Image: Santa Monica Studio / Sony / Kotaku
Hey, not to make you feel old or anything, but the PS4 is nearly a decade old. But while the old PlayStation 4 might be nearing the end of its life, Sony isn’t done with it yet. So with God of War Ragnarök launching on both on PS4 and PS5 on November 9, I wanted to poke at the epic game on Sony’s last-gen machine. And here’s the good news: It runs fine. Though be prepared to get some earplugs as my launch PS4 screamed the whole time I played it.
God of War Ragnarök is Sony’s latest blockbuster exclusive and is a follow-up to 2018’s God of War. I recently reviewed the game and enjoyed it! The way it handles Atreus and Kratos’ father-son relationship is wonderful and the combat is slick, fun, and very satisfying. And while it plays great on PS5, there are far more people out there still gaming on base PS4 consoles. So I dug out my old PS4 that I bought back on launch day, cleared it of dust, and hooked it up to my TV. Then I threw Ragnarok at it.
Sadly, God of War Ragnarök doesn’t support cross-saves, so I had to start over again. But this did let me directly compare how each console handles God of War’s opening hours. Right away, I was surprised by how on PS4 the game still looks fairly sharp and not muddy. It’s only running at 1080p, but it’s clear the devs took care to make sure everything is still sharp and readable at this lower resolution. The other big difference between this version and the PS5 port I played for review is that Ragnarök is locked at 30fps on PS4. It mostly sticks to this framerate, though during larger fights with lots of effects and characters I noticed drops. Still, it never became unplayable and some good motion blur helps make things look fairly smooth.
You can check out this comparison from IGN to see the PS4 version of the game in action.
IGN / Santa Monica Studio / Sony
Really the only major negative, beyond some of the loading times being longer when you start the game, is that your PS4 is going to sound like a jet engine playing Ragnarök. I’ve never heard my PS4 get this loud before. It’s almost scary. I had to turn up the TV a lot just to cover up all the noise it was making. Even hanging out at the main menu caused my PS4 to scream. There’s not much you can do to stop this, aside from maybe making sure you clean your PS4 every once in a while, so just be prepared for it.
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After playing the new game on PS5 for over 35 hours, I was worried about how it would feel to go back a generation and play Ragnarök on PS4. And at first, it was rough getting used to the slower framerate and re-adjusting my combat muscle memory. But after about 20 minutes or so, my eyes and hands adjusted to the 30fps gameplay, and soon I was killing enemies left and right and having a good time. I ended up playing for nearly three hours because I just sort of got distracted by how great Ragnarök is. And sure, the moment I loaded up the PS5 port again I was immediately reminded of all the visual improvements I was missing out on, but the old version is completely playable. In fact, it’s a blast.
PS5 is likely the better platform for the game, if you want all the bells and whistles. But if you can’t afford or find a PS5, don’t worry. While it might not be the nicest-looking version of the game or the best way to play, God of War Ragnarök on PS4 works fine and gets the job done. Just turn your TV up so you don’t hear your PS4 dying.