Ryse: Son Of Rome Preview

You could be forgiven for having completely the wrong ideas in your head about Ryse, but to be fair it probably wouldn’t be your fault that you’re misinformed. It all stems from E3, with the off kilter showing the game had. It was one quick time event after another; one brutal slaying leading straight into the next one. It looked like a Kinect game with little depth to the combat. It isn’t.

Failing a QTE-ridden festival of gore, the next logical conclusion might be that it takes heavy inspiration from the mechanics and gameplay of God of War. It doesn’t.


Instead, I found myself reminded most of the Batman titles, which I was not really expecting from this game. You have a button to attack, another to push and shove with your shield a third to counter and a fourth to dodge. It’s quite simple and very effective.

The early encounters of the game, as you push forwards to defend the palace gates from barbarians and save Emperor Nero, see you facing enemies one by one. The blocking, attacking and counters work perfectly in this simple situation, and I’m easily afforded opportunities to trigger the special kills.

Alright, so there are still the QTE kills in the game, but they are presented in a fascinating fashion. Once an enemy has taken enough hits, you start the event with a pull of the trigger, and press the relevant buttons at the right time. These are signified by a subtle coloured highlight to your enemy, with blue for X and yellow for Y.

It is also still true that you can’t really fail these QTEs. Instead they simply don’t reward you with restored health, but it’s actually quite logical to remove that danger. I would otherwise be more likely just to slay my foes in the standard fashion rather than risk failing an execution, and this way I get to enjoy the brutal kills no matter how badly I do.

I will admit that I find the slow motion applied over enthusiastically, just to accommodate this, but as I build my combos, I’m always coming across new and more interesting slaughter to enjoy, with tons of killing animations and variety added with double kills and the like.


The Batman influence becomes much clearer when you start to fight groups of enemies. All of a sudden you’re being attacked from multiple angles, having to parry and dodge more regularly means you have to be wary of having your attacks interrupted by a second, third, fourth and upwards enemy. However, it was also quite fascinating to see the ability to flit from an enemy on one side of the arena to another on the other. All Marius was missing was a big flappy cape and some form of boomerang.

The opening push to the palace evolves naturally into escorting Nero to safety, as a plot device rather than an escort mission in the tradtitional sense, whereupon it swiftly pulls you back in time, to experience and see the story of Marius’ life through the rest of the game. Meeting his family for the first time involves a slightly jarring tutotial section, designed to teach you the abilities needed to combat more difficult enemies, who will also have shields and be able to block your attacks.

However, it’s far too finicky and, and I think it says it all when a few failures brought up the option to skip it, even if it is necessary to learn the combos for later in the game. You need to take on board how to combat those tougher enemies and harder difficulties, where enemies will attack more aggressively, the button press windows in QTEs will narrow and the colour highlights even disappear.

Breaking up the standard combat moments will be various other elements of gameplay. You will be able to work and use other elements of the Roman army in battle, calling upon archers to rain down arrows or working as part of a shielded turtle to advance.

There’s also defensive set pieces, where you are able to place your troops to cover certain avenues of attack, and then take control of a ballista to defend the weak spot. Shooting flaming cauldrons of liquid will help you from getting overwhelmed, while you can also call in archer fire and so on. A nice way to break up the action.


To finish, it’s time to address that one final myth, the long known fact that it runs at a so-called 900p rather than a native 1080p resolution, and that this means it won’t look great. In fact, it does look quite fantastically detailed. There’s maybe that slight loss of detail in certain areas, with a more noticeable shimmer to the edges of objects and a loss of fine detail for complex objects off in the distance, but it is still a very good looking game, thanks to an impressive outing for CryEngine 3.

Given the struggles that seemingly everyone but Turn 10 have had in attaining that 1080p dream, it’s not surprising that Crytek have also missed the mark just to get that solidity on day one, but it really hasn’t impacted the quite impressive visuals on show.

Ryse is not the game I was expecting, and upon first blush seems to offer something quite a fresh and interesting. It might not be an entirely original new take of the combat games, but feels quite distinct to others in the genre through a number of ways, and if successful should be a franchise that can develop into something more unique over time.



  1. Thanks for the write up. Such polarising views. Think it will be my launch title though as I really like the premise and the co-op in particular looks fun :)

  2. The QTE’s wouldn’t have bothered me because i like the gore in games, this and titanfall almost made made me by an X1 but having a long thought about it all i realised i love God Of War more and shall just wait to see if one is released for the PS4.

    • I agree…This is indeed a GoW clone and imo a bad one :(. I am waiting for the reviews, although i suspect it won’t get more than 5-6/10 in most of them

  3. “Failing a QTE-ridden festival of gore, the next logical conclusion might be that it takes heavy inspiration from the mechanics and gameplay of God of War. It doesn’t”

    I take it you didn’t read beyond the first paragraph then?

    • That was meant to be a reply to Damigos!

    • Yep. This isn’t really anything like God of War from what I’ve seen.
      “Arkham Asylum meets the 300 movie” seems to summarise it :D I’ve gone back and forth with this game but now I’ve very much looking forward to grabbing it at launch, especially now they have confirmed there will be a lot of co-op content.

  4. Crytek makes pretty games, but they haven’t made a good game since Crysis Warhead. Crysis 2 was alright, but the story wasn’t very good, neither was the writing, which seems to be Crytek’s biggest problem.

  5. Sorry, but all that i took from the preview were 2 things:QTE’s and Escort Mission.

    2 staple parts of games since as long as i can recal and things that really should be put to bed.

