In 2018 Sony Santa Monica shipped God of War, a soft reboot of the fan-favourite action-adventure trilogy that traded the Greek pantheon for Norse mythology. Featuring an emotional narrative that focused on the relationship between the rough-edged Kratos and his young son Atreus, God of War reinvigorated the series without straying too far from the brutal combat systems and thrilling boss fights that made the series so beloved during its PlayStation 2 heyday.
Nearly four years later, we still consider God of War to be the crowning jewel of the PlayStation 4’s expansive library, offering an experience unparalleled by anything else on the platform. It should come as no surprise, then, that as part of a continuing initiative by Sony to bring its best first-party titles to new platforms that God of War is the latest to launch for PC.
After spending a few hours with the game’s PC port, we can happily confirm that this is an exceptional way of playing one of PlayStation’s finest exclusives.
For starters, some housekeeping. We played the game on a PC including an MSI GeForce RTX 3080 graphics card, an Intel Core i9-9900KF processor, 32GB of RAM, and a 1TB M.2 PCIe NVMe SSD. We primarily played on a 1080p 144hz monitor but did lug our system downstairs into the living room to test the game on a true 4K display.
So, what’s new in the PC version? In all honesty, very little. Content-wise this is the same game that launched on PS4. However, the port does come with a smattering of graphical improvements, including higher resolution shadows, improved screenspace reflections, and enhanced ground truth ambient occlusion.
These new visual enhancements are a welcome addition but largely unnoticeable. Shadows are slightly softer and reflections are potentially a little crisper, but even with all options enabled the PC port largely looks the same as the original game. Really, the only substantial visual upgrade in this PC release is the ability to play the game at true 4K rather than the checkerboard solution used in the game’s PS4 Pro and PS5 versions.
Sadly, if you’re expecting this re-release to deliver a meaningful visual upgrade compared to what’s currently available on PlayStation systems, you’re going to be a touch disappointed.
Well, we say disappointed. God of War still looks spectacular as a modern release, especially when played on a 4K display. Despite taking place within a decaying world, its environments are full of vibrant natural elements that contrast starkly against the crumbling ruins you find yourself exploring for the majority of the game. Put simply: it’s still a looker.
Performance-wise, we experienced no issues with God of War on PC. Our setup comfortably met the game’s recommended “ultra” requirements, and we were spared any noticeable framerate drops during the game’s opening sections or open-world hub area. Even with the game set to Ultra, God of War ran at a consistent 60fps when displayed at both 1080p and 4K resolutions.
Players with access to high-refresh rate monitors will be pleased to hear the game supports up to 120fps right out of the box. Admittedly, we couldn’t consistently hit that lofty goal on high graphical settings without taking advantage of Nvidia DLSS.
Supported by a number of compatible RTX graphics cards, Nvidia DLSS uses AI upscaling to improve overall performance without sacrificing visual fidelity. Although we were able to run the game at 60fps without the need for DLSS’s assistance, at 120fps the feature became a lifesaver.
Turned off, God of War’s frame rate fluctuated between 90-120fps on Ultra settings. With DLSS turned on, and a few strenuous settings such as shadows dropped down a touch, the game ran at a buttery smooth 120fps with very few drops. It’s debatable whether or not a single player action game requires this high a frame rate, but we’ll admit that the game’s combat certainly looks delicious when running this fast. Watching God of War’s gooey enemies splatter into mush under the force of Kratos’ axe looks divine, even if there are noticeable visual compromises required to reach this level of performance.
In general, there’s little to point out in the game’s settings menu. Accessibility features found in the console version are also present here and as expected the game can be played with any PC compatible controller as well as a mouse and keyboard.
Mouse and keyboard controls are largely serviceable, but a bit odd if you’re used to playing the game on a PlayStation pad. Holding left CTRL to aim your axe, for example, feels a bit clumsy. Thankfully all keyboard controls can be remapped from the game’s menu. Disappointingly, gamepad controls can’t be remapped, with controller users forced to stick with the layout found on PS4. It’s a minor gripe, but a shame considering the flexibility of most modern PC releases in this area.
While we’re on the subject of input methods, we’d be remiss not to highlight how strange it felt to play the game using an Xbox One controller. Seeing a yellow “Y” icon indicating the ability to return our axe felt borderline illegal, but admittedly there is a small thrill to be found in using a rival’s pad to control an iconic PlayStation mascot. Maybe we need to get out more, but we’ll take our kicks where we can get them, thank you very much.
With all this in mind, we suppose only one question remains: should you play God of War on PC? For first time players, we can’t recommend this port enough. God of War is an essential release, and we’re thrilled that one of the greatest videogames ever made can now be experienced by a wider audience.
For those who’ve already played the game on PlayStation, the answer is a little trickier. To be honest, we get the impression Sony had no intention of enticing existing fans to double-dip with this port. This is the exact same game you can play on a PS5, and unless you’re looking to play it in true 4K, you may be better off holding on to your current copy.
Saying that we still had a lot of fun revisiting God of War on PC, a testament to the quality of the game itself, perhaps. This is a solid port that is sure to delight and thrill PC players in equal measure. For returning fans, it’s a tougher sell. Still, you can’t go wrong with Sony Santa Monica’s modern masterpiece, regardless of your platform of choice.
Will you be playing God of War PC or are you waiting for the upcoming God of War Ragnarok instead? Are you happy with the touted features in this port, or do you think Sony could have done more to enhance the overall experience? Throw your axe into the comments section below.