Ryse: Son of Rome has been slammed as a QTE (Quick Time Event)-centric game since it was demoed at E3 earlier this year. That’s not a fair assessment of the game heading into the November launch of the console following a hands-on experience with the game’s Gladiator mode at an Xbox One Tour event in Atlanta on Saturday.
The combat in Ryse has more in common with the mechanics from the Batman: Arkham series than any game on the long list of QTE heavy titles. Controls for combat consist of an attack button (X), block (A), roll (B) and shield bash (Y) with the option to initiate executions (RT) or throw spears (LT + RT).
More often than not, players will find themselves surrounded by two or more enemies who alternate attacks. Picking up the cues on when enemies are getting ready to attack is the key to blocking or dodging and counter-attacking. Additionally, there are enemies that have to be attacked in certain ways versus the standard issue barbarian. For example, the fat barbarians carrying shields need to be hit with a shield bash first for attacks to get through their defense. Conversely, fighters carrying dual swords require the player to block a series of attacks before they are exposed to attack.
QTEs are present but are limited, at least in the Gladiator mode, to executions which are prompted with a small visual cue over an enemy’s head which is the sign to press the RT button. Once initiated, the enemy will flash and a sound cue will be given as well when the player needs to press a button. The execution will still complete whether or not any button is pressed but the score is dependent on the timing.
This is all up to the player though as they can decide whether if they even want to initiate an execution or even try to setup a dual execution.
The combat in Ryse has a satisfying rhythm to it – block, attack, roll, slam, attack, execution – that belies early criticisms of the game as QTE-centric. While it remains to be seen if the campaign is loaded with QTE sequences, the flow of the Gladiator combat combined with the game’s impressive graphics completely changed this Examiner’s opinion of the game headed into the Xbox One’s launch on Nov. 22.
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