    Read so many comments from gamers on forums over past 12 months saying PC games were being held back by limited power of aging consoles, how developers vision could’nt be fully realised as PS3/360 did’nt have the grunt neeed, but a new generation of hardware would solve all that.

    Right, so going on what i’ve seen so far, 1st wave of Next Gen has pretty much proved that it was not the hardware that was holding anything back, just a lack of creative vision from some developers and also publishers unwilling to take risks.

    Personally i would have felt the same about any game showcasing QTE events, escort missions etc, had it been running in 720P, 30 FPS to anything like 4K, 120 FPS.It’s just dumb gaming.Industry really needs to leave this crap behind.

    QTE events really ruined Resident Evil 4 and Far Cry 3 in a lot of places for myself, nothing quite breaks the illusion quite as well as having massive great button prompts flashing up on screen.

    And now Next Gen QTE’s are done so you cannot really even ‘fail’ them?, i give up, i honestly do.This generation was bad enough in handing out rewards for following instructions, playing online for set period etc, now your rewarded for failure?

    Might as well do a next gen game based on the Banking industry/stock market:QTE event which you ‘fail’ see’s another £80 Million wiped off a pension fund and rather than game over, you just don’t get the bonus payment+Car, just the bonus payment.

    • Firstly, and though I didn’t explain properly, the escorting of Nero doesn’t involve protecting him directly. It’s a plot device, not an escort mission as you’re thinking of.

      Second, you’re NOT rewarded should you fail a QTE only if you succeed, but there’s no penalty if you fail, because if you just stab them another time or two they’ll die just as well. They are there as a way of adding more visual variety over just mashing the attack button and doing a generic stab animation. Don’t want the QTE? Don’t trigger it. It’s up to you.

      They also don’t give big and brash button prompts, but more subtle effects which hint at the button you need to press.

      You’ve really jumped to conclusions on this one.

      • Sorry Stefan, but i really have’nt on ‘this one’.

        As you yourself just explained, there was a mix up over just exactly what the nature of the ‘escort’ mission was, i could only go by what was originally explained, so that’s conclusion 1 cleared up.

        Second and more importantly, think your kinda missing my point (which i probably made a meal of explaining), it’s the very fact that for a 1st wave, Next Gen title, game designers have again decided that QTE’s are to be a key feature.

        Sure, i’ve the option of triggering them, but i personally do not want to see them in Next Gen games, period.i’m sick of them, seriousily…from Dragon’s Lair to MCD games to Shen Mue, to God Of War, MGS torture stuff, they are a gameplay throwback, which i’d like to see put out to pasture.

        Are you punished for failing a QTE then?, does’nt sound like it, in fact faff it up a few times and option to skip entire sequence.Is there an option to turn them off completly?

        Should’nt developers be using the extra grunt of PS4/Xbox One in other areas that have always played 2nd fiddle? ie how about decent advances in A.I for starters.Gran Turismo series A.I been sheep like since PS1 games (PS2 titles still used PS1 routines, not tried PS3 GT, but would hope advances been made), i’ve played numerous Stealth games with guards as thick as pig shit, ditto for FPS, not seen decent Alien A.I in an Aliens game since AVP on PC on Windows ’95.

        This generation, whilst i loved Heavy Rain, it was just better looking QTE sequences, ditto for God Of War III.The prospect of yet another generation of games featuring cosmetic improvements, but same dumbed down gameplay does not appeal.

        Console hardware this gen is PC tech in a box, so is it really too much to ask for games with depth approaching those on PC?

        To me this sounds far too much like this generations Heavenly Sword (which i might add, i do own).

      • The Von Braun

        are you seriously calling God Of War gameplay dumbed down?

        Dragon’s Lair was an arcade game designed to take your money, I hated it when I was younger, but I have to say I loved playing it a few years ago and it is actually a very good game simple but effective.

        QTE’s will always be part of games, from opening doors, to picking up ammo/files to long fight sequences, sometimes it works sometimes it doesn’t.

        God Of War is probably the best example of QTE’s working, mostly only using them for big boss battles.

        and yes I agree Far Cry 3 though a great game, was hindered by the use of QTE’s especially that knife fight at the end.

        I’m not that interested in Ryse (not really interested in the XBOX One) but the QTE’s sound relevant to the gameplay, you don’t have to use them if you don’t want to, but you may need them every now and then, to regain health or whatever.

    • For me the QTE executions (and the rewards they give) are the best part.
      With a quick press on the d-pad you can specify whether you want successful executions to recover your health, replenish focus, do more damage or earn more XP.
      To me this sounds great. Struggling with a fight? Stick it on health mode to recover. Laying waste and in the middle of a huge combo? Activate the XP bonus to reap the rewards.
      It may not a huge gameplay mechanic, but it offers the player choice and adds depth, so it can only be a good thing :)

  6. I wanted to play this anyway because it’s rare for a console game to be set in rome. If the combat is really like batman, then I can see this as the best X1 exclusive announced to date.

  7. Looks like it might get old quickly, Crytek make bonny looking games but game play always seems to be lacking. Don’t think it would hold up like batman

  8. I won’t be getting an xbone for awhile, but I may pick this up from the bargain bin when I do

  9. @MaD dOctor 79:

    As owner of GOW on PS2, Gow HD Collections Vol 1+2 and Gow III on PS3, along with both PSP GOW games, yep, that’s what i’m saying.Fantastic fun, but dumbed down to lot of basic QTE stuff in so many places.Has’nt stopped me buying or completing any of them so far, as you can see.

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