God of War Ragnarok will see Kratos and Atreus’ final adventure in Norse mythology. In the previous game, we saw them come across figures such as Mimir, Thor’s sons Magni and Modi, and Baldur. However, the sequel is set to explore even more of the mythology with the titular cataclysmic event and the introduction of Norse juggernauts Thor and Odin.
So what can we expect to occur in this next story from developer Santa Monica Studios? What can we learn from the stories of Norse mythology about the potential direction of the game?
It’s important to note that these stories of folklore are vague at best. They would have been told around campfires and in conversations around the long halls of Viking settlements over a thousand years ago. Very little was actually written down until the Prose Edda and Poetic Edda of the 13th century. What we do have tends to be contradictory and generally just summarises the full tales. For this reason, Neil Gaiman’s Norse Mythology will be used as the main source for this article and I’d highly recommending reading it if you want to find out more.
This article will contain major spoilers for 2018’s God of War, and potentially for Ragnarok should certain plot points carry over.
The Story So Far
Obviously, Santa Monica does not directly adapt mythology for their games. Kratos is not a real figure of the Greek or Norse stories and the narratives of the games stand on their own. So there’s no doubt that there will still be surprises and twists which are simply inspired by the stories of the past. Therefore, the vagueness of Norse mythology actually works in their favour as they have the creative freedom to tell their own story.
Based on what we learn in 2018’s God of War, the characters and events play out very differently from the source material. Most importantly is the role of Loki, or as we learn at the end of the game, Atreus. In the world of God of War, Atreus has spent most of his life living the life of a mortal. Loki’s absence from the wider world will surely have an impact on the behaviours of characters such as Thor and Odin.
The characters of Tyr and Freya have also been set up differently from some of the texts. Tyr has been imprisoned by Odin and is actually described as a “good” god. Freya has been merged with the character of Frigg for God of War (something that has been discussed by historians). Although, she does not live in Asgard but has instead been banished to Midgard by Odin.
The different relationships between the key figures will alter how events play out from the start, and that’s not even mentioning the impact of Kratos himself.
The Gods at Play
There are several characters from the mythology that are expected to be introduced in God of war Ragnarok, and other that might make an appearance. All of them have significant roles to play when Ragnarok comes.
First up is the Norse god of War, Tyr. In mythology, Tyr is one of Odin closest advisors and friends. He often works closely with him and the other god to solve problems. In the story of the giant wolf Fenrir, Loki’s son (which we’ll get into later), it is Tyr who helps to convince the wolf to allow the gods to bind him. This results in Tyr losing his hand due to the broken trust between the two. This is one of the most significant events involving Tyr, so one would expect Tyr to lose his hand in some way in the events of God of War Ragnarok, fulfilling the mythology.
If any character is as famous as Odin, it is Thor, god of thunder. We do know that he will be in the game and his appearance has been revealed in a character poster, to some controversy. However, his look is very much accurate to the mythology. Thor Odinson is described as brutish, incredibly strong, and often shockingly violent, he often ends up murdering a bunch of giants as his temper gets the better of him. He defends Asgard and Midgard with his super-weapon Mjolnir – a hammer crafted by Brok and Sindri, with his magical belt, Megingjord, which doubles his strength.
Odin has also been confirmed to feature in the game, although we have yet to see him. You can’t close out the Norse saga without Kratos coming up against the king of the gods. Odin is known to travel the nine realms disguised as a tall, cloaked traveller. So perhaps in the game the first time we meet Odin we might not know it is him. Maybe he is first known by another name and even helps Kratos and Atreus, but then the truth could be revealed in a shocking twist. Odin is cunning, manipulative, and determined and will surely be a formidable foe.
There are more gods that play a role in Ragnarok but have yet to be seen and have only ever been briefly mentioned in the games. Frey, Freya’s brother, is another Vanir god and an expert in farming and nature. He is only briefly mentioned in God of War emphasising his role in the Aesir-Vanir War and how he is a friend of the light elves of Alfheim. In the story of Ragnarok, he fights in the great final battle, which I will detail later. Another key player is Heimdall, Odin’s son and watcher of Asgard. It is Heimdall who will blow the Gjallarhorn to wake the gods at the start of Ragnarok. He will then go on to fight Loki. As Atreus is set to play a larger role in the next God of War, perhaps his final fight will be in line with the mythology.
