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Atreus is God of War Ragnarök’s ultimate teenage dirtbag, baby

Smells like teen spirit

Atreus stands surrounded by various clip art of hearts in different colors. Image: SIE Santa Monica Studio/Sony Interactive Entertainment via Polygon
Nicole Clark (she/her) is a culture editor at Polygon, and a critic covering internet culture, video games, books, and TV, with work in the NY Times, Vice, and Catapult.

[Ed note: This story contains spoilers for the first half of God of War Ragnarök.]

After rescuing the giant Týr, God of War Ragnarök unleashes my favorite plot twist: getting to play the next section of the game as Atreus, my new favorite angsty teen.

The tired crew has returned to Sindri’s home. Kratos, fearing for his son’s safety, wants nothing more than to abandon the fight and find a safe place to hunker down outside of Odin’s watchful gaze. Filled with righteous angst, Atreus sneaks out, against his father’s wishes, to follow through on an objectively bad idea. He’s going to find Freya, and he’s going to ask her for help with this whole war thing. The player finally gets to be Atreus — a delightful surprise, and a switch that I wish was permanent.

The younger teen certainly isn’t as strong as Kratos. His bow isn’t as powerful as the Leviathan Axe; it can’t freeze channels of water or light torches. But Atreus makes up for it in agility, with a dodge that feels faster and easier to wield. For players who favor dexterity-related playthroughs with sprinting, rolling, and headshotting, switching over to Atreus is a dream. He’s light on his feet, replicating so much of what I love about playing Horizon’s nimble Aloy.

Could Atreus take on the crocodile-like Dreki with only Sindri by his side? Probably not. Could Atreus take on two Dreki, as Kratos can? Definitely not. Would I play the entire game as Atreus if given the choice? Absolutely. Sneaking around as a teen boy who thinks he knows all about war is definitely a good idea that won’t make anyone angry or get anyone killed. I mean, his dad is the Greek god of war, after all. And they’ve got the Norse god of war on their team now too.

Atreus looking up at Kratos, who is looking upward off screen, in God of War Ragnarök, with both characters wearing shiny armor Image: SIE Santa Monica Studio/Sony Interactive Entertainment via Polygon

Playing as Atreus is also deeply funny, especially when watching him attempt to do things his father can do with ease. Atreus tries to open a chest by punching through the top like Kratos, which obviously does not work because he has the arms of a consumptive Victorian child. From then on, Atreus slaps chest tops with his shockingly sturdy bow. Sindri makes for a hysterical support character, throwing consistent shade, making excuses about why he isn’t ready, and ultimately leaving Atreus behind as he confronts Freya. Support, my ass.

Best of all, I get to help Atreus — (cough) Loki — enjoy a bit of teenage rebellion. Train after my best friend Fenrir died? Fuck you, dad. It’s time to sweep my hair across my face, put on eyeliner, pull up that hoodie, and head to Warped Tour.

Loki has always been the troublemaker of the Norse gods — the one whose tomfoolery led to the creation of Thor’s hammer, Mjölnir. Though the God of War franchise consistently departs from classic Norse mythology in favor of its own interpretations, Atreus’ small acts of rebellion feel like a nice nod to Loki’s own origins. Loki is supposed to pull ill-advised tricks that piss off all the gods. Let Atreus have his fun, I say. I’d happily play along with all of it.