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The Entire Crysis Timeline Explained

The "Crysis" series, created by original "Far Cry" developer Crytek, has a reputation for great shooting mechanics, a compelling sci-fi story, and graphics card busting visuals. When the first game released in 2007, PC gamers were so desperate to upgrade their rigs that the question "Can it play Crysis?" actually became a meme (via PC Gamer).

The series contains three numbered mainline entries and two spin-offs: "Crysis Warhead" and the multiplayer-only "Crysis Wars." Despite being one of the best shooters of its time, "Crysis" never had the cultural impact of something like "Halo." That's unfortunate, because "Crysis" isn't just a gorgeous, top-notch FPS — it also features a brilliantly crafted story and a compelling main character who quite literally evolves over the course of the series.

Crytek released a remastered version of the trilogy in late 2021. Then, in January 2022, the company revealed that "Crysis 4" was finally in active development. Since that surprise, fans old and new have turned their attention to the series. Whether you tore through Ceph on Lingshan Island over a decade ago, or you're just beginning to grasp the lore of Crytek's beloved shooter franchise, here's a look back at the timeline of the "Crysis" series.

Dr. Rosenthal's research

EA and developer Crytek released the first "Crysis" game on PC in 2007. The title's near-future setting allowed it to feature high tech weaponry alongside the standard fps arsenal of guns. 

Before the first game opens, a team of archeologists led by Dr. David Rosenthal make an incredible discovery while working on the fictionalized Lingshan Islands in the Philippines Sea. All players know when the game begins is that whatever Dr. Rosenthal and his team discovered, it has the potential to change the world.

It's later revealed that Dr. Rosenthal has found remnants of an alien civilization buried beneath the Lingshan Islands. The alien technology is significantly more advanced than what humans have available to them, and its potential for creating new and powerful weapons is immediately apparent. Unfortunately, Dr. Rosenthal and his team aren't able to keep their discovery a secret. The islands are invaded by North Korean soldiers led by General Ri-Chan Kyong, and Dr. Rosenthal is barely able to send out a distress call before he's captured.

Calling in Raptor Team

The first cutscene in "Crysis" reveals that the game takes place on August 14, 2020. Two days earlier the U.S. received a distress signal from the island after a week without any communication at all. In response, the U.S. is sending Raptor Team, a group of special forces outfitted with Nanosuits. The suits are one a "Crysis" staple and one of the game's most distinguishing features. They protect the team members from damage and give them a range of abilities that players can activate by selecting "modes" which draw on the suit's energy supplies.

Every member of Raptor Team has their own codename. The team leader is Prophet, who is featured heavily throughout the series. The most trigger-happy member is the apltly-named Psycho, and the team is rounded out by Aztec, Jester, and Nomad, with the latter being controlled by players. Raptor Team flies in over the Lingshan Islands and dives to the ground, but they're separated during the landing.

Waking the Ceph

Raptor Team quickly discovers that there's more happening on the island than just a North Korean invasion. The team regroups and finds that one of their members – Aztec – has been killed by something that has also dismembered an entire group of Korean soldiers. Not long after that the team comes across a wrecked ship in the middle of the island. What's even stranger is that everything around the ship is frozen. Psycho demands more details on the mission from Prophet, but before their conversation gets very far, a metallic tentacled creature bursts from the ship's hull, snatches Jester, and flies away.

Raptor Team fails to save Jester, after which they become separated once again. Psycho pursues his own mission on the island, which will later become the focus of "Crysis Warhead." Prophet is captured by another massive alien creature. Meanwhile, Nomad makes his way to Dr. Rosenthal in his lab, where he's still studying artifacts from an alien race called the Ceph. All of a sudden, an energy spike from one of the Ceph artifacts freezes the entire room, instantly killing Dr. Rosenthal. Nomad only survives because of the protection of his Crynet Nanosuit.

Nomad eventually comes face to face with General Kyong outside the entrance to an underground Ceph structure. General Kyong is able to lock Nomad's Nanosuit into place while he attempts to break into the structure with explosives. Another Ceph energy spike reactivates Nomad's suit, and after dispatching General Kyong, he heads inside.

Send in the nukes

After fighting through the zero-gravity environment of the Ceph superstructure, Nomad finally makes his way back to the island's surface, where he finds that the entire environment has changed. The structure has generated a sphere of energy that surrounds the mountainside. Everything inside the sphere is frozen, including the bodies of soldiers who had been fighting their way toward the structure. Nomad believes there are no survivors until he crosses paths with Prophet, who not only managed to escape his Ceph captor but also figured out how to rig a Ceph weapon to fight against them.

Nomad eventually makes his way to the USS Constitution carrier, where he is met by Admiral Richard Morrison and Dr. Rosenthal's daughter, Helena. The Admiral announces that the U.S. is prepared to drop a nuclear strike on the sphere created by the Ceph structure. Helena, who has researched the Ceph with her father, warns that the nuclear attack might do nothing to disrupt the Ceph defenses. Prophet decides to return to the sphere, believing he can fight the Ceph more effectively up close. The Admiral launches the strike anyway, but his plan backfires. The sphere grows larger, and the Ceph begin an aggressive counterattack.

