Gamescom 2013: Ryse: Son of Rome Preview - When in Rome…
Written Monday, September 02, 2013 By Dan WebbView author's profile
Ryse: Son of Rome hardly made a good impression on us at E3. In fact, it went so far as to leave a negative impression upon us - it won our Disappointment of the Show award, after all. "Why?," you may ask. Well, it boasted unnecessary and garish QTE sequences, combat that looked about as deep as the kiddie end of a swimming pool and about as much substance as a recent Jackie Chan movie. We were unimpressed to say the least. Here we are though, a few months later and Crytek has been hard at work listening to feedback from the community and press, alike.
The first change? Gone are the garish QTE sequences (huzzah!), and in comes a new(ish) system that puts the emphasis on where the emphasis should be: the visuals, rather than some off-putting floating button symbols. It's the one thing that Ryse really excels in, and as a launch title on a new generation of hardware that is ten-times more powerful than the current-gen, you'd expect that too. Our behind closed doors demo was one beautiful looking piece of eye candy, that's for sure, from the grass and flowers swaying in the wind to the enemy limbs being chopped off left, right and centre, it's one hell of a pretty game. It's a brutally gory game too.
As you're probably aware, Ryse: Son of Rome is a third-person action game, one with melee weapons at its core. And as protagonist Marius Titus engages in combat, he's slicing off arms, jabbing a sword through an enemy combatant's neck or slicing his throat. It's not just melee weapons though, Marius will be able to pick up long spears and the like, and use them to keep foes at arm's length, if he so wishes.
The depth of the combat remains to be seen, but in our demo Marius was using shield pushes to deflect attacks and rolling to avoid damage. In Ryse: Son of Rome, expect enemies to swarm you rather than waiting to attack one at a time; they'll look to catch you off-guard and attack from multiple angles at the same time. There'll be different variations of enemies as well, as you'd expect, with Shield Barbarians and Dual Sword Barbarians being slightly tougher than your standard grunts, meaning you'll have to take a different approach with them.
Timing is a big thing in Ryse's combat, with executions rated on how well the player times their attacks. It's meant to be a brutally tricky game, and players will have to make use of their focus attacks - to stun foes and make them slower - and execution rewards - whether it be more XP, more focus, more damage or more health - to survive. Combo together enough perfect hits and you can enter Burning Eagle mode, making Marius an almost unstoppable force.
Little has been shown of the game's campaign mode thus far, apart from the brief sequence at E3 which seemed to focus more on combat - like our demo behind closed doors - but Crytek is promising to really push the story in more ways than just the visuals with on Xbox One. To give us something to whet our appetites for the campaign, Crytek showed off a short story-driven sequence in which Marius walked amidst a Centurion graveyard, with Centurions strung up by their necks. Everything was in-game, the visuals were as stunning as you can imagine next-gen to be and the vibe was rather chilling. It was only a brief look, but it does give us some hope that there might be something beneath Ryse's pretty exterior.
In addition to the combat, Crytek was also showing off the game's multiplayer behind closed doors… well, co-op that is. The Gladiator mode is effectively a co-operative multiplayer experience. Launching with 11 maps at launch - unless you pre-order - players will be able to battle together against waves of enemies with landscape changing environments and co-op executions. The levelling system will be entirely armour-based, with 700 pieces of armour available to make your Centurion the ultimate killing machine.
So, while Ryse certainly had a better showing at Gamescom than E3, it's still not really doing enough to capture our imaginations. It seems to be a lot of old ideas housed in a rather pretty shell, which might be okay for some, but we're hoping next-gen can advance gaming from more than just a visual perspective. The combat, no matter how brutal and pretty it is, seems to be rather one-note, and if, as a third-person combat game you don't have that in order, how can you expect it to succeed? There's still a few months before launch and as we can see from E3 to Gamescom, a lot can happen in a few months, so we'll keep our fingers crossed and hope that Ryse: Son of Rome can come out of left field and really win us over. Until then, we'll remain cautiously optimistic. It'd be foolhardy not to.
Ryse: Son of Rome is scheduled to launch alongside the Xbox One this coming holiday season.