‘God Of War Valhalla’ – How Was This Free?

God of War Valhalla

Sony

I have rolled credits on God of War Valhalla, a DLC addition to God of War Ragnarok that I sort of shrugged off when I saw it premiere at The Game Awards. It felt like it was probably going to be an extension of the kinds of combat challenges that were already in the base game, albeit with an added roguelike mechanic. And considering I didn’t really like those challenges (get 20 ring-outs!) I figured I’d skip it, even if it was free.

Then, my Twitter timeline erupted. “10/10 DLC! Must play! Incredible story!” Well, that’s interesting. So, I downloaded it, played it for 3-4 hours, and reached the end of Kratos’ journey of self-reflection. And they were right.

This short (albeit very replayable) DLC is probably one of my favorite things I’ve played this year. And given 2023’s long list of megahits, that’s saying something. I’ve heard some people say that pound for pound, it’s even better than Ragnarok itself. I can…sort of see what they mean, as the pacing is excellent, merging story and combat into a much tighter package than the original game, which could be a bit meandering at times.

What’s most amazing about this is the volume of what you’re getting here, and the care that was put into it…for free. Another common refrain from people was that they easily would have paid for this. $10, $20, even $30, given its quality and replayability. I’m certainly in that camp as well, and I genuinely can’t believe this was put out for free, given that one of Sony’s biggest self-stated issues lately is that its single player games can’t be monetized well past launch, given that almost none of their big titles have microtransactions. Then something like this comes along and it’s free?

God of War Valhalla

Sony

Forbes VettedFor You

Not that I’m complaining, of course. I’m just amazed that decision was made in the first place. Bloomberg’s Jason Schreier has an interesting column about how he believes it’s ultimately a good business decision:

“It’s safe to presume that the buzz around this Valhalla expansion will lead to a spike of sales for God of War Ragnarok from new players or people who were interested in the game but decided not to pull the trigger when it came out.

“So by releasing this substantial free add-on for God of War Ragnarök, the developers might be leaving money on the table, but they’re also ensuring that there will still be money to take from that table for many years to come. In the long run, it’s the smart move.”

I can see that making sense. I mean, there’s been an hugely obvious surge of goodwill toward Sony Santa Monica after this, and by proxy Sony, currently floundering with its live service ambitions. It’s a reminder that its first-party studios can casually drop something incredible like this with a week’s notice, oh and by the way, it’s free. The benefits of the PlayStation ecosystem, even without Game Pass-style launches.

This reminds me a bit of Ghosts of Tsushima’s multiplayer mode, which in theory did not need to exist at all, as the base game was incredible without it. But a huge amount of detail and care was put into that, so much so that eventually it became a standalone offering (albeit not a free one).

Valhalla is incredible. Hell, even if you don’t even care about God of War in general, it’s just a very good roguelike with very fun combat and strategy. But for actual God of War fans, especially ones that have played both the Greek and Norse eras, it’s a must-play. And it’s free.

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Pick up my sci-fi novels the Herokiller series and The Earthborn Trilogy.