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Crysis 3 producer Michael Elliot Read interview

Tuesday 18 Dec 2012 4:56 p.m.

The Crysis series has become loved by many first-person action fans for its lush environments rendered with powerful game engines and dynamic shooter gameplay.

The third title in the franchise is set inside a furturistic Nanodome-encased New York City, filled with overgrown trees, dense swamplands and raging rivers. Players will once again take control of the game’s protagonist Prophet, who will utilise a new composite bow weapon, an enhanced Nanosuit and devastating alien technology.

Crysis 3 is set to be one of the biggest shooter titles released in early 2013, with developers Crytek promising ‘thrilling mix of sandbox gameplay, advanced combat and hi-tech human and alien weaponry that shooter fans will love’.

Recently I caught up with Michael Elliot Read, producer at Crytek, to discuss what gamers can expect from Crysis 3. Watch the video interview or read the transcript below.

Does the Nanodome setting open the game up to both urban and jungle environments?
That was really the intent from the beginning, to come back and find a middle-ground between Crysis 1 and Crysis 2. In Crysis 1 we had very open spaces and you came up on vistas and they just felt very open, and trees and water and villages and mountains and all those things, and in Crysis 2 we added very much vertical gameplay. You were kind of restricted by the urban environment, the buildings and stuff that you had in there, but we wanted to come back in Crysis 3 and take the best of both of those worlds and mix them together.

So does that extend beyond the actual setting to the gameplay itself where it’s a mix between the open-world nature of Crysis 1 and the more vertical nature of Crysis 2?
Yeah, absolutely. It really does combine both of those things, and when you get into the game it feels very open. We wanted to encourage people to explore the maps because they’re so open. So there’s lots of little pockets and places for when players are running through the map to explore. It’s really right in between the first two games that we’re sitting in and we have that vertical gameplay in there as well.

Crysis 3 screenshot

The latest trailers are showcasing ‘The 7 Wonders of Crysis 3’. Can you talk a little bit about how distinct each wonder is from the next?
We’ve shown off a few different areas so far. The swamps, which we showed back in April at our very first demo, are more of a night setting, more swamp kind of things, deep little pockets of water that you can go in. Then you go into the canyons and you have these giant tall buildings, and it’s more set during the daytime, and you have a lot of lighting caustics, and all of these different things that are shining through on the map. It’s a very different style from each to each. And then of course we come into fields for instance, it’s daytime, there’s tall grass and it’s waving around, you’ve got aliens running around through it. That’s really been one of the biggest challenges in creating Crysis 3, defining how different those environments are from one to the next.

In Crysis 2 the character Prophet was better realised than in the first game, I think. He had an interesting character arc and players became fans of Prophet as a character. Are we going to get to know him a lot better in Crysis 3?
Absolutely, yes. We’ve also introduced Psycho, who some might recognise from as one of the squadmates in Crysis 1 and also the feature character in the expansion Crysis Warhead. We’ve done a lot in terms of the cinematics with motion and audio capture. We’re not just taking the actor’s voices, but their facial expressions, the way they move their arms, the way they move their bodies and act. We’ve put the actors in real spaces and had them act things out. We also have a new writer on the project by the name of Steven Hall who has done like a fantastic job of the character development. I think people are really going to connect with the characters this time around, more so than in the previous games.

Prophet’s new bow weapon seems to be a major part of Crysis 3. How customisable is the bow, what different arrowheads can you have and so on?
The bow itself was brought into the game because we really wanted a weapon that fit in with a number of things. Prophet is back in the jungle again and there’s this whole hunter theme, he has these unique abilities such as cloaking, and we thought OK, a bow fits in perfectly with that. So our designers went through a number of different iterations and of course we ended up landing with this bow, which has become really the forefront signature weapon.

Crysis 3 screenshot

In terms of customising the bow, the draw-weights can be changed depending on how far you’re going to be able to fire arrows, which also effects how much suit energy you use in pinning guys to walls and so on. You also have four different bow tips that are available in single-player, with an extra one called the recon arrow in multiplayer. So there’s the thermite tip, or the explosive tip. Then we have the airburst, which is like a proximity fragmentation arrow. There’s also an electrical one, so if you fire that in water puddles or at turrets it will deactivate them, and then you have the standard arrows. With the standard arrows, you can actually go round and pick those back up again. There’s also ammo crates scattered at different points in the map too where you can get more arrows, but some people may want to go around and conserve those.

There’s also new alien weaponry in the game. With alien weaponry you’re only limited by your imagination really, so how did you kind of narrow down the alien weaponry to what it’s ended up as in Crysis 3?
Yeah, so the alien weapons, that’s always a tough thing to balance, because it’s like, well why would I use any other weapon? So there’s been a number of balance issues and things that have come up with that. The alien weapons operate like heavy weapons. You pick them up, use them until the rounds are gone, and then you’ve got to discard it. So it’s really one of those kind of intermediary weapons where you come across like a heavy machine-gun for instance, you’ll pick that up, use that for a short time, and then when you can’t replenish it you’ll go back to your stock weapons again. The alien weapons are powerful, they’re very fun to use, and the way they’re designed is awesome. We’ve put a lot into that in terms of sound design and recoil and so on.

There’s also new customisation you can do with the Nanosuit. When you’re on a certain level, how diverse are the ways you can get through it and how much replayability will there be in the single-player campaign?
Lots. That’s one of the things that we really wanted to have people do. The AI system that we’ve designed is very smart in terms of the way they move around on the map and react to things. So in terms of the suit upgrades and things, there’s literally like hundreds of combinations. You’ll pick up these Nanosuit upgrade kits, and then apply them to these different perks and unlocks. You spend the Nanosuit upgrade kits on creating various different combinations of the way you can play through.

Crysis 3 screenshot

The new multiplayer features a perk system with loads of different ways you can customise your game. Can you tell me about that?
So the multiplayer experience is actually vastly different from single player. One of the things we’ve changed is the energy bars, which are now independent for armour and for cloak. Srinting itself has been completely decoupled from energy, so you can run throughout the maps without having to worry about that. With the perks, at different XP levels you’re going to unlock different weapons, different attachments, and different perks. You have three perk slots available to you that can be used for things like an auto armour module, or reducing recoil. As you level up more of those will become available to you. I think there’s like 20 or 21 perks in total, but those can be created and used in any combination.

What in summary do gamers, in particularly Crysis fans, have to look forward to with Crysis 3?
I think the fans have a lot to look forward to. If you enjoyed one or the other, or if you enjoyed both, this really combines the best of both of those games into one. We didn’t really pull up just one thing, we’ve improved everything from the gameplay to the graphics to the audio to the story, all of these elements, to really finish off this trilogy well. For people new to the franchise, we’ve made it really easy to get into, easier to understand than the previous games were. With some of the pre-order incentives that we have out there now you can get Crysis 1 with Crysis 3, and in some cases the pre-order packs come with all three games. So there’s lots of good incentives to pick up Crysis 3 and really just plough through the whole series and see how vastly different each of those are.

Crysis 3 is set for a release of February 21, 2013 on the PC, PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360.

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