Evolve: Official News Discussion
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    Evolve is an upcoming sci-fi themed, co-operative first-person shooter being developed by Turtle Rock Studios. First revealed by name in December 2012 in the bankruptcy filing of former publisher THQ, it will be published by 2K Games and is expected to be released for PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One in the third quarter of 2014.

    Evolve will be a co-operative game where four hunter players
    attempt to defeat an alien monster controlled by another player. Both
    the hunters and the monsters can use unique abilities during the game.
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    So, the dudes behind the original Left 4 Dead game are working on a new type of experience and it seems pretty fantastic, and I can't wait to sink my teeth into the finished product. Let's use this thread to discuss the game's news, and just the game in general and then when release is a week away I'll throw myself over to making an official game discussion thread.

    Right now, Game Informer is compiling a month long feature behind the game so I'll be posting some of those goodies here for ya'll to enjoy. Let's dive in to Evolve. Everything in italics is pulled from the Game Informer features.

    Yesterday we revealed February's cover story,
    a new IP from the creators of Left 4 Dead called Evolve. With this
    first feature for the month, we wanted to explain why Evolve is much
    more than just "Left 4 Aliens." While visiting Turtle Rock Studios we
    spoke with studio heads Phil Robb and Chris Ashton about the concept of
    their new game. The video below covers how Evolve is different than Left
    4 Dead, how it compares to Monster Hunter, and whether or not you can
    play single-player. To learn much more about Evolve, check out the latest issue of Game Informer for the full cover story.


    Watch the video below to learn what it's like to play Evolve and why
    you should keep your eye on this bold new multiplayer experience.


    A monster movie is only as good as the monster, and that’s often the
    case with games. In Turtle Rock Studios’ upcoming shooter Evolve, up to
    four players battle against a powerful player-controlled beast on an
    alien planet. The company has unveiled the first such creature, the
    hulking creature known as the Goliath. Read on to learn more about him
    and some of the behind-the-scenes stories behind his creation.


    In Evolve, up to five players battle it out in four versus one
    matches. If you didn’t know the makeup of the teams, you might think
    that’s an unfair split. The reality is different. Four of the players
    take on the role of hunters, who are tasked with defeating monsters on
    the planet Shear. The lone player is one of those monsters. He starts
    off in a weakened form, eventually growing in size (and power) by eating
    local wildlife. You can learn more about the game by watching our video feature "What is Evolve?" The first of the creatures that Turtle Rock has revealed is the Goliath.


    The Goliath is, simply put, an absolute beast. He’s a massive
    creature that’s able to pull boulders from the earth one moment, before
    sprinting off and springing dozens of feet into the air. He’s at once
    familiar and deeply foreign, relatable but strange. As it turns out,
    that’s no coincidence.

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    “We knew we wanted him to be the first monster that would ever be
    revealed, and the first monster that players would have access to, and
    the first one the media would see,” says Turtle Rock Studios head Chris
    Ashton. “So we wanted it to be recognizable and not too weird.”


    The Goliath is their jack-of-all trades, a bipedal powerhouse who
    crouches into a simian sprint and maintains his balance with a spiked
    tail. Even in his smallest form, he’s intimidating; at stage one he’s
    about 10 feet tall, and he only gets taller with each of this three
    evolutionary forms. “If he stood fully up, he’d be in the 30s,” says
    character modeler Brandon Yanez. “He’s really big.”


    Even though he does have a recognizable form factor, you probably
    won’t be looking at his back for a zipper. “We didn’t want him to feel
    like a dude in a costume, we wanted him to feel as believable as
    possible, and that transcends into a lot of our theory,” says Yanez. “We
    exaggerate stuff as long as it feels believable.


    “It’s not like a Silent Hill kind of horror, but it’s more of a James Cameron, Aliens style, where it just looks cool.”

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    These sketches show some of the concepts and evolutionary dead ends from the Goliath’s early design.


     “Usually in games, there’s a concept artist who concepts things, and
    then then it’s given to the modeler like, ‘Build this, just build
    this,’” says Ashton. Instead, Turtle Rock says it takes it’s taken a
    more collaborative approach to Evolve’s character design.


    Yanez says he immediately began modeling the Goliath after seeing a
    few concept sketches. From there, he and the concept artist – or anyone
    who had an opinion to share – would bounce ideas back and forth. “We’re
    all really good friends and we all get along really well, and there’s no
    ego,” Yanez says. “If somebody came by and said ‘I don’t like it,’
    nobody is going to get offended.”


