Emerald Hydra was a kitbash theme idea (military controlled superstore) that was gradually refined down into a solid level with some visual storytelling. As a post-Z2 launch POI, this level occupies a once-empty field with the intention of giving players another location to loot between major POIs. The level was thematically based on the classic FEMA camps and more recent Jade Helm 15 conspiracy theories.
For this task, I was responsible for the theming/story, layout, cover and physical topography of the level. My paired-up environment artist coworker handled the gorgeous aesthetic touches (sewage puddles leaking from tipped-over portapotty intended for cover) and terrain paint/details.
- Three distinct areas: the abandoned gas station, the fortified military camp/parking lot, and the superstore itself. Dropping into the camp or superstore is restrictive and a significant time commitment, but has by far the most loot. Conversely, the gas station provides a less risky way to get a few basic items, and can be dipped out of easily.
- Each major area also has multiple themed sub-areas that help guide the player and better tell the POI's story. For instance, the outdoor military camp is made up of the helipad/cargo area, the tree-lined barracks tents, and the open, sun-exposed mess hall/command tent cluster.
- Designed as an on-foot POI (see HESCO barrier zig-zags in front.) Bringing in vehicles here is possible, but given the narrow corridors, a clear escape route should always be planned. The trees in front of the store were also clear-cut by the army, so while individuals can use the stumps to leapfrog cover to the gates, a car has no foliage cover on their noisy approach.
- We were granted some additional art resources for this POI, and I allocated some them towards thematic prop requests. One of the artists made the T-shaped command tent prop, for giving military bases an anchor point, as all the previous ones were 10mx20m rectangles with less wiggle room for variety.
- We also got full cover plastic coffin liner stacks and a single, caution taped one for crouch cover. I chose these for their role fueling the conspiracy theory (stacks of human-sized tubs on government land means they're gonna use em on us!), but they also do a good job of flying under the radar of being a grim cover prop. Whatever had happened to end the occupants life happened at a time of crisis when a glorified human Tupperware container was the most appropriate burial option, and here you are crouched beside it, letting it absorb the rifle rounds meant for you. Guy can't catch a break!
- The interior broke up the typical supermarket layout significantly and was split up to have distinct military areas. In the interior screenshots below, you can see a barracks, mess hall, triage ward and security checkpoint below. The back shipping area was themed out with coffin liners and crates, and the upper office served as an additional command center.
- The novelty of the idea, even using familiar buildings and prop sets, gave this POI a memorable, unique feel without costing additional resources. The three requested props (Command tent, full and crouch cover coffins) were selected for future thematic reuse at other military installations and FZMA camps.