My name is Mihir Sheth and I’m a Senior Combat Tech-Designer here at Santa Monica Studio. Now that God of War has been out for some time and plenty of players have had a chance to check out the combat in the game I wanted to take a moment to talk about “Give Me God of War” – the hardest difficulty mode available! As many of you have likely noticed, GMGOW sets itself up ominously with bold red text stating that the difficulty cannot be changed mid-game... it is not for the faint of heart!
As you experience GMGOW for the first time you will likely be overwhelmed during the opening hours of the game. Hopefully, this post (along with the plethora of great player made resources already online) can remove some of the mysticism behind the difficulty mode and offer some advanced combat tips & techniques in the process!
+It is STRONGLY suggested that you play through the main story at least once before on either Give Me a Balanced Experience or Give Me a Challenge to gain familiarity with the combat systems.
+Control of the player camera is extremely important and is central to the combat experience on GMGOW. If you are having trouble with controlling the camera in large fights, we recommend disabling the ‘Lock-On Camera’ (Gameplay) and ‘Recenter Camera on Attack’ (Camera) options in the Settings menu. They are helpful in situations with a singular or very small group of enemies, but might make fights with a large crowd difficult for some. There’s no “correct” way to play - feel free to adjust the camera settings until you find something that is appropriate.
+Give Me God of War is meant to test mastery of all the combat mechanics and tools available to Kratos and Atreus. The more you explore and attempt to master the combat system, the more you will enjoy the difficulty!
Hopefully, this post (along with the plethora of great player made resources already online) can remove some of the mysticism behind the difficulty mode and offer some advanced combat tips & techniques in the process!”
Gameplay and Systems Changes
There are several changes happening behind the scenes in GMGOW, each of which is aimed at rewarding intentional and knowledgeable play. Here are a few of the more notable changes which take effect:
+Enemies are much stronger and have a slightly higher Power Level. Their damage output, defense (against both damage and stun) and resistance to hit reactions are all significantly increased.
+Enemies can counterattack quickly after taking hit reactions or blocking an attack.
+Enemies can turn Elite, greatly increasing their combat prowess. Elite enemies have glowing eyes, an increase in Power Level, increased aggression, and have access to new attacks and attack patterns. Different enemies have different rules for when and how they turn Elite.
+Status ailments applied to Kratos are far more potent and linger around for a longer period of time.
+Health shards remove status ailments and reduce accrued status damage when consumed. Use them to prevent an ailment from turning active.
+There is less targeting assistance during melee combat. Kratos will no longer slide forward to meet his opponent with every strike, requiring more precision in judging distance.
+The rate of gaining Rage and passive bonuses such as Permafrost is significantly reduced.
Advanced Combat Tips, Tricks and Techniques
All of the following tips and techniques are possible to do in the very beginning of the game before any skills or equipment have been purchased. Most of these are aimed at handling enemies like the Draugr since they will appear everywhere in your journey.
1. Keep your camera focused on as many enemies as you can. Mastery of the camera is extremely important as Kratos’ melee attacks will direct enemies towards where the camera is facing.
2. Get comfortable weaving in evasive sidesteps between your attacks. This helps you reposition during your aggression while keeping you safe. You will maintain the ‘sequence’ in your light attack combo as long as you just side step… rolling will get you out of the way but will reset your combo. Getting to the last hit your light combo is very important!
3. Fully master the Leviathan’s Freezing Throw (heavy axe throw). It is very potent at quickly dispatching enemies and applying crowd control to an area.
4. Be comfortable leaving the Leviathan frozen in an enemy without immediately recalling it. Use the time to reposition and weaponize the frozen target to your advantage.
5. Prevent enemies from turning Elite. Either attack them using Atreus’s arrows or with a well-aimed axe throw to disrupt them from range.
6. Enemies afflicted with the Frost ailment cannot turn Elite, and are defenseless against a relentless offense.
7. Enemies afflicted with the Burn ailment will take damage over time and often get interrupted during their attacks. Stunning Draugrs is an effective way to apply Burn to nearby enemies.
8. If an enemy has already turned Elite, or if there is a particularly difficult enemy in the fight, try to weaponize other weaker enemies in the battlefield against it
9. Bare handed attacks build up more Rage meter and deal more Stun damage. Hit enemies in the back to maximize Stun damage output. Learning simple but effective combos with precise axe throws will allow you to make use of both of these techniques.
10. Tripping enemies with precise axe throws is an effective way of managing a crowd of enemies.
11. Hitting enemies into walls leaves them in a vulnerable state where they are incapacitated and take increased Stun damage. Also, sending enemies flying back into walls will cause them to bounce off, dealing large amounts of Stun damage.
12. Instead of isolating enemies, try herding them together. Juggling enemies after they have been launched into the air will keep nearby enemies disrupted and unable to attack.
13. Attacking an enemy just as it lands will cause it bounce on the ground, resulting in an Off The Ground (OTG) combo. This technique is tough to get a grasp on but mastering it will open up many possibilities.
14. Use firepower from Atreus to help extend juggles on an enemy. Any time an enemy is being juggled is time they aren’t attacking!
15. Despite being a risky move to pull off in the middle of combat, kicking an aggressive enemy can leave it open for attack.
16. While Fury Strike (light attack) is a great option in Spartan Rage to focus on one enemy and regain health in the process, it is not always the most effective key to victory. Every attack costs valuable Rage meter so prioritize using your Rage meter to damage as many enemies as possible when facing an overwhelming horde. Remember that merely the act of entering Spartan Rage is a powerful move effective at displacing and launching enemies.
And there you have it! If one tactic isn’t working in a fight remember to take a breath and think about if there’s another way to come out victorious.
Thanks for reading and I hope you’ve learned a thing or two to help your gameplay (regardless of whether you’re playing on GMGOW or not!). It’s an uphill trial of skill and patience, but with the right knowledge, technique and tenacity the journey will be worth it.
See you at the top of the Mountain.
A Prequel Story
When I was first approached about working on a new God of War comic, a prequel to the forthcoming PS4 game, I was both intrigued and intimidated.
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