God of War is an open-world game with a lot of the mechanics you’d expect from the genre, but some of them don’t work quite like you’d expect — like the Lake of Nine — and that’s confusing. In this guide, we’ll explain how the Lake of Nine works and talk about the various stages of gating. Then we’ll talk about what that means for how you’ll use our God of War guides.
We’re going to try keep this explainer spoiler free, but there are some unavoidable (very) minor, early game spoilers below. They’re not story-related, necessarily, and you could argue that they’re not technically spoilers, but if you’re looking to avoid any spoilers, you should probably take caution with the rest of this article.
What is the Lake of Nine?
The Lake of Nine region of Midgard serves as your hub. Your access to everything in and around that hub is gated (also like many other open-world games), but it’s gated in multiple stages. And that makes it kind of confusing to navigate since you have to think fourth dimensionally — your explorations will change over time.
Lifting the fog clouds
Between (and sometimes during) main story goals, you’ll be free to explore. Generally, this means just paddling around the lake, discovering boat docks and lifting the fog cloud that obscures your map when you visit an area. You will find a couple areas that will remain obscured on your map no matter how many times you paddle over them — those are just areas you can’t get to yet (see the next section for why).
As you progress in the game and find areas you can explore a little more fully, you’ll clear away even more fog and add additional markers (like shops and Mystic Gateways) to your map. Exploration is almost always rewarded in God of War. At the very least, you’ll find some hacksilver to use in upgrading your gear. Just as often, though, you’ll find valuable crafting resources or favors that reward you handsomely.
So what’s confusing about that?
The confusing part about the Lake of Nine is that the environment and topography around it changes as you progress through the game. There are two distinct phases tied to main story journey goals:
- “A Path to the Mountain.” This phase begins during your first visit to the Lake of Nine (after you meet the Witch). This phase exposes a number of boat docks and locations you can visit. We’re going to call this the High Water phase.
- “A New Destination.” This phase starts after you visit the top of the Mountain, return to the Witch, paddle back to the Lake of Nine and complete “A New Destination” on Tyr’s Bridge. This begins what we’ll call the Low Water phase. The Low Water phase exposes new boat docks and opens up new areas of places you’ve already visited.
(There’s technically a phase zero we’re skipping over here, but it begins and ends over the course of about five in-game minutes during “A Path to the Mountain,” and you can’t actually do anything during it.)
Some places are physically inaccessible, and there are also places you can’t get past without certain tools. The simplest (and least spoilery) example is light crystals. Any place that you need to use a light crystal to access won’t be available until you come back from Alfheim. This means that there are sub-phases of the High and Low Water phases described above, depending on what tools you have access to at the time — High Water without light arrows, Low Water with light arrows, etc.
The first time you pass through the Witch’s Cave, for example, is pretty early in the game, and you don’t have any special toys to use. You’ll spot a few tantalizing collectibles as you traverse the cave, but there’s just no way to get to them. The next time the main story brings you there — during “A New Destination” which comes after you’ve visited Alfheim and, a little after that, the Mountain — Atreus will be able to help you pick them up.
As you progress through God of War’s story, you’ll get more tools, be able to solve more types of puzzles and get to new areas. That’s what makes it so confusing.
So what does that mean for our guides?
Because of the two different phases and your evolving repertoire of tools, many places will require multiple visits before you can find every item and collectible. As a result, our guides will be divided into multiple sections. The first section will talk about what you can do somewhere with just the gear you have at the start of the game. The second section will deal with what you can do during the Low Water phase. The final section will be under a big late-game spoiler warning image (complete with a scowling Kratos) and will talk about what to do when you’re approaching (or at or after) the end of the game.
Individual location guides
Now that you understand both the Lake of Nine and how our guides work, you’ll need information on the individual locations. Below are links to our guides organized by when you can first get to them (which means that just because something’s listed in the High Water section doesn’t mean there’s nothing to do there in the Low Water phase).
High Water phase
- Vanaheim Tower
- Lookout Tower
- The Witch’s Cave
- Muspelheim Tower
- Niflheim Tower
- Iron Cove
- Isle of Death
- Fafnir’s Storeroom
- Forgotten Caverns
- Helheim Tower
- Alfheim Tower
- Stone Falls and Veithurgard
- Volunder Mines
- Cliffs of the Raven