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Kratos stands on a vista and looks out at the Bay of Bounty in God of War Ragnarok Image: SIE Santa Monica Studio/Sony Interactive Entertainment via Polygon

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Don’t accidentally skip God of War Ragnarök’s first good side quest

Svartalfheim's Bay of Bounty houses an amazing secret, and it all starts at The Watchtower

God of War Ragnarök is an even bigger game than God of War (2018), which itself was bigger than all of the previous mainline God of War games combined. It’s packed with side activities and quests to help flesh out its world. But unlike God of War (2018), Ragnarök is about more than just Kratos’ journey to personhood. It’s about an ensemble cast bouncing off of one another as they explore a vast world and confront their individual mistakes.

One of the game’s earliest side quests illustrates this tonal shift better than any other, casting Mimir — the self-proclaimed “smartest man alive” — as the fuckup and Kratos as his wise counsel. But with so many different paths to take through Svartalfheim, the game’s first open area, it’s easy to miss the quest. Here’s how to kickstart it, and why it’s well worth your time.

What is Mimir hinting toward at The Watchtower?

Kratos, Atreus, and Mimir attempt to get through The Watchtower door in God of War Ragnarok Image: SIE Santa Monica Studio/Sony Interactive Entertainment via Polygon

The “Weight of Chains” quest (formally called a “Favor,” in Ragnarök’s parlance) begins in the Bay of Bounty area of Svartalfheim, the first big realm you’ll explore in God of War Ragnarök. You’ll start the quest by stepping foot on a seemingly innocuous island in the middle of the bay. But the only real hint that there’s much going on in the bay at all is a line of dialogue Mimir says on a completely different island.

By the Watchtower location — the island that divides the two parts of the Bay of Bounty in half — Mimir panics when he sees that a giant door is still locked. He asks you to find the key and says it’s in the middle of the bay by a geyser.

Mimir assumes an uncharacteristically anxious tone here, so if you manage to stumble upon this dialogue, it might make a real impression on you — it did for me, at least — and send you hunting for the island immediately. However, hearing this dialogue doesn’t actually start the quest or put a marker on your map. You have to land on the beach first.

Once you’re on the island and you complete a little obstacle course, you’ll earn a key that you can take back to The Watchtower. When you open the door, you’ll find a large drum sitting on the edge of the water, which Mimir will ask you to strike.

[Ed. note: This is where the quest gets interesting, so if you don’t want anything spoiled, go do it for yourself and come back.]

Hitting the drum with Atreus’ arrow causes a giant, chained, whale-like sea beast called the Lyngbakr to rise out of the ocean right under the island where you got the key. Turns out, the island was actually part of the Lyngbakr itself. And the geyser? Its blowhole.

The rest of the quest involves Kratos, Atreus, and Mimir attempting to free the beast. But it’s the dialogue, not the action, that makes this Favor so memorable.

Why this quest sets the tone for Ragnarök

Kratos, Atreus, and Mimir stare into the eye of the giant Lyngbakr beast Image: SIE Santa Monica Studio/Sony Interactive Entertainment via Polygon

Mimir quickly admits that this creature’s imprisonment is his doing — a gift for Odin so that the All-Father could always have fat for his lanterns. The head is devastated that the creature still lives in such agony, but is hopeful that the trio can save it. Kratos is more skeptical that this wrong can ever be made right.

Kratos starts by chastising Mimir for locking the Lyngbakr up, saying death is better than imprisonment. The head assures the aged god of war that he hates himself far more than anyone else could for the misdeed.

When the trio frees the beast, the Lyngbakr refuses to move, as it’s grown accustomed to its imprisonment. Mimir leaves disheartened and devastated by his own failures. But Kratos does something unexpected: He gives Mimir thoughtful advice.

Kratos knows what it’s like to be ashamed of your past, and to feel guilt for the suffering you’ve caused another. And while he doesn’t ever tell Mimir that what he did to the Lyngbakr was OK — quite the opposite, in fact — he does let Mimir know that he’s become a better man than he was while under Odin’s service.

In a vacuum, this might seem uncharacteristically friendly for Kratos, but he spent an entire game learning the lessons he’s trying to impart on Mimir, his “brother.” God of War (2018) wasn’t about redemption or forgiveness for Kratos. It was about learning to use the time he has left to be better, and to teach his son as much as he could amid the chaos. The mistakes of Kratos’ past still linger, and he won’t be able to erase the pain he inflicted on an entire country, or the lives he took. But even if he can’t atone, he can strive to help, rather than to harm — even if helping still involves killing an evil god or two.

Atreus, Mimir, and Freya all helped Kratos become a better person in the last game, and Kratos spends much of Ragnarök repaying the favor to a variety of friends and chosen family. The Weight of Chains is one of the game’s best and earliest indications that the characters have grown since God of War (2018), and that they still have much more room to grow.

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