The general consensus was that God of War Ragnarok would compete with Elden Ring for the title of Game of the Year in 2022, barring God of War Ragnarok making a serious mess of things upon release in a year with relatively few games.
God of War Ragnarok didn't mess up. With a 94 metascore, it has received rave reviews since its release. And Elden Ring, with a metascore of 96, is the only artist to have topped the charts this year. There are certainly other dark horse GOTY contenders, and each person will have their own personal favorites, so it's not hard to imagine some people choosing underdogs like Vampire Survivors or Monkey Island or something similar, but these are the two main contenders.
So, which is superior?
That's tough. It truly is. Since the embargo was lifted, I have been getting this question a lot because I am one of the few people who has finished God of War in its entirety. Both games are outstanding, but they differ greatly from one another while being triple-A blockbusters.
But if you're going to make me pick, like the GOTY voting does, I have to pick Elden Ring in the end. God of War: Ragnarok earned a 9.5 out of 10. If I've ever seen one, Elden Ring is a 10 out of 10.
Much of this depends on how much importance you assign to particular game features. Given that Elden Ring's story is primarily focused on deciphering the mysterious lore of the country rather than creating any type of emotionally captivating narrative through individual NPCs, God of War Ragnarok's writing, story, and characters are miles above Elden Ring. Although I find the setting of Elden Ring to be fascinating, nothing in the game was even close to making me cry, in contrast to many Ragnarok instances.
The battle in God of War might be more "fun" because you can swing your axe and blades while using a skill system that has been upgraded. You can also employ various amusing mods and armor sets. But Elden Ring's outrageously wide variety of fighting techniques is unrivaled and playable indefinitely. You can easily complete a dozen playthroughs without your build feeling the same way twice; it's not simply magic versus melee.
The Elden Ring also offers a benefit for the overall planet. One of the best open worlds I've ever played is this vast map, which is packed with famous locations, well-kept mysteries, and countless bosses. Although the lack of an open globe in God of War Ragnarok isn't inherently a negative feature, the game's exploration options are considerably more constrained. Elden Ring's 100 hours of playtime vs God of War's 40 don't matter to me; I'm not giving it the advantage here. What matters is that every minute you spend playing Elden Ring feels worthwhile.
I'm not sure if God of War always operates in the same way. When people ask me what I disliked most about the game, I have to admit that it occasionally suffers from serious pace problems that neither the original game nor Elden Ring's free-form structure had. When compared to other parts of the game, several of the game's stages also experience noticeable slowness. Additionally, the story suffers because the game's design assures that after meeting an intriguing individual, you won't see or hear from them for roughly 20 hours.
However, I want to stress throughout all of this that God of War Ragnarok is genuinely excellent. Whatever tiny flaws it may have or advantages I give Elden Ring for the purposes of comparison, the game is incredible and easily would have won Game of the Year in a different year. However, the Elden Ring will be available in 2022, and I sincerely doubt that anything, not even Ragnarok, can match it.