Do You Need to Play the First God of War Before Ragnarök?

Santa Monica Studio/Sony

With just a few days to go before the release of God of War Ragnarök, some potential players might be wondering if you need to play the first one to understand what's going on.

Arguably one of the most anticipated AAA releases of this year, God of War Ragnarök is a sequel to Santa Monica Studio's 2018 release God of War. The game continues the story of long-serving protagonist Kratos and his now-teenage son Atreus through their journey steeped in ancient Scandinavian mythology.

Despite being a sequel, God of War Ragnarök is actually the ninth installment in the God of War franchise, though this upcoming release is more detached from the first seven games. With that in mind, the most important game to know ahead of Ragnarök's release is the 2018 release — but do you need to have played and finished it in order to enjoy Ragnarök.

Do You Need to Play the First God of War Before Ragnarök?

The answer largely depends on what you're looking to get out of playing God of War Ragnarök. If you're primarily playing to enjoy the story, then having played through 2018's God of War will be essential. The characters of both Kratos and Atreus, and their relationship, is a key element of God of War and will likely be explored further in Ragnarök. Emotional beats tend to hit harder when you have previous attachments to characters and story elements.

If you're looking to enjoy some action-packed gameplay, taking advantage of one of Sony's first party titles on either the PS5 or PS4, then playing through 2018's God of War might be less relevant. There will still be a lot to take in and enjoy from Ragnarök alone.

It's worth noting that 2018's God of War is included as part of the PlayStation Plus subscription, available for subscribers to play at no extra cost. Its relatively linear gameplay means that most players would be able to finish it ahead of God of War Ragnarök's launch.

God of War Ragnarök will release worldwide on Nov. 9, 2022 on PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 5.