God of War on PS4 introduces a surprising number of changes to the series. The latest game does away with the linear structure and progression from past games. Now you can explore an open-ended environment, earn XP to unlock abilities from a skill tree, and even acquire armor sets that improve your stats. In addition, you can collect accessories known as Talismans and Enchantments that further improve your equipment’s stats and give you special perks.
There are a lot of systems in place this time around, and it can get overwhelming trying to manage it all at first, especially if you assumed this game was going to be just like its predecessors. To help you get a better understanding of God of War’s upgrade progression, we’ve compiled details on its major systems and mechanics. For more guides, check out our feature detailing 11 tips you should know before starting. And be sure to read our God of War review.
God of War slowly introduces you to its mechanics, encouraging you to explore and pick up resources scattered about the world–but for reasons not quite stated. As you progress, it’s revealed that the resources you pick up can be used at shops to purchase and upgrade Kratos’ equipment. There are a variety of different avenues to upgrade and strengthen Kratos and Atreus. In the sections below you can find detailed explanations of each.
Armor plays a big part in God of War, not only for increasing your stats to improve your chances of survival, but for specializing in traits that you value in combat. For example, if you like using Runic Attacks, you should equip armor that increases Runic Attack damage. Take time to think about what statistics you value the most, and stick with them, as the sooner you can funnel your resources into crafting and upgrading the armor that best supports that, the better.
The same philosophy applies to Atreus. At the blacksmith shop, you can buy him armor sets that enhance his characteristics in different ways. For instance, one set increases his arrow damage, while another improves the damage he does when strangling enemies. Atreus can be incredibly effective in battle, so it’s important to think about which armor best suits how you want to use him.
Enchantments are special items you can slot into your armor that further enhance their stats. Each piece of armor can hold at least one Enchantment, as long as it has an available socket. If an armor piece doesn’t have any, you can unlock sockets by upgrading them at the blacksmith shop. Throughout your journey, you’ll get your hands on a ton of Enchantments, so always make sure to check your inventory to see if there are any that you should replace from your current loadout.
Oftentimes an Enchantment has a special perk that gives you attack buffs and resistances that are either inherent or activate randomly during battle. While it’s useful to be aware of Enchantment perks, you’ll generally want to focus on equipping ones that best increase your stats, as they give you the most significant boosts compared to other items in the game.
It’s important to note that whenever you purchase a new armor set, make sure to re-equip all of the Enchantments from your old armor onto your new one. Unless you’re a fan of playing at a disadvantage, don’t make this mistake.
Axe Pommels further increase the Leviathan Axe’s power. Similar to Enchantments, they offer perks that activate either randomly or after you perform a specific action in battle. For example, the Deadly Grip of Fury has a perk that grants you a Rage Burst after a successful axe kill. Since you can only equip a single Axe Pommel, you want to lean towards the ones with the best perks, as they often don’t offer the most substantial stat boosts. But the choice is up to you; you’re not punished for focusing on stats over perks.
Talismans are special accessories you can equip that allow you to perform a special ability in battle. They come in two varieties: active and passive. Active Talismans can be triggered manually by pressing a special button combination. Passive Talismans are activated by performing a specific action in battle, like dodging an attack at the last second.
While Talismans also offer boosts to your stats, you’ll generally want to focus on equipping one that best suits your needs in battle. For example, if you’d like to have a little insurance when nearing death, the Talisman of Concentrated Vitality allows you to manually give yourself a health boost mid-battle by pressing L1 and the circle button. It’s best to be practical when it comes to choosing a Talisman. Their stats boosts may provide an initiative to equip one over the other, but it’s their perks that are most important, as they can directly impact and change the tide of battle.
God of War’s combat is fairly limited at first, but once you start acquiring more Skills and Runic Attacks, battles start becoming more complex. Enemies only get tougher as the game goes on, so it helps that there are ways to defend yourself. Below we run through the two avenues you have to increase the power of your fighting prowess.
The first way to increase your strength in combat is by unlocking combat abilities in the Skill tree with the XP you earn in battle. Skills are special moves you can perform, like combos, charging attacks, and active attack buffs. Both Kratos and Atreus have their own skills you can upgrade, which are all available for you to unlock right at the start. You eventually unlock more skills from the tree after acquiring or purchasing key items that boost the level of your weapons.
You don’t earn a lot of XP early on, so it’s important to start thinking about which skills best suit your playstyle. But don’t fret, you’re not forced to unlock certain skills over others the whole way through; you’ll eventually nab enough XP to unlock every ability on the skill tree. Until then, choose your skills wisely.
While you might be inclined to utilize the default attacks and combos available to you to dispatch foes, don’t forget to use your Runic Attacks. These powerful special moves can be equipped to your weapons and are triggered by holding L1 and pressing R1 or R2. There are two types of Runic Attacks: Light and Heavy. The game features a variety of different Runic Attacks to equip, each sporting their own unique effects, attributes, and cooldowns.
It’s possible to upgrade Runic Attacks with XP to enhance their power. You might feel inclined to upgrade combat skills over them, but don’t underestimate how they can aid you in battle. A well-placed Runic Attack can give you the upper hand when your chances of survival seem low. Upgrading them improves their damage, stun, and overall capability. Do not forget to use and upgrade your Runic attacks. They’re well worth it.