We all play games for different reasons. Some of us may want to causally kick back and relax with a nice, simple platformer. Others may want to tap into their competitive side with an online shooter. Many prefer to build up a character from nothing and immerse themselves inside the expansive world of an RPG. In today’s day and age, there’s a type of game for every type of gamer.
While I play video games for all of those reasons, and more, I can’t resist playing something notoriously difficult. Some may call me a masochist, but I love a backbreaking challenge. I thrive off the feeling of hopelessness that can only be obtained by being crushed by a formidable foe, over and over again. It fuels me. I become obsessed with and driven by the euphoria I know I’ll feel when I finally best my opponent. A feeling that can only be obtained by overcoming something seemingly impossible. Nothing can compare.
When I first played through God of War’s main campaign, I was underwhelmed by the lack of boss fights and low level of difficulty. Being a long-time fan of the series, I had grown accustomed to fast-paced, challenging action and extravagant boss battles. Sadly, I didn’t find any of that in the latest installment; even on the hardest available difficulty. That is until I faced my first Valkyrie…
If At First You Don’t Succeed, Try, Try Again
On a fateful Saturday afternoon, I happened to stumble upon a magically sealed door as I was nearing the end of the campaign. Having acquired the Magical Chisel, I decided to break the lock and see what lay behind it. On the other side was a room, which I soon discovered was a Hidden Chamber of Odin. To my disappointment, there wasn’t much inside; just a few chests with some Hacksilver and a few health orbs. Then, smack dab in the middle of the chamber, I saw her: Geirdriful. A name that still makes me blood boil to this day.
There she stood in all her ghastliness, menacingly resting in a cocoon-like state, waiting to claim her next victim. I was aware these vile, horrible, nasty creatures existed in the game, but I had yet to go toe to toe with one. Excited and a bit terrified, I cautiously approached, unsheathing my axe and raising my shield in preparation for a glorious fight. And there was a fight… but it wasn’t so much glorious as it was demoralizing. I wish it was an over exaggeration to say that I attempted this battle over 30 times before tasting victory, but it’s the honest truth. It was fucking hard.
Every time I came close to finishing her off, she would hit me with a spirit-shattering blow that would take out nearly half of my HP. When I thought I had her move set figured out, she would switch it up and nail me with and unexpected attack. More often than I would care to admit, I would beat myself by doing something stupid like mistiming a dodge, attacking too much, or shielding against an unblockable strike. Failure became all too familiar, but I didn’t lose hope. There was no chance in hell that I was going quit. I was too determined. Too proud.
An hour had passed, and I felt like I was right on the cusp of finally besting her. My eyes were intensely glued to the screen, for I knew that one false move could mean another soul-crushing defeat. Palms moist with sweat, I frantically dodged strike after strike and retaliated with some swift combos. When my runic attacks were ready for use, I would unleash all four at once to cause as much damage as possible. Eventually, I made a mistake that cost me my life, but, fortunately, I had a Berserker Resurrection Stone that brought me back to life with full Spartan Rage.
In a fit of fury (literally), I savagely pummeled Geirdriful within an inch of her life. With her health whittled down to a fraction of a bar, she desperately slashed at me with her gigantic wings. I parried her attack, countering with a strong melee strike and Wrath of the Frost Ancient, a light runic attack for the Leviathan Axe that shoots out a powerful ice beam. Incapacitated, she fell to her knees in defeat, waiting for me to finish her off.
And I did so happily, with a smile on my face. I rushed to her beaten body, threw her to the floor, and ripped the wings off her back. Blood sprayed over my body as I dismembered her, leaving her lifeless, wingless corpse to rot on the ground. Shortly after, her spirit appeared and thanked me for freeing her from her corrupted physical form. She then went on to tell me of her seven sisters that had also been trapped and needed freeing. All I could think was, “I have to do this shit seven more times?” I guess you can say I found the challenge I was yearning for.
More Challengers Await
Next up was Eir. At that point, I didn’t think it was possible to hate a fictional character more than Geirdriful, but, boy, I was wrong. She was even harder. In fact, she was significantly harder. So hard that I almost gave up on the whole quest. Only two Valkyries in and I was ready to throw in the towel. To say I was disgusted with myself is a gross understatement.
