Best Skills to Get Early in God of War Ragnarok (Atreus & Kratos)

Give yourself the upper hand with the best early skills in God of War Ragnarok!

As you progress through God of War Ragnarok, you’ll earn Kratos XP and Atreus XP for defeating enemies and completing quests and side missions. This XP can then be spent upgrading Runic Attacks as well as unlocking new Skills for both characters. In this guide, we’ll run you through the best skills for Kratos and Atreus early on in God of War Ragnarok, to give you the upper hand from the get-go.

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Skills can be found in the ‘Skills’ tab over the touchpad menu. These range from both active and passive abilities or ‘skills.’ For example, some will unlock a new combo for you to use with the Leviathan Axe or Chaos Blades, while others provide more of a passive ‘stat’ boost when using that weapon.

A lot of the skills will be locked when you start playing through the game and can only be unlocked by upgrading your Chaos Blades and Leviathan Axe, respectively. Skills are tied to a specific ‘upgrade level’ of each weapon, indicated by the number on the locked node.

Leviathan Axe skills in God of War Ragnarok
Image Credit: Sony Interactive Entertainment via Twinfinite

In our lists below, we’ve included a mix of skills that will be unlocked from the very beginning, alongside skills that will be unlocked within the first one or two upgrades you perform to both Chaos Blades and Leviathan Axe, as well as Atreus’ bow. There are certainly more powerful skills to be unlocked later on in your adventure, but by that point, XP doesn’t feel quite as hard to come by, and you’ll already know what kind of route you’ll want to take with your ability unlocks.

Best Skills to Get Early for Kratos in God of War Ragnarok

As noted above, Kratos has a skill tree for each of his weapon types. Here, we’ll be focusing on the skills for the Leviathan Axe and Chaos Blades that we think you should be unlocking first.

Leviathan Axe Skills to Get First

  • Extinguish Flames – Axe Melee Attacks against Burning enemies deal bonus damage.
    • Cost: 250 XP
  • Vengeful Sickle – Aim and hold R1 to charge up the Leviathan Axe, causing it to spin and slice for multiple hits against an enemy when thrown.
    • Cost: 500 XP
  • Glacial Rake – Hold R1 to drag the Axe through the ground and ripe out ice shards that travel forward and strike repeatedly with high Frost.
    • Cost: 750 XP
  • Serpent’s Snare – Hold R2 for a brutal Axe attack that throws the enemy to apply massive damage. Weaker foes are thrown to create an explosion of Frost on impact that Launches other nearby enemies.
    • Requirement: Leviathan Axe Upgrade 2
  • Frozen Ascent – Press R2 during Frost Awaken to slash upwards with a chilling wave to launch enemies in an area and apply high Frost.
    • Requirement: Leviathan Axe Upgrade 2.

Kratos’ Leviathan Axe deals significant damage but at a slower rate than the Blades of Chaos. However, with Extinguish Flames, you can really increase the damage dealt by the axe to any ‘Burning’ enemies. These are the enemies with a red health bar that’s on fire. For a small amount of XP, Extinguish Flames is absolutely worth grabbing first.

Glacial Rake, Serpent’s Snare and Frozen Ascent, on the other hand, are special moves or attacks that really do deal huge damage, and in the case of Glacial Rake and Frozen Ascent, also deal heavy Frost status too. These are just handy attacks to have in your repertoire for when you’re taking on tougher enemies or need a bit of crowd control.

Finally, Vengeful Sickle is a particularly powerful ranged attack with the Leviathan Axe that we’re a big fan of. It essentially hits your target and then repeatedly hits them multiple times. It packs more of a punch than a standard axe throw, and as it’s sometimes better to whittle your enemies away from a safe distance, we’d recommend unlocking this skill early on in your adventure.

