Tips & Tricks for God of War's Hardest Difficulty
Notoriously challenging, God of War's "Give me God of War" difficulty is a herculean task to complete and no small feat to flaunt to all of your friends; the actual problem is finishing said achievement before you can flaunt it. Once you select the difficulty, the game gives you a clear warning: You will not be able to change it henceforth. So picking up the challenge means that once you start, there is no turning back halfway into the game if you get stuck. Or, in my case, near the ending.
Truth is, I completed God of War on the hardest difficulty on my first playthrough strictly because I was determined, headstrong, and honestly, I had spent far too long playing it to give up near the end. I was going to see it through even if it meant spending several dozen hours fighting the same bosses over and over... and over. And fight I did, learning tons of things in my path before I finally reached that beautiful ending screen. So, what did I learn?
#1 - You're going to need patience
Before even launching the game, you'll want to ensure that you have the patience to do this to make sure that your monitor and control pad/mouse & keyboard survive your journey. This challenge will involve getting one-shot, and they’ll come at you multiple times throughout the early game. And — unlike Kratos — rage will not be useful in your run. The angrier you get, the more mistakes you'll make, thus the angrier you'll get... This, of course, leads me to tip #2:
#2 - It's hardest at the start
As I said earlier, early on in your run enemies will be able to one- or two-shot you whilst you face three or four Draugr at a time. This eventually smooths out as you get more Idunn Apples and increase your maximum health, and it pretty much stops at Alfheim. Thus, the real challenge of "Give me God of War" is reaching Alfheim. Although the game doesn't become a cakewalk afterwards, the early stages are certainly the harshest and the rest will feel significantly more forgiving thenceforth.
#3 - Use ranged fighting as necessary
I know that part of the fun of God of War is pretending you are an irate lumberjack that has lost his marbles, but unfortunately, that won't always work in the early game. Although I don't recommend cheesing the game and fighting with kiting tactics, there isn't necessarily a rule against it either. Take down enemies with low health at a safe distance instead of putting yourself in the uncomfortable position of charging at them head-on.
#4 - Learn to parry and dodge reliably
Originally, I was going to suggest simply learning how to parry and forsake dodging; however, the truth is that dodging has its uses, especially against unblockable attacks. You need to learn when it will be preferable to block foes and when to dodge; sometimes, you will have to do a different action per attack that each enemy has. The sooner you learn quick reflexes, animations, and in which circumstance to do them, the sooner you'll stop having needless deaths.
#5 - Forsake vitality
I know that it's tempting to build vitality and defence to outlive your enemies and make it less frustrating to take a blow, but the truth is that the faster a fight is over in "Give me God of War", the fewer errors you will have to prevent. Regardless of how much vitality and defence you built, the fight will be over in just a few hits and mistakes. The lower your life, the more your adrenaline and fear builds, which leads to inevitable mistakes; an aggressive stance will assist at preventing fights from dragging on forever and making each encounter needlessly long which will force you to play more flawlessly for extended periods.
Not only that, but each point of vitality is only an extra 0.5 health, which is negligible early game and especially when common mobs kill you with two hits anyway.
#6 - Focus on one target
As you might have seen in my previous tips & tricks articles that are centred around the general gameplay of God of War, I recommended attacking several enemies and lowering their health evenly before killing due to getting overwhelmed. In "Give me God of War" difficulty, however, this tip is inverse.
You see, whenever you lower an enemy's life, they will attempt to turn into their "Elite" version. If they succeed, their attack power will increase exponentially, they will heal, become more aggressive, and get new attacks; it's safe to say that targeting one by one will be better rather than having several enemies evolving into their Elite version.
#7 - Keep your level high
The level system in God of War correlates to your equipment rather than your XP. It’s a nifty concept that allows you to use hacksilver and the XP system separately to create different builds within the game.
One important thing to keep in mind is that whenever enemies are at a higher or lower level than you, some effects occur that have a visual representation apart from knowledge of your level vs theirs. For instance, green health bars indicate that you are at a higher level than your foe, which will allow you to deal more damage, stun damage, and stagger them with ease.
To learn more about the implications of enemy levels and what each tier does, check out my article talking about that!
#8 - Do this as your second playthrough
I do not know how obvious this is; I did my first run on the hardest difficulty without understanding any concepts, so it is clearly not obvious to me!
You are going to want to know which is your favourite armour set, what is the best way to get items to upgrade it, and how early you can get it because you are going to want to increase your level as high as possible, and the best way to attain this is by finding the right set of armour to press onward.
#9 - You can't complete every side quest as you get it
Some side quests will have significantly stronger enemies that are challenging even on the "Give me a challenge" difficulty. Most notably, enemies that can recover some HP while low can be a problem to deal with swiftly; dealing with them in their Elite forms will make them feel borderline impossible. Or, in some cases, physically so.
Making sure you are at the highest level possible for every side quest will facilitate the journey but will by no means make it an easy challenge. Don't be afraid to abandon a side quest and return when you have the means to finish it.
#10 - Don’t forget to change your axe pommel and enhancements
Axe pommels have some very useful passives that activate whenever meeting the requirements. These can be extremely useful, and you should tailor them to what best suits your playstyle. Axe pommels that heal you when the Perk activates can be tremendously useful for elongated fights whilst also not having to build vitality.
I decided to bunch up axe pommel and enhancements given they are both things you predominantly purchase from Brok and Sindri. You will want to purchase enhancements that suit your playstyle; however, you'll want to make sure that your "Luck" stat is high since it dictates how much hacksilver you get, which in turn increases how much you can upgrade your equipment.
Those are all of the tips & tricks I have to give you for the "Give me God of War" difficulty! How many of these proved helpful to you? If you already surpassed the challenge — or are in the middle of it — what other tips do you have to give? Share with the class! Don't be shy. And, to those of you that are going to jump into it, I wish you good luck!