People really wanted to revisit the tropical setting [of Crysis 1] and take it to the next level, but there was still an appeal in the city setting [of Crysis 2]. But we didn't just want to do another city, so then these things got married. And that also gives us this great potential for variety in gameplay because there is only so much you can do with an island or a city in isolation before you break down the believability, but once you introduce an accelerated ecosystem you have liberties that you don't otherwise have.
So will you be mixing the openness of Crysis with the verticality of the sequel?
Yeah you could say that. Take the advantages of either of those approaches and use it when appropriate in the game, not stringently sticking to one thing, using the thing that conveys the gameplay, the pacing, the story or whatever you're trying to get across. These seven urban rainforest themes are really good fun.
So how distinct is the gameplay experience going to be in each of these Seven Wonders?
It's very, very distinct. We're not revealing what the other concepts are yet, but they range from epic, open and clear to claustrophobic, humid and nasty, and then everything in between. We play on verticality a lot and we're going to drip feed these out over the next eight or 12 months, but they're very diverse. Some of the concepts are just awesome and I can't wait to see them implemented in the game. I have to say that after 15 years of making games it's rare that I get this feeling of excitement.
What can you tell us about new weapons like the bow and new abilities like hacking?
If we forget the bow for a second and we just look at the hacking and the set weapons, the whole concept of interconnecting with Ceph DNA and technology is a big theme that we're going to play on a lot, and the shooting of those weapons and the hacking ability is a big ramp that's going to ramp up across the duration of the game.
Since we're pushing the 'hunted becoming the hunter' theme and we have the urban rainforest setting, the bow is just kind of a natural addition to that, and we also needed a way to expand a little bit on our stealth gameplay because you can't be a hunter if you can't efficiently and stealthily hunt stuff, so you can use the weapon while cloaked in some instances. At the same time we don't want to limit the weapon because it has a lot of potential, so we've added a number of ammunition types you can put on your arrows. We're only talking about two of them at the moment, a frag grenade-type explosive and a stealthy arrow you can fire while cloaked.
What CryEngine 3 enhancements has Crytek made since Crysis 2 and how will these impact the new game's visuals and gameplay?
I don't want to go into specifics too much as we're still working on and developing a lot of render features as we speak. Even the stuff that we have developed, we don't know to what extent Crysis 3 will use these features as it's still a little too early to be specific.
We have a number of new rendering capabilities that we haven't yet used in a game that we'll certainly want to push, like all kinds of tessellation systems, a new vegetation system which reacts to physics and to winds and stuff like that.
Another new feature which is a little less render specific but is actually a big deal for CryEngine is that we have quadropedes, so the [Ceph] Scorcher is a quadropede. Even though that doesn't sound like a big deal it's actually really complicated to make work, especially when you need to have all the feet align with the ground at any one point. It's not an easy feature which is why you don't see many four-legged creatures in games. It's very rare, and when it has been done often it feels a little stiff and weird, but it's turning out really well for us.