God of War Combat Guide: Mastering Kratos’ Battle Techniques

God of War has undergone significant updates and changes since its initial release. Kratos, the protagonist, has traded his Blades of Chaos for a Leviathan Axe while confronting a new pantheon of gods. As a result, Kratos has had to develop new combat strategies. The latest God of War game emphasizes close-range, intimate, and tactical battles. With a tighter camera angle, you’ll have limited visibility of enemies approaching from behind, forcing you to fight smarter to achieve victory.

The Basics

Mastering Light and Heavy Attacks

The foundation of combat in God of War lies in using basic swipes and chops with the Leviathan Axe. Pressing R1 executes a quick, light attack that is perfect for stringing together combos. On the other hand, R2 triggers a slower, more powerful attack that can send enemies helplessly into the air. Additionally, you can throw your axe by holding L2 to aim and then pushing either R1 for a fast one-handed throw or R2 for a slower, chargeable two-handed throw. Throwing the axe can stun or freeze enemies, making it a useful move. You can recall the axe to Kratos’ hand at any time by pressing the triangle button, and it will damage any enemies it hits on its return.

When the axe is put away or thrown, Kratos can use his bare hands to punch enemies. R1 delivers quick punches, while R2 performs a slower kick move that sends foes flying. Utilizing bare-handed attacks increases an enemy’s “Stun” meter more quickly, and when an enemy is stunned, you can execute a powerful finishing move by pressing R3. You can also lock onto a single enemy by pressing R3 and switch between locked enemies with the right analog stick.

Be Prepared for Incoming Attacks

A significant change in God of War is the need for defensive maneuvers. There are two ways to deal with incoming attacks: dodging and blocking. By tapping the X button, Kratos can dodge sideways, effectively avoiding most attacks if timed correctly. Additionally, pressing L1 deploys a shield that can block incoming attacks.

Enemies will telegraph their moves in various ways. Weaker attacks can be recognized through the enemy’s animation, such as raising their arm to swing a sword or rushing at you. Stronger attacks that can be blocked will be indicated by a yellow ring around the enemy. If you hit L1 at the moment of impact, you can parry the attack, staggering the enemy and providing an opportunity for a counterattack. However, merely blocking a yellow attack will stagger Kratos and leave him vulnerable. Some powerful attacks from enemies are signaled by a red ring, indicating that they cannot be blocked and must be dodged. These attacks are usually slow, providing enough time for you to dodge them and strike back.

Despite the limited visibility caused by the close camera angle, Kratos has situational awareness. Arrows pointing offscreen warn you of incoming threats. A white arrow indicates an enemy behind you, a red arrow signifies an enemy about to perform a melee attack from the direction it’s pointing, and a purple arrow denotes an enemy shooting projectiles at you.

Utilizing Runic Attacks

As you explore the Nine Realms in the game, you’ll discover runes that can be plugged into the Leviathan Axe, granting you special and powerful moves. These runes come in two types: light and heavy. To execute a runic attack, hold L1 to ready your shield, and then press R1 for a light runic attack or R2 for a heavy runic attack. These attacks can interrupt enemies and are not affected if you’re hit while performing them. You can upgrade each runic attack over time by using experience points earned from defeated enemies. Runic attacks have cooldown timers, so it’s wise to save them for critical moments when they’ll have maximum impact. Some armor talismans also provide unique moves, often focusing on healing or support skills. Activating a talisman move can be done by holding L1 and pressing Circle. Atreus, Kratos’ son, also gains his own set of runic attacks known as Runic Summons, which can be activated by holding the square button.

Runic attacks offer a wide range of abilities. Some have area-of-effect damage, hitting multiple enemies at once, while others involve throwing the axe to strike several foes simultaneously. There are also attacks that shoot frost energy along the ground. Mixing and matching runic attacks will allow you to adapt to different combat scenarios. For example, having a heavy runic attack that deals area damage enables you to hit multiple enemies, while a light runic attack with long-range capabilities lets you deal significant damage from a safe distance. Experimentation is key to finding combinations that align with your play style. Remember to incorporate runic attacks into your combos for optimal effectiveness.

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Unleash Spartan Rage for Devastating Damage

While Kratos is attempting to shed his “Ghost of Sparta” persona, he still possesses incredible abilities from his past as the God of War. As you engage in combat and defeat enemies, you’ll fill a rage meter represented by an orange bar at the bottom of the screen. When the meter is full, pressing R3 and L3 simultaneously activates Spartan Rage. This ability allows you to unleash a barrage of powerful, bare-fisted attacks on enemies until the meter depletes. During Spartan Rage, your attacks hit hard and stagger most enemies, preventing them from retaliating. Additionally, your health regenerates while in Spartan Rage, although it won’t fully replenish. Don’t hesitate to use this ability when the opportunity arises, as it can turn the tide of a battle or save you from defeat.

