God of War Ragnarok: Valhalla Review – An Exceptional Game Gets Even Better

Be better, not as the God of War, but as the God of Hope.

God of War Ragnarök: Valhalla Review
Overall
5
  • Story And Setting
  • Gameplay
  • Visuals And Performance

Verdict

On top of it being a free update, God of War Ragnarok: Valhalla is a love letter to all the old fans of this incredible series.

Apart from all the new game announcements and trailers, one of the biggest bombshells to come out of the Game Awards 2023 was when Santa Monica dropped news about God of War Ragnarok’s brand-new Valhalla update. 

Key Takeaways
  • Developer: Santa Monica Studios
  • Publisher: Sony Interactive Entertainment 
  • Release Date: December 12, 2023
  • Platforms: PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4
  • Game Length: 10 Hours
  • Time Played: 14 Hours
Editors Note: Our reviewer comprehensively covered the base game and has extensive history with the franchise.

And this new update essentially brings a rogue-lite mode to the game, featuring a fresh new narrative focused on Kratos, which is easily the highlight here. So I’m pleased to present a review to discuss this DLC in brief detail.

(Potential Spoilers Ahead)

Story And Setting

god of war ragnarok valhalla review
Story. (Image By eXputer)

Our story picks off relatively soon after the events of the base game, when Kratos receives a letter at his home bearing coordinates of an unknown location.

And it is here that he discovers a large stone door, one that seemingly grants him entry to Valhalla. I won’t delve too much into spoilers after this, because the entire mode is dedicated to past God of War entries and Kratos’ redemption arc.

Our story picks off relatively soon after the events of the base game, when Kratos receives a letter at his home bearing coordinates of an unknown location.

I loved the inclusion of so many references and callbacks to past titles, which again, I cannot even briefly discuss here without ruining the surprise for our readers. But with Atreus on his own mission now, Santa Monica has done a wonderful job of giving us proper closure for Kratos and his long and arduous journey.

Valhalla’s narrative is equally sweet to experience as a newer fan as well, but seeing Kratos redeem himself after so many long years in the most endearing way imaginable is a testament to his status as one of gaming’s most iconic protagonists.

Gameplay

gowr valhalla review
Rogue-Lite Gameplay. (Image Captured By eXputer)

While the combat and general elements are mainly the same, Valhalla incorporates a rogue-lite style into the main gameplay where you start off with basic resources and then slowly upgrade them along the way. But the further you progress, the harder the game becomes.

So as the genre dictates, unless you’re picking up permanent upgrades for Kratos, upon death, you will always start anew, and with randomized areas and enemies almost every step of the way.

Our core mechanics are relatively simple as well, with you going through a familiar-looking Realm door to battle waves of enemies, ascending from the Norse Pantheon to the Greek one midway through, and battling various bosses or major foes.

Valhalla incorporates a rogue-lite style into the main gameplay where you start off with basic resources and then slowly upgrade them along the way.

Speaking of bosses, while I won’t spoil the major antagonist of this mode, I can mainly tell you that it is no pushover when playing on the harder difficulties, especially given how this boss fight, in particular, gave me the same challenge as King Hrolf and Gna, the Valkyrie Queen.

These fights are not typically daunting per se, but each run gives you enough Sanctuaries and upgrades to get you one step closer to beating each of the four variants of the major boss.

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New Upgrades. (Image Credits: eXputer)

I enjoyed everything about Valhalla, from how it made me carefully spend my Fleeting Echoes, to how it asked me to master shields I had never used in the base game, I loved how it made me experiment with new gear and switched playstyles on the fly.

There is just so much depth to the rogue-lite gameplay, and multiple elements of it even reminded me of Returnal, another excellent PlayStation 5 exclusive. I even kept wondering if maybe Housemarque helped in the making of this project due to how some sections in Valhalla look vastly similar in structure to that game.

Visuals And Performance

Visuals. (Image By eXputer)

Now let’s talk about the visuals of God of War Ragnarok: Valhalla.

While the core graphics remain the same, I can’t understate how much the aesthetics of this mode emphasize its narrative. From reimagined locales from previous titles to old enemies presented with a fresh coat of paint, there’s just so much to love here for veterans of the franchise.

My favorite was one particular boss arena, which almost resembles the same one where you fight Zeus in God of War 3, including the Three Judges from the Palace of Hades. It was so nostalgic being there in the moment, and it felt like reliving old memories with an old friend.

Furthermore, the mode also includes iconic enemies veteran fans like myself know and love from the Greek era, such as the Centaurs, Wraiths, and even the Cyclops mini-boss. I’d happily discuss more here, but you should experience these faithfully recreated visuals yourself.

Verdict

god of war ragnarok valhalla review
Verdict. (Captured by eXputer)

With Valhalla, Santa Monica has done an exceptional job at making Kratos confront the full extent of the sins of his past. And while he did something similar to that in GOW 2018’s climactic moments, there was a part of me that still felt more could be done, and clearly, the developers thought the same.

God of War Ragnarok: Valhalla has riveting rogue-lite combat, and combined with Bear Mcreary’s new rendition of the old soundtracks, you’ll feel like a kid again seeing Kratos rampage through Greek Mythology.

I would’ve happily paid for the 10+ hours I spent with this mode because Valhalla is one of the finest pieces of DLC I’ve played through.

This has been our God of War Ragnarok: Valhalla review. While you’re here, consider checking out some of our other articles. 

This is box title
Get This Game
It’s not a paid expansion, but you should play it anyway for an incredible post-game experience.
Dont Get This Game
If you didn’t already enjoy the base game, then you aren’t likely to enjoy this.
Do I Need To Get This Game
Yes absolutely. It’s a free DLC and it costs you nothing if you own the base game.
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Usama Mehmood is a Games Specialist, and writer on eXputer who's either hunting for the richest loot in Destiny 2 or endlessly playing his favorite games such as Yakuza or Final Fantasy. Usama has been gaming for 15+ years during which he has accumulated 4000+ hours on Destiny 1 & 2. His constant adoration for video games has allowed him to pursue eXputer as a platform to showcase his striving talents in writing helpful articles. Get familiar with Usama's extensive gaming library on his Steam, PSN, and Xbox profiles.

Experience: 2+ Years || Mainly Covers Reviews And Guides

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