God of War, the review of the PC version



Four years after the original release, Sony is ready to launch the PC conversion of the outstanding PS4/PS5 exclusive, God of War: here’s our review

The wait was long but, we can already tell you at the beginning of the article, it was worth it. As we inexorably approach the fourth year since the original release on PS4, the production label of PlayStation Studios is preparing to launch on the market the PC version of God of War, excellent old-gen exclusive that, after a quick hand of stucco on the occasion of the update for PS5, now aims to show its muscles on the platform less subject to technical or performance impediments: the computer.

Times really have changed, we all have to get over it by now, and it probably would have been impossible to even imagine seeing Santa Monica’s latest work, the one created and directed by Cory Barlog, coming to PC back in the days of the original launch on PlayStation 4. Instead, we’re here today to tell you about this important conversion within the God of War PC review you’re reading right now.

A conversion that has a specific weight particularly evident: the soft reboot of the series is still considered an important step forward in terms of narrative and graphics and, in combination with The Last of Us 2, is often counted among the best exponents of the past generation of gaming projects Triple A, not to mention the incredible amount of awards as Game of the Year that has been able to take home. In addition, this PC version comes accompanied by a great fanfare about the work done by the developer to implement options and settings now considered a must if you want to get with a product that can be attractive to PCists in the modern era.

God of War PC is, in short, a bit ‘a watershed: it must continue on the path beaten by Horizon Zero Dawn and Days Gone, offering a conversion work that is forgiven for the 4 years that it took to have this exclusive computer but, at the same time, must prepare the track for what will come next that, of necessity, can not be limited in this 2022 only to the collection of Uncharted 4 and The Lost Legacy. We’ll see what happens in the coming months but, for now, we return to the adventures of Kratos in the Nordic territories.

First, however, a quick warning: this review focuses exclusively on the quality and value of the PC conversion by delving into the graphical aspects, the settings available on the computer and the performance of the porting, taking it for granted that those who read it are already familiar with the original work. If this is not your case, we strongly recommend that you read the original review of God of War for PS4 where you will find very detailed information and opinions on the story, gameplay, combat system and the entire gaming experience.

What is God of War (2018)?

Kratos questions his exploits in God of War

Before getting into the heart of the review, it is worth spending a few lines of summary on the God of War of 2018, for those who are too lazy to go read our PS4 review. The title of Santa Monica is a kind of sequel to the original trilogy (tetralogy if we want to consider also Ascension) without really being a direct sequel: the new game in fact assumes the existence of the previous chapters, but uses a different alphabet to stage its gameplay and, for this reason, the term soft reboot has often been used.

A total change of setting that goes from the reassuring familiarity of Greek mythology to the bold and impervious Norse iconography. A substantial change to the camera that approaches inexorably to that of the most modern action: behind, very close and, above all, completely free in the management. A combat system rethought from the ground up, starting from the management of weapons and equipment, up to the attack patterns and the type of enemies encountered. But above all a substantial innovation in the narrative that cuts every bridge with the past in function of a highly cinematic style and incredibly close to the elements that have made well recognizable productions Naughty Dog.

God of War 2018 is a chapter that has been able to revolutionize a series without distorting the distinctive features, but rather proposing something in step with the times capable of being more palatable to those who had never interfaced with the series, but at the same time not betraying the historical fan base with PlayStation there was born and raised.

The exact same experience is available on PC from January 14, 2022 at €49.99. Zero new content and zero changes to the mechanics or some ancillary element: the same, identical game, purchased and downloaded on Steam and Epic Games Store. But how is it, concretely, this conversion?

The features of the PC version

Kratos prepares to fight a Troll in God of War

As previously mentioned, God of War for PC is practically identical to its PS4 counterpart (it’s actually closer to the free upgrade for PS5 for obvious reasons) and this is also reflected in the settings that feature the same settings and options for what concerns audio, interface, visuals, game features, accessibility, photo mode and language selection. The only crucial differences can be found in the new entries introduced for this conversion that implement settings regarding screen, graphics and command management.

