It’s just about time for Kratos to come smashing through your PlayStation 4 with his latest (and most serious) adventure, and to get you prepped for tomorrow’s big release, we’ve compiled a list of basic tips to help you on your journey through the nine realms. If you keep these five things in mind at all times you should have no problem hacking your way through all those trolls and dark elves, and also growing as a father and a grieving husband (uh, for at least the second time).
If anything looks breakable, you need to break it. Ramshackle wooden walls often hide secret chambers with treasure chests or valuable artifacts. The telltale glow of green health orbs can often be seen behind breakable objects, along with the white sparkle of hacksilver. That resource is used to build and upgrade your armor and weapons, and it’s basically everywhere in this game. Wipe out every urn and box you see to collect more of the stuff, especially in the early going, before those freely scored sums start to look paltry compared to what you can find in chests. Smashing through everything that can be smashed will also help you find crucial biz like solid Svartalfheim steel and other materials used to craft and upgrade your personal armory. There’s stuff to find and collect in every nook and cranny of this game, and all of it will help you on your quest.
Early on you’ll come across a blacksmith at his shop, and shockingly Kratos doesn’t immediately rip him in half like a Mortal Kombat fatality. Those shops can be found throughout the game, and every one will let you craft some of the new weapons or armor you’ve collected throughout the game or upgrade the gear you already have. And it all requires hacksilver, which is some versatile stuff. It’s used to construct every weapon and armor in the game, along with various enchantments, talismans and axe pommels. All those items bring different perks to Kratos, with different boosts spread around his six basic stats (which are Strength, Runic, Defense, Vitality, Luck and Cooldown). As useful as hacksilver is, you’ll need various other ingredients to craft most stronger items, stuff with names like Aegir’s gold and the Traveler’s Grisly Trophy, that you can find scattered throughout the realms. Hacksilver is the dominant resource, though, and the basis of almost every recipe in the whole game. It’s bounteous, so don’t worry about wasting it, but keep in mind you have to spread it around beyond just armor. You can only craft and upgrade at a blacksmith’s shop, so whenever you see one you should check in and see what you can build or improve.
This is a videogame, so obviously everything that you kill has an intrinsic numeric value associated with it. These experience points aren’t just a mathematical reduction of the experience of being a stone-cold mass murderer of mythological creatures—as anybody who has ever played a game with experience points can tell you, those points will help you level up and become a more efficient mass murderer. The experience points in God of War apply to a wide array of skill trees and upgradable abilities, and it can actually be a little bit easy to forget some of the stuff you can spend them on. Don’t do that! Obviously you can use them to unlock new skills for Kratos, with two different skill trees for his legendary axe, and two more for his shield and his invincible rage rampages. There are also two skill trees for his son, Atreus, who is more than useful in a fight; with those experience points you can upgrade his bow and his magical skills. But wait, there’s more: Kratos can also equip two different runic attacks at a time, one light and one heavy, and those are also upgraded with experience points. And so are Atreus’s runic summons. Those last two are the ones I forget about the most—it’s not hard to pump all your points into those standard skill trees and completely neglect the special runic abilities listed under the weapons heading in the menu. Don’t do that! Unless you don’t want Kratos to be his best murderer.
I’m a hoarder, both in life and in games. When a game gives me what looks like a limited resource, I use it as rarely as possible. Kratos’s rage meter takes a little bit of time to build up, but it’s not limited at all—when you’re in the midst of a swirling hackathon, chopping up draugirs and werewolf guys left and right, that meter will fill up faster than you realize. And it’s incredibly useful—Kratos takes no damage while it’s active, and can repeatedly pummel a whole swath of enemies while it’s active. Eventually it can even restore his health to a small degree. So don’t worry about wasting it, or saving it up for major battles. Unleash the full fury of this insane sociopath’s rage whenever it’s available; all you’ll have to worry about is how much that fills up your guilt meter.
I’m already dreading the anti-Atreus hot takes that will surely flood the internet in the next few weeks. People hate kids, for some reason, especially kids in pop culture. When that kid is used to humanize a character that has exclusively been an over-the-top caricature of a badass action hero, the backlash is only more assured. No matter how you feel about Atreus as a character, don’t forget how useful he is in battle. You can use him to stun and shock enemies during battle, opening up attack opportunities for Kratos and increasing the damage done by his axe. He also can summon various creatures that can do a decent amount of damage against your foes. He will fight on his own, but if you want to get the most value of him you’ll have to tell him what enemies to target and what kind of attacks to use against them. If you’re genuinely bothered by Atreus as a character (which you shouldn’t be, but again, some people definitely will be), just think of him as an anthropomorphized version of those assist pods you could collect in old shoot-’em-ups like R-Type. Atreus is there to help out in a variety of ways, and if you use him correctly he’ll make every battle easier. Learn to do so as soon as possible.
Garrett Martin edits Paste’s comedy and games sections. He’s on Twitter @grmartin.