Earlier this week we reviewed the white Xbox One Sunset Overdrive Special Edition bundle, which launched first in North America followed by the UK a few days later. I found the bundle to be a very good value at $400, as it comes with a fresh and exclusive game and a unique looking console and controller. At $350 (the price starting Novermber 2nd), the Sunset OverDrive console will be a steal.
It turns out the white console has even more value than anyone knew. On Halloween, people who purchased the console and went online started receiving a surprise message from Microsoft with a free code for Ryse: Son of Rome! We can't say whether Microsoft will keep sending them to people who buy the Sunset Overdrive console later on. Still, it's a very classy move and a terrific way to welcome new players into the Xbox One fold.
Getting that code
So far the free Ryse code has been sent to several owners of the white Sunset Overdrive Xbox One system. You do not have to have redeemed the actual Sunset Overdrive game code; the determination seems to come from the white system only.
I myself received the code, as have many forum and Reddit users who purchased and used the system online earlier this week. We're not sure if the codes went out to every single person who met bought and used the white console or just a random selection of those users.
If you have a Sunset Overdrive system, don't bother checking your email for the code. It will have been sent to you by Xbox Live message. You don't even have to check directly from your console. I received and redeemed my code directly from Xbox.com. Microsoft sent two messages, one of which contained the actual code. They even say it's okay to give the code away if you already own the game.
This giveaway is similar to the free Killer Instinct Combo Breaker Pack giveaway that took place last year, although that giveaway targeted random Xbox Live users instead of specific console owners.
Ryse from your gwave!
Crytek's epic action game Ryse: Son of Rome takes place during the times of the Roman Empire. The game follows the lift of Marius Titus from his childhood into his days as a general. Marius eventually embarks on a quest to avenge the deaths of his family at the orders of the villainous Nero.
Of the three major Xbox One launch exclusives, Ryse has been widely praised as the most visually impressive of the bunch. Although it runs at 900p instead of 1080p, Ryse features lavish environments and extremely detailed characters. You still won't find many prettier Xbox One games.
The actual gameplay mostly consists of hack-and-slash battles. Players will need to carefully manage attacks, blocking, and movement in order to come out alive – and slice their enemies to pieces. The game also has some mild strategic aspects as you command troops in battle, but they largely take a backseat to the combat.
Ryse's campaign is a bit on the short side at six hours or so, although it offers multiple difficulty levels to encourage replay. An online cooperative multiplayer mode allows two players to team up and engage in fights within the Roman Colosseum.
Two versions of Ryse
Microsoft quietly released Ryse: Legendary Edition early in October, bundling the game with its DLC and a few exclusive bonuses. Players who received the free Ryse code can't upgrade to the Legendary Edition, but they can still buy the Ryse Season Pass and receive all of the content that actually matters.
The original non-Legendary version of Ryse has been retired from the digital Xbox Store, replaced by the Legendary Edition. If you didn't get a code and you're in the market for the game, that's the one to buy (at retail or via download). In Europe, the Legendary Edition seems to have been released at retail in Germany but not the UK.
Did any of our readers who bought the Sunset Overdrive bundle receive the code? Remember to check your Xbox Live messages, and then leave a comment to let us know!
According to a user at Cheap Ass Gamer, the codes will continue to be distributed through November 3rd and are for US residents only. Players below 17 years of age will apparently receive Max: The Curse of Brotherhood instead of Ryse.