She has a slew of annoying moves, but the most infuriating of all is one where she slams her staff on the ground to create a bright light that blinds you if you’re within the attack’s radius. The screen goes completely white and you’re left staggered, giving her an opening to follow up with a scythe attack that you’re too dazed to block. If she cleanly connects both, which she did on me many times, it basically kills you. Additionally, she has an attack where she levitates in air, twirls her staff, and creates a deadly explosion. So deadly that it either kills you in one hit or leaves you with a sliver of your health bar. Atreus’s arrows can stop this attack, but I didn’t find that out until after it killed me several times.
Another hour had passed, and I lost track of how many attempts I had made. I wanted to shut down my PS4 and do something more productive with my day, but I could feel my skills refining with each try, and that kept me determined to finish what I set out to accomplish. Patterns in Eir’s attacks and movements became clear to me. If she dashed towards me, it meant she was going to do her incredibly annoying blinding move, so I knew I needed to roll. Likewise, if she launched herself into the air, it meant that I needed to pepper her with arrows and follow up with flurry of melee strikes.
Reflexes as sharp as the Leviathan Axe I was wielding, I drained Eir’s health bar down to 25 percent before taking any damage. My runic attacks recharged, so I unleashed all four on her in hopes of ending the battle quickly. To my disappointment, I learned that I needed to space these moves out more. When I did them in rapid succession, she wouldn’t remain stunned through all of them, so she was able to evade damage and retaliate while I was stuck in an animation. I died, but, thankfully, I had a Berserker Resurrection Stone handy. I used it, activated Spartan Rage, and obliterated Eir with a frenzy of Mike Tyson-esque haymakers.
Finally, she fell to the floor, waiting for me to put the finishing touches on a hard-fought battle. I was so happy, I would’ve skipped over to her incapacitated body if it were possible. Just as I did to Geirdriful, I ripped the wings off her back and watched her corpse slump to the ground. Her spirit rose and thanked me for freeing her, and then I collected the treasure trove of loot she dropped. I was relived the fight was over, but in the grand scheme of things, I had only just begun.
However, surprisingly enough, the remaining six Valkyries were a breeze. I’m still unsure if they were actually easier, or if my grueling bouts with the first two improved my skills that much. Perhaps a combination of both? Either way, none of them challenged or frustrated me nearly as much as Geirdriful or Eir. Both of those fights took me over an hour to finish, and the other six altogether took less time than that. I’d be hard pressed to say that I retried any of those fights more than three times.
However, I will say that while the fight itself was easy and only took me two tries, facing the Valkyrie Hildr in Niflheim was annoying because of the cursed mist. You need to grind in Ivaldi’s Workshop to farm enough Mist Echoes to craft gear that prolongs the amount of time you can survive in the mist. It’s incredibly tedious, but necessary to winning the fight. With normal gear, it’s nearly impossible to defeat Hildr before falling victim to the mist. And although it’s redundant to keep fighting the same enemies over and over again, the payoff is worth it because the gear is exceptional. It especially comes in handy when it’s time to face Sigrún, Queen of the Valkyries.
The Queen, My Lord, Is Dead!
Remember when I said I said I hated Eir more than Geirdriful? Well, I hate Sigrún 100 times more than the both of them combined. There’s a special place in hell for whomever designed this fight. Holy shit, it’s hard! Almost harder than anything I’ve ever done in a game, and I’ve beaten some pretty damn hard games. Thankfully, I was warned about the difficulty prior to attempting, so I was prepared for an uphill battle that would make even Sisyphus cringe.
I arrived at the Council of the Valkyries to the sight of eight vacant thrones. Following instructions, I approached each and placed the helms of the Valkyries I slayed. Once all helms had been placed, a realm tear appeared in the center of the council. Hesitantly approaching it, I reached my hand inside, only to have Sigrún pounce on me and drag my body across the ground. Jumping to me feet, I charged at her and unleashed my Wrath of the Frost of the Ancient runic attack, followed by River of Knives, Wrath of Artemis, and Prometheus Flame. Altogether, it took her health down about 15-20 percent. Not a bad start, right? Well, before I could get another strike in, she finished me…
At this point, I had watched enough YouTube videos and read enough guides to know that her move set is made the attacks of all the other Valkyries. However, what I wasn’t prepared for is how unpredictable and unbelievably fast she is. Pattern recognition wasn’t going to work with this one; this was all going to come down to reflexes. Mistakes were not an option because one of her attacks can damn near kill you, even with the best gear in the game.