Don’t Underestimate Atreus’ Contribution

Atreus, Kratos’ son, plays a crucial role in combat. Equipped with a bow, he can assist you in several ways. Pressing the square button allows you to command Atreus to shoot any enemy you’re targeting or looking at. The primary utility of Atreus’ bow is to distract or interrupt enemies moments before they strike. Many powerful, unblockable attacks from enemies can be halted with a well-aimed arrow to their face.

Atreus can also enhance your combos and augment your fighting capabilities. For example, knocking an enemy into the air and having Atreus shoot an arrow will keep the enemy airborne, allowing both of you to inflict damage simultaneously. As you progress in the game, Atreus will learn to grab enemies, temporarily opening up their defenses, and knocking them down, giving you some breathing room.

Furthermore, Atreus proves invaluable in distracting enemies you’re not ready to engage. When he’s not aiding you in combat directly, use Atreus to shoot at enemies you wish to delay. Arrows can divert enemies’ attention toward Atreus, which proves effective in dealing with formidable bosses or fighting in crowded areas. However, be cautious as enemies might attempt to grab Atreus, requiring you to intervene and protect him. Always consider how Atreus can enhance your combat skills, as his assistance is often crucial for surviving challenging fights.

Putting It All Together

Although God of War’s combat may initially resemble the previous style of chaining together lengthy combos, the new iteration provides more focused and tactical encounters with enemies. Nevertheless, you’ll still have countless enemies to vanquish with powerful, stringed attacks. The difference lies in reading the battlefield and adapting your combat style on the fly.

Combos remain integral to God of War’s combat system. As you progress, you’ll acquire more moves and additional weapons, expanding the range of attacks you can link together. Constant experimentation is vital for discovering moves that flow seamlessly, enabling you to overwhelm enemies. Managing enemy positioning to avoid being surrounded is equally crucial. Simply mashing the attack button won’t lead to success—God of War demands strategic thinking and fluidity in combat.

Advanced Techniques and Strategy

Mastering Crowd Control

While effective combos are essential, most battles in God of War involve facing multiple opponents. It may be tempting to isolate and focus on a single enemy, but your top priority should be controlling the group and preventing yourself from being surrounded.

Look for opportunities to distract enemies you’re not yet ready to engage, allowing you to deal with those in front of you. You can achieve this by knocking enemies down with axe throws, utilizing runic attacks to create chaos, or using heavy bare-handed attacks to push enemies back and create space. A powerful axe throw can pin enemies to walls or freeze them temporarily, creating a momentary respite. Atreus also assists by shooting at enemies you’re not actively fighting, aiming to keep them at bay. Utilize Atreus’ arrows to stall enemies you want to delay.

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Avoiding getting surrounded is vital for victory in God of War. Instead of relying solely on overwhelming force, maintaining control over the battlefield is the key. This way, you’ll never find yourself overwhelmed by opponents you can’t handle.

Moderating Axe Throw Usage

Throwing the Leviathan Axe at enemies can be tempting and visually impressive, but be mindful not to overdo it. While hitting the triangle button to recall the axe can be useful for attacking distant enemies, it also leaves you vulnerable. Reserve axe throws for moments when they will deal the most damage, rather than throwing it haphazardly and immediately regretting its absence. The brief time it takes for the axe to return can leave you exposed to enemy attacks.

Focus on throwing the axe with purpose. Taking out ranged enemies hurling fireballs at you is a primary objective. Additionally, the axe can be used in key tactical ways. Hitting enemies in the head usually stuns them briefly, and against bosses like trolls, well-timed throws can interrupt their powerful attacks. A light throw aimed at an opponent’s legs can knock them down, effectively removing them from the fight for a short time. With a heavy throw, you can freeze an enemy, gaining an advantage against other foes without worrying about the first one. The axe is generally more useful in hand-to-hand combat than lying on the ground. When you do choose to throw it, ensure the attack serves a significant purpose and try to incorporate it into a combo to maintain combat fluidity.

The Importance of Armor

Understanding the leveling system and the impact of armor is crucial in God of War. Each piece of armor affects Kratos’ stats, greatly influencing his combat effectiveness. Pay close attention to your armor’s impact on key stats. Strength-boosting armor and enchantments are ideal for fighters who prefer dealing heavy damage. Higher Runic stats are beneficial for those who frequently employ runic attacks during intense situations. If you favor a runic attack style, prioritize items that increase Kratos’ cooldown stat to shorten ability recharge times. Defense reduces the damage taken from enemy attacks, making it essential to maximize this stat. Vitality increases Kratos’ health and reduces the likelihood of being staggered when hit, making it valuable for parry-heavy fighters.