Let’s start with the latter: the Santa Monica title natively supports PS5’s DualSense and PS4’s DualShock in addition to Xbox pads and any other Windows-compatible controller. It will automatically select the ideal command setup and all the overlays will adapt to the type of buttons on the device. In addition, full keyboard and mouse support has been added. We could discuss at length on the opportunity and the taste of facing a third-person action with this type of controls, but we all know that the world is beautiful because it is varied and it is certainly to praise the decision of Sony to offer this possibility, with a dedicated setup of the keys that can be changed at will without any kind of limitation.

Indeed, paradoxically, the work is better precisely with regard to compatibility with mouse and keyboard than with pad support. Exactly as in the PS4/PS5 version, in fact, it’s still not possible to manually set the individual buttons, but you have to adapt to the few alternatives designed by the developer. To be even more practical: we can change the interaction/ dodging combination or the key used for the turn or, again, the use of the triggers to attack rather than using Atreus, but we can’t, for example, set a specific button for the turn or select the keys we like for attacks. Given the granularity offered by the mouse and keyboard options, we would have liked to find the same kind of customization for the controllers.

The key configuration in God of War for PC

Under the heading screen we find instead the first handful of graphics settings and display mode that are then the backbone of this porting. In God of War PC will finally be able to take advantage of wide and ultrawide monitors with 16:10 and 21:9 ratio in addition to the classic 16:9, there is clearly full support for HDR on computers and, most interestingly, there is the native implementation of NVIDIA Reflex available to all those who have a GeForce video card. It’s possible to enable both basic mode to reduce input latency and boost mode, and for those with monitors and mice compatible with the GPU manufacturer’s latency analyzer, the game also gives you the option to enable the flash box to measure your PC’s performance.

Also within this menu, to highlight the bipartisan nature of the conversion, we find options for DLSS and FidelityFX Super Resolution for managing resolution scaling. God of War fully supports the latest release of NVIDIA’s Deep Learning Super Sampling, the 2.2, and allows you to select the usual 4 presets of this technology: Quality, Balanced, Performance and Ultra Performance with a real-time change of the rendering resolution while maintaining the output video. The same for the FFSR that can be enabled as an alternative to DLSS to use the Super Sampling developed by AMD by choosing between 4 values: Ultra Quality, Quality, Balanced and Performance. The latter technology allows you to go higher as regards the rendering resolution having an additional setting of quality, while the DLSS allows you to use a resolution value further lower to meet the needs of frame rate.

God of War's graphics settings for resolution, DLSS, and FFSR DLSS and FFSR Compared in Quality Mode DLSS and FFSR compared in performance mode

We have made numerous tests and analysis to try to compare the two types of Super Sampling with our NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3080 and, as you can see below in the graph, the DLSS NVIDIA continues to have a powerful gear more: in terms of quality the gap is perceptible to the naked eye especially in the two lowest settings and yet the loss in terms of frame rate is really marginal. Clearly AMD’s Super Resolution can defend itself well and is still an extremely convenient option for those who have mounted a Radeon on their PC and can thus gain 20-30 FPS compared to the mode with native rendering, but if you have an NVIDIA GPU there is not a single reason to prefer FFSR to DLSS.

Santa Monica’s game also allows you to work with resolution scaling by hand in case you don’t want to or can’t use NVIDIA and AMD technologies (the three options are in fact mutually exclusive). By the way, with an anomaly that we just could not explain, this is also the only possibility that the game offers to those who want to change the native resolution. God of War runs on PC exclusively in windowed mode with or without borders, and we’re not sure if this is due to some kind of limitation in the review code. Consequently, it is not possible to change the resolution unless you want to physically “shrink” the window in which the game runs making visible the Windows desktop and other applications. Or using the scaling mentioned above.