    If you look at these sketches, you can see some of the details that
    made it through from the very start, as well as some ideas that were
    scrapped. “In the concepts he had four arms, for example, and that was
    just a lot of extra that you don’t really need,” Ashton says. “Two arms
    is enough to realize that he’s going to punch you in the face.”

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    Goliath won’t win any beauty contests, but he has his share of fans
    at Turtle Rock. His face is a ruined wreck of bone, teeth, and tissue.
    When his mouth is closed, his face is like a bony, crested helmet. Get
    him mad, and things change. “The idea is that when he screams at you,
    you get this wet grossness with all these bony protrusions,” Yanez
    says. 


    He’s had some dental work as well. Originally, the Goliath had
    symmetrical, almost human teeth. “For whatever reason, I remember going
    with Goliath and thinking those teeth are too perfect, and we have to
    tweak the angles and make them much more chaotic,” recalls Ashton. 


    The result is a ruined-looking maw. “If you got bit by that, it
    wouldn’t be clean like shark bites,” Yanez says. “It would be like a
    grinder.” If you’re playing as a hunter and you get that close, odds are
    you’re doing something wrong. Players can get a better look at the
    Goliath’s mouth if they’re unfortunate enough to get incapacitated
    around the beast and it decides that hunter is on the menu.


    Goliath also sports an impressive arrangement of spikes on his back
    and body. “When we started, he didn’t have any of the spiky stuff,”
    Yanez says. “As we were hammering on it, we tried as a test to see what
    spikes would look like. It looked really cool, and we only had a couple.
    I kept putting more and more all over him, and he looked like a mace,
    like something with so much muscle and bone that if he landed on
    something it would be like a bramble bush. You would not survive it.”

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    Just as the hunters have their own
    unique abilities, each of Evolve's monsters is equipped with its own
    arsenal. Here's an illustration of what the Goliath brings to the
    battlefield.


    The Goliath is an innately strong and powerful creature, but players
    will be able to buff him up as they play. As the game's name suggests,
    he can evolve through three different forms by feeding on kills and
    storing energy – provided the hunters don't kill him first. Players can
    choose two of Goliath's four abilities when they start, and they're able
    to select another with each additional growth spurt.


    His flame breath is a great way to punish hunters for getting too
    close. Once a character is alight, they continue to take damage. The
    pain inflicted isn't as great as some of his other attacks, but the DoT
    effect compounded with the panic it can create makes it invaluable.


    The Goliath's leap and charge attacks are versatile maneuvers that
    can be used offensively or defensively. The charge is an effective way
    to close the gap between fleeing opponents, or it can be used to create
    some space between you and the hunters when you’re feeling pinned down.
    Similarly, the leap attack is a tool that’s useful to pounce on
    unsuspecting hunters from above, or to make it tough for them to draw a
    bead on you.


    The rock throw is an attack that speaks to the Goliath’s raw power.
    The Goliath digs its claws into the ground, extracts a boulder, and
    chucks it at the nearest pest. It only takes one hit for new hunters to
    learn to respect this attack. It delivers a punishing, disorienting blow
    that can take precious seconds to recover from. The rock throw was
    added to address one of the issues the team discovered in playtesting.
    Before he had a longer-ranged attack, the hunters could lay mines and
    play a straight defense – effectively forcing the Goliath player to
    participate in his own inevitable demise.


    The Goliath is only one of several different monsters that players
    will battle – and battle as – when Evolve ships this fall. If he’s any
    indication, hunters are going to have their work cut out for them.

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    By the time we begin our adventure in Evolve, space colonization is
    no longer a novelty. Humanity’s drive to explore has taken people to the
    far reaches of space, to planets full of abundant resources and
    unlimited potential. We’re not always alone on these new worlds, either.
    Dealing with the realities of local wildlife – particularly the less
    friendly variety – has become a large enough concern to support a
    thriving industry of hunters. Whether you consider them brave, greedy,
    or foolhardy, you’re learning more about four of Evolve’s hunters this
    week.


    “I like to think of them as planet tamers,” says Phil Robb, one of
    the heads of Turtle Rock Studios. “They show up on these planets, and
    they sort of help colonists make these places livable.” 


