God Of War is one of the most enduring franchises in gaming after it made its name in the mid-2000s as one of PlayStation’s flagship games for its PlayStation 2 console. Ever since the first game was released in 2005, God of War was synonymous with the hack-and-slash gaming genre that spewed several sequels and spin-offs. Most of them are really great games, except for the God of War: Betrayal — a stain in the franchise, whose narrative is actually considered canon. And now that we listed the worst game in the series, it’s time to discuss the best game in the series, which is — God of War.
There are two God of War games sharing the same title within the series: the original 2005 God of War, which was the franchise’s foundation, and the 2018’s soft-reboot of the franchise, also named God of War. But which one is the best God of War game? Unfortunately, they’re both have the same rating on Metacritic, ranking 94/100, so a clear-cut answer can’t be found in ratings. It comes down to the fandom’s opinion, and the fandom stated that 2018’s version is the best title in the series though this is still debatable.
Die-hard fans of the series would disagree with the above statement, arguing that without the original God of War game to pave the way, others possibly wouldn’t even exist. And they might be right in that regard. The original game did introduce its protagonist, Kratos, as a rage-driven Spartan exacting vengeance upon the deceitful gods of Olympus for the death of his family, thus establishing the “man-vs-gods” mythos within the game. It also had a pretty good narrative: Kratos strikes a bargain with Ares, gods trick Kratos into killing his own family, and Kratos finds and kills Ares, thus becoming the God of War.
However, he’s stripped of his powers in the sequel, cast into the underworld by Zeus, only to rise again and wage war against the entire Olympus — killing all the deities and remaining the only Olympian alive. Thanks to the foundation for such a narrative, upon which the entire Olympian saga was built, the original game is well-deserving of being called the best God of War game. However, the original game’s shortcomings also translated into its sequels, which is why 2018’s release is considered a superior game.
We won’t dwell on the technical specifications of each game’s native console, as the 2018’s game leads in that department — the PS4 was an absolute beast when the game launched. So, we’ll only center on the narrative aspects both games have to offer. The original game portrayed Kratos as an anger-driven man and later a god, which hasn’t changed by the very end of the original trilogy. This means that we saw very little character development by the end of God of War 3, so we consider the 2018 game the best God of War game in the series.
The 2018 game, regarded as the best God of War game ever, is a soft reboot that is only loosely tied to the original trilogy. As the last remaining Olympian, he stabbed himself with Zeus’s sword to release Hope unto the world — inadvertently absorbing the sword’s power that allowed him to live. He was still imbued with the same powers in the reboot, in which he traveled to Midgard, fell in love with Faye, and had a son named Atreus. His wife later passed, and Kratos was left to look after his son. And this is where his character development really shines — Kratos’ relationship with his son.
In the original game, Kratos was a general of the Spartan army, a hardened warrior who got tricked by the gods, which fueled his anger and lust for vengeance. His rage and desire to avenge his family were mere plot devices in a battle between a man and the gods, the cause of his war against Olympus. But their relationship and the supposed love they share were never explored — only depicted in a few short cutscenes. However, in the best God of War game, Kratos’ relationship with his son only deepens through the game; he’s still a hardened warrior, but he’s also a father. Though he appears strict and ruthless, the love and care he has for Atreus are undeniable.
It wouldn’t be a God of War game without a pantheon to fight. While traveling with Atreus to scatter his wife’s ashes from the highest mountain in the Nine Realms (a feat inspired by love, not rage), Kratos managed to enrage the Norse pantheon by killing one of Thor’s sons and one of his brothers. The continuation of that narrative is expected to arrive sometime this year. The best God of War game is currently available natively on PlayStation 4, though it can be played on PS5 and PC — yes, the best one became available on PC this January.