Crytek explains why PC is important for Crysis 3, and why THEIR bow is contextually sound
Crysis 2 shipped with DirectX 11 support, although a patch was applied to the game after release. That patch included many graphical updates that, when taken together, allowed the game to show the sort of graphical fidelity we expect from a Crytek game after the first Crysis pushed our computers so hard. I sat down with Rasmus Hoejengaard, the director of creative development at Crytek, and asked if not having that content at launch was a missed opportunity. “I think the perception of the problem was bigger than the actual problem,” he explained. “Dirext9 can do a lot of stuff, and you could slap on DirectX 11 and people would say ‘oh cool, Crysis 2 has Direct X 11,’ but the patch added a lot of new stuff that wasn’t in the original game. This time around, it’s going to be DirectX 11 from launch, so I guess that answers that question, right?” My demo of the game was done on a PC, and it looked amazing. I skulked around the open environment and shot arrows from cover to take down the enemies quietly. The mixture of city architecture and plant life was interesting, although this is an aesthetic that is also being explored in Naughty Dog’s The Last of Us. I asked Hoejengaard how well the game sold on the PC versus the console version, and he seemed to think I was missing the point.“It’s always worth doing. It’s in the Crytek DNA to push technology, and at least in the performance point of view the PC is the leading platform,” he said. “That’s where we’re going to do our R&D and push our efforts. It’s not only about how many copies are sold on the platform, but how that’s going to push technology and how that trickles to other projects.” The problem with Crysis 2 was that console development required the team to learn how to deal with new platforms, and that’s time consuming. “The thing was, when we developed Crysis 2 we were also doing console versions for the first time, and that added a lot of additional work that we didn’t have when we were developing Crysis 1, for example,” he said. “Now that we’ve done that once, it’s always easier to do something the second time. Now we have a finished platform from the get-go, so we can begin prototyping visual stuff much earlier in the process.” They have all the tools to work on the consoles as well as PC, so there is more time to make sure the PC version sings from launch.
Of course, Crysis 3 has a bow. Because that seemed to be a rule at this year’s E3: Every major video game character has to be able to shoot things with a bow and arrow. “We shoot down choppers with our bow. I don’t know how many others do that,” Hoejengaard said, before getting serious. “It’s trends, or it’s subconscious, I don’t know, but people get the same idea at the same time. I guess it’s all about execution or how well it fits, and we feel like in our game it fits really well because we’re pushing this hunter theme throughout both the environment and the character and the story. If someone else does it, it doesn’t matter, as long as when you do it, it feels right. We’re really want to avoid putting in stuff arbitrarily, whatever it is.” He pointed out it wouldn’t have made sense in Crysis 2, and they went to great pains to make sure the bow and arrow was a “toolbox” with multiple arrows that can kill stealthily, or take out groups of enemies, or pin them to a wall, or do things they haven’t announced yet. “When we see people playing the game, they use it exactly like we want them to, running around in these open areas and trying things out and if they screw up they run to cover and cloak and take out enemies from a different approach, or get high up. It’s great to watch,” he said. “When you do something that’s a little outside of normality it provides new challenges, and of course there are game balancing issues.” With the bow and arrow you can shoot while cloaked, silently, and that is a powerful advantage. “You need to make sure you don’t create a completely golden path through the game. It’s not always a problem in single player, because if people want to do that it’s fine, but there are balancing issues that wouldn’t exist with just another assault rifle,” he said. I pointed out that I went with a heavy stealth build for my character in Crysis 2, and was able to simply walk past most of the enemies in the last stage. Does that quality as an exploit? Hoejengaard pointed out that I liked the game, and had fun with that approach. “So that answers your question right there,” he said.