GoW Ragnarök’s Vanaheim Crater Is A Big Missed Opportunity
Toward the end of the main story in God of War Ragnarok, players are able to discover a huge new section of the game’s open world, but it comes a little too late to have a major impact. Vanaheim’s Crater is teeming with side quests, landmarks, and lore, but by that point, players are likely to forego exploring the crater to its fullest extent in favor of finishing off the game’s story. That’s a shame, because it provides ample world-building that could have made the story feel more impactful if it was discovered earlier.
In God of War Ragnarok, the realm of Vanaheim is the homeland of Freya and Freyr – the Vanir gods who represent the natural world and major story characters throughout the Norse saga. Before the events of 2018’s God of War, the Vanir waged war with the Aesir and their patriarch, the All-Father Odin. To bring peace to the nine realms, Freya married Odin, but in exchange, Odin subjugated Vanaheim and the Vanir. Its crater is discovered while Kratos and Atreus are looking for a fallen Vanir warrior after the story quest “Creatures of Prophecy”.
The Vanaheim Crater Reveals More About Faye In God Of War Ragnarok
The biggest issue with Vanaheim Crater’s late appearance is the additional context it gives to Faye. GoW Ragnarok is different from actual mythology in that Kratos’ late wife, Faye, is an actual figure in Norse tradition (called Laufey), although Kratos himself, of course, doesn’t make an appearance in real mythology. She is arguably the catalyst for both recent GoW games, since it was her plan for Kratos and Atreus to journey together after her death. Ragnarok‘s story reveals how deep Faye’s plans run, but the exact nature of her character isn’t really touched upon.
However, while investigating the Vanaheim Crater, Kratos discovers the lost souls of many Vanaheim residents who were killed when the crater was created. Piecing together their stories, it is revealed that the crater and its iconic frozen lightning bolt was created in an epic fight between Faye (wielding the Leviathan Axe) and Thor. Thor’s story in God of War Ragnarok is one of tragedy and loss, and it’s no different here. The power of their duel wrought untold devastation upon Vanaheim, although neither warrior could be considered the winner once the dust had settled.
These stories are important as they paint Faye in a very different light compared to how the main story portrays her. In flashback scenes with Kratos, Faye is witty and fiery, but also clearly kind, loving, and empathetic. The Vanaheim Crater reveals that she was also an incredible warrior, since there is only one other character who can match Thor in a head-on fight: Kratos himself. Faye’s challenge to Thor also shows how far she was willing to go to break free from the control of GoW Ragnarok’s scheming villain Odin.
God Of War Ragnarök’s Vanaheim Crater Makes Odin Look Even Worse
Although the characters in God of War Ragnarok are usually pining on the destruction that Odin has brought to the Nine Realms, an additional optional area near Vanaheim’s Crater adds even more misdeeds to his ever-growing list of cruelty. When Kratos first arrives at the crater, it is unusually desolate and dry for a realm covered in jungles, rivers, and wildlife. After some exploring, the player is able to discover a hidden jungle, where Mimir and Freya reveal that Odin built a dam to stop the flow of water through the region and subjugate the Vanir even further.
Despite the fact that Kratos hears enough about Odin and his sons in GoW Ragnarok to justify holding a grudge against the All-Father, his crimes against the Vanir are mostly relegated to Freya and Freyr’s dialogue, so to see Odin’s evil nature at work is important to understanding why his authority must be challenged. Odin’s marriage to Freya was supposed to be a compromise and bring peace to the realms; being able to explore his subjugation of her homeland in the flesh makes the anger and motivation of the Vanir that much more relatable during God of War Ragnarök‘s story.
Thankfully, Kratos and his companions are able to open the dam and restore Vanaheim’s ecosystem, in the process opening up the biggest optional area of God of War Ragnarok. As much as this is a dent in Odin’s control, if it had come earlier in the game, it would have provided additional context for Freya’s journey and serve as a steppingstone toward challenging Odin proper. As it stands, most players are likely to miss this area, or wait until after the game is over to restore Vanaheim’s water, at which point its impact is lessened.
The Crater Adds Content Too Late To God Of War Ragnarök
What is most surprising about the Vanaheim Crater is the sheer amount of side content it adds to Ragnarok, as it can take tens of hours to finish completely. That’s more than the length of many standalone games, let alone a hidden area that most players are unlikely to visit. That’s because it is revealed just as the player is about to beat God of War Ragnarok‘s main story, which reaches a definitive turning point at around this moment, and the following 2-3 hours are a rollercoaster of twists and epic set-pieces.
For players who have had enough of Ragnarok‘s side content and want to finally finish the game, the prospect of 10+ hours in Vanaheim’s Crater might be the last thing on their minds. That’s a shame, since the quests related to Faye and Odin’s dam are just a fraction of what the crater has in store; roaming dragons, a mysterious wishing well, mystical stags, special Traveller mini-bosses, and more are lying in wait. In addition, it contains many missing pieces that add up to 100% completion, such as one of God of War Ragnarok‘s berserkers, Haklangr the Bearded.
On top of the additional story context, this side content could have been much better appreciated if the Vanaheim Crater had been opened up much earlier in the game, allowing players the opportunity to explore its beautiful landscape and myriad mysteries before they’re done with the game entirely. One benefit to this is that it allows those who are still enthralled by God of War Ragnarok‘s gameplay and characters to get more longevity out of the game beyond its final mission, but most will be finished with it well before this.
More: God of War Ragnarök: Best Things To Do After Beating The Game