5 reasons why God of War Ragnarok missed out on Game of the Year 2022

Despite winning the most awards at TGA 2022, God of War Ragnarok did not win Game of the Year (Image via PlayStation)
Despite winning the most awards at TGA 2022, God of War Ragnarok did not win Game of the Year (Image via PlayStation)

God of War Ragnarok was easily the most eligible contender for Game of the Year besides Elden Ring. While the latter secured the award at The Game Awards 2022, it was an agonizingly close call. Both God of War and Elden Ring present distinct experiences in terms of narrative and gameplay.

God of War (2018), the predecessor to Ragnarok, clinched the coveted accolade at The Game Awards 2018, despite the odds being tipped towards Rockstar Games' Red Dead Redemption 2.

However, Elden Ring, FromSoftware's first foray into the open-word action-RPG genre, managed to slip God of War for the title.

Elden Ring's win can partially be attributed to its availability on all major console platforms and PC, whereas God of War Ragnarok was confined to the PlayStation ecosystem. However, there are a few more reasons why the latter missed out on the prestigious title of Game of the Year 2022.

Here are five potential reasons why God of War Ragnarok might've lost the crown to FromSoftware's Elden Ring.

Note: This article is subjective and reflects the author's opinions.

Lack of replayability to restrictive exploration segments, five reasons why God of War Ragnarok missed out on Game of the Year 2022

5) Restrictive exploration segments

God of War Ragnarok, much like its predecessor, is not an open-world title. However, it follows a non-linear progression system which is very similar to that of open-world action-adventure games. It allows players to explore different zones (realms) and partake in many side quests.

While the game does deliver some memorable side quests via organic exploration, it is nowhere near as open as Elden Ring's exploration segments. The environment or levels are laid out linearly, which doesn't allow for experimentation. A linear level design's biggest issue in an open-ended game like God of War is restricting exploration.

Players can only go through areas in a certain way, laid out by the developers themselves. Even the platforming segments are railroaded, leaving no room for creative exploration or experimentation.

The biggest culprit that hinders exploration in God of War Ragnarok is the ducking, squeezing, and crawling sections put in place to mask loading screens.

While the game feels seamless during exploration, in no way, shape or form does it compete with the freedom exhibited by Elden Ring.

4) Lack of diverse playstyles

One of the biggest reasons behind Elden Ring's success is its ability to give players choice over almost every aspect of gameplay, from combat and weapons to general exploration and quests.

While God of War Ragnarok does offer three completely different weapons, each with their own skills, runic attacks, and combos, they don't diversify the combat enough.

The basic combat loop of using light and heavy attack combos, along with runic attacks, barely evolves, making the experience feel a bit repetitive. Whereas in Elden Ring, combat never becomes stale due to the sheer volume of builds possible with different weapons, spells, and incantations.

3) Overreliance on player hand-holding during exploration and puzzles

God of War Ragnarok, despite getting overwhelming praise for its gameplay and narrative, did receive some criticism regarding its hand-holding nature. The most glaring shortcoming is the constant chatter from the NPCs, which is especially annoying during the multiple environmental puzzle segments.

The companions giving out the solution before players even get to analyze the puzzle feels like a direct insult to their intelligence.

Meanwhile, Elden Ring and almost all FromSoftware games are built with the idea of respecting the player's intellect, with little to no hand-holding or unnecessary guidance.

2) Lack of originality

God of War (2018) was a phenomenal experience, something that long-time fans of the series never thought possible with the series. Humanizing the rage-fueled, god-killing machine known as Kratos was beyond everyone's wildest estimations.

In the classic God of War games, Kratos' character trait hinged on his rage and motivation to exact revenge against the Greek pantheon.

Humanizing such a one-dimensional character was a monumental task, something that writers at Santa Monica Studio managed to accomplish. Apart from the narrative tone, God of War (2018) was also a massive departure from the classic games in terms of gameplay, which felt like a breath of fresh air for long-time fans of the series.

However, God of War Ragnarok didn't reinvent the wheel this time around, as it relied on the foundation established by its predecessor. Built on a successful formula, it merely provided a few minor quality-of-life tweaks.

While the game looks and plays just as great as its predecessor, it doesn't feel like a brand-new experience. Instead, providing an extension of something players already relished back in 2018.

1) Lack of replayability

It is no secret that FromSoftware's souls-like games are almost endlessly replayable, with even their linear releases like Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice offering great replayability.

God of War Ragnarok, on the other hand, gives little to no incentive for players to revisit the game after completing the story. That said, they can finish all the side quests to secure the Platinum trophy.

Ragnarok's shortcomings are further highlighted by the absence of a new game plus, a staple for most modern action RPG titles.

Coupled with that, the game's awkward pacing, especially with the sections focusing on Atreus, hampers replayability.

While God of War Ragnarok is great in its own right and towers over most AAA experiences released in 2022, it isn't without its flaws.

As such, despite winning more awards than any other game across multiple categories at The Game Awards 2022, it lost to FromSoftware and Hidetaka Miyazaki's magnum opus: Elden Ring.

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