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Omega (God of War 2018)

This article contains lore based on real-life sources from Norse mythology as introduced from the God of War Norse era.


For nature lovers, the lush realm of Vanaheim is as varied as the gods and creatures that call it home. Whether canoeing down one of its many serene rivers or strolling the sun-dappled trails of its verdant rainforests, the land of the Vanir should set any true adventurer's heart aflutter. However, be prepared for high humidity and temperamental fauna. Just because a flower is beautiful, doesn't mean it won't try to kill you.

–Description of Vanaheim on the Field Notes

Vanaheim (Old Norse: Vanaheimr) is one of the Nine Realms of the World Tree and the home of the Vanir Gods. Ruled by the wise and powerful Njörd, this world covered in lush jungles and inhabited by a dangerous fauna and flore is traditionally associated with Magic, Fertility and Wisdom. The peaceful nature of the Vanir quickly clashed with the warlike Aesir, who naturally became their most steadfast enemies.

This extreme animosity between the two realms culminated into the cataclismic Aesir-Vanir War, which devastated both Asgard and Vanaheim. Despite the superior militaristic power of the Aesir led by Odin, the Vanir led by Freya successfully fought off the invasion into a stalemate thanks to their superior magic and the very environement of Vanaheim.

After centuries of war, an uneasy peace was brokered in the form of a marriage between the All-Father and Freya. However, following the fallout of their union and the banishement of Freya in Midgard, the Asgardians seized the opportunity to successfully subdue Vanaheim once and for all, although they had to deal with a guerrilla warfare led by Freyr. The Vanir realm is nevertheless freed following the demise of Asgard during Ragnarök.

Vanaheim is introduced as a major location in God of War: Ragnarök. It's not only the biggest realm in game — seemingly packed with more side content than any other world, it also features a unique day/night cycle that opens and closes different paths depending on the position of the sun and the moon.

Norse Mythology[]

Vanaheim (Old Norse Vanaheimr, “Homeland of the Vanir“) is one of the Nine Worlds that are situated around the world-tree Yggdrasil. As the name implies, it's the home of the Vanir tribe of deities, who tend to be somewhat more associated with fertility and what we today would call “nature” than the other tribe of Norse deities, the Aesir, who have their home in Asgard.

The surviving sources for our information on Norse mythology and religion, as fragmentary as they are, don't contain any explicit mention of where exactly Vanaheim is located. The sole clue we have comes from the Lokasenna (“The Taunting of Loki“), one of the poems in the Poetic Edda, which states that the Vanir god Njordwent eastward when he went to Asgard as a hostage at the conclusion of the Aesir-Vanir War. Presumably, then, Vanaheim lies somewhere to the west of Asgard. Some scholars have gone so far as to claim that Vanaheim was invented by the thirteenth-century Icelandic Christian historian and poet Snorri Sturluson. However, there is one authentic and reliable Old Norse poem that mentions Vanaheim by name, so we can be reasonably certain that it was a genuine element of pre-Christian Norse religion.

It should come as no surprise, then, that the sources are completely silent as to what kind of world Vanaheim is. However, its name may contain an indication of the place's character. One of the primary ways the pre-Christian Norse and other Germanic peoples classified geographical spaces (as well as psychological states) was with reference to their concept of the distinction between the innangard and utangard. That which is innangard (“inside the fence”) is orderly, law-abiding, and civilized, while that which is utangard (“beyond the fence”) is chaotic, anarchic, and wild. This psychogeography found its natural expression in agrarian land-use patterns, where the fence (the -gard or, in Old Norse, -garðr of the above terms) separated pastures and fields of crops from the wilderness beyond them.

Of the Nine Worlds, two are innangard spaces: Asgard and Midgard, the world of human civilization. Both of these contain -gard in their names and are depicted as having a fence or fortification surrounding them. The rest of the Nine Worlds’ names end in -heim, and there's no reference to their being enclosed in any way, which seems to indicate that they're essentially utangard places. Such a designation is certainly in keeping with the way these places are described in Old Norse literature. Thus, we can infer that Vanaheim, like the Vanir themselves, is somewhat more wild or “natural,” and less “cultural,” than the world of the Vanir's Aesir counterparts, or even that of humanity.

