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E3 2013 | Ryse: Son of Rome Behind Closed Doors

Hopefully by now you’ve all seen the Saving-Private-Ryan-esque battle shown at Microsoft’s press conference full of desperate screaming, brutal kills, strategic squad formations, and an overbearing enemy castle that needs conquering. Developed by Crytek, the company behind gorgeous titles like Crysis, Ryse: Son of Rome aims to be everything you’d want from a grand, military action game set around the year zero. Recently, I was lucky enough to see a behind-closed-doors presentation of the demo shown off during the conference with details on the game’s mechanics and features.

As you saw at the beginning of the week, enemies that take enough damage are liable to be executed sending the player into a quick-time event. These sequences don’t offer any penalty if failed (the enemy will still keel over eventually) but executing each button press accurately can offer one of a few different rewards for the player. Our host from Crytek explained that they have no regenerative health in the game, but if you choose, you can have your execution reward restore some of your vitality. There will be four reward options in the final game you’ll be able to pick on the fly, but health was the only one he said he would mention for the day (although the words “XP” and “gold” were thrown around a couple of times).

Execute!

Execute!

There will be over a hundred different executions at the game’s launch and the demo only shows eight of them. Our host explained that each animation is loyally attached to a sequence of buttons that will not change for that particular animation. So, if you recognize which execution your character has randomly selected to do, you can anticipate what buttons to press before a prompt even shows on screen. This predictability will be used in a hardcore mode featuring no prompts at all, depending on your ability to know your moves by rote.

Approaching a group of enemy archers on foot, our Roman soldiers slide into a formation called The Tortoise (a huddled group of men with a thick clamshell of shields around them to stop arrows). It’s your job to order your men to move forward when the archers are reloading and hunker down into formation when they’re firing. If done wrong, men will be lost, and there’s only so many you can lose before the battle is a failure.

Finally able to approach the castle walls, things go back to a bloody brawl as our host rids the castle of bad guys. He explains how, like in a lot of action games, there will be a multiplier that will grow as long as you don’t miss or get hit, making combat flow essential to a high score. He also wanted us to take note that there are certain things in the environment that can be used to kill your enemies quicker and more easily than simply trying to ram your sword into them. You’ll want to take advantage of these opportunities whenever possible, since they also provide the player with their reward of choice mentioned earlier.

Roma Victor!

Roma Victor!

Smartglass compatibility in Ryse provides a few convenient features for those who own some kind of iOS, Android, or Windows portable device. As you play through each level, your tablet can tell you how far you are from completing your objective and also inform you of any videos your friends have made in the area, which might come in handy if you’re stuck and want to see how it’s done. Smartglass will also allow you to customize your character and upgrades (though this wasn’t talked about in detail) even when you’re away from your console.

There were a few options on the tablet that weren’t talked about, like an intriguing “strategize” button, but overall the features seem helpful yet not game changing. The presentation ended with the announcement of multiplayer featuring the iconic Roman Coliseum and that we would hear more details about it at a later date.

Little David Galanter grew up in Orange County, CA loving videogames and anything else that repelled girls. After getting his Bachelor's Degree in Theatre Arts, David decided to start contributing his soft silky words to the world via online media. He currently owns a website with a weekly podcast (www.drgman.com) and is a reviewer for Default Prime!

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