Over the past week I have gotten the chance to play several Xbox One game demos in advance of the November 22nd launch date of the Xbox One itself at an event here in Toronto. Many of my experiences were fairly shallow on non-full versions of games, but with vertical slices of gameplay and repeated stress tests. Ryse: Son of Rome was one of such games I’ve gotten a chance to get my hands on, and here is what I thought about it.
Ryse Gameplay: Not 100% Button Mashing
I played Ryse several times in the Coliseum mode, defeating hordes of enemies and completing certain objectives. As soon as I picked up the controller (next-gen controller comparison coming soon) I immediately ran straight into combat against multiple enemies, remembering hearing that the combat was described as “mashing to mastery.”
The gameplay mechanics must have improved dramatically since that comment, as enemy combatants did not just stand there surrounding you like in a Steven Seagal movie. They are on your butt if you focus too much on one enemy, requiring you to block with your shield. As well, spamming the shield attack button will not save you; variance keeps your combat skills up.
Finishers have also been modified post-E3 announcement. No longer are the incessant button QTE prompts over an enemies head, but instead are 300-esque slowdowns with a button color aura prompting the player to press the corresponding button on their controller. For those who are not instinctively familiar with which button belongs to which color would appear to falter at first, if it actually mattered which button you pressed.
Ryse Visuals: 900p Ain’t Nothing To Scoff At
There has been a lot of discussion recently about the PS4 and the Xbox One’s abilities to hit 1080p and 60 FPS. Ryse does neither, but what it does at 900p and 30 FPS has been more visually impressive than anything else at that graphical setting on next-gen consoles. Crytek have been known to push out some of the best graphics on their games, infamously with the Crysis series, and now with Ryse: Son of Rome they are doing the best with what they have for Xbox One’s technical capabilities at launch.
Battle animations, while decidedly quicker than normal humans are capable of, seemed fluid. The polygon count seemed a bit lower than during the announcement gameplay trailer at E3, but the lighting and shading were a noticeable upgrade from 7th generation capabilities.
Furthermore, there were not as many graphical problems when it came to anti-aliasing as I saw with Forza Motorsport 5, a game that runs at 1080p and 60 FPS. In this specific case, it seemed like a good idea to brace 900p over pushing the Xbox One to 1080p where it would not have been as visually appealing.
Ryse Final Thoughts
I’m not quite sure what to take away from my experiences playing Ryse: Son of Rome. I did not get a chance to use the Kinect’s voice commands or play through the story, but based on early development of the game being a Kinect-only title, I can imagine the path it has taken now involves minimal involvement.
Fighting seemed to take nods to the Assassin’s Creed series, but was a lot more “fair” in its combat. As in, you can’t just riposte and counter repeatedly and spurn off a huge kill combo as easy as pie.
I would suggest to check out some of the early story dialogue on Youtube Let’s Plays and reading multiple reviews before committing to a full purchase or not. However, with the review embargo up on Thursday, the day before the Xbox One releases worldwide, you might want to wait until the end of the weekend to gather a collection of opinions before going in on this $60 game at launch.
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