Cryengine 3 SDK & 3.4 Update Review Enhanced

Hello Fellow Readers once again,

It has Been a while since I have posted, so im going to start off with a review of the latest Cryengine 3 Update Release that is, as we all know one of the top “What you see is what you play” on the market in Real-time engines, known for its stunning visuals and interactive set of tools and workflow, used in many production pipelines from Games Design to Architectural Virtual Walk throughs.

Cryengine 3 is something much different to anything else, not because of its updates or its ever increasing technology advances but it’s sheer easy to use intuitive interface, I could be a complete newbie to this, whether I had previously dabbled in game design or not and I could understand the clearly labelled and self explained engine, of course training from tutorials and Lecturers would help you advance, but you could get good start from just examining tools and functions, but the most creative path is the one you set yourself, it’s the bit when you learn something new on your own and can call it your own achievement, this is what Cryengine has always delivered and always will.

The latest update added to this high achieving engine, is by releasing a bunch new tools and features, while including a range of bug fixes that makes your artistic and creative side spread to new bounds amongst the rest of the game, film , Arch Industry:

These Features include:

Direct X 11:

The much awaited direct x 11 support that was roughly added back in Cryengine 2 but now has been implemented in the new Cryengine 3 with full support and integrating with nearly all the new features inside. 1 thing at a time as they say. Though I cannot test due to the hardware requirements, I did however search through engine and found the fixed and redeveloped code, while also discovering the new Detail features that improve the quality of the in game and editor experience while testing your creations,  now resembling much like the previous Cryengine 2 workflow. Cryengine 3 when it began had 3 levels of detail while using the SDK; low, medium and high, now it has been reformed back to there low medium high and very high setup, including new features, most noticeable is the much improved water and shaders effects or in engine speak (DX11 Ocean), resolution is much improve (Tessellation), waves and setting variation with integrated foam scattering. Also their revamped displacement mapping tool set.

Though I did notice few minor errors and crashes in the log while trying these settings I advise using the medium and high settings and editing the config to your liking, depending on the project you are developing until these small issues are fixed, though it may have just be my hardware setup, you don’t know till you try yourself.

Depth of Field and Bokeh:

These small features have had a big overhauls to improve there iterative use in your workflow within the editor and while your project is in real time you can edit your settings to get the result you are looking for, customize your interface to suit the your needs.

The Per Pixel Bokeh, although quite intensive is something I have awaited for sometime, due to the UDK engine having a similar feature riddled with bugs, Cryengine 3 is smooth and not counter intuitive achieving amazing depth to your image and cinematic works of arts.

Character Tessellation & Silhouette Refinement:

This feature I could not test due to it being a direct x 11 feature or counter intuitive in lower settings or machines (Direct X levels), though by the descriptions and features I saw available to it, you have much more range of options to control the complexity, resolution and realism of your characters model variants.

The Silhouette Refinement greatly increases appearances of objects especially Characters, giving it a smooth finish to say the least, think of it like Anti-Aliasing but for Geometry.

Displacement Mapping:

This feature is sometimes known as bump or normal mapping, this in most context is wrong, Displacement Mapping deforms the geometry that is there using texture information and features a Subdivide limit much like tessellation, in 3d applications it can range from 16k to 32k times resolution, giving some huge detail, scale this down but for use in game engine and heavily optimized for real-time rendering, giving stronger depth to environments, vegetation, objects, characters and of course textures.

This also gives a sense of parallax, that can help make you eye perceives things differently, even if there not necessarily there or in the correct position in the environment, displacement mapping can sometimes be known as a complex illusion, it use to be known as parallax bump mapping back in Cryengine 1/ 2 development, till it was also overhauled and giving dynamic depth to where the camera or character is place in the environment and how the variables are change for the viewer, gamer or client is to perceive the image there looking at.

Adaptive Tessellation:

This feature is an absolute life-saver to game designers when you’re prowling your environment, where the models dynamically subdivide for you as you explore the Tessellate into sections as you turn or move and distance yourself from different objects, I might not be explaining this completely right but think of it like Level of detail (LOD) but on steroids, giving you unparalleled performance and great surface details that work great with displacement and DX11 sub-features, integration being at the top of the chain within this engine.

Crest Foam & Sub-Surface Scattering:

I could not test this feature due to my system not being able to handle DX11 or high DX10 settings reliable at good frame-rate to get a reasonable review of the features, this would be unfair to the reader if my results are inadequate due to my optimization or hardware limits.

Particle Shadowing:

This small but extremely powerful feature adds great realism boost to your scene when using any particle emitters, with a tick of a check-box, your scene is transformed, whether smoke plume, a waterfall or some subtle atmospheric effects, this feature does not require any tweaking, it dynamically calculate shadows for your particles depending on the light sources, though as with all shadows, leading back to Cryengine 2 marvelous ambient occlusion feature on vegetation it can be huge resource and frame-rate hit, but you have to decide on whether its worth it for you, scene quality over speed. Examples being, Slow panning camera in cinematic  scene where you can see theses details or maybe a fast movement with lots of motion blur where it may not matter as much, this depends on preference to the designer and the user/client, the choice is yours, though even with my system it performed pretty well in small clusters, amazing in smoke effects or explosions.

Real Time Reflections:

I will not go into any depths to this since this has been used in past engines, with Cryengine and many more, maybe not in this detail or complexity, hence the realism side of things that this engine strives to achieve, but yes Cryengine 3 now has real-time reflections that combine well with many post effects and materials, not an animated object or texture that follows the characters, though the effects do differ per surface and shader/material, it can also depend on transparency and reflective properties.

Yes this can yield amazing results, but as with most of this update, not optimized for low end machines so thus it is quite resource intensive when turned on or in large quantity’s of reflective surfaces within your environment, both in editor or in-game.


Dynamic AI Navigation:

I can not give a explanation to this, since I could not get it to work, if you find this problem as well, consult forums and the famous YouTube for help, I may of incorrectly added something when setting up the Navigation area, so that could be my error, but always check, don’t take my results only, try it yourself.

Enhanced Glass Destruction:

Quite self explanatory; the glass dynamics have been enhanced in such a way that glass type of objects now break in a surprisingly realistic fashion with the environment; cracking, smashing, fracturing to its destroyer whether it is a rocket propelled grenade or a short stumped pistol, or possibly you ramming a boat into it, its dynamic so there is no pre-rigged Objects within so every time will be different, bullet pentration has also been improved with how the Textures are formed within the breaking glass.

Filmic Tone Mapping or High Dynamic Range (HDR):

From what I can see this feature is pretty stunning when changing the time of day, the crisp Vignette of light that comes through the trees in the minute gaps especially on the Forest test level included in the sdk pack, was simply stunning, the sheer realism and improvement of lighting effects on the environment were more than I was expecting to visualize.

This Feature of course needs much more work-over to make sure its just right, but they have the right start on this, HDR always adds a sense of realism to any lighting in a project whether in Cryengine, Unreal engine, or you favorite 3d app, Also think of tone-mapping as you own personal in game colour correction to fit any scene, making you able to achieve any mood you want in whatever environment inside or out, even if your overall lighting setup does not, now there is always a fallback.

My overall Opinion and review of this, is that they given much thought and improvements in the design, not focused on machines such as mine, yes I need an upgrade to give latest engines proper reviews, but from what I tested and explained and many other features and fixes they have added over time, they are now on the right track in the forward developing of this SDK.

Of course there is still a long journey ahead of them in the terms of the development, but if you use this engine for your needs, you will get exactly what your looking for, Quality and results and seeing as its free, I don’t think you can complain.

As they say: Achieved with Cryengine 3…


Thank you for reading.

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