God of War Ragnarok guide: Best early-game skills and gear for Kratos

The Stone Wall shield is easily the best early-game shield option in God of War Ragnarok (Image via PlayStation)
The Stone Wall shield is easily the best early-game shield option in God of War Ragnarok (Image via PlayStation)

God of War Ragnarok, the sequel to the phenomenal 2018 soft-reboot of the God of War series that fans have been waiting for more than four years, is finally out. Much like its predecessor, God of War Ragnarok offers players an incredible narrative experience and is also Kratos and his son Atreus' final chapter in the Norse saga.

The narrative and exploration segments are two of the strongest suits of the last title in the series, with combat taking a back seat. However, with God of War Ragnarok, Santa Monica Studio has made some significant changes to the overall combat design, giving players more tools to play and experiment with.

The mild role-playing aspects introduced with the last game return in God of War Ragnarok, offering players a host of different options when it comes to gear, skills, weapon mods, runic attacks, and more. While the game doles out new combat gear and skills at a steady pace throughout its runtime, the initial stretch can be a little jarring, especially for newcomers to the series.

Deciding on which armor to use or which skills to unlock during the first few chapters of the game can be a daunting task. Here are some of the best early game skills and combat gear for Kratos that players can unlock in order to make the initial stretch of the game less of a hassle.

This article reflects the personal views of the author.

Best early-game skills to use in God of War Ragnarok

God of War Ragnarok has massively changed the skill tree for both Kratos and his son Atreus. Instead of relegating most of the combat options to just the skill trees, Ragnarok offers players plenty of options to customize the game's combat experience, including multiple upgradable shield types, offering different perks and playstyle options as well as a new rage system with three distinct rage types that players can switch between.


Some of the previous title's runic attacks have been converted into skills in God of War Ragnarok, which players can seamlessly integrate into their attack combos. Runic attacks such as Hyperion Grapple, Blast of Hephaestus, River of Knives, and others have been converted into regular combat skills that players can unlock pretty early on.


There are a host of skills that players can unlock during the initial sections of the game that can massively boost their attack combos and make the combat experience far more enjoyable. Here are the best skills that players should not miss out on in the early sections of the game:

  • Permafrost and Immolation: These skills unlock at weapon level 2, and significantly increase the "Frost" and "Burn" status damage for the Axe and the Blades respectively. The new weapon charging system (initiated by holding the triangle button) is rather handy in dealing lots of damage to enemies while also inflicting elemental status. The Permafrost and Immolation skills for the Axe and Blades is an essential unlock for the early sections of the game as it will allow players to deal insane amounts of damage to enemies, even without using the runic attacks.
  • Glacial Rake: The Glacial Rake skill is basically the tier-1 version of the River of Knives from the last game, which, for all intents and purposes, is a fairly strong skill that can be unlocked early on. This skill allows players to send a shockwave of ice towards enemies through the ground, which not only deals damage but also inflicts frost.
  • Hyperion Grapple: This is another skill that used to be a runic attack in the last game. Capable of dealing heavy damage to a single target while also inflicting the burn status ailment, Hyperion Grapple is an essential skill for players that prefer to use the Blades of Chaos over the Leviathan Axe. As an added bonus, this skill also acts as a brilliant gap-closer, which can be really handy in some of the mini-boss encounters in Svartalfheim.
  • Serpent's Snare: The Serpent's Snare skill basically boosts the charged heavy attack using the Leviathan Axe, which players can use to deal massive health and stun damage to enemies. The skill also allows players to inflict frost using the heavy charged attack. The downtime to charge the heavy attack using the skill is also quite short, compared to other charged attacks using the Axe.
  • Perma Frost: This is a passive skill that allows players to build up and deal frost damage with every hit from the Leviathan Axe, as long as they do not get hit. The frost build-up can easily stagger enemies, leaving them open to critical attacks, which is very useful when fighting groups of enemies.

Best combat gear for early-game sections in God of War Ragnarok

As for combat gear, there are plenty of great options in God of War Ragnarok, even at the start of the game. Here is a rundown of all the best early-game combat gear players can unlock in God of War Ragnarok:

  • Shield: Stone Wall shield with Rond of Aggravation.
  • Armor set(s): Nidavellir's Finest armor set and Radiance armor set.
  • Axe grip: The Furious Maul.
  • Blades grip: Cursed Empress Handles.

Best Shield and Shield Rond for early-game in God of War Ragnarok

Right after completing the game's prologue section, players will be given a choice between the two new shield types available in the game, Dauntless and Stone Wall, both of which have their own set of advantages and disadvantages.


The Dauntless shield is basically the parry-focused version of the Guardian shield from God of War (2018), capable of stunning enemies and sending them flying with a correctly timed parry. This shield type is not a good option for players that are not confident with their parry timings, since it is not that great at blocking charged attacks or projectiles.

The best shield to use for the starting sections of God of War Ragnarok is easily the Stone Wall shield. While incapable of parrying attacks, the Stone Wall shield is great at blocking all incoming damage, both melee attacks and projectiles.


The best part about using the Stone Wall shield is that it charges with every attack that it absorbs, which players can later dispense by double tapping L1 to break an enemy's stance and deal hefty stagger damage. Shields in God of War Ragnarok can be further enhanced with an additional accessory known as a Shield Rond.

On that note, the Rond of Aggravation is a highly recommended option, which players will be able to unlock while doing the Weight of Chains side-quest. The Rond of Aggravation is centered around parrying as it rewards players with rage burst on a successful parry. Nevertheless, it still goes great with the Stone Wall shield due to its high defense, vitality, and luck stats.

Best armor sets for early-game in God of War Ragnarok

When it comes to the best armor sets, players cannot go wrong with two early-game sets that can be unlocked using very few in-game resources. The first one is the Nidavellir's Finest Armor set, which players can obtain in Svartalfheim, and the second is the Radiance set that can be found in Alfheim.


Presently, the Nidavellir's Finest set has the best strength, defense, and vitality stats for an early-game armor set. However, the best aspect of using this armor set is the health boost that players receive upon performing a finisher or critical attack.


The Radiance set, which can be acquired in Alfheim, is all about combat skills and dodging attacks, as it rewards timed dodges with realm shift while also offering a significant boost to strength, cooldown, and luck stats.

Best early-game weapon attachments in God of War Ragnarok

While the Leviathan Axe and Blades of Chaos offer their own set of skill trees, players can further enhance the efficiency of Kratos' weapons with the help of weapon attachments. The best early-game attachment for the Leviathan Axe is easily the Furious Maul, which players get right after finishing the prologue section.


As for the Blades of Chaos, players should go for the Cursed Empress Handles, which can be obtained from a mini-boss encounter in the Bay of Bounty region.

God of War Ragnarok is certainly a well-made game, with a plethora of choices when it comes to combat skills and gear. Santa Monica Studio's latest title actively encourages players to experiment with different tools, weapons, and armor available to them in order to see which better suits their own playstyle.


While it is built on the foundations set by the last game, it still offers a host of new and interesting ideas to the table, keeping the experience relatively fresh for veterans of the previous title while also making it a great narrative-driven action-adventure title for newcomers to the series. God of War Ragnarok is now available on PlayStation 5 and PlayStation 4.

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Edited by Atul S
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