It’s hard to believe I now play God of War on Steam Deck. God of War on PC was a surprise, but holding it in my hands is a true shock. Valve really nailed it with the Steam Deck. Not only are these strange combination possible, but I’ve found extra game time in a very busy life.
God of War is Great, but Not Buy a PS5 Great
There’s years of hearing how great the God of War franchise is, but I was never willing to buy a Playstation. It is a great game so far, but not so great I couldn’t wait all this time for a PC port. Now, I can do one better and play on the go.
The graphics on Steam Deck and my desktop are great, but it’s strange I almost prefer GoW on the Steam Deck. Although the smaller screen pales in comparison to my ultrawide, I think the pixel density keeps things crisp on the Steam Deck. God of War is obviously a controller friendly game, so it’s also much easier with the Steam Deck controls versus my desktop keyboard and mouse.
Going Mostly Mobile with God of War on Steam Deck
I’ve logged 11 hours of GoW on the Steam Deck, while only around one on my desktop PC. Part of that is the built up muscle memory with the game, but a bigger part is the ability to play when I normally would not be able to.
All these hours in, I can tell that Assassin’s Creed Valhalla either borrowed or came to the same gameplay conclusions as GoW. Sure both are Viking god themed, but weapons, runes, puzzles all seem familiar. That’s not a bad thing though, after all, AC Valhalla has it’s own huge advantage, a truly open world.
It is weird in God of War to not have the ability to jump or climb over things that Assassin’s Creed games do routinely. The more guided tour approach is a bit limiting in areas, but the story and artwork help make up for that lack of freedom.
The Playstation memes about how all their big games are third person walking sims with button mashing combat and a ton of cutscenes is not completely off the mark here. There’s plenty of button prompted pseudo cutscenes where pressing or holding 1 button is the only thing moving the scene along. It’s noticeable, but not enough to take away from enjoying the game.
Sure, there’s plenty of walking sim-like moments, but those moments give time for the banter between Kratos and his son, Atreus. The world and story building between them is a strength, especially on the serene boat rides. Meeting the giant World Serpent that first time was a holy crap type moment.
God of War Does Have Actual Fun Gameplay, Though
I love the Axe. So far, it’s the only weapon Kratos wields, but it’s fun. There’s a ton of combat combos to perform (some via unlocks) with it. When the axe is thrown, I can magically call it back like Thor’s hammer. This is useful for combat and puzzles.
Speaking of puzzles, most of them are actually pretty good. There’s a combination of solutions involving the axe, Atreus’s bow, carrying things, climbing around obstacles and more. Most were not overly complicated, but fun enough. I really hated the rune combo chests though. Specifically the ones with bell runes.
For those, first I had to find where all 3 runes were, luckily all nearby. After that, I had to hit each with my axe before the first one stopped swinging. My controller aiming skills are still rough, so I had to turn on the tilt to aim function on the Steam Deck to complete those quick enough.
Combat can be a frustrating button mashing fest until each combo is mastered. At that point, the combos are more deliberate and it’s more of a combat dance. Stun attacks are satisfyingly brutal. Boss fights are a mix of combat combos, puzzles of how to damage them and quicktime moments.
The story is decent so far. It’s a father and son on a quest to dispose of the wife’s ashes. All of this happens against avoiding the Norse gods. It’s obvious it’s equal parts Kratos teaching Atreus to be tough and figuring out when to comfort him. What I don’t like is how many times Kratos grunts “boy!”. Still I look forward to completing the story.
Steam Deck Suspend and Resume is Key
During my initial impressions of the Steam Deck, I really did not praise the suspend and resume function enough. Sure the Switch had this forever, but nothing like this was available for Steam games before Steam Deck. You can pause on desktop PC, but everything keeps running power and pumping out heat. Leaving a game on pause like that for hours is not practical.
Now, I can freely suspend my games, put the Steam Deck down and carry on with whatever. When I have time to play again, just press the button again to pick up where I left off. Not waiting to boot up or shut down a PC, then loading the game is a huge part of the Deck’s success.
Steam Backlog Killer
I love the hero ability to play my Steam games while my wife sleeps right next to me. Recently, I also enjoyed my “field test” playing the Deck while waiting for my dentist appointment. That solid 20 or so minutes before they called my name was magic. Not only did the wait time seem to fly by, but it also is 20 minute dip into my game backlog I’d never get before my Steam Deck.
To me, the Steam Deck could be the gaming backlog killer. If I am ever unlucky enough to require a trip to the DMV, then that dread of that ridiculous wait becomes gaming time (although I’d definitely bring a power bank and/or my charger).
Some other “waiting” situations I put the Suspend/Resume to the test: wife doing her makeup and hair, dogs bathroom breaks and a power outage. Over weeks, I’ll rack up dozens of gaming hours I could only dream of in the past. All while destroying boring waits.
Now, I can put this laptop away and pick up my Steam Deck to continue on with God of Wars story.