Graphic settings

Kratos argues with Atreus in the new God of War

Moving on to the last option exclusive to the PC version of God of War, we find the actual graphics settings. We take this opportunity to remind you that this conversion does not present any kind of limitation of rendering or blocking of the frame rate: provided you have a very performant PC, you can play in 4k at more than 90 FPS. Turning instead to the actual settings, while appreciating even in this case the new features introduced by Santa Monica, we can not hide that from a title so important we would have expected to find a greater granularity of options. In fact, we’ll only be able to act on a very limited number of settings.

In addition to a preset that automatically manages all the various items and that allows you to choose between a minimum graphic quality, faithful to the original for PS4/PS5, high and ultra, there is obviously also the possibility to customize each setting. In the latter case we find settings related to texture quality, model quality, the value of the anisotropic filter, the level of shadows and reflections, the management of atmospheric agents that we find in the outdoor sections and an option related to environmental occlusion. There are no settings related to anti-aliasing, level of detail, field of view or other features that we usually find in modern titles developed on PC.

The graphic settings of God of War

If it is therefore evident a certain type of work “on the cheap” carried out by Sony to try to bring a conversion on PC that presents the minimum necessary to be acceptable, at the same time we must recognize an excellent work of optimization that allowed us to run the title on the test configuration, clearly high-end, pushing manually to the maximum all the graphics settings and always remaining around 60 FPS in native 4k without DLSS or FFSR. An extraordinary result that is clearly related to the old-gen nature of this production, but that should not be diminished at all because it makes it even more enjoyable to face the game even if you have already played at its original release on consoles.

We’ve also run God of War very quickly on a slightly lower-end configuration with an Intel i7-11700K and an NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3070, staying just under 45 FPS in native 4k without DLSS or FFSR. The moment you enable the technologies of NVIDIA and AMD, the frame rate shoots upwards with a range between 15 and 30 FPS depending on the setting used, as can be seen from the chart below.

While we haven’t been able to test it directly, we’re confident that God of War can run consistently above 60 FPS on pretty much any mid-range configuration, without worrying too much about the graphics settings selected, as long as you work a little on rendering resolution through the use of DLSS and FidelityFX Super Resolution.

Recommended requirements depending on graphics quality

PC System Requirements

Test Configuration

  • Processor: AMD Ryzen 5800X
  • Video card: NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3080
  • RAM: 32GB
  • Operating System: Windows 11 64 bit

Minimum Requirements

  • Processor: Intel i5-2500k (4 cores 3.3 GHz) or AMD Ryzen 3 1200 (4 cores 3.1 GHz)
  • Video card: NVIDIA GTX 960 (4 GB) or AMD R9 290X (4 GB)
  • Memory: 8GB RAM
  • Memory: 8GB RAM
  • DirectX: Version 11
  • Operating System: Windows 10 64 bit
  • Disk space: 70 GB available

Recommended Requirements

  • Processor: Intel i5-6600k (4 cores 3.5 GHz) or AMD Ryzen 5 2400 G (4 cores 3.6 GHz)
  • Video card: NVIDIA GTX 1060 (6 GB) or AMD RX 570 (4 GB)

Comment

God of War arrives on PC with a conversion well optimized and able to generate with a very high frame rate even in native 4K provided you have a configuration up to expectations. This does not mean, however, that mid-range and low-end computers have been cut out because native support for NVIDIA DLSS and AMD FidelityFx Super Resolution is able to push up the frame count strongly without noticeable decreases in quality, especially in comparison to the original work on PS4 and PS5. It is clear that from a conversion available almost 4 years after the console launch, we would have expected a greater granularity in the graphics options and, possibly, the total configuration of the controls with the pad, but in front of this good thing is really hard to complain. If you have not yet done on the PlayStation consoles, absolutely play God of War in the PC version: it is undoubtedly the best to see and deal with.

PRO

  • Well optimized and free of obvious bugs or problems
  • Native support for DLSS and FFSR for a noticeable boost in frame rate
  • Having it on PC is simply the best way to play God of War
  • A few more options in the graphics settings wouldn’t hurt.
  • After all these years, we would have appreciated some additional content
  • Individual pad buttons cannot be configured yet
  • Have you noticed any errors?
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