Crysis ending

The final set piece in "Crysis" is an epic battle against a Ceph warship that is rising from the ocean. Helena and Nomad discover that they can disrupt Ceph shields and open the aliens up to an attack by sending a signal through Nomad's Nanosuit. As Nomad destroys the Ceph warship, Psycho makes a grand return, flying in with a helicopter to rescue Helena and Nomad from the fray.

Nomad insists that the three of them have to continue fighting. There are still Ceph on the island, where the sphere remains, and Dr. Rosenthal's research has suggested that there may be more Ceph hidden underground all around the world. Before the trio is able to decide on their next move, they receive a transmission from Prophet, who's alive and fighting inside the sphere. The game ends with Psycho, Nomad, and Helena flying back to the island to rescue Prophet.

The ending of "Crysis" has been seen as both the game's greatest strength and its greatest weakness. As a reviewer for GameSpot noted, "While there's an adrenaline-packed finale, you still don't want the game to end on the note that it does." There's so much unfinished business in the world established by "Crysis" that many players ultimately felt unsatisfied. On the other hand, they were also primed for sequels, and Crytek had plenty in store for future games.

Crysis Warhead

"Crysis Warhead" is the first follow up to 2007's "Crysis," but it's not a sequel to the first game in the series. It follows Raptor Team member Psycho as he makes his own way through the Lingshan Islands. The game's events occur simultaneously with those in "Crysis," which gives "Warhead" little opportunity to develop the story that Crytek set up in the original.

Throughout the game, Psycho pursues a weapons container guarded by North Korean soldiers. He's aided by a Marine named Sean O'Neill, who was supposed to take Nomad's place on Raptor Team but didn't make the cut. Psycho discovers that the weapon inside the container is actually a piece of Ceph hardware that needs to be kept from the North Koreans at all cost. He manages to secure the container for the U.S., but what sets Psycho apart from the other members of Raptor Team is that he genuinely grieves for the Marines who sacrifice themselves in the process.

"Warhead" managed to add some depth of character to one of the only members of Raptor Team to survive the events on the Lingshan Islands, adding some background to the team through audio files scattered throughout the game. The files don't contain any groundbreaking revelations about any of the members, nor do they shed any light onto the Ceph or their plans for Earth, but they help humanize Psycho, who remains a major player in the "Crysis" series as it continues.

The Manhattan virus

Three years pass between the ending of "Crysis" and the beginning of "Crysis 2." In that time, the Ceph have been raising their forces. Their operations are no longer limited to the Lingshan Islands, as groups of Ceph hidden underground all around the world begin to awaken. Few places have been hit as hard as New York City. A deadly disease dubbed the Manhattan Virus has been unleashed on the New York population. The virus infects human beings and begins to destroy their cells, ultimately liquefying their bodies.

As the disease spreads, the Ceph also attack the city and its people. With death and destruction on the rise, the city is placed under martial law while the government tries to determine how to save as many people as possible. The Crynet Enforcement & Local Logistics (C.E.L.L.) Corporation is contracted by the U.S. Department of Defense to take over defense and evacuation of the city.

Saving Alcatraz

"Crysis 2" takes the first game's environmental motifs and flips them on their head. While the first game took place primarily in the jungle, the sequel is set in the concrete jungle of New York City. The original game opens with Nanosuit-powered soldiers diving onto an island from a plane, whereas the sequel begins with regular Marines coming to the Big Apple via a submarine in the Hudson River. During the game's opening cutscene, the player character is introduced as Alcatraz. His team of Marines are led to believe they're being sent to New York to aid with a humanitarian crisis caused by a naturally occurring virus.

Something attacks the submarine, breaking through the hull and filling its narrow hallways with water. The Marines all manage to escape the sinking submarine and surface in the Hudson, but as they tread water, they see that the Statue of Liberty has taken some damage from the Ceph. Alcatraz blacks out as a Ceph ship shoots down his comrades, and a familiar face intervenes. Prophet, encased in a Nanosuit, arrives to save Alcatraz.

Alcatraz wakes to find himself wearing the Nanosuit and Prophet's dead body lying on the ground. The suit gives Alcatraz a message from Prophet and reveals that he has been infected with the Manhattan virus. Prophet urges Alcatraz to use his suit to survive in the city and tells him to find Doctor Nathan Gould, a researcher studying the Ceph.

Hargreave

As Alcatraz searches New York City for Dr. Gould, he faces not only the Ceph but also C.E.L.L. agents who believe he's Prophet, infected and on the run from the authorities. When he finally meets Alcatraz, Dr. Gould explains that the cellular structure of his Nanosuit could potentially contain the cure for the Manhattan virus. However, in order to do the proper testing, Gould says he needs access to the lab of Jacob Hargreave, CEO of Crynet, the company that invented the Nanosuit.

