PETA wants God of War Ragnarok to remove violence against animals with new mode

God of War Ragnarok (Sony)
God of War Ragnarok (Sony)

If you’ve been anywhere near a mainstream video game, you’ll know that violence against animals is pretty common. Be it shooting and skinning rabid wolves in Red Dead Redemption 2 or seeing a hapless frog mowed down by a speeding car in arcade classic Frogger, our animal friends have had a rough time of it in the annals of gaming.

Naturally, animal rights charity Peta isn’t happy about that. The organisation is now directing its ire at God of War Ragnarok, the highly praised video game sequel that features bone-crushing battles between mythological Norse deities. In tweets, the charity urges developer Sony’s Santa Monica Studio to introduce a new “PETA mode” that excises violence against animals from the blood-soaked game.

Warning: spoilers ahead

Peta specifically references the boss fight that pits protagonists Kratos and his son Atreus against a large wolf named Garm on their visit to Helheim, the land of the dead. The animal welfare organisation claims that “it was wrong to chain this pup up and leave him outside in the freezing cold”. It adds that a new “PETA mode” would allow God of War Ragnarok to be played without violence against animals, and we’re presuming, without any pain to Garm.

In response, Santa Monica Studio’s creative director Cory Barlog tweeted that the giant mythological creature was not a real wolf. He continued: “We do not encourage anyone to fight or hurt any animals in the real world.”

As The Gamer notes, this isn’t the first time Peta has criticised a video game publisher for its depiction of animal cruelty. During the launch of Far Cry 6, the charity demanded Ubisoft remove its (frankly objectionable) cock-fighting minigame. Ultimately, its plea fell on deaf ears, and it doesn’t feel like there’s any real urgency within gaming to address Peta’s concerns more widely either.

Of course, many gamers will argue that the examples listed here are contextually relevant to the title. For instance, cowboys really did hunt and slaughter animals in the wild west. And Garm really is a mythological hell hound plucked from Norse mythology, and a badass at that.

Removing those elements from the titles would arguably detract from their realness and rich historical and theological detail, respectively. On the other hand: Justice for Frogger, is all we’re saying.