Ryse: Son of Rome E3 Preview: Et Tu, QTE?
Cevat Yerli, co-founder, president and CEO of Crytek Studios, doesn’t want you to just experience what it was like to be a solider of the Roman Empire in Ryse: Son of Rome; he wants you to feel every blow, thrill in every victory and take advantage of modern technology to let your friends know just how badly you outscored them.
Ryse tells the story of Marius Titus, a Roman soldier on the road to becoming a general when one of greatest empires of its time violently expanded its rule by invading Britannia. After having his family slain by the barbarian hordes of the north, Marius is bent on revenge. As Yerli put it, the game is about “anger, fear, pain and bloodlust.”
However, what we saw at E3 was less storytelling and more cinematic combat and high-score bragging rights. This combat-heavy title’s focus is on, Yerli said, “fear, emotion and intensity.” And that we saw in spades in the demo, but what was shown also has led to cries of combat sequences so slow that one could put down the controller and make a sandwich while they finish. We spoke with Yerli at the Microsoft booth about that and more.
Et tu, QTE?
The death blows in the game are graphic, slow-mo and plentiful. This gave the impression that players should expect Ryse’s gameplay to be more like a series of QuickTime Events (QTEs) than fast-paced and non-stop combat that relies on expertly timed button commands. That perception is false, according to Yerli — the QTE-heavy experience was more a result of changes made to the demo shown at the Microsoft press conference earlier in the week. To explain the difference, first you must understand how the combat system works in Ryse.
Basic combat consists of standard button-pressing and positioning to successfully land five to six hits that will bring your opponent to the brink of death. This means the player must execute well-coordinated attacks while deflecting the blows of not only the targeted enemy, but of his many comrades circling the player from behind. When the opponent has been brought to his knees, he can simply be killed with a standard attack, or the “execution” feature can be activated. A controller button icon will appear above the enemy’s head; say. a blue X or yellow Y. If the player hits the correct button at the correct time, she will be rewarded by executing a quick, cinematic death blow against the hapless barbarian, before returning to combat to deal with his buddies, who are aiming killing strikes of their own.
According to Yerli, because of the time constraints of the press conference and the desire to show as much of the game as possible, Crytek reduced the health of the enemies so they would fall in just one or two hits. To the viewer, it appeared as if there was very little twitch-based combat and a great deal of cinematic execution sequences, leading to cries of QTE-only gameplay. But Ryse’s actual gameplay itself will have longer, more standard combat sequences before the opportunity for an execution, requiring at least five to six blows against any single opponent.
The player will receive points for killing enemies and, of course, even more points for pulling off these executions. These points allow players the ability to compare their performances to those of their friends, as points can be seen for just certain encounters or the game as a whole.