Few video games can snag headlines with both the PC and next-gen crowds for its take on multiplayer, but Evolve has already done just that. The next multiplayer experience from Turtle Rock Studios, the minds behind Left 4 Dead looks to pit a team of cooperative players against a single monstrous enemy.
Since the next-gen game was unveiled to be gracing the cover of Game Informer's February issue, details have been trickling out. The latest reports give a better understanding of the flow of combat, while also introducing players to the main characters - and creatures - they'll become familiar with.
Following the game's announcements, a few details were revealed concerning the structure of the 4 vs. 1 multiplayer, with four player or AI-controlled Hunters pursuing a single alien beast. But beyond that, even the game's official synopsis revealed little else:
"In a savage world of man vs nature, are you the hunter or the hunted? The creators of Left 4 Dead, Turtle Rock Studios, bring you Evolve, the next generation of multiplayer shooters where four hunters faceoff against a single, player-controlled monster. Stalk your prey, execute your attack and prove you are the apex predator in adrenaline-pumping 4V1 matches."
Luckily, a NeoGAF user has scoured the magazine's article for any relevant information. It's not yet official, but provides more detailed outlines that the developer is ready to release.
The game's fiction meets mankind in the future, as they have spread across a number of planets, with the game set upon one named Shear. As one of four Hunters, it is each player's job to clear the surface of deadly predators for the safety of the colonists. But where Turtle Rock's zombie-focused shooter favored carnage and overwhelming numbers to create tension, Evolve uses the ominous fear of a single player - acting as the immense 'Goliath' - hunting the squad for its own.
The Hunter classes are defined as such: there is Val, the Medic, equipped with both an area-of-effect healing ability and a "medgun" that heals or revives downed Hunters. For offensive weaponry, Val carries a long range sniper rifle that seems to increase the damage inflicted by squadmates targeting the same area, as well as a tranquilizer gun that slows the Goliath down and highlights it on the Hunter's displays.
Next is Markov, the hulking Assault class, who enters the hunt equipped with a personal shield, proximity mines, and two main weapons; an assault rifle for ranged firing and a "lightning rifle" for the up-close and personal work. Rounding out the standard three is Hank, the Support class. As the name implies, it is Hank's ability to help each Hunter do their own job that sets him apart, carrying a shield projector to provide squadmates with a defensive boost, and a laser cannon to call down orbital barrages to confine and direct the Goliath.
Finally, there is Griffin, the Trapper Class - the player type deemed the "most advanced" by the developers. Since Griffin's abilities seem like the greatest evolution from the standard combat of Left 4 Dead, a lengthy description of how he will function in and out of combat is likely needed. For now, we simply know that he carries a harpoon gun that can stop the Goliath in its tracks, a means of trapping the monster that may or may not be related to his "sound spikes," and a submachine gun when all else fails.
The developers promise that throughout a hunt, each of the classes will level up, customizing and fine-tuning their loadout along the way. Luckily, ammunition for the weaponry is unlimited, restricted through the use of cooldowns or charging times. That means that players will need to think before they shoot, and work as a unit when things don't go to plan; a downed Hunter can be revived soon after falling, but once lost, the team will need to wait two minutes before a Dropship returns them to the hunt.
But for those who prefer to turn the hunters into the hunted, then playing as the Goliath (a creature apparently modeled after an ape, a snake, and a Xenomorph) may be more appealing. And from the point of view of the monster, the fine-tuning and balancing that Turtle Rock has been up to begins to take shape. While the Hunters may be pursuing their quarry at the start of the match, the Goliath can turn the tables on all four, provided they put their time to good use.
Whether playing singleplayer against AI Hunters or in a truly multiplayer match, the player controlling the Goliath is attempting to either complete and objective to win the round, or eliminate all four Hunters at once. The monster won't be powerful enough to accomplish that at the start of the match, meaning it will need to - say it with us now - evolve along the way. Specifically, consuming AI wildlife to grow in size and strength.
But with each push, there comes a pull; running through the environment leaves footprints for Hunters to follow, and animal carcasses gather scavenging birds which also clue the Hunters in. With each evolution comes a new special attack, but the Goliath is never more vulnerable than while evolving. Add onto that the balance between speed and stealth while traversinf the world - in third-person view, as opposed to the Hunters' first-person - and you've got one simple, yet incredibly deep set of game mechanics.
As well as providing food for the Goliath, those same animal populating the wilds of Shear present a threat to Hunters. There are the Sloths, as big as the Goliath but docile unless attacked, the Trap Jaws, a cross between dogs and dinosaurs that are most dangerous in packs, and Spotters, which emit sound whenever a Hunter or Goliath approach them. There will also be carnivorous plants replacing L4D's Smokers, snatching up Hunters and requiring teamwork to extract them.
Hopefully more details and footage will be coming soon, but for now it seems that Turtle Rock has put the last three years of development to good use. The studio is dead set on proving that it was their hard work that made Left 4 Dead the success it was, despite being purchased by Valve prior to completion (the studio was re-founded as an independent in 2009).
What do you think of Evolve so far? Does it look to be one next-gen title that is trying something new with multiplayer, or will you want to see more gameplay before you decide to get your hopes up?
Evolve is targeting a Fall 2014 release for the PC, PS4, and Xbox One.
Follow Andrew on Twitter @andrew_dyce.
Source: NeoGAF (via Game Informer)