As much as I love the Ryse: Son of Rome multiplayer, I have never been a fan of multiplayer packs. Unimpressed by the rather small Colosseum Pack, I wasn’t exactly looking forward to the Mars’ Chosen Pack, which I believed would only give me more of the same, but I was so wrong.
There are three new arenas to fight in with traditional co-op gladiator combat. All of them are based off of an Egyptian aesthetic, which is actually a nice change from the overwhelming amount of Germanic forest inspired arenas. They add new mechanics to a familiar format, and encourage teamwork. It also comes with another character skin (The Roman Legionary) which I found to be less visually appealing than the rest of the skins on offer already.
The new survival mode is what the real addition is here. The mode pits you and your partner in a necessary alliance, where you must slow your ever diminishing health by killing foes. Unlike the traditional Ryse Co-op experience, there are no objectives to worry about; it is all about killing. The first few minutes may seem easy, but as time goes on, so does the speed at which your health falls. by the end of a match, I felt this urge to go longer, and fight better.
The final minutes of each match are filled with epic moments. Back to back with your ally, savoring each kill, and struggling to keep your health up, when you finally meet your end after a long fought battle, it feels like a true last stand. The best part about this new mode is that the mechanics are not unfair. Ryse has always been a subtly strategic hack’n’slash, where a simple, thoughtless mistake could open you up to an attack. Survival only highlights this quality, and this time one slip can lead to death. Truly flourishing in this mode requires a comfort with the combat, and experience with the enemy types, but despite this, newcomers can still jump in, and perform relatively well.