Sony’s first-party output during the PlayStation 4 generation was legendary, from the arrival of new IPs through to reimaginings, reboots, and high-profile sequels. Everything delivered with a coat of polish and visual sheen that pushed cinematic immersion to new heights. And with the PS4 and Xbox One era being one of the longest console generations to date, Sony’s first-party stable being PS4-only helped build and instil a sense of platform identity.
If you wanted to play the latest Uncharted, Spider-Man, or The Last of Us, you needed a PlayStation hooked up to your TV.
Let’s be clear, platform exclusives aren’t going away anytime soon. But, the good news is that Sony is slowly shifting its stance and relaxing its Vader-like grip on how you can fire up a critically acclaimed "Sony Interactive Entertainment Presents" joint. The answer of course, to borrow a phrase from the 1990s, is… the Home Computer. Yeah, it looks like the PC is set to become the middle ground, the neutral territory where both PlayStation and Xbox Game Studios titles can co-exist.
As we’ve seen with both Horizon Zero Dawn and Days Gone, PlayStation exclusives are slowly making their way to the platform where RGB-lit keyboards and mice rule the day. And doing so in the right way, with ports that focus on visual fidelity, customisable controls, and all of the fine tuning you’d expect to find on a PC. Supporting everything from mainstream entry-level hardware to the latest in GeForce and Radeon tech. Basically, you can make any of the above look like it did on PS4, PS4 Pro, or even go beyond what’s possible on the PS5.
It looks like the PC is set to become the middle ground, the neutral territory where both PlayStation and Xbox Game Studios titles can co-exist.
The latest PlayStation exclusive to get the PC treatment is perhaps the most high-profile to date, 2018’s God of War. A milestone release not only in terms of how it reimagins the long-running series, but in how it pushes the action-adventure genre forward. In the handful of years since its initial debut its stature has only grown, to the point where you wouldn’t be out of place calling it the best thing to hit the PS4 during its heyday. A Norse-laden fantastical father and son ‘road trip’ providing narrative twists and thrills on par with its brilliant set pieces. That movie-poster-like quote summarises our original review.
This in turn makes Sony and Santa Monica Studio’s God of War something of a milestone release for PC. Where not unlike 2018’s other magnum opus - Red Dead Redemption II - it’s destined to become one of the most talked about and played titles on Steam in the coming months. So then, how does the PC version stack up against the original release, the PlayStation 4 Pro version, and the recent PS5-enhanced update? The short answer, extremely favourable. The long answer, let's get our tech nerd on.
For the majority of this review we played God of War on PC with an RTX 3080 Ti graphics card and were able to maintain a solid 60-fps in 4K with graphics settings set to ‘Ultra’. Of course an RTX 3080 Ti isn’t exactly what you’d call ‘standard’ in the PC-space, with the added bonus of NVIDIA DLSS rendering you can still hit 4K 60fps with a more mainstream RTX offering. Running off of an SSD God of War runs smooth too, with no stuttering or other glitches that might break immersion.
This is important to point out because God of War’s third-person action is presented in a single-take. A term one usually associates with films, it’s that thing where the camera doesn’t cut-away. In God of War you get a single shot for the entirety of the 30-hour or so campaign. As a cinematic device it adds incredible scale to the world and characters. Where outside of the unobtrusive HUD, opening up menus, upgrading items, or checking out skill trees, there’s virtually no break in the flow.
Loading screens are absent too, with transitions between locales given special attention and care in a way that feels wholly unique. Stuff like walking between thin cave passages to mask loading a new area is here, but it’s the boat rides, the climbing up mountains, and the for-reals navigation from one place to the next that helps the world feel lived in and real. Part of it comes from the bond between Kratos, his son Artreus, and the other main characters, all bolstered by excellent writing. A decent chunk comes from the cinematic side too.
Speaking of the ol’ cinematic presentation, the PC version of God of War supports Ultrawide resolutions, making it a great fit for 21:9 displays. For this review we played in Ultrawide on the latest BenQ MOBIUZ and a custom-resolution-set LG C1 48-inch OLED. Either way, the results suited the presentation principles of God of War perfectly – to the point where it feels like you’re missing out if you play in the standard 16:9 aspect ratio.
In God of War you get a single shot for the entirety of the 30-hour or so campaign. As a cinematic device it adds incredible scale to the world and characters.
As a game from 2018 title you might think that the visual fidelity has waned a little, but with higher-resolution textures, better reflections, ambient occlusion, and other improvements in this PC release - cranking the details makes playing God of War in 2022 as impressive as playing it on a PS4 Pro in the “before times”. This is what they’re talking about when they say AAA.
Taking advantage of modern PC hardware, this is a solid port through and through. It even goes as far as adding NVIDIA Reflex support to improve system latency. Which, without getting into more technical mumbo jumbo, makes the action even more responsive. With varying difficulty settings God of War offers up a moderate challenge as well as comfortably sitting alongside Dark Souls-inspired titles. Having the ability to push 60-fps (or even 100-fps) with NVIDIA Reflex makes a big difference to the action-feel compared to the 30-fps PS4 release. Not that it makes the game easier or the hardest battles a breeze, but stuff like timing, awareness, and the ability to move around is a lot smoother. And easier to read.
Which is wonderful because story, action, and exploration here go hand-in-hand-in-hand. The latter contains the sort of backtracking popularised by Metroid, pulled off to perfection. The former presents a somewhat straightforward tale that grows in scope, mystery, and emotion. Which leaves the meaty axe-throwing middle to offer up several memorable encounters and even a few screen-filling boss battles. And that’s not strictly in the size sense, the Gods in human-form tussles here are impressive to say the least.
As a game from 2018 title you might think that the visual fidelity has waned a little, but with higher-resolution textures, better reflections, ambient occlusion, and other improvements in this PC release - cranking the details makes playing God of War in 2022 as impressive as playing it on a PS4 Pro in the “before times”.
In the end though, God of War remains an utterly brilliant action-adventure, where the former is as good as the latter. The bond between Kratos and Atreus is wonderfully handled, nuanced, funny, and heartfelt. A sentiment that speaks to the overall narrative, an engaging slice of Nordic mythology that also paves the way for the sequel - God of War: Ragnarok - due later this year on PS5. Really though, all you need to know is that one of the best games of the last decade is now available on PC.
What we liked
Looks incredible running on a high-end PC
Smooth performance that compliments the excellent action
Impressive Metroid Prime like structure holds up
Cinematic presentation is both a treat and a technical achievement
What we didn't like
Could use a few more NPCs to populate the world
Pacing is such that it takes quite a few hours to hit its stride