    “That’s the reason they have harpoon guns, tranq darts – they’re here
    to handle the local wildlife,” adds the other studio head, Chris
    Ashton.


    “That’s sort of their shtick. So they get here, and they’re faced
    with this much bigger problem,” Robb says. “It’s a little more than they
    were expecting. These monsters, they’re not native to Shear, either, so
    the hunters suddenly find themselves, ‘Wow, we’re kind of in over our
    heads here.’ It becomes this sort of battle for survival.”


    When the game starts, people have been living on Shear for several
    generations. Turtle Rock is purposefully vague about specifics, but it’s
    been between 50-80 years since they arrived. The monsters, including
    the Goliath, are new to the landscape, and even the hunters are
    inadequately prepared. The weapons and tools that would easily
    incapacitate if not outright kill lesser creatures do little against
    these new threats. 


    “They’ve hit other colonies before, but there’s not a lot of
    information about them,” Robb says of the monsters. In other words, good
    luck.


    In Evolve, up to five players face off in four versus one matches on
    large maps, Four of the players band together as hunters, while the
    remaining player is the monster. The hunters are grouped into four
    distinct classes – assault, trapper, support, and medic – but the game
    has an additional wrinkle: There are unique individuals within each of
    those classes. When you decide to play as an assault class, for example,
    you can also select a specific character in that role, who has his or
    her own specific loadout.


    Each character is equipped with an array of weapons and gear. One
    piece of that loadout will be shared between all characters in that
    class, but the rest is specific to each character. Turtle Rock isn’t
    sharing how many total characters there are in the game, but we’ve got a
    look at the first four.


    “I think for the first guys, we tried to pick the most
    straightforward ones that are the easiest to grasp,” Robb says.
    “Subsequent ones will be a little more complex and have just a little
    more nuance.”


    Here’s a look at the first character reveal, Markov.

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    Name: Markov
    Class: Assault
    Class Ability: Personal Shield


    Markov is a member of the assault class, which is a role that should
    be familiar to most squad-based shooter players. In short, his job is to
    inflict as much damage as possible. With a large health pool and the
    ability to take a punch, he’s a great fit for players who like to get in
    enemies’ faces.


    On the offensive side, he’s armed with two large weapons. His
    lightning gun is a powerful piece of equipment that sends crackling
    blasts of destruction at close range. For enemies outside of that
    weapon’s grasp, he also packs an assault rifle.


    Markov isn’t all brawn, either. Players can use his arc mines as a
    strategic way to herd the monster into position or to close off routes.
    These electric charges are detonated by enemy contact; teammates won’t
    trip them, but they can take minor splash damage from them. If the
    monster triggers one, mines are also a great way to point out its
    position.


    Finally, all members of the assault class – not just Markov –are
    equipped with personal shields. As you might imagine, these provide a
    brief respite from enemy damage. Learning how long they last and the
    optimal time to activate the shield may be what determines if your squad
    talks about you in the past or present tense.


    The assault class is a great option for longtime FPS fans used to
    always being on offense. However, that doesn’t mean you should approach
    the class as a lone gunman. Markov’s weapons and abilities are even more
    powerful when used in conjunction with the abilities and tactics of his
    fellow squadmates, and knowing when to take a stand and when to flee is
    paramount to team’s success. Having your assault member killed puts the
    hunters at a major disadvantage, so even though Markov is the guy with
    the big guns, playing smart is essential. 

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    This week, we’re taking a focused look at four of the characters from
    Evolve. Turtle Rock’s upcoming shooter features four different classes –
    assault, trapper, support, and medic – with a variety of different
    people taking on those specific roles. Yesterday, we learned more about Markov, a member of the assault class. Today, it’s time to learn more about Griffin, a hunter in every sense of the word.


    Name: Griffin
    Class: Trapper
    Class Ability: Mobile Arena


    Griffin is all about the hunt, and his gear supports that philosophy –
    from his outback-inspired hat down to his jungle-ready boots. As a
    trapper, his job is to detect and contain the monster. Fortunately, he
    brought the right tools.


    His harpoon gun is the biggest thing setting him apart from his
    squadmates. It fires a missile that attaches to Griffin via an energy
    current. Once the monster is ensnared, the harpoon tethers the creature
    to Griffin, holding it within range and preventing it from escaping. As
    the monster, players can break the tether by attacking Griffin, but
    doing so requires shifting his or her focus away from the other hunters.


