There’s a moment in God of War when you realise you can go anywhere. Clear of the opening set up, the game steps back, presents you with a map of the world and says, ‘you know what? You’re a demigod, you’ve got a boat: sort yourself out.’ It’s perhaps the biggest change to the series, aside from the [deep breath] combat, Kratos, timezone, location, gods, monsters… beard. The ability to go anywhere and do anything in a semi-open world suddenly makes this as much about your journey through Kratos’ story as it is any of his goals. Don’t worry, though, there’s still a tightly woven tale here. It’s beautifully rhythmic and perfectly paced as it ebbs and flows through violently crashing narrative crescendos and quieter, expositional lulls. Now, however, you can control when to mainline the plot, or just wander off in a canoe and explore. For a series more traditionally built on a carefully controlled theme park ride of excitement and set pieces, this newfound freedom is just as much a rush as any building-sized monster with oh-so-gougeable eyes. Perhaps God of War’s greatest achievement is making Kratos a likeable character These changes mean this God of War works whether it’s your first time with Kratos or you know the man well. There are call outs that will mean more to some than others, but nothing to alienate a newcomer. The new (old) world Kratos now roams the Norse realm of Midgard. He’s older, beardier and a very changed man, mourning a wife not long dead and with a son, Atreus, to raise. I’ll steer clear of any spoilers but, safe to say, some things happen, and you set off into the world to do something about it. Mainly by being grumpy about stuff and hitting it with an axe.