12 Things To Know Before Playing God Of War Ragnarök: Valhalla

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Kratos walks toward a bright light.

God of War Ragnarök’s new, free DLC Valhalla is out now, and it’s a pretty great combat showcase that has the added benefit of giving Kratos some much-needed therapy. But if you’re unfamiliar with the punishing, repetitious nature of the roguelike genre or just haven’t booted up Ragnarök lately, it can knock you on your ass. Worry not, because we’re here to give you some general tips to help you face your demons. So grab your axe, blades, and spears, and let’s walk into Valhalla together.

Brush up on old God of War lore

How well-versed are you in Kratos’ story? No, I don’t mean just the Norse mythology saga that started in the 2018 reboot, but his entire deal starting back in the original 2005 game? Well, if you’ve come into the series later than others, maybe look up a synopsis or YouTube recap of the series’ entire history. Valhalla unpacks a lot of Kratos’ baggage dating as far back as the original game from almost 20 years ago, and it’s not just in passing dialogue. So if you want to understand everything the DLC is talking about, take a minute to reacquaint yourself with the God of War story.

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Buy God of War Ragnarök: Amazon | Best Buy | GameStop

An image is conjured of Kratos during his time in Greece.

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Take Kratos for a test run before you jump into the DLC

If you’re like me, you may not have played Ragnarök in over a year. Valhalla is challenging enough that it can smack you right in the face if you’re still trying to figure out the controls in the middle of a fight. Don’t be afraid to jump back into your old save and get a feel for things again. Losing can be a teaching moment in a roguelike, but losing because your muscle memory is still mapped to Final Fantasy XVI isn’t a lesson learned; you just look silly.

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Prioritize health and defense in your builds

Kratos is a beast who packs a punch as soon as you step into a run, but you can boost his stats to create a custom build each time you enter the arena. However, based on my time battling his manifested demons, prioritizing Vitality and Defense is the smart move. Yes, it can be satisfying to do more damage, but survivability should be your biggest concern in every run. Being able to take hits is more important than dishing them out because if you die, you start over at the beginning.

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The new weapon is powerful, but lacks survivability

Speaking of survivability, Valhalla introduces a new weapon and it’s pretty sick. We won’t spoil what it is because the reveal is great, but it isn’t like the rest of Kratos’ arsenal that you can swap to at will. This mystery weapon is linked to Spartan Rage, a limited-use, superpowered state Kratos can enter. This thing packs a punch and has some of the highest damage output of anything at your disposal, but it also isn’t as useful for keeping Kratos alive as other options.

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Kratos looks up at statues in Valhalla.

Before each run, you can pick which of the four Spartan Rage abilities you take with you into Valhalla. Fury and Valor have inherent healing, so they’re a great way to get a second wind if a run is not going in your favor. This fourth weapon has healing as well, but it’s specifically tied to charged attacks and is far riskier than the other options. So while it’s fun to play with a new toy, if you’re worried about keeping Kratos alive, it’s not the best use of Spartan Rage.

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Don’t get attached to a build

That being said, each loop resets Kratos’ perks and runic attacks. So yes, be strategic in upgrades you buy and runics you pick between, but don’t overthink it like you’ll keep this setup long term. Valhalla encourages you to experiment, and it’s unlikely you’ll get the same runic loadout two runs in a row.

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You can suspend a run, but only in some locations

If you’ve had your fun and want to take a break, Valhalla does let you suspend your run and close out the game, rather than forcing you to lose all your progress. However, you can only do this in specific locations. In between combat arenas, you’ll find safe rooms before you progress. In these spaces, you’ll find Tablets of Endeavor where you can buy temporary perks like healing, but you can also suspend your run by pressing the square button. This will kick you back to the main menu, so you can either play the base game or close it out, but you won’t have to start at the beginning of a run the next time you boot up Valhalla.

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Kratos walks toward a healing stone.

Search every room before leaving

After a tough fight, you might be ready to run for an arena’s exit to find a Tablet of Endeavor to heal yourself before the next battle. But if you’ve taken out all the enemies, there’s no harm in snooping around before you leave. Once you leave a combat zone, you won’t be able to come back. So always be sure to look for hidden healing items, treasure chests, and pots you can break that might have some goodies inside them. You can find some invaluable stuff just by taking an extra minute to search the place.

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Clothes are just for looks

While the base Ragnarök had you crafting and buying new armor sets for Kratos and Atreus with different perks, Valhalla is structured so your base stats and resources are at a set level until you buy universal upgrades. As such, you won’t be bringing your equipment from the base game into Valhalla’s challenges. However, after your first run, you will get the option to customize Kratos’ armor and other cosmetics, but this is purely for looks. So pick whatever you want him to wear in all your Photo Mode shots.

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You can’t access those barriers until later, you’re not missing anything yet

As you start walking through Valhalla, you’ll see magical barriers impeding you from reaching treasure chests that contain perks for your run. Don’t beat your head against the wall looking for a way to get around or unlock these. You won’t be able to until a future run, so just leave them be until you unlock Sanctuary Barrier Keys in the Tablet stores.

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Kratos unlocks a magical barrier.

Know the currencies

Between buying permanent perks, temporary ones, and making exchanges throughout your run, Valhalla has different currencies meant for different transactions. Here’s what they are and what they’re for:

  • Mastery Seals – Used to buy permanent upgrades that will stay with you during remaining runs
  • Spirit Seals – Used to buy temporary upgrades that are specific to the run they’re purchased during
  • Fleeting Echoes – Unlike the other two, these are a currency that you will lose at the end of a run, so there’s no sense in hoarding them. Use them if you’ve got them during a run at the Tablet of Endeavor.
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Burdens are cool challenges, but maybe hold off on them until you’ve seen credits

Throughout Valhalla, you’ll find icy pillars that offer you a “Burden” or some kind of debuff in exchange for a reward. These can range from status effects to lowered stats, and while the challenge can be fun, maybe hold off on these until you’ve seen Valhalla’s conclusion. This is the kind of mode that you’re meant to replay, but if you’re just trying to see the ending of Kratos’ therapy session, maybe hold off on messing with these until you’ve made it to the end.

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Don’t mindlessly run through the first door you find in an arena

Each door that leads to a battle in Valhalla and each treasure chest is marked with a specific symbol that corresponds to a reward. This can range from minute changes like stat boosts to more far-reaching ones like unlocking new runic attacks. As you progress through the DLC, you’ll often be faced with going through one door or another, so always be mindful of what you hope to gain by choosing a specific path. If you’re unsure what a specific symbol means, you can find a full breakdown in the Codex menu under the Lessons’ subcategory Valhalla Symbols.

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Buy God of War Ragnarök: Amazon | Best Buy | GameStop

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