E3 2013: Make like a testudo with Ryse: Son of Rome

3 min read

Ryse (1)

Despite what you may think of the hardware powering it, there’s no denying that the Xbox One has some great games lined up. Remedy Entertainment’s Quantum Break for one, or a new Forza entry that will have petrol-heads spinning tyre doughnuts with glee. And then you’ve got Crytek, who have tossed the gun aside for a gladius. Tetsudo!

If you saw the Xbox press conference this week, then you no doubt saw the trailer for Ryse. That’s the section that I got to play a few hours ago, at an Xbox One event inside E3. But it doesn’t do the game justice to watch it over a stream.

It has to be experienced in high definition, and that’s where Ryse shines. The game looks phenomenal, and boasts an insane amount of detail. Little things water droplets on armour, cliff sides that you would probably ignore being fully rendered and explosions that look like they were ripped straight from the mind of Michael Bay all help to create an environment which looks like a perfect blend between style and reality.

Ryse (2)

But let’s get to the elephant in the room here. Yes, the game does have QTEs. A helluva lot of them, that are a constant part of the gameplay. But, they’re completely optional. In most QTE-heavy games, you miss a prompt, you die.

But in Ryse, there is no game-breaking consequence for failing to push the X button in time. Marius Titus continues with his onslaught, but with less of a visual reward really and less experience points. This comes from an emphasis on Crytek wanting to make the combat more open to all skill groups, from button-mashers to parry-masters.

But mastering combat provides players with more skills with which to improve the brutality of Titus centurion lifestyle. Starting in the demo, Titus had three options with which to combat the barbarian hordes with.

A standard sword attack, a shield bash which attacks as a heavy that can break open the defensive points on enemies and a parry skill that opens up foes for counterattacks. It sounds easy, but the combat can be challenging, especially when surrounded by enemies. While the QTE is optional, the slowing down of action isn’t, something that could sour the experience.

Ryse (3)

It’s something that Crytek is going to have to make optional, for those players who don’t want the QTE experience to hamper an otherwise solid action experience. The real fun though, was when that combat was augmented with a taste of Roman military formation action.

Forming a testudo, or turtle shell, I had to move my group towards enemy lines to get them in range so that they could hurl a few pilums at the enemy. It’s a fun addition that adds to the warfare of the game, and I was told that Crytek is looking to deepen that particular gameplay experience.

Ryse: Son of Rome isn’t perfect, but it’s got some really strong gameplay that could really be something if Crytek can tighten it up before launch. It not only looks incredible, it feels fantastic as well and the atmosphere that it creates easily rivals any Hollywood blockbuster on offer right now.

Last Updated: June 12, 2013

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