New Ryse screenshots and story details released

Digital graphic novel also announced, unlocks in-game multiplayer bonuses

Microsoft and Crytek have released new Ryse: Son of Rome screenshots and fresh details about the game's story and characters.

During a San Diego Comic-Con panel, the pair also announced a new digital graphic novel called Ryse: Sword of Damocles, Reading and interacting with the novel unlocks collectibles that can be redeemed in the Xbox One launch game for in-game bonuses that "provide an early edge in the game's multiplayer".

Here's all the new information on Ryse's story and characters, straight from the horse's mouth:

Ryse: Son of Rome follows Marius Titus, a young Roman soldier who must avenge the murder of his family at the hands of barbarian bandits. As he rises through the ranks of the Roman army, Marius' quest for vengeance will take him to the barbarian-infested shores of Britannia, and eventually straight into the heart of Rome.

Marius: The hero of Ryse: Son of Rome, Marius is a young soldier with a strong sense of duty who is completely dedicated to Rome and her ideals. Initially eager to fight against Rome's enemies and expand the Empire, he soon realizes that Rome is vulnerable to an even more insidious threat than the barbarians he faces on the battlefield. Ever loyal to Rome, he resolves to rid the Empire of her true enemies.

Vitallion: A wise and charismatic general who has served Rome for decades, Vitallion has fought in many campaigns and serves as a mentor to Marius. As events transpire he begins to wonder if duty has its limits, and whether self-restraint is always the correct course of action.

Nero: Nero, Emperor of Rome, struggles to maintain his grip on power. He promotes his two sons Commodus and Basillius to powerful positions, letting them take control of the rebellious province of Britannia. Nero feels threaten by all potential rivals and exacts ruthless retribution against anyone who crosses him.

Commodus and Basillius: As governor of Britannia, Nero's eldest son, Commodus, sees himself as a god, and the people of Britannia as his subjects. His reign is characterized by brutal repression. Nero's youngest son, Basillius, enjoys anything carnal or cruel. At the Colosseum he delights in watching gladiators kill each other, and lords over the terrified slaves he keeps in his harem in the bowels of the structure.

Boudica: The daughter of King Oswald, the ruler of the Britons. Strong and resilient, Boudica hates Rome, and with good reason: under Roman rule, her people are made to suffer horribly. When her father faces horrific retribution from a perceived insult, it galvanizes Boudica and she rallies her people to rise against their oppressors. Boudica is a principled woman and has the will to go to the ends of the world to save her people.

Oswald: Benevolent king of the Britons. He leads a rebellion against the tyrannical rule of Rome, but when the Romans brutally repress the rebels, Oswald submits to Roman dominance in hopes this will spare his people. His naivety leaves him vulnerable to the Romans.

Glott: Enigmatic leader of the Northern barbarians, rumored to be more beast than man. Very little is known about him except that he is fiercely independent and will make war on both the Romans and Oswald's tribe.

The Spirit Gods: Immortal spirit, one who watches over humanity, guides Marius. She appears in mortal form, but radiates an otherworldly aura. Another (known in mortal form as Aquilo) seeks the destruction of Rome and allies himself with her enemies.

After two years without a public showing following its initial announcement at E3 2011, Ryse was re-revealed as an Xbox One exclusive at Microsoft's E3 2013 press conference.

Following its showing, Crytek CEO Cevat Yerli said Ryse could be the first in a series of games, noting: "The title's not supposed to be a one-off."

CVG came away underwhelmed following a recent hands-on with the game. We said in our Ryse preview: "As launch titles go, this is more Genji than Gears of War. Fingers crossed that later gameplay segments show more promise, because from an artistic viewpoint, Crytek's B.C. battlegrounds make a perfect setting to show off the Xbox One's technical credentials."

Microsoft has confirmed that Xbox One will be available in 21 markets this November. The Xbox One price has been set at £425 / €499 / $499.