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Horizon Forbidden West

March 2022

Guerrilla has outdone itself yet again with the last “Horizon Forbidden West,” released in February 2022. This second game in the series is considered a triumphant combination of enthralling combat with the top-tier creature and character designs that together form a captivating open world populated with astonishing tribes. The 3Lateral team, alongside our friends from Cubic Motion, were thrilled to be a part of this masterpiece by helping bring the characters to life.

The attention to detail on each of the game's characters, on top of the incredibly rich world design, provides a level of immersion that envelops players in the story. Each tribe is distinct from one another and the costume design on display throughout the game is breathtaking. To accomplish such quality and consistency, the project required a vast pool of game characters of different descent, age and demography.

Guerrilla was an early adopter of the technology that contributed to the creation of MetaHuman Creator, and for this sequel, they generated 168 unique characters utilizing MetaHuman core tech. 20 people were scanned in order to create the “hero” characters, while additional talent was scanned to produce a “data gene pool” that was used as a statistical back-end to generate another 67 characters via MetaHuman core tech. Each of these characters uses the same LOD design, which is supported by the MetaHuman assets, enabling them to be used to deliver content for marketing materials, cinematics and within the gameplay set in the open world of “Horizon Forbidden West.” There is more to come with the Horizon franchise, and we're happy to share that our teams continued their collaboration throughout the production of 'Horizon Forbidden West: Burning Shores', creating additional characters for the DLC.

Guerrilla knows that a cutting-edge asset creation pipeline needs an animation process of equal fidelity. Our animation team was commissioned to capture facial animation data across the full range of “Horizon Forbidden West’s” cast of characters, and in the end, we delivered more than seven hours of footage to be used across their characters. The optimal approach to performance analysis and solving allows for flexibility and scalability via pixel-accurate machine vision tracking of an actor’s face and then combining that with a complex mapping of the actor’s performance data to a facial asset.

Guerrilla completed the casting of a large number of actors, who were captured in various locations across the globe. For instances where a single actor could play multiple roles, but the actor needed to be captured in different locations using a variety of cameras, our team delivered a solver solution capable of securing consistency across performances. Streamlined by our experienced service team, this pipeline enabled Guerrilla to maintain a high-quality bar across such a massive game.

The DNA file format paired with Rig Logic from MetaHumans was also used in the “Horizon Forbidden West” project. This DNA file structure is becoming recognized as a data standard for the representation of digital humans in AAA projects and interactive entertainment in general. RigLogic secured run-time performance for facial rigs and enabled optimization of both the rig evaluation speed and memory footprint for the character asset. In terms of memory optimization, RigLogic does not require baking the rig elements per frame (e.g. joints, blend shapes, or wrinkle maps), and instead only requires baking the head rig control animation, which is memory light.

As an innovator and early adopter, the Guerrilla team has demonstrated how MetaHuman technology can be leveraged to provide believable and meaningful AAA characters in a way that allows players to be fully immersed in the world they have created that is Horizon Forbidden West. We’re confident that Horizon’s beautiful world and vivid characters will both entertain gamers and inspire developers in the years ahead. Kudos to Guerrilla!


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Epic Games | 3Lateral