God Of War Ragnarok Freya AttackSource: PlayStation

The long-running God of War franchise has sprawled across several PlayStation games starring Kratos, the titular Greek God of War himself. If you're a newcomer to the franchise or you simply haven't played one of these games in a while, events might seem a little confusing, especially now that we're talking about Norse gods. That's why I've put together a timeline of the key events and characters, all leading up to the latest entry in the series, God of War Ragnarok, a game that's slated to arrive for PS4 and PS5 at some point in 2022. Given how big prior games have been, God of War Ragnarok could end up being one of the best PS5 games available.

Note that for the purposes of this list, we'll be going over the events of mainline games released on PlayStation consoles and handheld devices. It's also been set in release order, not chronological, but don't worry: I'm breaking down the ins and outs of what happens when, so you won't be confused at anything that's a prequel.

If you're interested in playing any of the games that aren't natively available on PS4 and PS5, they're all on Sony's PlayStation Now streaming service. It's also worth noting that most of the games so far deal with Greek mythology, with God of War 2018 introducing Norse mythology.

Just note there will be spoilers ahead for the entire franchise.

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PlayStation Now allows you to stream a long list of PS2, PS3 and PS4 games to your PS5, PS4 or PC. If you don't have a console to play older God of War games, it's a great alternative.

God of War

God Of War 2005 AresSource: Boss Fight Database via YouTube

  • Release date: March 22, 2005
  • Platform: PS2
  • Developer: Sony Santa Monica

The original God of War launched on March 22, 2005 for the PS2. The game focuses on Kratos, a Spartan warrior who completes 10 years of service to the Olympian gods of Greek mythology if they rid him of his nightmares. For his final quest, the goddess Athena tasks Kratos with killing Ares, the Greek God of War.

Over the course of the game, flashbacks reveal why Kratos suffers nightmares. In the past, Kratos led armies in conquest but nearly lost a battle. He swore allegiance to Ares if the god would give him the power to win, so Ares bestowed on Kratos the fiery Blades of Chaos, chains that burned into his arms. Ares tricked Kratos, however, causing the Spartan to kill his wife and daughter without knowing it. When Kratos realized what happened and renounced service to Ares, an oracle cursed him with nightmares, binding his family's burnt ashes to his skin, giving Kratos the moniker "Ghost of Sparta."

Kratos overcomes hordes of undead soldiers and monsters from Greek myth in his quests, eventually finding Pandora's Box in a temple on the back of the Titan Cronos. Ares kills Kratos but our hero persists, fighting his way out of the Underworld. When Kratos catches up to Ares, he uses Pandora's Box to gain the power of a god and eventually overcomes the God of War.

Athena returns to thank Kratos for his service but while he is forgiven, he is told that his nightmares cannot be taken away. When he tries to commit suicide, Athena catches him, bringing him to Olympus as the new Greek God of War.

God of War II

God Of War 2 ZeusSource: Shirrako via YouTube

  • Release date: March 13, 2007
  • Platform: PS2
  • Developer: Sony Santa Monica

God of War II opens with Kratos bored and choosing to join a Spartan army assaulting Athens against Athena's warning. When he arrives, Zeus disguises himself as a giant eagle and drains much of Kratos' god powers to bring the Colossus of Rhodes to life. He then offers the Blade of Olympus to Kratos in order to defeat the Colossus, though it takes the last of Kratos' godly power to charge the sword and destroy it.

An injured Kratos is easily killed by Zeus after the former refuses to rejoin the Olympians. While he is again taken to the Underworld, the Titan Gaia intervenes, seeking revenge on Zeus. She had raised the young king of Olympus and protected him from his father, Cronos, but when Zeus was grown, the Titans were overthrown by the Olympians in the Great War.

Kratos eventually learns that the Sisters of Fate can send him back in time to undo his defeat by Zeus. In his search for the sisters, he also learns that Zeus destroyed Sparta while Kratos has been away. He finally finds the sisters, who refuse to help him. Killing them, he gains the power to travel through time with the Loom of Fate. When he confronts Zeus, he takes the Blade of Olympus but Athena sacrifices herself to prevent Zeus' death. As she dies, she reveals that Kratos is really the son of Zeus.

Kratos then travels back to the end of the Great War, saving the Titans from their defeat and bringing them to the present day in order to destroy Olympus.

God of War: Chains of Olympus

God Of War Chains Of Olympus PersephoneSource: Gamer's Little Playground via YouTube

  • Release date: March 4, 2008
  • Platform: PSP
  • Developer: Ready at Dawn

God of War: Chains of Olympus is set before the events of the first game, during the period Kratos was serving the Olympians. After disposing of an invading Persian army, Kratos finds out the sun has been darkened by Helios being kidnapped and as a result, many of the gods begin to sleep. As Kratos seeks to uncover what is going on, he's eventually confronted by Hades' queen, Persephone. She allows Kratos to reunite with his daughter Calliope in Elysium if he gives up his godly power and weapons.

As Kratos is joyously reunited with Calliope, he learns that Persephone is working with the Titan Atlas to use Helios' power to destroy the Pillar of the World, which will bring down Olympus and the Underworld. Mournfully, he takes back his power and weapons in order to save his daughter's soul, confronting and killing Persephone while Atlas is forced to carry the sky on his shoulders.

