The new God of War Ragnarök, out now on PS4 and PS5, deals with, as you might expect, clashes between gods and epic, end-of-the-world quests involving ancient prophecies and ruined temples. But before all that high-adventure tomfoolery, Ragnarök starts in a cold, dead world ravaged by an unending winter. And it’s here that two particularly sad moments involving dying animals might be too much for some to stomach, and which others might at least want to mentally prepare for. Here’s what to expect so you won’t be caught off guard.
Yes, to be clear: I’m going to spoil a few minor moments that happen early on in the game. Normally I don’t like writing about spoilers this soon after a game’s release, but I think it’s worth sharing this stuff now for folks out there—and I know some—who just can’t stand animal deaths in their media. Also, the moments I’m about to spoil are pretty minor and happen in the first hour of the game. No endgame spoilers lurk below. Just sadness.
The first gut punch in God of War Ragnarök involves a dog. (Like I said in the headline, rough stuff.) After you complete the game’s exciting and action-packed first segment, Kratos and Atreus return to their quaint wooden shack of a home and find that Fenrir, one of their wolves, is sick and dying. After trying to feed the pup Atreus realizes that Fenrir doesn’t have long and he comforts the large wolf as you watch him die in Atreus’ arms. No further spoilers, but this scene ends up being rather important in a way that likely won’t make up for the dog’s sad, slow death, but at least gives it more meaning.
Not long after that sad bit involving a sick dog, the other moment hits. After a series of events that I won’t spoil here, you discover that due to Atreus’ actions a mother bear has died. Now her two cubs stand near her, trying desperately to wake her up. One of the cubs even growls at Atreus and Kratos. This scene hits pretty hard, especially when it’s made clear the cubs will die. Fimbulwinter is bad. There’s little food and nasty ice zombies everywhere. Those cubs will likely curl up somewhere in the next few days and die.
There’s no cheery upside to this scene, either. Instead, Kratos uses it as a way to teach Atreus that all actions have consequences and you can’t go back and fix mistakes, even if you feel terrible about what you did. Maybe next time just hug the boy, dude.
I know some will roll their eyes at the idea of someone skipping a game or movie or show because it features a dog dying or a cat being killed. Or someone wanting to mentally prepare for specific, traumatic scenes. But people have every right to avoid stuff that might make them depressed or trigger some strong and painful memories. We live in a hard enough world, people deserve a break. Again, you don’t have to get content warnings and similar things to still understand that some people like them and that it doesn’t affect you to let these people avoid some specific media. That all said, I hope you enjoy Ragnarök. As I’ve said, it’s a great game…once you get past the sad start.