Worst of all was her Valhalla move. Most of the other Valkyries have this in their repertoire, but the only difference is they’ll give you ample time to evade it. They’ll crouch down, scream “Valhalla!” and launch themselves into the air before crashing down on you and stomping your face in. Sigrún, on the other hand, doesn’t make it so easy. In the blink of an eye, she’ll have you eating the bottom of her boot. I’m convinced that if she didn’t have this move, or if she didn’t execute it so quickly, the fight would’ve been significantly easier.
After what felt like over 100 attempts, I decided it was time to reassess my strategy. At first, I was focused on fortifying my defense and vitality stats so I could better absorb any blows that I failed to evade. Big mistake. No matter how high either stat is, one of Sigrún’s attacks is going to do significant damage. Needless to say, I found that out the hard way. So I switched things up a bit and equipped enchantments that increased my strength attribute, as well as the damage of my frost and burn attacks.
This made a huge difference. In fact, the first time I fought her with my new loadout, I depleted her health bar down to around 10 percent. Before that, I could hardly get it under 50 percent. It was clear that this was the right way to approach the fight. I just had to be more aggressive and keep the mistakes to a minimum. The plan was simple: Hit her with my runic attacks, survive during the cool down period, and repeat.
And that’s exactly what I did. To start, I used the Talisman of Cursed Power to unleash a mist that lowered Sigrún’s defenses. Immediately after that, I nailed her with Wrath of the Frost Ancient, and before you know it, a quarter of her health bar disappeared. I then hit her with Wrath of the Wolf, Atreus’s summon runic, to damage and stun her while I flung River of Knives towards her. She recovered quickly and retaliated with a projectile ice attack, which I evaded. I then switched to my Blades of Chaos, sliced and diced her with Wrath of Artemis, and then rocked her with Prometheus Flame.
After that first sequence of runic attacks, her health was just above 50 percent. Mine was still full. As you can guess, that didn’t last long. Mistakes were made and I nearly let her get the best of me, yet again. Thanks to some good planning on my part, I had a full rage bar going into the fight. One hit away from another death, I activate Spartan Rage and went to town, collecting health orbs in between surges of powerful punches.
With her health just above a quarter of a bar, I went back to the plan. However, I wasn’t able to connect on all of my runic attacks, so she still had some life left in her. In fact, just enough to put me in my place and remind me why she’s the queen. As my lifeless body lay on the floor, I mashed the square button to command Atreus to use the Berserker Resurrection Stone I purchased before the fight (good planning!). He rushed over to me, took it out of his pocket, and stuck it in my chest to bring me back to life. It was time to finish this.
Again, I activated Spartan Rage and blitzed Sigrún with combo of bone-crushing blows. Literally within an inch of her life, she desperately tried one last series of swooping attacks on me when my rage depleted. Gracefully, I dodged it and launched Wrath of the Frost Ancient, bringing her to her knees. As in tradition, I put the cherry on top by brutally tearing the wings off her back. And let me tell you, it was more satisfying than I could have ever imagined.
Here is the gear I had equipped when I finally beat her:
Chest – Ivaldi’s Pauldron of Deadly Mist
- Enchantment Slot 1 – Stone of Frost Supremacy
- Enchantment Slot 2 – Eye of the Outer Realm
- Enchantment Slot 3 – Heart of Vanaheim
Wrist – Ivaldi’s Gauntlets of Deadly Mist
- Enchantment Slot 1 – Asgard’s Shard of Existence
- Enchantment Slot 2 – Stone of Fire Supremacy
- Enchantment Slot 3 – Tyr’s Shard
Waist – Ivaldi’s War Belt of Deadly Mist
- Enchantment Slot 1 – Stone of Fire Mastery
- Enchantment Slot 2 – Stone of Frost Mastery
- Enchantment Slot 3 – Enduring Wrath of the Frost
Talisman – Talisman of Cursed Power
- Handle – Mistbourne
- Light Runic Attack – Wrath of the Frost Ancient
- Heavy Runic Attack – River of Knives
Blades of Chaos
- Handle – Grips of the Valkyrie
- Light Runic Attack – Wrath of Artemis
- Heavy Runic Attack – Prometheus Flame
As I watched Kratos maim the Valkyrie queen, that familiar feeling of euphoria set in, for I knew I had just overcome one of the greatest challenges I’ve ever faced in my lifetime as a gamer. I had finally done it. I came, I saw, I conquered. On to the next one!
Have you tried your hand at defeating the eight Valkyries and their queen? If so, did you enjoy it as much as I did? What are some challenging games you’ve had unforgettable experiences with? Share your thoughts in the comments!