Crytek has had a rather rough year, starting with the launch of Ryse: Son of Rome on the Xbox One in November 2013. It didn’t quite live up to expectations sales-wise and its middling critical reception certainly didn’t help. Then there was the matter of financial troubles at Crytek, which eventually lead to Crytek UK employees not showing up to work due to unpaid salaries. This resulted in Homefront: The Revolution being bought out by Deep Silver which was co-publishing the game and development being taken out of Crytek’s hands. That’s not counting the numerous departures from various studios and the apparent cancellation of Ryse 2.
Regardless, the studio continues to soldier on. It’s bringing Ryse: Son of Rome to PC and boasting a fair number of graphical upgrades to justify the purchase. HUNT: Horrors of the Gilded Age will also be arriving in the coming months and even with all the apparent instability, senior producer Brian Chambers doesn’t sound too worried. GamingBolt recently caught up with Chambers to talk about the PC version of Ryse: Son of Rome, the chances of Ryse 2 releasing and ever arriving on the PC, and much more.
"The decision to bring Ryse to PC was logical to us, not only did it allow us to respond directly to our fans, it was an opportunity for us to show off an aspect of what CryEngine is capable of."
Rashid K. Sayed: I was under the impression that Xbox One was the only place one could play Ryse on. Can you let us know what kind of exclusivity deal did you had with Microsoft regarding Ryse?
Brian Chambers: Ryse was an Xbox One Launch title. The Ryse IP belongs to Crytek which enables us to now bring it to PC.
Rashid K. Sayed: So why is Crytek bringing Ryse on PC, as opposed to the PlayStation 4?
Brian Chambers: The game’s arrival on PC is a direct response to interest from gamers. The PC community, as well as Crytek fans reached out to us and asked for it. We also feel the growing public appetite for 4K experiences makes this the perfect moment to bring it to PC.
Rashid K. Sayed: I find the decision to PC rather interesting. Crytek had layoffs in the last few months and obviously you would want to recover some of the money back. Why not launch Ryse on PS4, a console that has apparently sold over 10 million units and is leading the new console cycle, especially with Cevat stating that they are not happy with X1 sales?
Brian Chambers: The decision to bring Ryse to PC was logical to us, not only did it allow us to respond directly to our fans, it was an opportunity for us to show off an aspect of what CryEngine is capable of. The PS4 has gained a large user base in a short time and Crytek will develop titles for it the near future, such as HUNT: Horrors of the Gilded Age. Currently there is no announcement regarding Ryse coming to PS4.
"Ryse 2 was never announced by Microsoft or Crytek and therefore we hope you'll understand that we can't comment on it."
Rashid K. Sayed: Ryse Son of Rome was and is still perhaps the best looking game on the Xbox One. What kind of graphical updates can players expect in the PC version of the game?
Brian Chambers: Thanks, we worked hard to bring players the level quality that we had on Xbox One, and we continued to push it for Ryse PC. 4K resolution support enhances textures and high-frequency shading details.
- Higher resolution shows more of the texture details, especially on Marius, as the textures contain so much detail at the top MIP levels that it’s often not even visible on 1080p res.
- Higher resolution also means less perceived aliasing since geometry is rasterized more accurately, pixels are smaller.
Other additions, such as super-sampling AA (SSAA), make for a very clean image with minimized shimmering
- Unlike post processing AA or MSAA (multi-sample anti aliasing), super sampling truly shades pixels at higher resolution and then combines blocks of them into an average. This produces a kind of aliasing that is hard to beat with other methods since the high resolution image information is not visible.
Native desktop resolution UI support in full-screen means the UI always looks crisp, even if it’s run in lower resolution for performance reasons
- Desktop resolution is usually the highest resolution any display supports and thus gives a clear and sharp image. However, games often cannot run at these resolutions at full details.
- Native resolution provides a compromise in that it allows the game to render the 3d world at a lower (user configurable) resolution if desired. The resulting image is then up-scaled to desktop resolution and UI rendered on top. This provides crisp UI on top of a smooth gameplay experience.
Rashid K. Sayed: Is there any scope for Ryse 2 in the future? And will you consider the PS4 this time around?
Brian Chambers: We do get asked this question frequently, Ryse 2 was never announced by Microsoft or Crytek and therefore we hope you’ll understand that we can’t comment on it.
Rashid K. Sayed: Crytek famously stated last year that the new console cycle is not about resolution. Now that Ryse Son of Rome will be supporting 4K on PC, will you guys still hold on to that statement?
Brian Chambers: It’s unfair in my opinion to compare consoles with PC hardware. A console, regardless of how powerful it is, will have limitations that the user won’t be able to modify. PC hardware on the other hand can be as simple or powerful as the user chooses to build it out.
"There are several new engine features that made it into the Ryse PC version. We added support for up-scaling the scene to the native monitor resolution and provide the option to render with super-sampling. "
Rashid K. Sayed: Are there plans to use AMD or Nvidia specific features for Ryse Son of Rome on PC?
Brian Chambers: Currently there are no plans for any specific features.
Rashid K. Sayed: How difficult was the process of porting the X1 version to the PC? Were you able to use some of Xbox One’s CPU specific optimizations for the PC version?
Brian Chambers: During development of Ryse on console, we always had a version running on PC. The main work for the PC release was adding backend support and adjusting the engine to run well on the many diverse hardware configurations (multi-GPU setups, systems with less VRAM than Xbox, etc.). Most of the general engine optimizations we did back then for the Xbox One version are valid for PC as well.
Rashid K. Sayed: CryEngine must have undergone several iterations since Ryse’s release last year. Are those changes going to affect the PC version? Can you outline them?
Brian Chambers: There are several new engine features that made it into the Ryse PC version. We added support for up-scaling the scene to the native monitor resolution and provide the option to render with super-sampling. We also further improved our temporal AA solution for Ryse PC and increased the shadow quality.
Rashid K. Sayed: Are you tweaking a few things gameplay wise?
Brian Chambers: The core gameplay experience for both single player and multiplayer will remain as they were for the console release. All the efforts for the PC version were made on the technical side.
Rashid K. Sayed: With Ryse, you are once again planning to set new benchmarks for visuals on PC. What steps are you taking to heavily optimize the game? I am sure you don’t want a repeat of the original Crysis situation.
Brian Chambers: I think Ryse PC will set a new benchmark for PC’s, rest assured that players will find that they will be able to control their settings and still have a solid experience with a very achievable minimum specification machine.
" The team is extremely pleased with the work that’s gone into Ryse; we’ve technically pushed ourselves in numerous different ways."
Rashid K. Sayed: Are there plans to support UGC and mod kits for Ryse?
Brian Chambers: I’m a fan of UGC and mod’s in general, but there’s currently no plan for either with this release.
Rashid K. Sayed: Ryse Son of Rome was locked at 30fps on the Xbox One. With PC, users can shoot for 60fps. What kind of advantages do you think this will bring to the overall experience?
Brian Chambers: Combat games at 60fps are a different experience, and usually preferred for the hardcore enthusiast over 30fps. The game was created for 30fps and plays solid, but I’m glad that we can now let people play at 60fps if they have the hardware to support it. Playing back more frames creates a different visual feel; you should definitely give it a go.
Rashid K. Sayed: Is there anything else you want to tell us before we take off?
Brian Chambers: The team is extremely pleased with the work that’s gone into Ryse; we’ve technically pushed ourselves in numerous different ways. To be able to pick up what we did on console and now have it running in 4k on the PC is pretty cool; you really should find the opportunity to play Ryse PC to see for yourselves.