Below you’ll find a list of what I consider the “must-play” side quests for “God of War Ragnarok.” In most cases, the reason is because of the additional stories that continue to color characters like Freya, Mimir and others. But in a few cases, the loot rewards are a good reason as well. The case for what makes each a must-play is discussed for each entry — with spoilers — so if you want to preserve the plot points of each side quest, stop after taking note of each title.
The Weight of Chains / In Service of Asgard (Svartalfheim)
One of the first favors players will discover begins in the waters of Svartalfheim’s Bay of Bounty. The moniker isn’t just a clever name. As it suggests, it’s a great place to farm XP and loot early in the main campaign. To encourage your exploration there are a series of side quests that greatly enrich the main trio of characters — Kratos, Atreus and Mimir.
The Weight of Chains begins once Kratos and Co. spot a massive geyser erupting from the water. Upon approach, Mimir will note he believes there is a key somewhere on the nearby island … which isn’t really an island at all. Instead, it’s a mammoth creature that has been chained to the bay in order for the Aesir to harvest resources from its still-living body. Mimir, we learn, played a role in this, and asks for help freeing the creature. The ensuing quest provides a discussion on the toll imprisonment takes on a person, with both Kratos and Mimir (previously confined by Odin to a tree in Midgard) both offering somber perspectives.
After visiting Durlin, it becomes clear why Mimir is persona non grata around these parts. At the time he advised Odin, his recommendations glorified Asgard, and himself, but came at significant cost to Svartalfheim as the Aesir essentially turned the realm into a kind of strip mine, farming all they could to fuel their own wealth and weaponry. The In Service of Asgard favor attempts to remedy Mimir’s missteps by shutting down a series of rigs around the bay. As Kratos and Atreus fulfill the mission, Mimir laments the decisions he’s made, relaying a (regrettably timely) tale about how people can rationalize wrongdoings even when they can see the harm they’re causing.
Key reward: Nidavellir’s Finest Armor, which offers significantly improved protection over Sindri’s offerings early in the game
The Lost Treasure (Svartalfheim)
It’s possible that in your haste to get into the main story, you bypassed this less obvious early favor (particularly given the game’s fairly slow opening hours). You can complete this favor later, but it’s more rewarding to hit it early with Atreus by your side.
At one of the many Bay of Bounty landings, Kratos comes across the ghost of a man who relays a tale of how he and his son had embarked on a quest for a massive treasure. When he learned of the peril surrounding the loot, he decided to ditch his son to keep him safe and go alone. As evidenced by the rotting remains, the decision turned out poorly for dad. He asks Kratos to find news of his son, so the father can rest in peace. Turns out, however, the son had similar thoughts and ventured out on his own for the treasure so as not to put his dad in danger. Whoops. Kratos finds the son’s remains as well, noting to the ghosts of the son and the father that their decision to go alone likely led to both of their deaths.
The sad story is instructive of the path Kratos and Atreus walk during the main quest of “Ragnarok,” as they are much stronger together than they are alone, as we witness in the game’s final act.
Key rewards: Alberich’s treasure / Character context
Freya’s Missing Peace (Vanaheim)
After Kratos and Freya mend the fence rent when Kratos killed her son — and are able to freely explore Vanaheim — you’ll have an opportunity to understand her life with Odin a lot better with this quest.
The mission takes the pair to the site of Freya’s wedding to Odin, and, as the pair complete several tasks that include learning to decipher those strange floating gold sparks and destroying several items from the ceremony, Freya recounts her life living with Odin and how the marriage spiraled downward until all she clung to was her son, Baldur. The final item, a sword named Mardoll gifted to Freya from Odin, is stuck into a stone. Freya is unable to retrieve it until she reaches the realization that, whether she likes it or not, Asgard will always have a part of her. After her breakthrough, she reclaims the sword, giving her the ability to use it through the remainder of the campaign.
Key rewards: Mardoll / Added depth for Freya
Song of the Sands (Alfheim)
It is absolutely recommended you take the time to complete this quest with Atreus — right after it unlocks when you complete Groa’s Secret in the main quest — because their dialogue helps Atreus understand his father’s reasoning for riding the boy so hard during their time together.
