It's still early days for Evolve, the upcoming multiplayer cooperative/competitive shooter from Turtle Rock Studios, but the studio has already proven that they are one next-gen title that deserves special attention. The minds behind Left 4 Dead have drawn attention for several reasons, not the least of which is their apparent disregard for the 'traditional' definitions of multiplayer character classes.
As the last of the four classes has now been detailed, it seems that Evolve may be the first multiplayer game in years in which the average player might actually demand to play as the Medic. She may not be what's expected from a specialist in battlefield first aid, but Val is one Medic that a squad of monster hunters will definitely not want to overlook.
The latest details from Game Informer's coverage of Turtle Rock's next title prove that for this development team, the jump to next-gen means reevaluating everything about competitive shooters - even the strengths and weaknesses of established class types. First, there was Markov, the traditional 'Tank' Assault class, favoring lethality and durability over stealth; next came Griffin, the Trapper class tasked with subduing and restraining the monsters of Shear.
But it was the reveal of Hank the Support class that showed the developers were mixing things up significantly; equipping the class type with offensive weapons that also made him more of a target for the Hunters' enemy. But with Val, just how much the team may defy expectations becomes clear.
That doesn't mean Turtle Rock isn't covering their bases; Val, like all characters in the Medic class, comes with the ability to deploy a Healing Burst, an area of effect health boost for any Hunters surrounding it. Similarly, Val's Medgun applies a beam of healing which boosts the health of any Hunter in its sights. Combine the fact that Val can heal from a distance with the jetpack on her back, and the player-controlled Goliath may have a hard time prioritizing targets.
The usual reasons a player might pass by a Medic character are fairly clear: most games limit them to a support role, and deploying health packs is never as much fun as achieving victory in a more direct way. In Evolve, it seems that nearly every class (and every character within each) is given tools and weaponry to make them a valuable asset both defensively and offensively. For Val, that's thanks to her proficiency with a rifle.
Val's Tranquilizer Rifle does just what it sounds like: slows the monster down so other Hunters have more time to deal out serious damage, while simultaneously making the monster glow green for all to see, and show up on the players' map. If the rest of the squad is aware of their roles in combat, even the most skilled monsters will have difficulty slipping the net once tranquilized.
While a tranquilizer gun seems perfectly at home on a monster hunt, Val's other weapon packs a bit more potency. The Anti-Materiel Rifle is - like Val - just as effective at a ranged distance, provided that players can choose their shots wisely. Once Val has fired a round into the monster's hide, a bulls-eye appears on the creature around the impact, drastically raising the damage inflicted by shots to the same area.
The result is that although Val may keep to the rear as much as any good Medic should, it falls to her to lead the attack, singling out key weak points on each monster's evolved form so that the rest of the Hunters can make the most of their own weaponry. A rifle round to the Goliath's head may not be the shot that finished the beast, but the Medic still gets the glory for the overwhelming barrage that soon follows.
Overall, Turtle Rock seems to have designed their classes and characters not only to make each invaluable to squad success, but to feel satisfying and engaging to each player in the process. Those are just the first four characters that players will encounter before being given the choice of honing their individual play styles with other characters.
For now, which character design or class has gotten your attention? Is this innovation something you'd like to see more of in established multiplayer shooters? Sound off in the comments.
Evolve is targeting a Fall 2014 release for the PC, PS4, and Xbox One.
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Source: Game Informer