Building a better wheel: Crytek details Crysis 3

Crysis 3 Liberty DomeWith just five months to go until it is released, Crysis 3 has managed to fly somewhat under the radar. Its predecessor was released just last year, and with the cornucopia of other first-person shooters on the market and due out later this year, it is easy for a game like this to get overlooked. At least for the moment.

With a relatively soft release schedule for February of next year (at least so far), you can expect that the interest will heat up and by the time this game is released. It will be white hot. The Crysis series may not have the name recognition that Call of Duty or the Battlefield franchises enjoy, but to those that have experienced the series firsthand, you can be sure the third offering has their attention.  

Crytek is known for its technologically sophisticated games. We recently spoke with them about the engine they are using, the phenomenal CryENGINE 3, and how the future of gaming is constantly changing. The developer has excelled at pushing games and gaming systems to their limits.  The original Crysis still laughs in the face of weaker PCs, and Crysis 2 offered more than a few jaw dropping scenes of beauty and awe. To the gamers out there that appreciate this level of technical excellence, you can be sure that Crysis 3 will have their attention.  

We spoke with Crysis 3 producer Mike Read about what to expect from the upcoming Crysis 3, as well as where Crysis 2 got it right, and where their dreams and the current technology diverged.

Mike ReadWhat can you tell me about Crysis 3?

Mike Read: Crysis 3 takes place more than 20 years after the events of Crysis 2. The CELL corporation has become a world superpower and now controls the global energy resources. Over all the major cities worldwide, they have built these massive domes which now cover them. Crysis 3 takes place in the dome which we refer to as the Liberty Dome, which is the one that covers New York City. Within this dome is a broken down city that has managed to help flourish an environment which we like to refer to as an Urban Jungle.

In Crysis 3, you’ll be playing as a well-known Crysis character called Prophet, which some might remember from the previous Crysis series. Prophet is on a mission and is being driven by something he doesn’t quite understand: visions of the end of the world and the destruction of mankind. He will stop at nothing to reach his goal and that includes removing anything that stands in his way.

Was it developed as a PC game then ported over, or was it developed simultaneously on consoles as well? 

MR: Crysis 3 is being developed simultaneously on PC, Xbox, and PS3. The development of Crysis 2 put us in a good position and taught us a lot of lessons, so that we are now able to do this reliably and effectively.

Sequels are always expected to be bigger and better than their predecessors. So how will Crysis 3 improve upon Crysis 2?

MR: Of course, but we aren’t out to reinvent the wheel, but rather to build a better one. We took a lot out of what we learned from Crysis 1 and Crysis 2 and incorporated that into what we are going to deliver for Crysis 3 – things like art, design, content, story, AI, etc. There are countless tweaks that have been made to all the systems, but everything will still feel very much like a Crysis game.

Story is probably one of the bigger ones that has changed as well, and we think that fans that really want to immerse themselves in this aspect of the game are in for a treat this time around. You will see a lot more depth and interactions with the characters, which is something we had always caught some flak about in the past, so this time we’ve taken a different focus from its predecessors with the help of Steven Hall who has been at the core of the writing for Crysis 3. The story should help to answer some of those burning questions we get on the Crysis universe as well!

Crysis 3The bow has been highlighted quite a bit so far. What attracted you to featuring a bow?

MR: The bow was something that just fit really well into the “hunter” theme we were focusing on in Crysis 3. We wanted to offer a weapon that provided more tactical depth by offering different ammunition types for different gameplay purposes. We combined this with our bow design and got an immensely powerful and versatile weapon for the player that is so satisfying and rewarding to use, that we simply had to push it further and put it at the center of the gunplay in Crysis 3.

Looking back on Crysis 2, what were you most proud of?

MR: There are so many things that were crowning achievements and hard challenges that made Crysis 2 a great project. I would say the top one was being able to bring the Crysis brand to console players. There were some enormous walls we encountered in doing this, but it’s really paid off for us in the long-term for our tech; both for our internal projects and what we are able to offer CryENGINE licensees.

crysis 2 nanosuitWere there any things you wish had come out better?

MR: In my opinion, the Nanosuit upgrade system could have used some more attention. It ended up in a bare bones form that was a little too simplistic from what we wanted to achieve in the final delivery of Crysis 2. In Crysis 3, we have put a fairly large focus on that to turn the system into something with more depth. We’ll be moving away from the collection of Nanocatalysts and turning to a new pickup system to unlock these powers. You’ll also be able to create many more combinations than you had been able to do in the previous Crysis games. My favorite part about this is the ability to create customized combinations which can be switched on the fly.

Was there anything you excluded you wished you could have added? Why was it nixed?

MR: The AI responses to Nanosuit tactics is something that never quite made it to a point we were happy with. For instance, having multiple alert levels for CELL members who find themselves in combat versus the Nanosuit and the ways that they respond to it. From feeling safe, alerted, scared, or panicked. These would go a long way to provide the level of immersiveness we want to provide for the player. AI behavior is always one of the most challenging things we do when making a game and for Crysis 3 we are really aiming high to take this to a whole new level. As we get closer to release, we’ll be talking in more detail about this system.