Outside of the campaign is a gladiatorial co-op mode set in the Colosseum. The two player online co-op mode utilizes the same combat system found in the core game but split between two players. While there's no moves capable in the core fighting system that utilize both players, there are special co-op executions that can be unlocked. The main difference is your combo system is supplemented by an additional system of keeping the crowd entertained. You can taunt and talk to the crowd to bridge combos between players which will maximize your experience earned. Instead of splitting your executions between four specials, each player chooses a god before the match which represents the special ability.
The Colosseum mode is broken up into three sections. The first will randomly change the level after successive waves and eventually you can “complete” an entire section. The second allows players to choose which version of the Colosseum they'll be taking on. What's truly impressive with this mode of play is how the entire level changes dynamically as if some giant ancient mechanical device is able to change the scenery on the fly. You'll go from lush forests to sandstorms in a desert in minutes, and you'll watch it happen. It sort of reminds me of the introduction to Game of Thrones on HBO.
Each one of these pieces of scenery aren't just for good looks though, your objectives will be switched up. In some you'll have to dump boiling oil on bunkers that spawn enemies. Others you'll need to conquer a defensive point and hold it from barbarians. There are boss waves, archer waves, and various other curve balls the game throws at you in the co-op mode. You definitely need to work together and communicate for some of the more objective based waves. This is where the special abilities come into play - you'll almost always want to have one player choose Athena to be the healer.
Completing matches will earn you experience and gold which can then be used to buy “booster” packs. These packs contain one time use consumables, player customization, and other items to improve your gladiator. Tacked on top of it is a microtransaction system which allows players to bypass the grind and tear into packs early. There are 100 levels to achieve in the Colosseum mode and it feels like it'll take a LONG time to get there. It's not unlike what we saw in Mass Effect 3's co-op mode from last year, though it doesn't feel quite as varied.
Ryse: Son of Rome is a game that was judged before it was time to do so. Of all the launch titles I've played on all the systems, Ryse might just be my favorite. The graphics are impressive, the story is decent, and the gameplay is fun and satisfying. While the co-op mode isn't the deepest, there's enough variety here to keep you entertained for some time. After all, isn't that a gladiator's job? To entertain.
The Co-Op Experience: The cooperative multiplayer experience in "Ryse: Son of Rome" plunges you into the brutal world of gladiatorial combat. You fight across a dozen levels set in the Colosseum with varying objectives. Earn experience and gold, buy booster packs, and customize your gladiator up to level 100.
Co-Optimus game reviews focus on the cooperative experience of a game, our final score graphic represents this experience along with an average score for the game overall. For an explanation of our scores please check our Review Score Explanation Guide.