Digital Foundry
Supporter Program
Get access to   exclusive content unlimited 4K videos Discord Server Retro Corner Support us on Patreon Join now

Next-Gen Now: Ryse: Son of Rome

High quality video and performance analysis of Xbox One's tech showcase.

Short, immensely repetitive, and only really playable in short bursts without boredom setting in - it's fair to say that Ryse: Son of Rome is far from the most thrilling offering available for Microsoft's new console. However, in terms of rendering technology, it can be argued that the CryEngine-powered title is one of the most visually impressive launch titles available. There are points - many of them - where this game is simply breathtaking, with an overall presentation that is very filmic in nature, making it stand apart from the pack.

Ryse looks so very different that it calls to mind a debate on visual presentation we followed with much interest back in January 2012. Tech guru Timothy Lottes - then of Nvidia, now at Epic - presented an interesting theory about the difference in presentation between a Hollywood Blu-ray movie and a typical video game. His blog post - unfortunately - is now gone, but you can get the gist of the discussion in this Digital Foundry article, where Lottes concludes:

"The industry status quo is to push ultra-high display resolution, ultra-high texture resolution, and ultra sharpness. In my opinion, a more interesting next-generation metric is, can an engine on an ultra high-end PC rendering at 720p look as real as a DVD quality movie?"

The debate was interesting enough that even a Hollywood CG professional contributed:

"We do what is essentially MSAA. Then we do a lens distortion that makes the image incredibly soft (amongst other blooms/blurs/etc). Softness/noise/grain is part of film and something we often embrace. Jaggies we avoid like the plague and thus we anti-alias the crap out of our images," said Pixar's Chris Horne. "In the end it's still the same conclusion: games oversample vs. film. I've always thought that film res was more than enough res. I don't know how you will get gamers to embrace a film aesthetic, but it shouldn't be impossible."

Well, of all the games we've seen since then, Ryse is arguably the closest we get to a practical example of this theory - and it looks quite spectacular for much of its duration. Resolution doesn't drop all the way to 720p - Crytek chose 1600x900 - but the overall look is very cinematic, from film grain to motion blur to the immense levels of post-processing and pitch-perfect effects work. Ryse works at a sub-native resolution where others flounder partly because the anti-aliasing is quite sublime. The usual issues we have - stair-step jaggies, moire patterns on textures - are all extremely difficult to pick up on here. Even the anti-aliasing on the hair on Marius's centurion helmet is perfectly executed. It's difficult to recommend a game that simply isn't that enjoyable to play, but for Digital Foundry readers at least, the visuals should be experienced.

All of which makes Ryse perfect material as the latest subject for our Next Gen Now series, where we capture key games and provide full 1080p60 downloads for PC, Mac and PlayStation 3 playback. In the case of Ryse we have the initial 13 minutes of the campaign - the fall of Rome. It's quite a spectacle. The question is, can the Xbox One hardware handle it with a sufficiently smooth level of performance? Well, we've got that covered too, with performance analysis of the same content below. We're also working on a tech analysis piece that explores the game in more depth, so look out for that.

Performance analysis of the first campaign stage of Ryse: Son of Rome. We've omitted analysis of the FMV video sequences, making it easier for you to see what is being rendered in real-time - and what isn't.

Will you support the Digital Foundry team?

Digital Foundry specialises in technical analysis of gaming hardware and software, using state-of-the-art capture systems and bespoke software to show you how well games and hardware run, visualising precisely what they're capable of. In order to show you what 4K gaming actually looks like we needed to build our own platform to supply high quality 4K video for offline viewing. So we did.

Our videos are multi-gigabyte files and we've chosen a high quality provider to ensure fast downloads. However, that bandwidth isn't free and so we charge a small monthly subscription fee of $5. We think it's a small price to pay for unlimited access to top-tier quality encodes of our content. Thank you.

Support Digital Foundry

Find out more about the benefits of our Patreon

Sometimes we include links to online retail stores. If you click on one and make a purchase we may receive a small commission. Read our policy.

Jump to comments (74)

About the author

Richard Leadbetter

Richard Leadbetter

Technology Editor, Digital Foundry  |  digitalfoundry

Rich has been a games journalist since the days of 16-bit and specialises in technical analysis. He's commonly known around Eurogamer as the Blacksmith of the Future.


Digital Foundry | Best VR headsets for PC gaming 2022

Our latest recommendations, including Oculus Quest 2.

Digital Foundry | Best USB sound cards for gaming 2022

Our favourite external sound cards, featuring Epos and Creative.

Digital Foundry | Best 60%, 65%, 75% and TKL keyboards for gaming, typing and programming

Our favourite compact keebs from Corsair, Logitech, Asus and more.

New Samsung TVs will include cloud gaming and NFT support

Stadia, GeForce Now and Utomik supported so far.

You may also enjoy...

PlayStation VR2 tech specs revealed

But no word yet on price or release date.

Star Wars: Jedi Fallen Order headlines January Amazon Prime games

Plus Total War: Warhammer, World War Z: Aftermath.

Digital Foundry | Best USB sound cards for gaming 2022

Our favourite external sound cards, featuring Epos and Creative.

Supporters only

Comments (74)

Comments for this article are now closed. Thanks for taking part!

Hide low-scoring comments

Buy things with globes on them

And other lovely Eurogamer merch in our official store!

Eurogamer Merch
Explore our store