A man holds a young boy's face in his hands in an image from the game God of War

Father, Rank Every ‘God of War’ Game From Worst to Best

Boy … You wish to know which of the God of War games was the greatest of all my adventures? Why do you let this trouble your mind? We are currently on an adventure, doing battle against the Norse gods. Focus on the task at hand. I will suffer not foolish questions.

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I can feel you staring at the back of my head, boy. Keep quiet and kill that draugr.

Boy … I GROW WEARY OF YOUR INSOLENCE! IF YOU DO NOT—(whispering to self) Deep breaths… He is still a child. I am kind. I am gentle. I am turning over a new leaf. I shall count backward from 10 … 9 … 8 …

Very well, Atreus. I will tell you which of the God of War adventures was the mightiest and which your generation would call “trash.” But suffer me not to rank the mobile games. They do not count. I like them not. Read on, boy, for a thorough ranking of the God of War games from worst to best.

My least worthy adventure: God of War: Ascension

A Cyclops watches warriors battle in God of War: Ascension

To be honest, boy, I barely remember what I did during this game. My deeds were forgettable at best. I broke my vow to Ares, yes. But there had already been a game about that entire plot line: the original God of War. Indeed, there were some thrilling levels in this game. My battle with Aegaeon the Hecatonchires—a giant with 50 heads and 100 arms—was indeed a highlight, but the rest of the game went … downhill from there. There was also a silly dodge mechanic that made combat much more difficult. I spent five games doing it one way! Why should I suddenly be expected to do it another? It was nonsense. And what fool thought it would be a good idea to incorporate multiplayer?

My second least worthy adventure: God of War: Chains of Olympus

Kratos from God of War: Chains of Olympus

This game was released exclusively for the PSP, and I believe that it suffers for this very reason. My deeds are larger than life! They are of mythological proportions! And yet they were rendered on such a puny little screen! Insulting. Nevertheless, the combat was enjoyable. I was often drunk on the blood of my enemies, yet I had to sober up often to solve silly puzzles by pushing blocks around. It was degrading. The narrative is also nothing to write home about. I was an errand boy for the fickle gods. Nothing of note happened until the last act. But I had to slog through the rest of the game to get there.

A worthy game: God Of War (2005)

A screenshot of gameplay from the original God of War video game

This title is where my adventure began, and is therefore worthy, even if it was a humble beginning. My particular brand of hacking and slashing elevated the hack-and-slash genre to new heights. My combos were as beautiful as they were brutal. And my narrative was good. I had firmly decided to stand against the gods, and players cared about my quest for vengeance. The only downside to the game was the silly puzzles I had to complete. So many blocks I dragged, and for what? The platforming aspect was also a foolish choice. I am nimble on my feet, but I am a Spartan soldier, not an Italian plumber. Were I granted mushrooms and flying tanuki costumes to aid me on my quest, it would have been a different matter. But the gods were cruel, and I was given no such boon.

A game worthier, still: God of War: Ghost of Sparta

A screenshot of gameplay from the game God of War: Ghost of Sparta

This is the second PSP game that was ever created to detail my exploits, and yet I do not mind that it was not released on a major console. The game does not hinder itself by relying on scale and instead rewards creative gameplay. Players were also treated with a deeper look into my psyche. They got to know my family—my mother and my brother. There was pathos in this tale, enough to move even the finest of Greek tragedians. The game also takes place in Atlantis—a thrilling setting! Who is immune to the fascinating mysteries of an underwater city? No mortal man, for certain.

An exceedingly worthy game: God of War III

Cover art for the game God of War 3

This game began with a thunderous BANG and did not stop! Who can forget my climb up Mount Olympus to do battle with the gods? Who can forget when I gouged out Poseidon’s eyes? Who can forget when I tore off the head of Helios and used it to light my way in the darkness? Who can forget when I slayed my own father, and then myself? I wish I could, boy. I wish I could. Those memories are painful to me now, but when I was a young man they thrilled me to no end. Indeed, they thrilled a generation of gamers as well. And I am thankful. Had it not been for this game, my business in Greece would have remained unfinished. And I would not have had the … privilege … of becoming your father.

The worthiest game of my youth: God of War II

Kratos, depicted from behind, in the game God of War 2

I began this game in a foul mood. To vent my anger, I destroyed the mighty Colossus of Rhodes. I was then betrayed by the gods and sent down into the underworld. I slew Hades, the God of Hell. I railed against fate itself. And I had a good time doing it. I immensely enjoyed this game’s fluid combat and breathtaking boss battles. I even enjoyed the puzzles. I never thought I’d see the day.

Fatherhood, a worthier game still: God of War (2018)

Kratos and his son Atreus in the fourth God of War game

Fatherhood changed me, Atreus—for the better, this I know. And learning how to be a father to you proved to be my greatest adventure of all. In doing so, the world saw a new side to me, just as I experienced a new side to myself. I became older, more mature, and more world-weary. I was filled with grief, and yet that grief was healed by love. I am told that our first adventure together moved the gaming community to tears, just as it has moved me. And what glorious things we did! We fought dragons, my boy. We conquered Valkyries. We made the gods of this northern land tremble.

My worthiest game of all: God of War: Ragnarok

Official art for God of War: Ragnarok featuring Kratos and the main characters from the game

My worthiest adventure of all is the one that you and I are on. I have seen you grow into a strong young man, and you are now a fierce warrior in combat. Our deeds are on a grander scale than ever before. We are cataclysmic. We stand against the King of the Gods—the Allfather, Odin. We stand against his son as well—the God of Thunder, Thor. Our battles have been awe-inspiring. Our story runs deeper than before, as does our love. I only hope that we see it through to the end. Whatever end that may be, I am glad to meet it with you.

(featured image: Sony)

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Jack Doyle
Jack Doyle (they/them) is actually nine choirs of biblically accurate angels crammed into one pair of $10 overalls. They have been writing articles for nerds on the internet for less than a year now. They really like anime. Like... REALLY like it. Like you know those annoying little kids that will only eat hotdogs and chicken fingers? They're like that... but with anime. It's starting to get sad.