In the God of War Series[]

GoW Ragnarok Vanaheim

Map of Vanaheim.

The realm in God of War: Ragnarok is revealed to be vast and varied with several different biomes spread across it. The vast majority of it is a strange mixture of combined forest and jungle with numerous small and large rivers and streams cutting through it, forming a complex network of waterways mirrored by a complex network of forest/jungle pathways on land. Flora and fauna are abundant and equally bizarre with plenty of both being quite dangerous and aggressive. Wild magic permeates everything in the environs, making it an ideal breeding ground for entities such as Wisps. Abandoned Vanir settlements and villages are dotted around at spots usually cut by a river while older Vanir constructs like Njord's Temple have long since been reclaimed by the forces of nature. The realm is unique in that Day and Night can change in an eye-blink due to the presence of the Celestial Wolves Skoll & Hati, whom were rescued and brought to the realm by the Vanir resistance a long time ago. The routes that are available to travel on land are dependent on whether it is day or night due to the reactions of the Vanaheim plants.

Further to the north of the Forest/Jungle, there lies a large desert-like canyon that was once a lush valley supplied with water by a large river sourced from the northern end of the Vanaheim Forest/Jungle.

Plot[]

Backstory[]

God of War (2018)[]

Vanaheim is one of the Nine Realms of the World Tree, but Odin has sealed the path to this realm. Because of this, Vanaheim is never seen in game and cannot be visited. The realm is nonetheless mentioned a few times throughout the game, and Freya's house has a magical view of Vanaheim through one of its windows, depicting a forest of thick and tall leaf-less trees, blooming flowers growing in its soil and autumn skies.

God of War Ragnarök[]

Vanaheim is unlocked after Freya requires the help of Kratos to find and destroy the source of Odin's curse binding her to Midgard. This proves to be a temporary, unexpected and uneasy alliance between the two gods, as the Vanir is forced to refrain her desire to try and kill the murderer of her son. This is why Kratos travels to Vanaheim for the first time accompanied by Freya, Mimir and Brok, only to find the Vanir realm seemingly lifeless. Here, wildlife itself is dangerous and as they fight their way throughout the lush jungle, they eventually meet a group of Vanir fighters led by Freyr himself.

It turns out that ever since the fallout of Odin's marriage with Freya, the Asgardians seized the opportunity to invade and have Vanaheim under military occupation, much to Freya's dismay. The Vanir goddess and Kratos eventually continue their journey without the rest of the group, and the circumstances lead Kratos to tell Freya about his first daughter, what happened to her and how it made him swear vengeance against Olympus. The point of such discussion for Kratos was to make Freya understand that she would find no peace after killing him, which is somehow ironic considering he told the very same to Baldur while the latter sought the death of his mother.

As they are both arguing, their search for Odin's curse binding lead them to Freya's home, the very place where she was born - yet another example of Odin's cruelty and willingness to inflict pain where it hurts the most. But the curse finds its source in the World Tree roots, bound in Odin's knots: there would be no freedom for Freya if the two gods don't team up to defeat the legendary Nídhögg, keeper of the Yggdrasil's roots. After a brutal and slugging match, the creature is eventually killed and Freya manages to destroy Odin's knots, thus finally freeing herself from the curse and regaining her total freedom. But Freya then realized that it was the Allfather who was her true enemy, and after years of suffering and anger she finally found the strength to forgive Kratos.

Kratos and Atreus later return in Vanaheim to join their forces with Freya and Freyr and help them set up the fight against Asgard. Upon reaching Freyr's Camp seemingly empty, they meet up for the second time with Hildisvíni, now in a human shape. The Vanir Councilor required the aid of Kratos and his son to find Sköll and Hati. The Aesir had managed to trap the Moon in a reliquary and stolen it; causing the Celestial Wolves to go into a slumber until its return. Kratos and Atreus track down the Einherjar raiding party who carried out the theft, killed them all and restored the Moon to the sky, reawakening Skoll & Hati and granting Kratos the power to switch between night and day at will via Celestial Altars and a special instrument used to signal the wolves. Using this power, Kratos, Atreus, Freya and the Vanir resistance mount an operation to rescue Freyr from the Einherjar which is successful though in the process, the renegade Traveler Birgir is lost and stranded in the desert canyon region.