The favor can be found in Alfheim’s sand-swept desert regions. After some spelunking, Kratos discovers two massive jellyfish-like creatures called Hafgufa. As the player learns, these are the last two in the realm, and they’ve been trapped underground by funky red sap tentacles. Their cries, which Atreus first hears earlier in the main quest, are causing the sand storms above them.
Not only does freeing them stop the swirling sand in the two desert regions, making looting each a lot easier, but the dialogue between the father and son delivers a wonderful message about the lengths and sacrifices parents make (or would make) for their children. The final scene from the quest, in which the two Hafgufa, um, “dance” and dissolve into millions of adorable teeny tiny Hafgufa, is enough to make any parent misty.
Key rewards: Shoulder Straps of Radiance / The best side quest story in the game
Scent of Survival / Casualties of War (Vanaheim)
After freeing Freyr and losing Birgir, you’ll have the option to follow Lunda’s hound to discover a new region in Vanaheim. It’s a very simple side quest, but it is quite literally a “must-play” if you want to access the expansive (and loot/favor-rich) region of Vanaheim’s crater. There are lots of goodies there, but the best of them — from a narrative perspective — is a series of one-off favors called Casualties of War.
Throughout the region, Kratos will discover some old remains that spawn ghosts who recount their final moments when “something” happened to them to snuff them out. Retrieving tokens of significance to the ghosts (a toy, hourglass, stein, scroll and brooch), rewards Kratos with details of an epic battle between Thor and an ax-wielding, redheaded woman who destroyed much of the region … and ended the lives of the five unfortunate folks-turned-ghosts. The description, along with a frozen lightning bolt like the one produced from Kratos’s clash with Thor in Midgard, suggest that this woman was Faye, the giantess who married Kratos and birthed Atreus. But Kratos is unsure since he never saw that side of his love.
Completing the quests leave little doubt the woman was Faye, providing the lesson that we don’t always see all sides of people, even those closest to us. It also comforts Kratos to know that if his wife could become the woman he knew after killing so many innocents (as he has), then perhaps there is hope that he too can be redeemed.
Key rewards: Five amulet enchantments / Insights into a character of massive import whom we see little of during the two Norse God of War games
The Broken Prison (Nilfheim)
Visiting Nilfheim after completing the main quest provides one of the better plot twists in the game. Wander the path left of the raven tree and you’ll discover a shattered prison. As Kratos and Freya explore, they discover it was where Odin stashed enemies he wanted off the grid so he can impersonate them without them showing up and blowing his cover. This, of course, includes … wait for it … Tyr, whom they find in the prison’s deepest cell.
Set him free and you’ll run into him in a few different spots if you wander the nine realms post-credits, including doing some stargazing in Alfheim. The interactions with Tyr post-confinement don’t offer too much substance, but it feels like this task is something Kratos “needs to do” to fully complete the game. (And it is if you want to 100 percent it, obviously.)
Key reward: A free Tyr
Viking Funeral (Svartalfheim)
Poor Brok, who has now died not once but twice. Previously, Sindri had brought him back so as never to be apart from his strange-but-beloved brother. But now, after Odin gutted Brok while disguised as Tyr, he’s truly dead dead. And Sindri is mad sad.
Kratos is informed of the funeral plans by Lunda and Co. following the completion of the main campaign, and players must complete this side quest to get the full/true ending of the game. The mission, which is pretty uncomplicated, directs Kratos and Freya to the tavern in Svartalfheim for a Dwarven wake where the characters trade amusing stories about their crass and cranky companion. From there, you’ll hop into the canoe and paddle all the way out to the exterior islands where Brok’s friends and Sindri send him out with a traditional blaze of glory.
The true payoff for the scene isn’t just the secret ending, but the answer to a riddle Brok had stumped Mimir with during the quest to forge the Draupnir spear: What gets bigger the more you take away from it?
As a broken and angry Sindri shakes off Kratos’s condolences and disappears, Mimir realizes the answer: a hole.
Key rewards: The end, and an answer