Horizon Forbidden West: Burning Shores is right around the corner, but Guerilla rendered the expansion a PS5-exclusive because of clouds — literally.
Senior community manager Narae Lee wrote on the PlayStation Blog that the developers upgraded the clouds system so that the game’s open-world cloudscape would look more realistic — but only as much as the PS5 can handle.
Principal FX artist Andrew Schneider and tech programmer Nathan Vos expanded on the cloud system they developed for Horizon Zero Dawn in 2015 with voxel technology, which supports not only changes to the time of day and realistic animations, but now in Horizon Forbidden West: Burning Shores it will allow players to fly through the clouds and complete side quests on their Sunwing as if they’re on Cloud 9.
“The cloud systems that we developed for Horizon Zero Dawn and Horizon Forbidden West were fast because they didn’t store clouds as 3D objects, but rather instructions on creating 3D clouds from limited 2D information,” Schneider said. “The PlayStation 5 can handle larger datasets. So, after Forbidden West wrapped, we set to work writing a voxel cloud renderer prototype that could live up to our standards for quality, and actually allow the player to fly through highly detailed cloud formations.”
The devs achieved this by creating what Schneider called “Frankencloudscapes,” which contain large cloud formations that behave both as a background element and an explorable environment. Then they tested their quality and performance by compressing huge quantities of voxel data to expedite the cloud rendering process, and balancing them by optimizing the PS5 code to make the output less than or equal to the current cost of the cloud system.
The PS5 has the hardware that can handle that much cloud power, so don’t be too disappointed about the DLC’s absence from the PS4. It’s a 10-year-old console, after all.
Horizon Forbidden West: Burning Shores comes to the PS5 on April 19.
Cristina Alexander is a freelance writer for IGN. She has contributed her work to various publications, including Digital Trends, TheGamer, Twinfinite, Mega Visions, and The Escapist. To paraphrase Calvin Harris, she wears her love for Sonic the Hedgehog on her sleeve like a big deal. Follow her on Twitter @SonicPrincess15.
Leave a Reply