At the apex of the adventure, the realm becomes one of the major staging points for the beginning of Ragnarok. In search of allies, Freya returns to Vanaheim once more to summon the Vanir to fight in the Invasion of Asgard as well as Sigrun and the Shieldmaiden Valkyries freed by Kratos and Atreus in the previous game. The Vanir answer the call and mobilize under the leadership of several of the Free Valkyries whilst the rest are divided up between the other allied realms as lieutenants. Upon hearing the bellowing roar of the Gjallarhorn, the Vanir launch their assault on Asgard through their realm travel gates and participate in the successful destruction of Asgard.

In the aftermath of the invasion, in an extraordinary act of compassion and forgiveness, the Vanir allow the fleeing Aesir to set up new homes for themselves in Vanaheim, spearheaded by Lady Sif and Hildisvini. The act also marked a welcome end to the ancient Aesir-Vanir conflict once and for all and paved the way for a lasting peace between the two tribes. As of the end of the game, the Aesir are working on getting themselves settled and are taking some time adjusting to the more free-spirited and harmonious Vanir society after so long living in the highly controlled, closed-off and militaristic society created by Odin and his supporters.

By the time of Kratos's journey into Valhalla, Sigrun noted that while it hasn't been a smooth transition for both the Vanir and Aesir, Lady Sif and Hildisvini have been at the forefront in mediating any disputes and have agreed to Freya's suggestion to the formation of a council, in place of a singular leader like the All-Father, to help maintain the peace in the Nine Realms.

Quests[]

Main Story Quest (The Path)[]

  1. The Reckoning
  2. Creatures of Prophecy

Side Quests (Favors)[]

  1. Freya's Missing Piece
  2. Conscience for the Dead
  3. Garden for the Dead
  4. The Mysterious Orb
  5. Scent of Survival
  6. Trail of the Dead
  7. The Burning Skies
  8. Casualty of War: the Toy
  9. Casualty of War: the Scroll
  10. Casualty of War: the Brooch
  11. Casualty of War: the Hourglass
  12. Casualty of War: the Stein
  13. In Plain Sight
  14. Quaking Hollow
  15. Return of the River
  16. What Lies Below
  17. For Vanaheim!
  18. Nocturnal Predator
  19. In the Dead of Night

Collectibles[]

Favours[]

Artifacts[]

Lore Markers[]

Odin's Ravens[]

Nornir Chests[]

Legendary Chests[]

Hel Tear[]

Regions[]

Bestiary & Bosses[]

Trivia[]

  • Vanaheim's rune is Ingwaz (ᛜ), which translates to "the god Yngvi". Yngvi is thought to have been an older name for Freyr.
  • In God of War, Vanaheim is one of the three realms whose access is blocked, along with Asgard and Svartalfheim.
  • Vanaheim wasn't meant to be accessible in God of War, as revealed by Cory Barlog in 2018. The reason behind this is purely technical, as there was little time left to develop properly this realm. The developers then took the decision to reserve Asgard, Svartalfheim and Vanaheim for God of War: Ragnarök.
  • In God of War (2018), while Vanaheim's travel door can be seen in the Real Travel Room, the realm itself has never been implemented in-game. For this very reason, if the player nevertheless attempts to enter Vanaheim, they will be merely informed that "Odin has prevented access to this realm", thus making the travel impossible.
    • Then in God of War Ragnarök, the player can finally unlock the access to Vanaheim for the first time and visit the lushful realm as they pleases.
  • Vanaheim's travel door depicts two massive trees native to Vanaheim with all kinds strange fauna surrounding it and jellyfish like creatures. It is the only door that does not show any humanoids and only shows nature.
  • It was most likely during his studies in Vanaheim that Sindri heard from a Vanir witch about the existence of the "little beasties" (microbes).
  • The Realm Travel Bridge will point towards the Vanaheim Tower by default when in Midgard.

Sources[]

Gallery[]

Photo Mode[]

Concept Arts[]

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