Originally announced as an Xbox 360 Kinect-exclusive title, Ryse looked as if it would finally be delivering a fun (and horrendously gory) experience on the hands-free gaming camera. As many were surprised to learn during Microsoft’s latest E3 press conference, however, the game’s development has been pushed to the Xbox One — ditching Kinect controls and adding a subtitle in the process.
Now known as Ryse: Son of Rome, I was fortunate enough to get a behind-closed doors look at the game during E3 2013, and it appears to be shaping up quite nicely. The game plays much like a traditional hack-and-slash title, but was described by one of the developers as an “old-school game” that’s presented in a new way. While the combat appears basic, there are levels of depth that’ll take some serious practice to master.
First things first, the story of Ryse centres around a character named Marius Titus, and the driving force behind the protagonist’s unquenchable blood lust stems from the slaughter of his entire family. Taking on the role of a Roman general, Marius will go head-to-head with countless foes alongside his fellow Roman brethren; as well as by himself.
The game is mission-based, so it won’t feature any free-roaming aspects. It’s done this way to keep players involved in the story, action, and combat, which may disappoint a few gamers who were hoping to explore the next-gen powered confines of the ancient Roman world. Still, the game appears to play well, and the pacing from a narrative perspective sounds rather intriguing based on the Crytek employee’s description.
One of the more noteworthy inclusions in Ryse: Son of Rome is the fact that your health meter will not regenerate. In order to regain health, players will have to perform certain executions on foes — luckily, there are plenty of both enemies and executions. In order to reap the rewards of a specific execution, gamers will need to pull off a successful quick-time event. Failing to it the button that appears on-screen will still result in a kill, but there will be no rewards given to the player-controlled Marius. Hitting the corresponding button within fractions of a second, however, will net players a bonus for their execution.
Ryse (much like a majority of Xbox One titles) will also utilize SmartGlass, but it won’t affect the core gameplay whatsoever. Instead, the feature will allow One users to see how their scores from the game’s campaign missions stack up against the scores set by their friends. This effectively eliminates SmartGlass as a necessity from gameplay, unlike other games such as Dead Rising 3 which makes use of the feature within the actual game.
Crytek has also kept Kinect involved with Son of Rome, albeit in a significantly smaller role than it was when it was originally announced back in 2011. Players will be able to utilize the Kinect for voice controls during portions of the game that require group movements (i.e. storming a beach), allowing for a more immersive experience for those that feel like shouting commands at their television sets.
Given Ryse‘s previous commitment to the Xbox 360’s Kinect, it was surprising to see that the game had all but abandoned the peripheral in its move to the next-gen. A member of Crytek Studios was kind enough to fill me in on the developer’s change of heart when it came to Microsoft’s hands-free gaming device, and stated that the team originally didn’t plan to use Kinect at all — stressing that this was the game’s third iteration of the title. The developer thought the game simply wouldn’t provide an enjoyable experience if it required gamers to be on their feet for hours at a time, and it’s for this very reason that it switched gears and took the project in a different direction.
Fortunately, that direction appears to be a solid one, as the game looks stunning running on the Xbox One. Whether or not the gameplay itself will stack up remains to be seen, but gamers will find out a little later this year.
Ryse: Son of Rome will be launching alongside the Xbox One this November.
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