CRYSIS 3 interview with producer Michael Read – bows, domes and super suits explained

crysis 3 PS3 screens

I recently interviewed Crytek producer Michael Read about all things Crysis 3. We cover everything from  how the story, why the bow isn’t a reaction to The Hunger Games and whether the suit’s empty and full Prophet’s memories.

CRYSIS 3 interview

Leon Hurley Can you put number 3 in a timeframe in relation to the rest of the game? I’m guessing a huge dome takes a while to build, and New York looks a lot more dilapidated than in 2.

Mike Read crytekMichael Read Crysis 3 takes place more than 20 years after the end of the events that occurred in Crysis 2. CELL took all the credit for what Alcatraz achieved at the end of Crysis 2 and used that as a catalyst to propel themselves into a dominant position worldwide. Now contained inside the dome is, of course, the harsh environment the dome creates, but also the alien energy that CELL has managed to harness. Both of these elements combined have helped this environment to break down at a faster pace than it normally would. As for the domes themselves – They were constructed at an alarming rate not long after Crysis 2 ended.

LH Aside from the dome what’s changed in terms of CELLl and the Ceph? Do they have new agendas?

MR CELL’s agenda for years has been world domination and during the events that lie between Crysis 2 and Crysis 3 they have managed to do just that with the energy resources they have managed to harness within the domes. In addition, they use scare tactics on the public to communicate that these domes are here to protect them from the alien threat.

As for the Ceph, they are currently lying in a dormant state and have been for a long time. The domes themselves have installations and troops that help to contain the stragglers that continue to pose threats to their operations. The events in Crysis 3 will reveal something that is a bigger threat and what they real agendas are.

LH The game thrives on how both you and the enemies react in combat. Have you introduced any new threats to challenge players?

MR We have a new AI system that we have been working on that we’ll be talking more about soon. We’ve also given the CELL troops some handy new weaponry to help deal with Prophet and his stealth abilities as well! The Ceph themselves will be a lot more aggressive than what we saw previously and we have some new tech they have at their disposal as well.

LH Why did you bring in the the bow? It’s an odd coincidence that so many games have one this year (Assassin’s Creed 3, Tomb raider, Far Cry 3 and so on) – did you all have a meeting or have a lot of people read The Hunger Games.

MR The bow came about from some very early brainstorm sessions and was not tied in with the pop culture that reintroduced the bow and arrow introduced in Hunger Games. We really wanted a weapon that fit into the whole primeval / hunter theme that we were trying to convey and the bow just hit right on the mark with that. This is not a bow that just anyone can use, but is designed to utilize the nano-musclepacks on the suit to project a lot of force into the strings. In addition, it has an auto-loading system, various arrow tips, and most of all you can fire it while cloaked. With all that combined, we ended up with an immensely powerful and versatile weapon that adds a very personal and rewarding experience while using it. While it was designed to lean more towards the stealth gameplay elements, we have seen players using in such a huge variety of ways.

LH How is Prophet back? Isn’t he slightly dead? Is the suit an empty self-aware recording of his memories? It’s memories isn’t it?

MR This is a question that we get a lot and it’s been really fun to read a lot of the theories that people have on the topic. You’ll just have to play the game to find out more!

LH Have you ever been tempted to play with the suit powers? Adding more say?

MR I would say so, but we had to be really careful in what we did. The modes themselves can be a disconnect for some players. What we have changed drastically this time is the suit modules and the way they operate. You will be able to unlock these using nanosuit upgrade modules and apply them to the module you want to unlock. The best part of all this is the ability to create custom loadouts and swap between them on the fly. In Crysis 2, we had a system where players went around and collected nanocatalyst from Ceph that they killed. They then applied that to unlock powers in each category. It was a system that we felt was very shallow. This time around players will have literally hundreds of combinations in the way they can customize their suit.

LH Continuing the previous question, have you ever felt constrained by the basic powers? You’ve never thought about how you could add a whole new gameplay mechanic if there was just one extra ability?

crysis 3 PS3 screens

MR I don’t think we’ve felt constrained at all. In adding more suit functionality like that also presents bigger challenges with balancing and moving away from the core of what we know about Crysis as a game. What we would really need to do is add a whole new mode of gameplay in order to push those boundaries. That would allow us the opportunity to add some new modes into the suit itself which would compliment new gameplay modes. In fact, the changes in multiplayer have allowed us to do some of these things in adding things that are not seen in the single player modes. Moving forward, I feel that we have a lot of opportunities to take some different directions within the Crysis Universe as a whole.

LH Crysis 1 was a wide open island, Crysis 2 constrained the environment slightly by putting it in a city and now we’re in a city in a dome. Have you been slowly linearising the gameplay or is it just a natural evolution as the game progresses?

MR Crysis 1 and 2 were different extremes and each with their own merits and faults. I still believe that some of the “linear” comments we get regarding Crysis 2 have to do more with the visuals that people were presented with in the game using a closed off space like NYC urban grid. The freedom element was still there to some extent, but presented in a different way. In Crysis 3, we really have a solid middle ground between the two games that allows the player to approach challenges in dynamic ways while still keeping them focussed on the endgame goals. The mixed environment between broken down urban, lush rainforest, and more open spaces only helps to reinforce this experience.

LH What would you say is the biggest change between 2 and 3?

MR The environments are definitely one of the biggest changes. We were really able to identify a lot of the merits from the first two games in terms of the environment and capitalize on those for Crysis 3. The ability to replay the action sequences in different ways really added a lot while still keeping the player focussed on a goal. There are many tweaks to many of the systems which players will like as well. All of these things add up to a better overall experience.