    Griffin is also equipped with sound spikes, which he can stab into
    the ground. Once they’re deployed, they provide all hunters with a
    visual indicator on their maps when the monster walks within their
    range. Multiple spikes can be planted at any given time, giving players a
    choice: Do they cover one area comprehensively, or use them on known
    choke points to provide a rougher sense of the monster’s presence?

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    Griffin wouldn’t be much of a trapper if he didn’t have some kind of
    offensive weapon, and his handy submachine gun does just the trick. The
    run-of-the-mill firearm is good at medium range distance and does a
    decent amount of damage. Knowing when to switch from trapping duties and
    deliver some damage of his own is an important part of playing as
    Griffin.


    Finally – like all trappers – Griffin has a mobile arena. This item
    creates a large, dome-shaped force field that prevents foe and friends
    alike from leaving the area. This is perhaps his most useful tool, and
    it’s one that can make or break a battle. See the monster trying to make
    his escape at his underpowered first stage? Trap him, enter the field,
    and take him on. Is the creature chasing your friends and you all need a
    second to catch your breath and regroup? Drop the mobile arena and use
    the time to escape. But beware: The monster can break the mobile arena
    at any time by incapacitating Griffin, making him a major target for a
    cornered beast.


    The mobile arena, coupled with the harpoon gun, makes Griffin a
    master of controlling the ebb and flow of combat – and of the monster’s
    own movements. A skilled hunter can make or break a team, so players
    will want to get accustomed with Griffin’s abilities before marching
    headlong into the fray. If you’re playing the monster, you will learn to
    save a very focused sort of rage for Griffin and the other trappers.

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    This week, we’re taking a focused look at four of the characters from
    Evolve. Turtle Rock’s upcoming shooter features four different classes –
    assault, trapper, support, and medic – with a variety of different
    people taking on those specific roles. So far, we’ve learned more about Markov, a member of the assault class, and a trapper named Griffin. Today, it’s time to learn more about Hank, a hero who takes on a supporting role.

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    Name: Hank
    Class: Support
    Class Ability: Cloaking Device


    As a member of the support class, Hank’s job is to make sure everyone
    else is OK. He doesn’t take a healing-hands approach like a medic; his
    skills and abilities center on maximizing the amount of destruction that
    his squadmates deliver and increasing their survivability.


    Monsters will learn to hate the shield gun, a device that Hank uses
    to blast his teammates with a temporary form of invulnerability from a
    distance. Apply it to a medic, and they’re able to heal everyone without
    worrying about their own safety. Hit a member of the assault class with
    it, and they’ve got even more license to stand their ground (especially
    when used in conjunction with their own personal shields). However, the
    shield gun isn’t as overpowered as it sounds; the device can only run
    for a few seconds at a time, so players should try to only activate the
    shield at the moment the monster lands its attack on an ally, then
    quickly switch it off to allow the tool to recharge.


    On the offensive front, Hank has a laser cutter that carves into
    monster flesh. It’s powerful, but it’s also a superheated arrow that
    points to the character’s location. Stealthy, it is not. When it’s time
    to lay into the enemy and finish it off, however, Hank’s laser cutter is
    second only to Markov’s powerful assault weapons.

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    Hank has another powerful offensive attack at his disposal, called an
    orbital barrage. This airstrike causes a ton of damage to anyone within
    its radius. It doesn’t hit a location with pinpoint accuracy, but it
    shells a large area. Orbital barrage is useful for scaring away monsters
    who are getting ready to chow down on incapacitated characters, buying
    time for their resuscitation. The location that the orbital barrage is
    going to hit is marked by a large red bullseye, and the missiles take a
    few seconds to land, making it easy enough for the monster to avoid –
    unless the hunters coordinate Griffin’s harpoon attack and hold it one
    spot. Communication is key.


    Finally, as a member of the support class, Hank has a cloaking device
    which can render him and nearby allies invisible for a short time. It’s
    a powerful tool when used as a way to spring sneak attacks or to escape
    the scene when a monster’s winning. It can also be used to cloak
    incapacitated enemies when you’re trying to revive them – the monster
    can’t eat what it can’t see.

    While supporting other members of the team may not sound all that
    exciting, Hank’s diverse set of skills draws on all styles of play. His
    laser gun deals powerful damage, the shield gun provides helpful defense
    to allies, the orbital barrage opens up strategic possibilities, and
    the cloaking device is great for stealth. As a result, Hank always has
    something to do, making him an exciting character to play as.

