Ryse: Son of Rome Duel of Fates Pack
Reviewed by Didi Cardoso
Review Date Platform Genre Rating Production
2014-05-01 Xbox One Action M (Mature) Crytek / Microsoft Studios

I'll start this review by saying I wish we had email notifications for DLC and Challenges... I found out about Duel of Fates last Thursday (April 24) when I logged on to play a few rounds and had a 2.7 GB update to download before I managed to run the game. Obviously, excitement ensued: update equals DLC, DLC equals new stuff, and new stuff makes me happy! Especially new Ryse stuff.

After the update was done I was greeted with the "Duel of Fates pack content now available" splash image featuring Glott and Marius as playable skins. Hooray! Finally Marius and all his facial expression glory can be played in the Colosseum! But my excitement didn't stop there, and the Roman gods have heard my prayers, since we can finally play a few more maps in Solo mode: Obelisk and the two brand-new Barbarous and Invictus.

Obviously, I had to play them all, even though I'm already familiar with Obelisk from multiplayer rounds, but it's nice to be able to complete it on my own.

Barbarous offers a nice change of scenery, and I don't mean just the two topless dancers that you can see up on a balcony as you enter the arena. You begin by defending the Tree of the Gods in the courtyard, then jumping down into the tunnels under the arena to emerge on narrow alleyways, climbing onto the scaffold onto the wall, then guarding the gates of Rome, preventing a barbarian invasion and destroying the two catapults outside of the wall. I really like the look of this stage, and the change from the courtyard to the underground and other tight spots, which are obviously tricky to fight in. Overall, it's a fairly quick and fun round.

Invictus offers a completely different challenge and pace. The area is much like a garden, wherein lays a defiled temple. After burning the wicker men, you must hold your ground and defend the temple. A river divides the stage in two, so you need to repair the bridge to go across, destroy all catapults there and defend Nero's statue - which seems to always go down pretty fast. A round in Invictus lasts longer than one in Barbarous, and it's an interesting and more varied experience that even includes explosive barrels.

The update also seems to have slightly changed the previously existing maps, optimizing them for solo play. I didn't notice much difference except that everything seems easier now, and I seem to fly through the rounds, which makes them seem shorter. And I can't be sure, but at some point I thought that there was only one archer scaffold instead of the usual two in Courtyard.

Three new maps based on the new elements and goals were also added to the Arena: Rome the Invincible, Within the Walls and Emperor's Road.

Survival is definitely where it's at lately, and this mode also gets a new map: Island. There was also a Challenge tied to it to survive for 30 minutes. Island is brutal, intense, hectic but incredibly fun! The projectiles don't stop and you can't destroy the siege engines since they are located off the island. Enemies keep coming in from three different spawn points. Statues do appear but it's not easy getting to them when half of the Island gets covered in red circles.

However, you are temporarily invincible while in an execution, so you can strategically dodge the rain of arrows that way. It is fantastic for earning crazy amounts of Valor and Gold. In a couple of days of playing in it, I went from rank 170 to 250, and finished purchasing all of Tier 6 booster packs.

And after too may close calls along the 25-27 minute mark, I got the Castaway Challenge done with a friend (thanks Dy!). Those last 2 minutes were some of my most stressful gaming moments ever, it got to the point where we were nearly chain-reviving each other but thanks to good communication (it was key in Mars' Chosen, even more so now) we pulled through!

Five new achievements for 50 points each have also been added, making the maximum obtainable go up to 1500 points:
Best of the Best (50) - Achieve Rank 150 in Multiplayer
This is My Island (50) - Perform 30 Environmental Executions on Island
Build a Bridge Out of Her (50) - Complete Invictus
Uh, He's Already Got One, You see (50) - Complete Barbarous
Survivor (50) - Play a Round of Survival on Island

Overall, I'm really pleased with Duel of Fates. I wasn't exactly done playing around with Mars' Chosen just yet, Survival with friends is a lot of fun. Having more maps with new elements and different goals was a very nice and refreshing surprise that came sooner than I expected. And when you thought I couldn't find something to bitch about, think again! The skins made a nice addition to the game, but I can actually find faults with those! To start, it definitely feels like Glott is out of place in the Colosseum, or at least, on the wrong side of the battle. It would be more appropriate for him to be fighting hordes of Roman soldiers and Praetorian guards instead of barbarians. And if I can find something more to complain about, it's how now, since we can see the actual Marius shouting all those insults to barbarians and praises to the gods, we lack the lip synching that technically should go along with him. I also expected another Tier for more booster packs, but it seems this giggly gladiator now has to wait for more DLC to upgrade her gear. But I have no intention to stop playing: Rank 250, and counting!

The Duel of Fates Pack is now available on Xbox One for $8.99, and it's free for Season Pass holders.

Learn more about Ryse: Son of Rome in our review, the previously released Mars' Chosen Pack, and meet the actor who plays Marius Titus in our interview with John Hopkins.

For more videos of Ryse: Son of Rome browse the playlist below: