Elden Ring may have won 2022's Game of the Year, but God of War Ragnarok was more deserving of the prestigious title.
Following a very successful record-smashing launch, Elden Ring dominated the gaming market as the best-selling gaming title throughout most of 2022, ending the year as a winner of The Game of the Year award. Admittedly, the game only had a handful of titles to compete against, such as Stray or A Plague Tale: Requiem, but Elden Ring‘s true competitor was 2022’s God of War Ragnarok—the most highly-anticipated game of 2022, and a sequel to 2018’s God of War.
To be entirely honest, when comparing Elden Ring and God of War Ragnarok, it’s really difficult to pick which one is better, but many feel that Elden Ring got an unfair advantage over God of War Ragnarok, as it was released nearly a whole year prior (10 months actually). Many argue that God of War Ragnarok’s late release prevented gamers from playing both games thoroughly before making an informed voting decision. But we’re here to discuss why God of War Ragnarok should have been a Game of the Year winner.
The first thing that stands out regarding both is the graphical fidelity both games bring to their respective platforms. Both Elden Rings and God of War Ragnarok are stunning in terms of graphics, but the latter pushes things further, offering incredibly detailed graphics. The pandemic caused inventory issues at Sony, and the company hasn’t been in a hurry to develop new gaming hardware to launch Ragnarok on.
Instead, they went with the hardware whose capabilities are already well-known—the PS5—and the game exploits the console’s computing power to the maximum.
So much so that there isn’t a moment in the game that doesn’t look breathtaking. Of course, high-detailed graphics are complemented further with a complex combat system that allows the protagonist to rain physical destruction due to a severe lack of diplomacy in solving interpersonal conflicts. Elden Ring also has an immense combat system that’s much more detailed compared to God of War Raganrok’s, but the latter allows Kratos to cycle through different weapons and combos at ease, which offers much more gaming advantage over using just a single weapon.
Another thing that won the gaming community over was the moving performances of Sunny Suljic and Christopher Judge, who portrayed Atreus and Kratos, respectively. The Norse duology, detailed by Game Rant introduced Atreus as Kratos’s son, giving the character something else to do but punch stuff, and Sunny did exceptional work of bringing the young god to life in a way that’s nothing short of beautiful. Judge, on the other hand, portrayed Kratos in a whole new way, something that the audience didn’t have the chance to see in the Greek trilogy.
He portrayed Kratos not as an angry soldier-turned-anger-filled god but as a relatable, sympathetic, and powerful warrior and a father figure. His reward for the Best Performer is well-earned, and his portrayal of Kratos embodies how gaming performance should be done. And all of this brings us to an element that ties everything together—the narrative. God of War Ragnarok is one of the longest story-based games on the market, but there’s never a point within the story where you, as a gamer, would feel bored. Actually, quite the contrary.
Santa Monica introduced several new gameplay elements to make the game more enjoyable to beginner gamers, allowing them to enjoy the narrative progression without having to break their thumbs. Elden Ring, on the other hand, is a bit different in that regard than God of War Ragnarok. As a standalone, Souls-like game, it tells a self-contained story of the in-game world and how it can be fixed. But that game cannot be enjoyed by beginner gamers, and anyone stating the contrary is either a gaming deity of some sort or hasn’t played a Souls-like game in their life.
From Software makes some of the most punishing games ever, and gamers already operate with their guard up, so much that they even skipped Elden Ring’s tutorial, fearing that it might be a trap.
In the end, comparing Elden Ring and God of War Ragnarok is similar to comparing apples and oranges. Both games have beautifully written stories, plenty of content, great graphics, and elaborate combat systems. The merits of both gaming titles are very different, so comparing the two comes down to the gamer’s personal preference. But we still have to wonder, would Elden Ring have become the Game of the Year if God of War Ragnarok had been released a few months earlier?