In Norse mythology, there is the story of a master builder who is tasked with building Asgard’s defenses. He is given impossible time constraints but thanks to his magical horse, he makes surprisingly good progress. In return, he asks for Freya’s hand in marriage. The Aesir, not wanting to fulfill their side, trick the builder. Loki lure’s the builder’s horse away by transforming into one himself and thus the builder is unable to carry the stones needed for the defenses himself and fails to finish, by just a few stones short. The builder, suspecting the trick, protests and seeks retaliation. Unfortunately, it was at this moment that Thor returned to Asgard and killed the builder.
The reason that this story may be relevant for God of War Ragnarok is that it happens a little differently in the game’s world. Mimir tells this story near the end of the game. In it, the builder instead just asks for an audience with Freya, at that meeting he whispers something in her ear. Mimir later figures out that he told her about a weakness that he built into Asgard’s defenses. This piece of information may end up being very useful for when Surtr attacks Asgard as it is known that Freya holds no love for the Aesir.
The Children of Loki and Angrbodr
At the very end of the latest trailer for the game, we see the giantess Angrboda, played by Laya De Leon Hayes. Her inclusion in the game gives a strong indication that the story of Loki’s children will be included. You can’t really have the story of Ragnarok without Jormungandr, Fenrir, and Hel. Jormungandr is destined to fight and kill Thor and Fenrir will kill Odin after he breaks free from his bonds.
All three children are either seen or mentioned in the last game despite the fact that Atreus and Angrbodr haven’t even met yet. We’ll just have to wait and see how their current existence is explained, but as Angrbodr says “you’ll get your answered soon enough”.
Angrbodr herself is a Jotun (giant) and the mistress of Loki. Her name literally means woe-bringer and their offspring causes the god a lot of paranoia. They take the children in an attempt to contain them while Angrbodr is presumably killed. Over time Jormungandr and Fenrir grow to extraordinary size and become more difficult for the gods to control. The serpent is released into the oceans far away and wraps all around Midgard, Fenrir is bound by an unbreakable rope after trusting Tyr, and Hel is banished to rule the land of the dead.
Ragnarok, the End of All Things
The time of Ragnarok takes place long after all the other stories. The prophecy is Ragnarok is something that has loomed over everyone, mortals and gods alike. It is an unstoppable certainty of fate woven by the Nornir. By this time Baldur is dead due to the trickery of Loki, consumed by envy. Loki has subsequently been imprisoned and is being punished and tortured. Fenrir is also still bound but a series of cataclysmic earthquakes frees him and his Father. An endless snowfall, Fimbulwinter, engulfs everything while brothers fight brothers and fathers murder sons. The sun and the moon are eaten by the giant wolves Skoll and Hati, then everyone prepares for a battle that will bring about the end of the world.
The Great Battle
In the end, everyone comes together for one last final battle. There are several key armies: the sons of Muspelheim (the realm of fire) led by fire-giant Surtr who destroy the Bifrost, Jormungandr who poisons the oceans and floods the lands, Fenrir, now freed, also attacks, Loki leads a legion of the dead from the depths of Hel with his daughter, riding on a boat made from the fingernails of the dead known as Naglfar. Also aboard that boat is an army of frost giants, and lastly, the glorious dead of Valhalla (Einherjar) join Odin and the Aesir.
Heimdall blows the Gjallarhorn to wake the gods and signify the start of the battle. Odin fights Fenrir, Tyr fights Garm, another giant wolf, Thor fights Jormungandr, Frey fights Surtr, and Heimdall fights Loki. Essentially, everybody dies, although it has been stated in the God of War universe that Jormungandr will instead be hit so hard that he gets sent back in time. Also, it is said that Surtr will just about survive and will then go on to burn the whole world. So it seems like the ending of God of War Ragnarok will be pretty epic if the mythology is anything to go by. It is the end of the world after all, so there’s going to be a lot of deaths.
What Comes After?
Two mortals will survive the events of Ragnarok by sheltering in a hollow of the world tree, Yggdrasil. They will go on to repopulate the world, keeping humanity alive. Light will return in the form of the sun’s daughter. Some of the gods will survive such as the sons of Thor, Magni, and Modi, and some of Odin’s sons and even Baldur will return from the underworld. Norse mythology is said to have a cyclical destiny as the world ends with Ragnarok but is reborn anew, only for events to repeat.
So that is all the major events of Norse mythology that may unfold in God of War Ragnarok. It’s unlikely that everything will happen as I’ve described because the world Santa Monica has created is already very different from the source material. I would also expect a few major twists from what we expect even if you know a lot about the mythology.
(Video by: Izuniy)