Armor and enchantments often provide additional perks, which are passive abilities that activate under specific circumstances. Perks range from recovering health when parrying an attack to gaining increased defense when struck by a powerful blow. Keep in mind that perks are not guaranteed to activate but have a higher chance of triggering with better items. Increasing your Luck stat enhances the frequency of perk activation. Perks can significantly impact a battle, so select your armor and enchantments based on your preferred fighting style. As the game progresses, you’ll be able to choose armor for Atreus as well, tailoring his abilities to best complement your play style. Equipping items that align with your preferred fighting approach will greatly enhance your resilience and effectiveness in challenging battles.

However, the most crucial aspect of your armor is the overall armor level, indicated by the number in the diamond at the top of your Armor menu. God of War uses a gear level system that determines your abilities in comparison to your enemies. Each piece of armor and enchantment has its own armor level, contributing to your overall gear rating. You can quickly determine the difference between you and your opponent by observing their health bar, which includes their level and is color-coded to indicate who has the advantage. Enemies with yellow health bars pose an equal challenge, orange bars indicate a one-level advantage, red bars represent a two-level advantage, and purple bars signify a three-level advantage. Building your armor level is the most effective way to make the game easier. Always upgrade your gear and invest in new armor whenever possible, even if it requires additional resources to increase its power.

Allocate Experience Points Wisely

God of War offers numerous experience points that can be earned by defeating enemies. Wisely investing your experience points is essential as there are various skills, moves, and upgrades available. You can unlock new close-range and long-range combat moves for Kratos, bare-handed fighting techniques, abilities for Spartan Rage, and additional moves for Atreus. Runic attacks can also be upgraded using experience points. With the abundance of options available, it may feel overwhelming to decide where to allocate your experience points. However, fear not, as there will always be more opportunities to earn experience points throughout the game.

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To make the best use of your experience points, spend them as soon as possible whenever you have the chance. Begin by purchasing all the basic moves for both Kratos and Atreus. Don’t worry too much about being highly selective since you’ll eventually acquire all the moves. The key is to pay attention to what you’re unlocking and consciously incorporate these new moves into your fighting style. You’ll learn abilities such as leaping attacks after sprinting and hitting multiple enemies with axe throws. Given the vast number of moves available, it’s easy to forget about them. Thus, spend your experience points liberally. God of War is a lengthy game, and you’ll encounter plenty of enemies, ensuring a continuous flow of experience points.

Master Stance Switching

One of the enticing abilities you can unlock with experience points is the capacity for Kratos to switch stances, granting access to a new set of moves during combat. Once you’ve unlocked this ability in the Skills menu, the key to switching stances is to briefly pause during battle. Kratos will adjust his stance with the axe or shield, signifying that it’s time to resume fighting. Axe stances often involve throwing the weapon like a boomerang to deal substantial damage, while bare-handed stances allow you to strike multiple enemies simultaneously and push them back.

Acquiring the stance-switching upgrades as soon as possible is highly recommended. These upgrades expand your repertoire of attacks, providing you with a broader range of options. Much of God of War’s combat revolves around using the right tool at the right moment, and stance-switching adds significantly to your arsenal of enemy-crushing maneuvers.

Healing on the Go

Kratos lacks a reliable means of restoring health in the heat of battle. While there are perks and talismans that provide emergency healing, and Spartan Rage can offer temporary regenerative benefits, avoiding damage remains your primary focus during combat. When desperate for healing, there’s only one reliable method: searching for green healing stones on the ground. Enemies frequently drop these stones upon defeat, allowing you to replenish your health by pressing the Circle button.

In dire situations where you desperately need health, prioritize eliminating weaker enemies first to increase the chances of acquiring health drops. If no health stones are dropped, search for potential healing sources by smashing objects along the outskirts of the battlefield. Distraction can be challenging, but crucial moments in combat often require scavenging for health stones. As you progress through the game, you’ll also have the option to purchase Resurrection Stones, granting you a second chance in battle. Carrying one with you is always a prudent decision, particularly when exploring optional areas or engaging tough enemies.

Utilize the Environment to Your Advantage

Many battles in God of War occur in arenas scattered with potentially useful objects. There’s no need to hesitate in taking full advantage of your surroundings. Explosive red bottles will, unsurprisingly, explode upon impact, setting enemies on fire. As the game progresses, Atreus gains the ability to shoot red and blue crystals, causing explosions and temporarily blinding enemies, respectively. Even when no obvious objects can be utilized, the environment remains your ally. Kick enemies off cliffs or into spikes to eliminate or injure them. Moreover, use your axe to pin enemies against walls for additional damage and to remove them from ongoing fights. Victorious combat in God of War involves more than button-mashing—it fosters tactical thinking. Employ everything at your disposal to emerge triumphant.

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