With God of War: Ragnarok expected to release on PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 5 later this year, Sony’s timing of a PC port of the 2018 God of War reboot is pretty much perfect. Not only does it bring one of the most highly regarded games of the past decade to a wider audience that hasn’t played it before, but it might tempt some to go out and buy a PS5 (or at least try) in time for the sequel. A very tempting prospect, especially given how damn fine this port of it the game truly is! Read on for our full God of War PC review.
The 2018 God of War was a fantastic reboot of what had been an often mindlessly angry hack and slash series. Instead of retelling the God of War story it is set years after Kratos dismembered the Greek pantheon of gods; he is a changed man, a family man. With the death of his wife, he’s forced onto a new epic journey through Norse mythology with his son Atreus by his side. It’s a new style of action game for the series, pulling the camera in over Kratos’ shoulder and employing a single camera cut to great effect, but the heart of the game is in the relationship between Kratos and Atreus, as a father struggles to connect with his son.
While Horizon Zero Dawn – Sony’s first PS4 to PC port – came with some troublesome performance issues and some wonky graphics options, God of War immediately feels like a more refined product that has taken on board some early lessons, with Jetpack Interactive handling the jump from console to computer.
God of War comes with a plethora of graphical options, letting you choose varying texture, shadows, reflections and other effects detail. You can simply recreate the PS4 release with the ‘Original’ setting, or set things both lower and higher. Outside of reflection and shadows, the difference is subtle here, given that the original game was designed fully with the PS4 generation in mind. There’s clear difference in how sharp shadows are when going from Low to Original and up to High, but Ultra adds significantly more shadowing from things like grass on the ground, as illustrated by this comparison image.
So the most important options you’ll find are for resolution and frame rate. On PC you’re free to push for a fully native 4K if you want, to set frame rate targets up to X, or let the game run with an unlocked frame rate. You can absolutely get the best of both worlds, thanks to built-in support for DLSS upscaling on modern Nvidia GPUs and for AMD’s FidelityFX Super Resolution upscaling. While purists will prefer native resolution, it’s worth remembering that the game on PS4 Pro would use checkerboard upscaling to output 4K, which is also true of the game running with its PS5 update.
So how does it hold up in practice? My PC combines a Ryzen 9 5900X with an AMD Vega 56, and this combo easily outperforms the PlayStation 4 Pro in its 1080p Performance Mode. Where that console could not hold 60fps for the vast majority of gameplay, but my PC does so with ease and an unlocked frame rate typically ranges between 70-90fps depending on what’s kicking off on screen. Shifting up to the High or Ultra graphics options put a noticeable double digit dent in performance for relatively minor visual improvements, in my opinion, and there are stress points during cinematics that can make performance dip regardless. Pair this with a variable refresh rate capable screen and any blips like that won’t matter one bit.
Stepping things up a notch and playing on a 4K TV, the Vega 56 is able to pretty convincingly hang on for playing in native 4K at 30fps – again, the PS4 Pro has to rely on checkerboarding for this. Of course, it’s really the 60fps mark that you’d ideally want to see and so you can use upscaling techniques to try and find a compromise. For us it was the ‘Balanced’ setting that reduced the base resolution to 2260×1272 that allowed for this, the image filtering giving a noticeably less defined image.
With FidelityFX at this level, it’s not a particularly big step up over 1080p, and nowhere near looking like the native 4K image. Knowing that 60fps will be the target, the system requirements note that an Nvidia RTX 2070 or AMD RX 5700XT is recommended for 1440ps, while the mighty Nvidia RTX 3080 and AMD RX 6800XT are recommended for 4K60. Wouldn’t it be lovely to be able to buy a better GPU at a reasonable price?
God of War has support for ultra widescreen formats that broaden the horizon of what the game can show you while playing. I don’t have a screen like that to test with, but I did spot some amusing quirks while playing on a 16:10 ratio screen. This extends the view fractionally at the top and bottom of the screen compared to a 16:9 TV and in normal play it’s seamless. However during the scripted cinematic moments it can reveal some elements that would normally be hidden just out of view, of hands flapping aimlessly at objects, of tree fragments floating in midair. It’s more of an amusing edge case in my opinion, similar to opening the matte on a film frame to find boom mics that are normally hidden from view.
This is a good all-round port of the game, and as such, we defer back to our original PlayStation 4 review score.