‘God of War: Ragnarök’ Ending Explained: Here’s if Kratos Dies & What to Know About the Emotional Finale

Sophie Hanson
God of War: Ragnarok
Photo: Courtesy of Santa Monica Studios

Warning: Major spoilers for God of War: Ragnarök ahead. God of War: Ragnarök is a triumphant follow-up to 2018’s Game of the Year, God of War. If you’ve finished the most recent game and still have questions, here’s the ending to God of War: Ragnarök explained.

A little refresher, first. In the predecessor God of War, Kratos and his son Atreus fulfill his wife Faye’s wish by scattering her ashes on the highest peak in the Nine Realms—atop the Giant’s Fingers in Jötunheim. In doing so, they defeat many enemies along the way and uncover a family secret, chiefly that Atreus’s mother was a Giant and her son’s Giant name is Loki, the Norse trickster god. Baldur, son of Odin and his ex-wife Freya, is the main antagonist. He hunts Kratos and Atreus as his father believes they’re the bringers of Ragnarök, Norse mythology’s cataclysmic end of days and the destruction of Asgard.

The concepts of fate versus free will play a huge part in the story arc of these characters. For the now-teenage Atreus in Ragnarök, questions about his destiny and whether knowing his future is enough to stop it from happening are what drive him forward in this latest installment. Kratos, meanwhile, is simply motivated by keeping his son safe from harm.

God of War: Ragnarök’s ending explained

At the end of 2018’s God of War, Faye and the Giant’s prophecy is revealed. It’s depicted in a mural that shows her son’s past, present and future. This shrine, dedicated to Atreus, also suggested an ominous ending—that Kratos would soon die. How would this happen? Would Atreus kill him? We’re not sure about the context because parts of the shrine are broken and we learn how in this most recent installment. But we’ll get to that.

Kratos God of War

Courtesy of Santa Monica Studios

Roughly 10 hours into Ragnarök, Atreus falls asleep and awakes in The Lost Sanctuary of Ironwood, a world the Giants called home before Odin tried to destroy them. It’s here that we’re introduced to Angrboda. In the game’s interpretation of Norse mythology, she is one of the last remaining Jötunn, a Giant (FYI it’s important to note that not all Jötnar are monumental in size). Like the Giants before her, she paints the fate of various gods and goddesses. Here, we see the full picture of Kratos’s prophecy—that he will die at Ragnarök and Atreus would unite with Odin in Asgard. It’s a bitter pill for Atreus to swallow and with this knowledge, he spends the rest of the game trying to alter his and his father’s future. Angrboda, meanwhile, tries to convince Atreus that it’s better to come to terms with his destiny and relish the time he has left with his father.

Atreus returns home where he and Kratos are attacked by Freya on her quest for vengeance after the slaying of her son Baldur in the previous game. Defeated, Freya agrees to aid Kratos and Atreus if they help break Odin’s curse that prevents her from leaving Midgard. In return, she agrees to help Kratos and Atreus defeat Odin. In a move that seems like the prophecy being fulfilled, Atreus answers a summon from Odin to visit Asgard. The All-Father, as it turns out, needs Atreus/Loki and his superior language skills to decipher an ancient mask which Odin believes will help him gain all the knowledge and answers in the world, including how to prevent Ragnarök.

Kratos God of War Ragnarok

Courtesy of Santa Monica Studios

While Atreus searches for pieces of the mask with Thor, Kratos and Freya seek out the Norns, who in Norse mythology rule the destinies of gods and men, for their own answers. The Norns explain that fate and prophecy don’t really exist, at least not in the way we think they do. “There is no grand design. No script. Only the choices you make. That your choices are so predictable merely makes us seem prescient,” they say. Basically, because humans refuse to change, their actions are predictable and that makes fate only seem to exist. Kratos learns that, due to his pure desire for vengeance, the Norms have predicted Heimdall will kill Atreus unless Kratos kills Heimdall first. However, in slaying Heimdall, they believe Kratos will trigger the events that will lead to Atreus killing his father. Kratos is undeterred, however, and seeks to forge a weapon capable of killing Heimdall. He does so in an epic boss battle and thus fulfills the Norm’s prophecy. “Not because it is written but because it is necessary,” Kratos says in a recurring piece of dialogue.

He then takes the Gjallarhorn from Heimdall’s body, a horn so powerful it can project sound across the Nine Realms. At the beginning of Ragnarök, the horn was to be sounded by Heimdall to call allies to battle. With Heimdall dead and his horn now in the hands of Kratos, it can be used to summon the Fire Giant Surtr—the only mystical being capable of destroying Asgard. At this point in the game, it feels certain Kratos and his allies are headed into the battle to end all battles. Most players will be hesitant to start “The Realms at War” chapter because of the fear that Kratos, our beloved protagonist, will die.

Does Kratos die in God of War: Ragnarök?

