for the future development of the series’ main character, which is something the main campaign somewhat lacked in my opinion, especially considering how Atreus’ future seems to be set up.

While the story fully embraces the approach of the latest two entries in the series, the God of War Ragnarok: Valhalla plays a little differently than them, as it essentially is a roguelite take on the main game’s formula inspired by titles such as Dead Cells and Hades. Each combat-filled run through Valhalla is fully randomized, as Kratos has to clear waves of enemies to defeat the first Valhalla’s Chosen enemy to be able to ascend to the Greek Labirynth to face his past, confront some brand new enemies and then fight the final boss, whose moveset will change every time he is defeated.

At the start of Valhalla, Kratos will have every ability unlocked for his three weapons – the Leviathan Axe, the Blades of Chaos, and the Draupnir Spear, but his stats will be at the minimum. By obtaining a variety of currencies inside the Hall of the Slain and perks found inside chests during any given run, it will be possible to temporarily or permanently increase his stats, unlock some powerful Relics that come with a limited amount of charges, get back Runic Attacks from the base game (although only temporarily) and create a viable build on the fly. Some of the perks also unlock new abilities not available in the base game, and there’s even a new Fury mode called Legacy which will make long-time fans of the series happy.

Like for any roguelite, wrapping one’s head around the new mechanics in God of War Ragnarok: Valhalla is not easy, and there will be plenty of failed runs at the beginning. Things, however, get better over time, resulting in an extremely satisfying experience that can push players’ skills to the limits, especially in the highest difficulty settings. Playing at lower difficulties, however, it’s completely viable for those who just want to experience the story, as no content is locked behind a certain difficulty setting. Unfortunately, the expansion doesn’t offer much more than some new story and plenty of combat, so those who liked the exploration and puzzle-solving elements of the base game won’t find a lot to like in it.

For a free expansion, God of War Ragnarok: Valhalla offers quite a lot. The roguelite take on the base game’s formula works extremely well, thanks to the excellent combat system, which truly shines in the extreme combat scenarios Kratos will have to conquer to confront his past and finally make a step towards the future. Its short length, which prevents the adventure from overstaying its welcome, and excellent accessibility with multiple difficulty settings that don’t lock content behind them, also make the expansion one that all those who loved the base game should play.

Reviewed on PlayStation 5.

Products mentioned in this post

God of War Ragnarok: Valhalla

God of War Ragnarok: Valhalla

With its roguelite take on the base game’s formula, engaging story, decent amount of new content and excellent accessibility, God of War Ragnarok: Valhalla is a great expansion that is worthy of any God of War’s fans time. The focus on combat may turn some players off, but it’s only a minor issue in an expansion that could have been easily sold as paid DLC.

  • Surprising amount of content for a free expansion
  • Excellent roguelite take of the base game’s formula
  • Great accessibility
  • The combat-focused experience can turn some players off