“A little far from home, aren’t you?”
Kratos most certainly is! In the last four years, Kratos has been the most anti-heroic member of the PlayStation family. Kratos moved to the harsher, colder environment of Nordic mythology and left behind the mythological climes of ancient Greece. But by far the bigger move, though, is that he’s no longer a PlayStation-exclusive character, with PC players now invited into the fold ahead of the PS4 & PS5 release of the concluding chapter in this tale, God of War Ragnarok. It remains to be questioned if Kratos is sorry or better.
It is fair to say that PlayStation Studios has been at the forefront of gaming technology and quality for the past couple of generations. Sony Santa Monica, one of the oldest-serving studios, is the best example of this. arguably, the most popular game on the PS4 was released. Although it is now four years old, God of War still looks stunning. It has exceptional production values, great art direction, strong visuals and technical implementation, memorable and complex characters with compelling stories throughout. This game really revitalized the single-player, plot-driven aspect of games while expanding on an existing character and lore with confidence. Name me a game that has a better opening 30 minutes than this? This sets the tone that it is almost impossible to put down. The 2022 PC version loses none of that and is as excellent as the 2018 PS4 game, which – if you haven’t already read the IGN review of, now’s your chance.
God of War PC Features
Check out the God of War PC system requirements.
What does this PC version have other than a refined and updated port of the PS4/Pro? version?
Check out the
God of War PC system requirements. Here are the big-ticket upgrades:
Both DLSS and FSR can achieve excellent results on cheaper hardware.
Full pixel-pumping 4K is now available without the “checkerboarded 4K” God of War shipped with on PS4 Pro (and on the PS5 backward-compatible version, which only unlocked the framerate). AMD and Nvidia offer DLSS super sampling and AMD’s open-source Fidelity FX Super Resolution (also known as FSR). Both can be run on Nvidia RTX card, but FSR is only available on AMD cards. Both offer an increase in image quality, rendering at a lower resolution while intelligently scaling for images that look almost as good as native 4K. Nvidia uses temporal data to reconstruct the image from frames/pixels in the case of DLSS. FSR, on the other hand, performs a spatial upscale followed by a contrast-aware dynamic sharpening pass. Both techniques can achieve outstanding results even with less expensive hardware. God of War’s graphics options menu shows the engine’s resolution and the output target to be displayed on the screen. This is a nice feature. You can move through the same resolution levels across both technologies.
DLSS starts at 1280×720 with Ultra performance, and that is one rung lower than FSR, which starts at performance, but both target 1920×1080 base outputs. Next, we move on to Balanced, followed by Quality and then Ultra-Quality, which is only available for FSR.
The implementation here is solid.
All in all, DLSS offers the better image quality when you zoom in, and it really works best at Performance levels. FSR is not able to scale from low input resolutions up to 4K levels. Once you get to Quality mode, however, the visual differences are much harder to notice even with close inspection, but FSR is 8% to 10% more performant on average in like-for-like sections using the same hardware. The best part is that you can choose between the two methods. However, both AMD and Nvidia players will get more performance from their respective cards. And the implementation is solid.
There is 21:9 ultra-widescreen support if you have such a monitor, allowing you to revel in God of War’s beautiful vistas. That’s a welcome sight at many points as it improves on the incredible sense of scale, which has been a key element of the series since its PS2 origins in 2005. This shot shows the World Serpent pulling back, and the birds flying past. It’s an excellent example of how extended modes can impact the game.
Next we come to framerates, which can be capped at up to 120fps if you have the hardware to run it, and then graphical option changes accompanying this. The best thing about PlayStation releases on PC? You can set them to “original mode” in your menu. This matches all settings exactly to the PS4/Pro versions. There are two additional options: Ultra and High, and an Ultra+ setting to reflect which allows for a wider range and higher resolution for SSR reflections. The Ultra textures option increases the MIPs of more surfaces in the frame. It also gives a slight boost to texture clarity over the PS4 Pro/PS5 version. Most textures will look the same, or slightly sharper. Anisotropic filtering (AF), which can help with texture clarity at oblique angles in some scenes, can provide a 4% increase to performance from the lowest level to the ultra (though most mid-range cards will be fine with High or Ultra).
Model quality increases the detail of trees and leaves, and the number of polygons that can be used to locate rocks and other objects. In longer views, the bump from Original to High is easily seen. However, it’s much more difficult to see the jump from Ultra to Ultra. Although reflections can be helpful on some surfaces with more visible details, they are still SSR in their nature so they draw out the same artifact level and draw out as PS4/Pro.
The two greatest improvements are shadows (and ambient occlusion) and shadows. With the increased amount of foliage drawn, Ultra settings not only give sharper shadows but also more shadow-casting items. This gives scenes more depth and contrast and allows Kratos, as well as other characters, to be bathed with more light and shade. This is further enhanced by the addition of “ground-truth”, or screen space direction occlusion. Again, this just embeds details in the scene more effectively.
The two biggest improvements are shadows and ambient occlusion.
Look at Kratos’ eyes, his beard, and even the little leaves on the trees (you have to watch the video for that). All three show a darker, more real contact between objects close to each other. This shadows onto the surface and occludes itself. You can see the filtered shadows and higher resolution here. The edges are sharper and cleaner, there is no dithering and just more of them in the scene. These two enhancements add the most visual impact. The difference between native 4K on PC and 4K checkerboard is not noticeable. This is a testament to how effective the checkerboard solution was in first-party games. It also reinforces the fact that FSR and DLSS are good options. The fact the PS5 version runs at 60fps helps a little more than on PS4 Pro because you are getting twice the temporal resolution at the same time, but still, shadows and lighting offer a bigger uplift than the increase in pixel density. Ultra is a very powerful GPU that can handle 4K resolution.
God of War PC Screenshots
How Does God of War Perform on PC?
How does it run, you ask, when using my RX6800 paired with a Ryzen 3600 at 4.1Ghz? Maxed out at 4K with no reconstruction options, we are often sub-60fps, and that can feel bad even on a controller – let alone mouse & keyboard. Once again, this just shows how costly effects scale with resolution, and even here with a GPU that is more powerful than the PS5, even it cannot run this game maxed out at 4K/60. Som