One of the big revelations coming out of Microsoft's press conference during GamesCom this year was that Crackdown 3 would feature a 100% destructible city. However, the city can only be destroyed in the multiplayer mode.
Gamespot captured quotes from creative director Dave Jones from Reagent Games in an interview he had with IGN, where he explained what the limitations were on the destruction in Crackdown 3, saying...
Yes, [destruction is] exclusive to the multiplayer mode, you have to be online for multiplayer, and at that point we can connect to the cloud and really expand the experience.
“The cloud” is just another name for dedicated servers. The concept is that these servers will run all the physics calculations server-side, similar to how MMOs handle AI behavior, mobs and bosses server-side while the player's machine is mostly responsible for just rendering the graphics, the map, the player-character and a lot of the special effects, sounds and other non-interactive entities and assets.
In this particular case, Microsoft's dedicated servers will be used to calculate and simulate the physics-based destruction that can take place in Crackdown 3. Previously Microsoft demonstrated some of these features on dedicated machines running DirectX 12 last year during a presentation on cloud technology. While it was an impressive demonstration there was a lot left to be desired as far as explaining how this would work on client machines, what the latency threshold would be for this to work properly and what sort of connection rate on the client side would be required for optimal performance.
Someone with a shoddy broadband connection – could they affect the experience of others in a multiplayer match if the weapons they fire or the skills they use aren't synching up with everyone else?
Those are the kind of questions that have yet to be answered when talking about “the power of the cloud”. That's not to mention how they're going to handle the timing between 60fps gameplay and the cycle refresh for calculating the physics server-side while relaying that data to the client's machine. I'm just curious how Microsoft will pull this off, because even to this day there are still serious issues in MMOs when it comes to raiding parties and laggy bosses with laggy attacks. Crackdown has a lot more going on for it than just some arena boss shuffling around throwing out pre-determined attacks at specific intervals. Dynamic physics-based destruction is no computational laughing matter.
Now if you were wondering whether or not this newest Crackdown would allow you to take that city destruction experience offline into the single-player mode, think again. According to Jones the destructible city aspect doesn't gel with the game's single-player canon where the male or female agent is supposed to be saving the city...
No, you can't [destroy buildings in single-player], and in some respects that goes against the grain of what Crackdown is, […] You're meant to be saving the city, so we really wanted to create a new multiplayer experience that bent that
There will be more than just deathmatch made available in the multiplayer mode but Jones didn't spill the beans. According to the Gamespot article Crackdown 3 will release on the Xbox One in the summer of 2016.