Ryse: Son of Rome First Look (Xbox One)

Defend the Empire in this visually-striking action game.

Ryse: Son of Rome was probably one of the most discussed Xbox One games before Microsoft’s E3 2013 press briefing. What began as a Kinect title for Xbox 360 evolved into one of the best-looking games we’ve seen on Xbox One, with minimal Kinect features. 

While Ryse is not based on any specific historical battle, the developers at Crytek have done a lot of research to ensure the world feels like Ancient Rome. Players take control of the fictional character, Marius Titus as they command troops to victory throughout the time period; his family was butchered when he was only a child, and now he’s out for revenge.

The focus of Ryse’s gameplay is to appeal to both casual and hardcore players alike. If you want to mash your way through the battle system to reach the Quick Time Events (QTE) that highlight the executions in the game, you can do so with a fair amount of success. In fact, it’s impossible to fail the QTE segments. However, if you’re patient and time everything precisely, you’ll be rewarded with perks to enhance Marius and his troops’ abilities.

There are over 100 unique executions, even the ability to perform double executions on multiple foes with proper timing. The developers were focused on making sure the executions did not feel repetitive as you played through the game. There’s enough blood and gore to keep the average person happy, but you won’t see buckets of the red substance like you’d find in something like the Spartacus TV series. Instead, Ryse is more like a video game version of Gladiator. It’s slow-paced and tactical, serving as a cinematic action experience.

Ryse began its existence as a Kinect title but in the Xbox One presentation we saw, this is no longer the case. Instead, players can use voice commands and gestures to control your troops as they take on enemy soldiers. This becomes more prominent in certain gameplay segments, such as a tactical siege on an enemy fortress. Marius must command his troops to take a turtle-like defensive formation (similar to the flawless shield-to-shield defense seen in 300) to avoid a bevy of arrows raining from above, then attack with their spears once the skies are clear.

Crytek only demoed the single player aspects of Ryse, but the dev team assured us there were big plans for multiplayer as well. While they were fairly tight-lipped, they did let slip that multiplayer would have something to do with the infamous Roman Coliseum, and may not be limited to land-based combat. If you know your history, you may recall that the Romans would often flood the Coliseum to entertain the rabid crowds with ship battles and naval combat. Don’t be surprised if you see something similar in Ryse.

Expect to hear more about Ryse, including information on the mysterious multiplayer mode, as we get closer to the Xbox One launch. After what we’ve seen, Ryse will be one of the more sought after titles when the console debuts this fall. 

About the Author

Bryan Dawson

Bryan Dawson has an extensive background in the gaming industry, having worked as a journalist for various publications for nearly 20 years and participating in a multitude of competitive fighting game events. He has authored over a dozen strategy guides for Prima Games, worked as a consultant on numerous gaming-related TV and web shows and was the Operations Manager for the fighting game division of the IGN Pro League.