God of War III

God Of War 3 AthenaSource: Gamers Little Playground via YouTube

  • Release date: March 12, 2010
  • Platform: PS3
  • Developer: Sony Santa Monica

God of War III opens with the assault on Olympus that began at the end of God of War II. The Gods and Titans grapple and while many Titans die, Kratos is able to kill Poseidon, raising the tide of the sea and causing violent waves. Gaia then betrays Kratos, saying he is no longer needed and letting him fall to the Underworld.

Kratos is saved by Athena, who has somehow survived and ascended to a spirit form due to her sacrifice. She guides Kratos in search of the Flame of Olympus in order to defeat Zeus. Along the way, Kratos kills any gods or Titans he finds, such as Helios, Hermes, Hercules, Perses, Cronos, and Hera, which unleashes various plagues and causes the sun to darken. Kratos also learns that the Flame of Olympus now protects Pandora's Box and that only Pandora can cause the flames to go out.

Kratos notably spares Aphrodite, who attempts to seduce him. He kills her husband Hephaestus, who is trying to keep his daughter Pandora safe. Finding Pandora inside the Labyrinth, Kratos brings her to the Flame of Olympus. While Kratos is fighting off Zeus, Pandora sacrifices herself, putting out the Flame. Pandora's Box is revealed to be empty, however, and Gaia attacks both Zeus and Kratos. Using the Blade of Olympus, Kratos is able to kill Gaia but an injured Zeus uses his spirit to attack Kratos' mind.

After hearing the voices of Calliope, Pandora, and others, Kratos eventually forgives himself for the atrocities he has committed, regaining his godly power and beating Zeus to death. Athena confronts Kratos, revealing that when he first opened Pandora's Box, all the evils contained inside spread out through the gods, corrupting them even further. Athena also reveals that Kratos absorbed the power of Hope, which she hid inside the box. Refusing to return the power, Kratos stabs himself with the Blade of Olympus, releasing Hope to all mankind.

Kratos then begins to bleed out and collapses but is revealed in a post-credits scene to have survived, crawling to the sea.

God Of War 3 Remastered Boxart

God of War III Remastered

Experience the fall of the Greek Gods as Kratos finally enacts his vengeance. This version of the game runs at 1080p 60 FPS on PS4 and is also playable on PS5 through backward compatibility.

God of War: Ghost of Sparta

God Of War Ghost Of Sparta ThanatosSource: NRMgamingHD via YouTube

  • Release date: Nov. 2, 2010
  • Platform: PSP
  • Developer: Ready at Dawn

Set after God of War but before God of War 2, Ghost of Sparta opens with Kratos wandering as a god, seeking his mother Callisto. When he eventually finds her, she is tranformed into a monster and he is forced to fight her. Before Callisto dies, she tells Kratos to seek out Deimos, while Kratos causes Atlantis to sink by freeing the Titan Thera.

Flashbacks through the game reveal that Deimos is Kratos' brother. Deimos has a red birthmark over his eye that Kratos patterned his tattoo on in his honor. Deimos was abducted by Ares (who gave Kratos the scar across his eye in the process) and taken to Thanatos, God of Death, after a prophecy indicated that the Olympians would be overthrown by a marked mortal warrior.

Kratos eventually learns that Deimos is imprisoned in Death's Domain, which is in the now sunken-Atlantis. While the two initially clash upon meeting again, Thanatos attacks and the brothers work together to defeat him. Thanatos realizes that the prophecy actually referred to Kratos. Deimos is killed but Thanatos is weakened to the point that Kratos is able to kill him.

Kratos buries his dead brother, growing angry with the gods, leading into the events of God of War 2.

God of War: Ascension

God Of War Ascension FuriesSource: Gamer's Little Playground via YouTube

  • Release date: March 12, 2013
  • Platform: PS3
  • Developer: Sony Santa Monica

God of War: Ascension is set six months after Kratos was tricked into killing his family, years before the events of God of War. The game opens with Kratos seeking to understand visions he's having while still feeling sorrow over his actions, renouncing his oath to Ares. A man named Orkos tells him to seek out the Furies and that Ares sought the right warrior to help him overthrow Zeus.

Orkos is the son of Ares and Alecto, one of the three Furies alongside her sisters Tisiphone and Megaera. Orkos, while a strong warrior, became the Furies' oath-keeper. The Furies punish traitors, hollowing out a hundred-armed giant named Aegaeon, one of the Hecatonchires, turning him into a prison for future traitors.

Kratos also learns from an oracle that the only way to destroy his bond with Ares is to kill the Furies. After being captured by the Furies and imprisoned inside Aegaeon, Kratos is freed when Megaera tortures him, accidentally removing his chains. Kratos kills Megaera and while Alecto and Tisiphone slow him with visions of his wife Lysandra, Kratos manages to kill both remaining Furies.

Returning to Orkos, Kratos is informed that for the bond with Ares to be fully severed, Orkos also must die. Kratos regretfully ends Orkos' life. Visions of his family's death immediately begin to torture Kratos, setting the stage for the original God of War.

