Hunted And Hunter
When last we left Crysis 3, all we had to go on was a brief trailer, a few stills, and some marketing materials that may or may not have reflected the actual game. Then E3 came and went, at which there were opportunities to get our hands on the game (these opportunities were, sadly, very limited) or watch a live gameplay demonstration. In the months since, bits and pieces have continued to come out, including details on a new multiplayer mode that might be the game’s most enticing feature. With its release less than a month away, the time has come to look over what we know and where we think it might go.
So, Crysis 3 in a nutshell.
The setting: the Liberty Dome that covers New York City, now overgrown with foliage.
The nanodome’s official purpose is to cleanse the remnants of Ceph contamination that ravaged the city a quarter-century before (Crysis 3 is set 24 years after its predecessor). The truth of the matter is that CELL wants both the territory and the technology therein, and so they maintain a “quarantine” to keep potential competition out.
Prophet, who we saw die at the beginning of Crysis 2 (he got better. Sort of), is on a quest for vengeance against CELL for their greedy, monopolistic desires.
The basic plot outline, which is all we really have at this point, isn’t anything particularly outlandish, and so our interest instead turns to the means by which we’ll uncover it (and, stretching into multiplayer, the tools with which we’ll compete). Here, the strongest distinction between Crysis 2 and its upcoming sequel is the compound bow.
A permanent weapon, the bow is a silent-but-deadly ranged armament that allows Prophet to fire while cloaked (it takes a portion of his suit energy, rather than the whole kahuna) and either pick off a foe or, with one of its various styles of ammunition, change the tactical make-up of a situation. The arrow types include a stun/electric shock arrow, which does exactly what its name implies; an airburst tip, useful for killing off tightly knit groups of foes, since the arrow is topped with a “smart” grenade that shoots off in the directions of nearby enemies; and a thermite-tipped projectile, which can stick in foes or vehicles before violently exploding. There will also, exclusive to the “Hunter edition” of the game, be a “recon” arrow that allows for tracking one’s enemy in multiplayer.
The bow isn’t the only new weapon on display, though. There was also the Typhoon, which holds an expansive 720-round clip. This is counterbalanced by the fact that it fires 500 rounds per second, giving it less than two seconds of sustained fire. Alien armaments will also be on tap for the first time, providing a look at how the Ceph dole out death.
Perhaps more interesting than its new weaponry, though, is Crysis 3’s new multiplayer game type: Hunter mode. While classic multiplayer modes from Crysis 2, such as Crash Site, will be returning, Hunter mode is a brand new form of cat-and-mouse, more akin to Splinter Cell’s old spies vs. mercs multiplayer than anything else. Crysis 3 puts it on a much grander scale, though: twelve players on consoles and sixteen on PC. In either case, two players take on the role of “hunters,” nanosuited combatants with compound bows and a single explosive arrow. They lie low, avoiding the CELL operatives controlled by the rest of the players.
Those other players are able to choose from a variety of loadouts for their operative, but lack the enhanced strength, speed, armor, and cloaking abilities the nanosuit provides. They are constantly on the lookout for an enemy who is able to stalk them in plain sight, and who generally has a partner in crime. It’s enough to put anyone’s nerves on edge, which is the entire point of the mode: a different take on asymmetrical, team-based multiplayer.
Interestingly, it’s the nanosuit-wearing hunters who must be most aggressive. While their objective is to kill all ten (fourteen on PC) of the CELL operatives, those operatives need merely survive for the duration of the match: two minutes, during which they accrue points at regular intervals for bare survival. The stringent time-limit and target-rich environment promotes a faster, more assertive form of predatory stealth over the typical cautious stalking that most other stealth action games favor.
Through it all, Crysis 3 remains a gorgeous game. I’m not speaking merely of the engine, either, which is the same CryEngine 3 that made Crysis 2 so spectacular. It’s been fine-tuned, surely, but this is the same edition of the engine. The most impressive visual element of Crysis 3, though, is the environmental design, which features a fluid mix of urban, industrial, and rainforest-like environs. The dam level that we were shown showcased this beautifully, with the concrete and steel of the dam and its various accoutrements contrasting, yet blending naturally, with the forest that Prophet zip-lines into after detonating charges he’s placed on the dam’s structural keystones.
Will Prophet succeed in his quest for vengeance? Will Crysis 3 run on my computer? If it does, will I see you (or miss you, as it were) online, in Hunter mode? The answers to these questions and more are coming next month, when Crysis 3 hits shelves and non-Steam digital retailers.