A lot of work has been put into the clouds in Horizon Forbidden West: Burning Shores, so much so that technology has been in development since Horizon Zero Dawn.
As revealed by Guerrilla community manager Narae Lee via the PlayStation Blog, the artists working on the Horizon Forbidden West DLC have been dedicated to making the clouds in Aloy's world the best they can be for several years now.
"In video games, clouds can help convey a mood," the post reads, "along with the abundance of green, clear waters and cragged cliffs, the clouds of Horizon punctuate the world with emotion. To achieve this, they had to be more than white wisps far above Aloy's head; they needed movement, variety, and definition."
The post gives a technical insight into how Guerrilla created the Burning Shores skyline and how they built upon what was already developed for Horizon Zero Dawn in 2017. According to the post, in 2015 principal FX artist Andrew Schneider partnered with principal tech programmer at Guerrilla Nathan Vos, and together the pair developed the volumetric cloud system that we're all familiar with in the original game.
Fast forward to developing Horizon Forbidden West, and the pair needed to build upon the foundation they had established for the first game. "We looked to artists who were part of the luminism movement for inspiration, like 19th-century painter Albert Bierstadt," Schneider explains, "these painters had mastered the interplay between clouds and the land beneath, using light and detail to create space, producing truly dramatic landscape paintings."
"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 continues in the post. Thanks to the PS5, and its ability to handle larger datasets, the pair were able to write a voxel cloud renderer that could live up to their standards and "actually allow the player to fly through highly detailed cloud formations."
Guerrilla feels it's important to make the experience of Horizon Forbidden West: Burning Shores fun even outside of the main gameplay, as the post explains: "The clouds are not simply immersive scenery but an explorable landscape in themselves. Among the clouds, players will be able to explore tunnels, caves, and other surprises that make for fun flying."
It seems players have a lot to look forward to when the Burning Shores DLC releases exclusively for PS5 (sorry PS4 players) on April 19, 2023.
Thinking about getting started with Aloy's latest adventure? Take a look at our Horizon Forbidden West tips before you get started.