God of War 2018

God Of War 2018 BaldurSource: EternityInGaming via YouTube

  • Release date: April 20, 2018
  • Platform: PS4
  • Developer: Sony Santa Monica

God of War, or God of War 2018 as it's often called by fans, opens at least some untold hundreds of years after the events of God of War III. Kratos has made his way far away from Greece and is living in Midgard, one of the Nine Realms of Norse Myth. He struggles to connect with his young son Atreus, while the two work together to light the funeral pyre of Faye, Kratos' late wife and mother of Atreus.

Kratos no longer wields the Blades of Chaos, hiding the scars from their fiery chains under wrapped rags and instead using the frosty Leviathan axe, which always returns to his hand when thrown. Kratos is attacked at his home by a mysterious Stranger, who has been sent by Odin for answers. The two destroy much of the landscape and while an exhausted Kratos is able to temporarily stop the Stranger by snapping his neck, it becomes clear the Stranger can't be killed.

Kratos and Atreus embark on a journey to scatter Faye's ashes on the peak of the highest mountain, in line with her wishes. The two encounter many friendly beings like the Dwarf brothers Brok and Sindri who upgrade their gear and give Atreus mistletoe arrows, the World Serpent Jormungandr, and the Witch of the Woods. After traveling to Alfheim to acquire light that can pierce a black mist on the highest mountain, Kratos and Atreus meet Mimir, a god imprisoned in a tree and being interrogated by Magni and Modi, sons of Thor, as well as the Stranger, who is actually Baldur, son of Odin.

Mimir explains that Faye was referring to the highest peak in the Nine Realms, which is in Jotunheim, land of the giants. Travel to Jotunheim is blocked to prevent the deaths of more giants at the hands of the Norse gods, bar some secret passages. He then asks Kratos to chop off his head and bring him to the Witch, who revives the head and is revealed to be Freya, estranged wife of Odin and Norse Goddess of Fertility.

God Of War Screen Kratos And GiantSource: Sony

Kratos and Atreus (now carrying the chatty head of Mimir) are attacked by Magni and Modi. While they succeed in killing Magni, Atreus falls ill, which Freya says is due to him not knowing his divine nature. Kratos ventures into Helheim to retrieve a specific heart to heal his son, retrieving the Blades of Chaos along the way in order to burn through and gain access to the frozen realm. Along the way, Kratos is taunted by Athena, though it's ambigious as to whether it's a memory or not.

When Atreus recovers, Kratos tells him that the two of them are both gods. This news quickly goes to Atreus' head, who becomes arrogant, refusing to listen to Kratos and murdering a defenseless Modi. Kratos and Atreus are again attacked by Baldur, destroying the passage to Jotunheim and falling into Helheim. Atreus apologizes for his actions, while he and his father learn that Baldur is Freya's son and that Baldur despises his mother, as the Vanir spell she used to make him invulnerable also robbed him of feeling or tasting anything

Recovering a second item from Jormungandr that'll give them passage into Jotunheim, Kratos and Atreus learn that the Norse God of War, Tyr, was loved by peoples and gods all over the world and that Odin appears to have killed him. Kratos and Atreus protect Freya from a vengeful Baldur and in the process, Baldur is injured by a mistletoe arrowhead, breaking his spell of invincibility. As he revels in the ability to feel again, Baldur refuses to listen to reason and in order to save Freya's life, a sorrowful Kratos states that the cycle must end and kills Baldur. Freya swears vengeance for the death of her son as Kratos and Atreus depart for Jotunheim.

In Jotunheim, the two find the giants are all dead. They scatter Faye's ashes, learning that she was actually also a giant, with murals indicating that she foresaw all the major events of the game. Atreus also learns that his mother had a different name for him, a Norse name: Loki.

As Kratos and Atreus return home, they learn that Fimbulwinter, the fierce winter that precedes Ragnarok, has begun a hundred years earlier than predicted. At home, Atreus has a dream or vision that Thor will arrive at their house, wielding Mjolnir...

Ragnarok is coming.

God of War boxart

God of War 2018

A weary Kratos finds himself in a harsh new land, trying to protect his young son. The gameplay changes to an over-the-shoulder perspective, while the story gets newfound focus.

God of War Ragnarok

God Of War Ragnarok Freya AngrySource: PlayStation

  • Release date: 2022
  • Platform: PS4, PS5
  • Developer: Sony Santa Monica

God of War Ragnarok has not yet launched. So far, we know that it takes place a few years after the prior game. Kratos and a now teenage Atreus are being chased by Freya and Thor, who both want vengeance. Kratos and Atreus also find the imprisoned Norse God of War, Tyr, and are hoping to work with him to prevent Ragnarok.

What the future may hold

God Of War Ragnarok Key ArtSource: PlayStation

Right now, it's not clear what will happen to the franchise after the launch of God of War Ragnarok. The only firm thing we know is that per the creative director, God of War Ragnarok will "close out" the Norse saga, finishing the story that began in God of War 2018. Sony Santa Monica may decide not to make more games, or the team may develope future titles in non-Norse lands.

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