Ramping up the excitement for the return of Spartacus, Starz has enlisted Liam McIntyre in explaining where the series is headed and what viewers can expect from the Thracian warrior in the long-awaited continuation of the series with Spartacus: Vengeance.

So far, all that we have seen of McIntyre has been a handful of stills and the short trailer, which debuted in late summer. Now, in what amounts to an introduction of the man who will assume the mantle of Spartacus, after the tragic passing of Andy Whitfield, fans will get to see McIntyre in action – as well as get sense of where the actor is coming from with his interpretation of the character.

Additionally, the opening scene provides a look at more of the series’ visual style, which has been refined significantly since Spartacus: Blood & Sand first aired, and even looks to be an upgrade from the prequel miniseries, Spartacus: Gods of the Arena. It looks as though creator Stephen S. DeKnight and his team have worked hard to incorporate more of the slick, stylistic approach made so popular by director Zack Snyder with his work on 300 and Sucker Punch. As the success of Spartacus hinges a great deal on the spectacular theatricality of its action sequences, such improvements will unquestionably go a long way in securing the longevity of the series.

Not that Starz is particularly worried, mind you. Prior to airing the second season, and testing fans reactions to McIntyre, the network greenlit season 3 – suggesting its flagship series is just fine with McIntyre in the lead.

In addition to testing the VFX department, this season will certainly test the storytelling capabilities of DeKnight and the other writers. As the gladiators are now freed and battling to stay that way, the scope of the series has certainly expanded beyond the confines of arenas and the House of Batiatus. Switching the venue from such a familiar landscape to wide-open vistas should provide Spartacus an interesting new canvas to paint red.

Take a look at the NSFW opening scene of Spartacus: Vengeance below:

While the four-minute sneak peek really serves to highlight McIntyre, fans will be pleased to know that nearly all of the key players in season 1 (despite John Hannah’s Batiatus, for obvious reasons) will be coming back – and that surprisingly includes Lucretia (Lucy Lawless), last seen being cut down by the blade of Crixus (Manu Bennett).

According to Starz, season 2 largely concerns Rome’s effort to quell the uprising caused by the gladiator rebellion, and stop Spartacus and his army of freed slaves before they have a chance to get completely out of hand. That effort means Spartacus will finally face the man initially responsible for his captivity and the loss of his wife Sura – Gaius Cladius Glaber (Craig Parker, Lord of the Rings). However, with his goal in sight, the Thracian warrior, and newfound leader, must weigh personal satisfaction in vengeance against the larger battle in opposition of tyranny.

Things are about to get bloody.

Spartacus: Vengeance premieres January 27 @10pm on Starz.