God of War is out in a week and while I don’t have a review up just yet — soon I promise — I have been playing it. I’m not going to go into impressions or thoughts on the game just yet, but I do want to touch on the Give me God of War difficulty.
It is really, bloody tough.
Sony sent out some advice ahead of the review embargo on the God of War difficulty settings. Now that I’ve had a chance to try them out, I don’t think the advice was strong enough.
God of War Difficulty Settings
I received PowerUp!’s review copy of God of War a few hours ahead of the embargo. Instead of trying to rush out a review, I decided to simply play it at my pace and publish something before release.
When I start a new game, I usually opt for the hardest difficulty setting by default. I’m not sure why. Bragging rights maybe, or perhaps I enjoy the challenge. So, when I started God of War, I chose the Give me God of War difficulty.
There are four to choose from and as per Sony’s information, they’re described as follows.
Give Me A Story: lets you experience the story without too much of a difficult gameplay challenge. You won’t be taking a gondola to the top of the highest peaks in all the Norse Realms, but you will have a far greater margin for error in enemy encounters.
Give Me A Balanced Experience: is the mode we’d recommend most players start with. The name says it all. We’ve tuned it to deliver a balanced, challenging playthrough.
Give Me A Challenge: is harder and less forgiving. It is recommended for players who find action games extremely intuitive, and for confident long-time God of War series veterans who’ve beat past games on harder difficulties.
Give Me God of War: is the sort of thing reserved for people who wrestle polar bears in their undies. Maybe not quite that, but it’s the most difficult mode in the game. We haven’t just made you weaker or enemies stronger; we’ve looked at enemy behaviors and placements in encounters as well, tweaking everything to make it as threatening as possible. Best of all, you cannot change difficulties once you start a game on this mode, so if you suddenly realize you’re in way over your head, you’ll have to start a new game. Don’t be sorry, be better?
Hard of War
The harder a game is, the better in my book. I absolutely adored Bloodborne and am frothing at the mouth to get my hands on Dark Souls Remastered, but the Give me God of War difficulty absolutely broke me.
At first, it didn’t seem too bad. Sure, enemies were killing me fairly easily and I’d have to repeat a couple of checkpoints, but it wasn’t long until I found myself barely able to progress.
A simple fight against a handful of Draughr would take over two hours. The first boss fight took me nearly three hours. But I persisted. ‘Surely it will get easier as I level up,’ I thought.
But I was so, so wrong. As the description of Give me God of War reads, Kratos is laughably weak and enemies ridiculously strong. I’d only need to take three or four hits before I was toast. Timing dodges and parries had to be perfectly precise and even that wasn’t enough.
The enemies at this difficulty are not only super strong, they’re super smart and super aggressive. They’ll flank you and take you on in pairs. They’ll wait until you’ve finished a swing and then attack. Everything they can do to make you die, they’ll do and they’ll succeed, at least they did with me.
Maybe I Just Suck Right?
Sure, the argument can be made that maybe I’m just not very good at God of War. I’m certainly not the best player in the world, but I know what I’m doing. Like I said, I always like to play on the hardest difficulty setting and once I’ve started something, I find it very difficult to give up.
That’s just what I did with God of War though.
The Give me God of War difficulty, doesn’t allow you to change mid-game, so if it’s too hard you either ‘git gud’ or start all over.
I opted for the latter. It’s not like it was even that big of a deal as I’d barely gotten very far at all. It was shameful to admit that the game had beaten me, but playing on the Give me God of War difficulty was robbing the story of its impact and the gameplay of its fun.
When you get God of War, make sure you play through on one of the three lower difficulty settings first, so you can enjoy the story of Kratos and his son.
Unless of course, you’re insane, a masochist or one of the best gamers on the planet.
Bravo to Santa Monica Studios on including such a ridiculously hard difficulty in a game in 2018. Seriously though, don’t play it on that difficulty first.
I beg of you.
God of War is exclusive to PS4 and will be released on April 20.
PowerUp! is playing God of War on PS4 using a promotional copy provided by Sony.