Chaos Blades Skills to Get First

  • Chaotic Rampage – Hold R1 to unleash a high damage flurry of attacks on a single enemy with the Blades in hand.
    • Cost: 750 XP
  • Vaporize Frost – Blades Melee Attacks against Frosted enemies deal bonus damage.
    • Cost: 250 XP
  • Scorched Earth 1 – Press R2 during Flame Whiplash to spike the Blade down and create a heavy Burn explosion. If Flame Whiplash is fully charged, trigger a hazard of smaller follow-up explosions.
    • Cost: 500 XP
  • Immolation – Perform Melee attacks in quick succession without sustaining damage to power up the Blades of Chaos and inflict Burn damage on every hit. Bonus to Luck and Runic while active.
    • Cost: 1000 XP
  • Chaos Slam – While sprinting, press R2 to leap into the air and perform a powerful chain slam attack that launches weaker enemies.
    • Cost: 250 XP

The Chaos Blades were my go-to weapon throughout my entire playthrough of God of War Ragnarok thanks to their crowd-control capabilities and fast-paced combat style. As such, it’s where I spent a lot of my Kratos XP first.

Much like the Leviathan Axe’s Extinguish Flames, Vaporize Frost is well worth purchasing early on in order to quickly slice through Frost enemies with ease. We’re also a big fan of the Immolation skill, as the Burn damage you inflict on every hit with it active can stack fairly quickly and easily whittle down an enemy’s health bar.

Chaos Slam is another special attack that’s great for crowd control, sending any nearby enemies flying through the air, giving you a moment to heal, activate Rage, or unleash a Runic Attack to keep the pain train rolling.

Chaotic Rampage, on the other hand, is just a great combo of attacks that can easily be activated in the heat of battle and whittle away an enemy’s health with relative ease.

Finally, Scorched Earth 1 is the beginning of a series of skills all based around this particular move, and while its subsequent upgrades make this even more powerful, the first skill is still incredibly handy for dealing with groups of enemies or giving you a bit of breathing room against larger, relentless enemy types. Plus, the follow-up, minor explosions if you have Flame Whiplash fully charged is just the icing on the rather firey cake.

Best Skills to Get Early for Atreus in God of War Ragnarok

  • Breaching Bash – Atreus can strike an enemy with a quick Shield swipe for high Stun.
    • Cost: 500 XP
  • Focus Volley – After commanding Atreus to fire three arrows in quick succession, a Square occasionally appears above his head. If pressed, Atreus will fire a volley of arrows at the target.
    • Cost: 1000 XP (Requires Focus Shot)
  • Rushing Ascent – Atreus sprint to an enemy and launches them into the air with a heavy vertical attack.
    • Cost: 500 XP
  • Dexterous Shot – Bow shots deal more damage occasionally.
    • Cost: 1000 XP
  • Youthful Independence – Atreus can assist with Kratos’ combo, matching hit-for-hit while both are targeting the same foe.
    • Cost: 250 XP

Our picks for Atreus’ skills to get early are all based around him essentially being that little bit more useful in battle. While he’ll get involved from the beginning, the likes of Breaching Bash and Rushing Ascent are great moves to have in his arsenal, as they can stagger or stun enemies and leave them wide open for Kratos to come in and finish off with a flurry of attacks.

We’re also a big fan of Focus Volley and Dexterous Shot, granting Atreus’ bow that little extra bit of firepower with every arrow he fires. Focus Volley, in particular, will really pack a punch if you manage to activate it before the button prompt disappears.

Finally, Youthful Independence can help you really deliver a huge amount of damage and stagger to an enemy in a short space of time. It can also distract enemies from focusing on Kratos, giving you time to switch weapons or activate one of your Runic Attacks.

That’s everything you need to know on the best skills to get early in God of War Ragnarok. Looking for more where that came from? Well, we’ve got guides on how to change difficulty, how to redeem preorder DLC, and explain things you should know before starting God of War Ragnarok.

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Chris Jecks
Chris Jecks has been covering the games industry for over eight years. He typically covers new releases, FIFA, Fortnite, any good shooters, and loves nothing more than a good Pro Clubs session with the lads. Chris has a History degree from the University of Central Lancashire. He spends his days eagerly awaiting the release of BioShock 4.