First-person shooters aren't just action-packed games that let you play as a gun-toting commando. Often, they're also used as showcases for impressive new technology. 2007's Crysis was such a shooter--a beautiful-looking action game that pushed most PCs to their limits, even as it featured intriguing gameplay that combined heavy-duty gunplay with superhuman powers offered by your character's experimental "nanosuit." Now, developer Crytek is working with its Budapest studio to bring back all the action from last year's excellent game, plus more, in its stand-alone follow-up, Crysis Warhead. Warhead will also debut a completely revamped version of Crysis multiplayer known as Crysis Wars. We have the first details from multiplayer producer Eric Lagel and producer Bernd Diemer.
GameSpot: The big news we can finally talk about in Warhead is the revised and expanded multiplayer, which has been renamed as Crysis Wars. What's the deal with the new name? Give us an overview of what we can expect.
Eric Lagel: Crysis Wars is a new brand, a way to tell the players that we aim to deliver a game that has been refined and rebalanced to exclusively match multiplayer expectations. We have been reading the community feedback and have improved many aspects of the game, [including] balance, cheat protection, performance, [and] accessibility. Creating Crysis Wars is a strong signal from Crytek to say that we have ambitions in the online multiplayer environment, and want to improve and refine Crysis' multiplayer [to be] as close to perfection as possible.
GS: How will the core multiplayer gameplay of Crysis be improved in Crysis Wars? How will the use of nanosuits and vehicles be tweaked, for instance? Are any of Crysis Wars' new multiplayer elements the result of elements that didn't quite make it into the original game, such as capture the flag?
EL: There is a lot that has been tweaked and improved in Crysis Wars. The nanosuit now regenerates faster in order to [let players use it] more often, but also doesn't regenerate while you are in combat for better readability. The whole weapon system has been rebalanced in order to provide a faster frag rate, within a consistent pricing system. Vehicles have been rebalanced to reduce the VTOL overpowered position; to provide a better driving sensation for cars; and to have better survivability for tanks against rockets, amongst other things. The new Team Instant Action game mode is certainly a delivery that we hoped we could have delivered with Crysis, but we needed to work on it more. Now it arrives in Crysis Wars.
GS: Power Struggle was a unique multiplayer mode, to say the least. Including nano powers, awesome vehicles, huge maps, and our favorite, the suitcase nuke, Power Struggle set the stage for some awesome online gaming. What changes are you looking at in Crysis Wars?
EL: The changes we have been focusing on in Crysis Wars are towards accessibility and streamlining of the experience. We have reworked the HUD elements to provide a better understanding of the session progress, while also simplifying the rules and the objectives to follow. In this revamped Power Struggle, we have kept everything that made this mode special, and improved its pace with clearly defined objectives, a tighter fighting frame, and simplified rules to avoid stalemates and blocked situations.
GS: The Instant Action mode was basically a typical deathmatch with the addition of Crysis' trademark nanosuit powers. How have you improved instant action in Crysis Wars?
EL: Instant Action has actually been indirectly benefiting from the progress made through the development of Team Instant Action. You will find that the new maps allow players to take advantage of the nanosuit capabilities in a much-improved way. The weapon rebalancing and the nanosuit improvements make for a refined Instant Action experience.
GS: Switching gears to talk about the single-player game, we understand that the main character in Crysis Warhead is Sykes, a soldier so headstrong and dangerous in the field that he carries the nickname "Psycho." Since Warhead takes place at the same time as the original Crysis, what is Sykes' mission, and what are some of the new areas on the island that we'll see?
Bernd Diemer: In [the original] Crysis, you part company with Sykes during the assault mission after he gives the player sniper cover, and a couple hours later, you meet him again on the deck of the aircraft carrier. Warhead tells the story of his adventures.
His mission takes him to the other side of the island, where life is very exiting. He is dropped right into the action. He has to fight his way through North Korean soldiers, aliens, and other obstacles in a race to catch up with his nemesis, wreaking havoc along the way.
As for the new environments...we've decided to keep our cards very close to our chest this time to let players be surprised and hopefully amazed.
GS: Since Warhead aims to be more action-oriented than Crysis, can you give us an example of an over-the-top action sequence you had while playing as Sykes?
BD: There is a lot of action to be had in Warhead, and we made sure Sykes has the right tools in addition to the nanosuit to make the most of it.
GS: You've already announced Warhead as PC-exclusive, but there's no doubt there are a lot of console gamers salivating for Crytek games. Do you think Crytek will develop console games in the near future?
BD: The inevitable question. We love doing PC games, and strongly believe in the PC as a gaming platform. As a studio we are thinking about other platforms as well. We have no set plans so far, but anything is possible.
GS: Crysis Warhead is your first project with your new Budapest studio. What challenges did you have using an outside studio for the first time, and how do you think Warhead compares in quality to the original Crysis?
BD: We do not see the Budapest studio as an outside studio. They are self-sufficient and have creative ownership of Warhead but are a part of the Crytek family. I first met the Budapest team when we were [finishing] Crysis and everybody was really busy. The core team flew to Frankfurt to meet the Crysis team--to get familiar with the engine and tools and to talk about what projects they could do.
We basically started with the main character and developed the design from there (Sykes and his explosive approach to problems and obstacles). The team did a couple of gameplay and visual prototypes, called a meeting to show what Warhead could be, and everybody was amazed.
After everybody picked up their jaws from the floor it was clear that this was beyond the scope of a classic expansion pack, so we decided to make it a stand-alone installment.
GS: Remember a few years ago when simply shooting trees in demos of Crysis blew everyone's mind? What graphical flourishes will blow our minds in Warhead?
BD: I remember the trees very well. When we demoed Crysis for the first time at E3, everybody shot trees. When we drove back to the hotel, I wanted to shoot every palm tree I saw. I dreamed of shooting trees. At Crytek, we make sure that there are what we call "Wow moments" in every level. For example, the ice shaders are absolutely stunning. We also have global ambient lighting--you could call it the Warhead shader, it makes the world gritty and sharper.
GS: Thanks for your time.