Later, Hargreave himself contacts Alcatraz remotely through the Nanosuit, reveals that Prophet was working for him back on the Lingshan Islands. The Nanosuit was designed using Ceph technology, and Hargreave spent the better part of a century developing it as a weapon against Earth's invaders. With the aid of more power and Ceph tissue samples, Alcatraz hopes to be able to use the suit to not only cure the Manhattan virus, but also use it against the Ceph.

Unfortunately, Hargreave's intentions for the Nanosuit aren't entirely altruistic. He wants to steal the suit back from Alcatraz to keep it from himself. When Alcatraz finally goes to meet Hargreave in person, he discovers that the old man is stuck inside a preservation chamber, kept alive only by the power of his company's technology. Hargreave admits that it will have to be Alcatraz who continues on with the suit and gives him a final upgrade to aid in the fight against the Ceph.

Crysis 2 ending

"Crysis 2" ends its plot more definitively than "Crysis" did, but still opens the door for future installments. The government once again plans to launch a nuclear strike against the Ceph, regardless of the fact that there are still innocent people left alive in Manhattan. A spiral Ceph structure emerges from the ground in Central Park and gives Alcatraz an opportunity to stop the Ceph his own way. He climbs the spire and uses Hargreave's Nanosuit upgrade to alter the structure and the Manhattan virus into a powerful weapon that destroys all the Ceph in the city.

Alcatraz falls unconscious after destroying the Ceph. He has a conversation with Prophet via the exosuit, which has retained Prophet's DNA after his death. Prophet tells Alcatraz, "The Ceph have been around forever, man, and they built everywhere." New York City has been saved, but the Ceph still pose a massive danger to the entire human race. 

When Alcatraz wakes from the conversation he says, "They call me Prophet." This ending implies that Prophet and Alcatraz have melded their consciousnesses, but much like the original game, "Crysis 2" leaves Prophet's fate for the sequel to decide.

Rise of C.E.L.L.

Three years passed between the events of "Crysis" and its sequel, but more than twenty in-universe years pass between "Crysis 2" and "Crysis 3." In his opening monologue, Prophet explains that C.E.L.L. has grown from a military force to a world dominating power in that time. It's managed to grow by exploiting Ceph technology and using it to generate nearly unlimited power for the world, in turn using this monopoly to control the world and continue research on Ceph artifacts.

The third installment of the series returns to New York City, which has become the headquarters for C.E.L.L.'s power source, System X. The city is now entirely surrounded by a nanodome, allowing C.E.L.L. to manipulate the environment to run biosphere experiments. The nanodome is not only a great example of cool sci-fi tech, but it also lets developer Crytek combine the environmental motifs from the first two games. Throughout this mission, Prophet explores a cityscape that's overgrown with jungle-like wildlife.

Alpha Ceph

In the game's opening cutscene, Prophet says that he doesn't believe C.E.L.L. is the most dangerous threat to the world. He knows that the Alpha Ceph, the most powerful member of the alien race inhabiting the Earth, is still alive — and as long as it lives, humanity will also run the risk of being destroyed by the Ceph. Prophet also reveals that he went looking for the Alpha Ceph with his old teammate Psycho before the start of the game.

Fighting the Ceph threat is no longer the top priority at C.E.L.L., which is primarily concerned with harvesting Ceph technology and DNA for research and development. To that end, C.E.L.L. has begun hunting down anyone with a Nanosuit, because the suits are able to interface with the Ceph and store their knowledge. At the beginning of the game, an unsuited Psycho and members of a C.E.L.L. resistance group free Prophet from a C.E.L.L. containment unit, and the two of them head into the city.

Prophet eventually makes his way deep into the New York nanodome, where he finds System X and realizes that the source of C.E.L.L.'s unlimited power is the Alpha Ceph itself. Prophet disables System X, but the containment protocols fail, allowing the Alpha Ceph to break free. The giant alien then uses a device that opens a wormhole to the Ceph homeworld.

Crysis 3 ending

With the wormhole open, Prophet and his teammates have limited time before a full-scale Ceph invasion comes to Earth. They learn that C.E.L.L. plans to fire an orbital weapon called Archangel at the Alpha Ceph, but the power of Archangel could potentially destroy parts of the Earth in the process. Prophet and Psycho shut down Archangel before taking out the Alpha Ceph themselves.

In a post-battle cutscene, Prophet is pulled into space by the power of the wormhole. He sees a gargantuan Ceph warship emerging from the wormhole and heading for Earth, so he navigates the vacuum of space to obtain the Archangel. Using power from his Nanosuit, he shoots the Ceph warship and the resulting explosion manages to close the wormhole. Prophet, unfortunately, is sent hurtling towards Earth.

The game's ending cinematic reveals that the fall from space didn't kill Prophet. Instead, the Nanosuit reconstructed his body and became more tightly bonded to him. Now that the Ceph war is over, Prophet gives up his codename and returns to life as Laurence Barnes. His last words in the series are, "They called me Prophet. Remember me." 

A post-credit scene reveals Psycho's fate: He's still using his military training, but now his focus is on hunting down C.E.L.L. board members before they use their considerable means to avoid the consequences of their actions.