God of War has an impressive legacy of games, but which is the best?
With God of War: Ragnarok confirmed for release in 2022, we thought it was as good a time as any for a recap on the God of War franchise. Just for fun, we’ve ranked the entire series of the seven console games in order from worst to best. Hopefully, this will give you a taste of what’s to come for the upcoming game, so without further ado, let’s get to it.
#7 God of War: Chains of Olympus (PSP)
It’s hard to be too critical of the first GOW game made and designed to fit on the tiny handheld PSP, and if this is the worst game on the list, then that shows the quality of the series as a whole. However, the reason it is at the bottom wasn’t due to it being a PSP game, it’s because Chains of Olympus lacks any particularly memorable moments. The combat is solid, but the story is forgettable and there are scant few big cinematic scenes that the series is famed for. The game just started on one note and carried it from start to finish. Although it was fun to have Kratos with me on the go, the game was just a tad too boring.
#6 God of War: Ascension (PS3)
What should have been the crowning moment of celebration and the swansong of a game going out in style at the end of the PS3 era turned into something else completely! The series’ new game’s new director, Todd Papy, changed the direction of the game from a single-player experience to a multiplayer one. BAD MOVE!
From a technical standpoint, the game looked and played superbly. The audio was especially great, as was the lighting, however, due to the fact that the director devoted money and resources to the multiplayer, the single-player experience was lacking. Apart from a bombastic final boss fight, there was again very little in the way of memorable content for the single-player experience.
The multiplayer side of things actually worked remarkably well, with a few game modes and a tight online hack and slash combat experience. The problem was that it ended up as a pay to win game, as players who hadn’t ranked up or bought extra weapons in the store were simply crushed by opponents with deeper pockets. This ruined the online player base, discouraged new players, and the game predictably died a death. It’s very telling that when the PS4 era arrived it was the earlier game in the franchise, God of War 3, that got an HD remaster, and not God of War: Ascension.
#5 God of War (PS2)
I’d argue that from this moment on we are frankly splitting hairs, as each of the following games was excellent.
God of War was the first game in the series and introduced us to the backstory of Kratos; why he is covered in white with red lines and why he is an angry man! With stunning set pieces, excellent combat mechanics, great puzzles and an interesting story, God of War on the PS2 was a revelation, and when it got a PS3 HD remaster, it was even better. I still have nightmares about climbing out of Hell on the spinning, bladed poles! Pandora’s box, literally and figuratively speaking, was opened in this game. Ascension aside, it was only going to get better from here on out.
#4 God of War: Ghost of Sparta (PSP)
The second entry into the God of War series on the PSP upped its game immensely over Chains of Olympus. The story was far more interesting and mixed with some truly amazing gameplay that for a handheld system was stunning. Despite the limitations of the PSP it still had big set pieces, superb camera angles and interesting and varied gameplay, making this one of the more underrated titles in the series. If you want God of War in your pocket, this is the title to take.
#3 God of War 2 (PS2)
The hype surrounding this game’s initial release on the PS2 was phenomenal. At the time, the PlayStation talk was all about their upcoming console the PS3, but one of the last ever AAA titles for the PS2 was God of War 2, and it still managed to steal the spotlight. Having arguably the best story of the franchise and some truly amazing graphics for the time, it took the series to an amazing high. So many memorable moments and brilliant combat, mixed with devilishly tricky puzzles paved the way for then-director Cory Barlog to be recalled for the PS4 series reboot.
#2 God of War (2018 – PS4)
After the disappointment that was God of War Ascension, the series needed reforming, and what a masterful return to form it was. No more Greek mythology or very angry Kratos. A new direction, a new voice and a semi-open world. The setting of Norse Mythology didn’t sit comfortably with some fans, though, and the game shied away from forcing players into big set-piece boss battles with mythical creatures. Those battles can be found in the game, but they have been relegated to side quests for some unfathomable reason.
However there’s still plenty of immensely immersive cinematics, excitement and thrills galore, with stunning graphics and a wonderful musical score, but best of all was the satisfying combat. Calling this the series’ best combat mechanics is saying something, but the up-close visceral brutality of each moment of combat was far more rewarding than the distant third-person perspective of old.
Many will assume that because this was the last game made, it will probably be the best, but although it’s still a spectacular game, it didn’t quite make our number one.
#1 God of War 3 (PS3)
Quite simply, God of War 3 is not only the best game in the series, but it’s one of the best games ever made.
The fantastic story wrapped up the whole Greek mythology, Zeus v Kratos saga in such an incredible fashion, from the opening moments where you engage in a stupendous boss fight whilst climbing on the back of a titan, to the gorgeous and graphically impressive Hades boss fight, this game is packed with similarly memorable moments. Going inside a different titan and then ripping off his football pitch sized fingernail; Smashing Hercules’ face to a pulp and seeing his eyeballs come out; and bedding Aphrodite. If ever a game exemplifies the imagination that can be incorporated into a video game this is it, and these are just a few examples of what else was in store.
The combat was again impressive, the flight sequences were thrilling, but most of all, the up-close and brutal moment where Kratos rips off Helios’ head took this series to a new level of brutality and cemented its place in the hearts of fans forever.
It was and still is a remarkable achievement on so many levels and typifies everything good about the God of War series as a whole. Stunning graphics, amazing story, stupendous set pieces, smooth gameplay, tricky puzzles, wonderful music and thrilling combat. This game is essentially perfect, and we think deserves the top spot as the best God of War game ever made.
So there you have it, our top God of War games in order.
Do you agree with our list? Do you think some of the games should have been higher or lower? Feel free to leave a comment below on your choices, but also come back for more God of War Ragnarok news in the run-up to its release date later this year.