Thankfully, Kratos does not die in God of War: Ragnarök. On the eve of the battle, he enters a dream sequence and is greeted by his late wife Faye, who is preparing her husband mentally for her eventual death. We’re still not 100 percent clear on the cause of her death but it is heavily suggested that she was fatally injured in a fight against Thor. “The culmination of love is grief and yet we love despite the inevitable. We open our hearts to it,” she tells him. “To grieve deeply is to have loved fully. Open your heart to the world as you have opened it to me and you will find every reason to keep living in it.” Faye fades away and Kratos wakes up.

This dialogue from Faye is significant because it is the antithesis of what Kratos has told Atreus all along, which is: “Close your heart to it. On our journey, we will be attacked by all manner of creature. Close your heart to their desperation. Close your heart to their suffering. Do not allow yourself to feel for them,” he says in the first game.

On their arrival in Asgard, the attack on the god’s stronghold has already begun. It’s soon discovered Odin has used Midgardian refugees as human shields to slow the assault on the Realm. “Close your heart to it,” Atreus says to himself, witnessing the carnage of innocents. “Odin put them in our path to die,” Kratos observes. “It’s war,” Atreus responds tearfully. “Wars are won by those who are willing to sacrifice everything.”

Kratos turns to Atreus. “Son, listen closely. You feel their pain because that is who you are and you must never sacrifice that. Never. Not for anyone,” he says and puts his hand on his son’s shoulder. “I was wrong, Atreus. Open your heart, open your heart to their suffering. That is your mother’s wish and mine as well. Today, we will be better.” He then instructs Atreus to save the surviving refugees while Kratos looks for Odin.

Kratos God of War Ragnarok

Courtesy of Santa Monica Studios

When Thor, Odin’s son and the God of Thunder, faces Kratos during one of the final boss battles and loses, a past Kratos would have killed him without question as revenge for Faye’s death. “Don’t you know what I’ve done?” Thor yells. “Yes,” Kratos replies, “but what will you do now?” Kratos spares Thor. “We don’t change, we are destroyers,” Thor says. “No more,” Kratos replies as he sheaths his axe. “For the sake of our children, we must be better.”

These are the moments where Kratos’s fate changes, according to God of War: Ragnarök narrative director Matt Sophos. It all comes back to the Norns’ statement on choices and humanity’s refusal to change, which is what makes their destiny so predictable. In a video shared on YouTube, content creator Jon Ford asked Sophos to explain the ending. “Kratos averted his ‘fate’ because he opened his heart, fought for something instead of vengeance and spared Thor when he could have killed him,” he explained. Odin, after admitting he will never change nor stop hunting for ultimate knowledge, is defeated and as Surtr unleashes fury on Asgard, Angrboda uses Giant’s magic to create a portal back to Midgard through which Kratos escapes with an unconscious Atreus in his arms.

When Atreus awakes, Angrboda shows him and Kratos another mural. It’s the completed mural from the 2018 game with Atreus and Kratos’s full destinies now in full sight. It’s also revealed that Faye is the one who destroyed the one at Atreus/Loki’s shrine in Jötunheim. “She didn’t want us to know our fate,” observes Atreus. “We forged our own path because of her,” adds Kratos as they examine the painting. “She went against her own people, our people, to protect you,” explains Angrboda. “She wanted them to see the journey they’d taken [in the first game] but not be bound by the prediction of their fate in the future, like Atreus serving Odin, etc.,” Sophos explained in the YouTube video.

Kratos God of War Ragnarok

Courtesy of Santa Monica Studios

Atreus then tells his father that he wants to go find the other Giants, but it’s a journey he must do alone. In an emotional moment, Kratos tells his son he “is ready” and Atreus heads out alone. Once Kratos is by himself, he walks behind the mural to discover another side to it. He opens the doors to see his battles with Thor and Odin during Ragnarök, with the final section showing a gilded Kratos being worshiped and the once-stoic Ghost of Sparta is visibly emotional. It’s a real tear-jerker of a moment.

What’s important to notice is that this mural has been painted over an old one. “The larger figure behind Kratos is actually Thor standing over the dead Kratos, which was in the original mural. But since Kratos changed his fate, all of that was painted over with a new prediction where people revere him,” explained Sophos. “As he says to Freya/Mimir soon after, ‘There is much to do; much to rebuild.’ So this new future is a statue dedicated to Kratos the rebuilder, rather than his past as Kratos the destroyer.” It’s a beautiful and poetic ending to what will go down in history as one of the greatest video games of all time.

God of War: Ragnarök is available on PS4 and PS5.

God of War: Ragnarök

God of War: Ragnarok

God of War: Ragnarok

The adventures of Kratos and Atreus continue in God of War: Ragnarök, the follow-up to 2018’s Game of the Year winner, God of War. Explore more of the Nine Realms of Norse mythology, face foes new and old, navigating a world on the precipice of total annihilation. Ragnarok is coming, are you ready?

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