God of War Ragnarok ending theory explains Atreus' most important decision
There is always a choice.
From the start of God of War Ragnarok, fans were already waiting to see how the prophecy revealed at the end of the 2018 game would impact the fate of Kratos and his son Atreus. In a game obsessed with fate, Atreus's final confrontation with Odin breaks from the expected conclusion. An illuminating fan theory points to a specific moment as the turning point for Atreus’s future, and it all has to do with the game’s most mysterious MacGuffin — the Mask of Creation.
The inevitable — Like any classic story that deals with fate and prophecy, in God of War Ragnarok you watch the main cast rush towards a conclusion that could have been avoided — if they weren’t so obsessed with rewriting fate.
The mic-drop ending of GoW (2018) revealed that at the top of the highest peak in the nine realms was a mural created by the giants that depicted the death of Kratos in the arms of his son Atreus under the name Loki. As the father and son duo amass allies in preparation for a confrontation with the king of the gods, Odin, there is a nervousness that this prophecy will come to pass.
Yet when this faithful battle comes Atreus manages to break from the prophecy that has been laid out for him and his father by breaking the symbol of this fate, the Mask of Creation that Odin has been obsessed over.
Atreus chooses his own path — As theorized by Redditor Responsible-Sort3385, the Mask and Atreus’ decision to break it is the turning point for the entire narrative of Ragnarok.
In both entries of the Norse saga of God of War, the unavoidable nature of fate is a constant theme. Freya in GoW (2018) is told that her son Baldur is destined to die, and becomes obsessed with attempting to stop it, going so far as to make him invincible to everything except mistletoe. Freya’s unwillingness to accept fate directly leads to the prophecy of Baldur’s death coming true. The game says that Baldur died because Freya “could not let him go.”
During the events of Ragnarok, both Odin and Atreus are equally obsessed with the fate that has been prescribed to them and seek to avoid it. Both hope to change their fates with the Mask of Creation, which is able to look into the rift between worlds and grant endless knowledge.
While Odin never stops trying to fight fate, even until his dying breath, Atreus in a crucial moment takes to heart his father's advice throughout the game and makes his own choice. When given the chance to use the Mask Atreus instead shatters it completely. This is Atreus’s first time making a conscious choice to change his own path.
If Atreus had let his fear consume him and used the Mask as Odin had desired then this would have led Odin to gain the power to defeat Kratos, leading to the prophecy from GoW (2018) coming true.
Throughout GoW (2018) and Ragnarok, Kratos has been preparing Atreus to be his own person, and make his own choices. This is the job of a parent, to prepare their child for autonomy. Rather than worry about and be defined by a prophecy he learned to be a different person and make his own choices, breaking from fate.
With the major theme of Ragnarok being Atreus’s growth into a person who can make their own informed choices, this massive moment impacting the end of the game feels cathartic in its payoff and gives an answer to the question of how fate could be changed for Atreus and Kratos.
God of War Ragnarok is out now on PlayStation 4 and 5.