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    This week, we’re taking a focused look at four of the characters from
    Evolve. Turtle Rock’s upcoming shooter features four different classes –
    assault, trapper, support, and medic – with a variety of different
    people taking on those specific roles. So far, we’ve learned more about Markov, a member of the assault class; a trapper named Griffin; and Hank, a support class character. We end our week with a profile of Val, a medic who has clearly set aside the Hippocratic Oath.

    Name: Val
    Class: Medic
    Class Ability: Health Burst


    Val is a medic, but her role is vastly expanded from the healing
    archetype that players might expect. She is equipped with a Medgun, but
    it’s the least interesting thing about the character.


    The Medgun fires a healing beam that looks and functions similarly to
    the Medic’s healing tool in Team Fortress 2, providing a single ally
    with slow but continual healing from a distance. If you’re playing as
    the monster and you see its telltale beam, you might want to resist the
    temptation to focus your energy on the recipient, and instead track the
    nuisance down to its source. The Medgun can also be used to revive
    incapacitated players from a distance, making it a powerful tool in
    Val’s arsenal.


    Val packed along a pair of other weapons, which show how Turtle Rock
    isn’t shackling characters into traditional class-based roles. Her
    knowledge of anatomy is put to good use with her anti-materiel rifle, a
    weapon that she uses to highlight and expose monsters’ weak spots.
    Functionally, that means players who choose Val and hit monsters with
    the weapon provide extra damage to their teammates; a handy bull’s-eye
    is displayed on the enemy at the point of impact, showing allies where
    to aim. Hit a limb with the anti-materiel rifle, and squadmates who
    target that now-highlighted appendage will score additional damage. Get a
    headshot – which already nets extra damage – and the effects can be
    devastating.

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    Val’s other weapon seems like something that could have been lifted
    from Griffin’s locker. The tranquilizer rifle temporarily slows down the
    monster’s movement, making it harder to run away. In case the beast
    does give the hunters the visual slip, the dart’s other functionality
    comes in handy. While tranqued, the monster’s position shows up
    temporarily on the map, and the creature is highlighted with a bright
    green glow. Combine this weapon with Griffin’s harpoon gun, and you can
    essentially cripple the monster for brief periods of time.


    The final tool in Val’s bag is a healing burst, which provides
    teammates within a small radius with a large and instantaneous health
    boost. This item is something that all of Evolve’s medics bring along
    with them on expeditions.


    Most medics in shooters are relegated to healing duties, but Val’s
    anti-materiel rifle and tranquilizer gun give her more strategic options
    for helping take down the beast. Players will still spend a good deal
    of time topping off allies’ health bars, but her other abilities are
    vital to more advanced team strategies.


    We hope you’ve enjoyed our look at the first four hunters of Evolve.
    For a look at what the hunters will be up against, check out our feature
    on the Goliath. Be sure to visit our Evolve hub for more exclusive coverage this month.


    Four seems to be a magic number for Turtle Rock. In Left 4 Dead, four
    players could team up to take on armies of zombies. In their latest
    game, Evolve,
    a quartet of hunters battle a single, powerful opponent. As it turns
    out, there’s a reason behind that team size, as the studio explained to
    us.


    It goes back to the earliest days of Left 4 Dead, when it was still a
    Counter-Strike mod that Turtle Rock was working on. Valve expressed
    interest in the game, and their team decided to take a crack at making a
    few “improvements.”


    “One of the first things that the Valve guys did when they started
    playing Left 4 Dead and they really enjoyed it, they were like, ‘This is
    great, but we could make it work for five guys or six guys,’” recalls
    Evolve’s creative director Chris Ashton. Turtle Rock told Valve that it
    wouldn’t work, but Valve insisted on trying anyway.


    “They changed the code on their side and they tried it, and
    eventually they came back to four,” Ashton says. “What happens is
    there’s a weird thing in that most people I think are able to track
    three friends. I can know that you’re over here and you’re in front of
    me and you’re to my left. And I can keep that in my mind, and I can keep
    in my mind that you have 50 health and you have 80 health, and I can
    keep track of that and fight another team. But if it’s four guys, it
    feels like I’m always losing one. I always don’t know where someone is, I
    don’t know where somebody’s health is – keeping track of four other
    friends is too much.”


    Turtle Rock’s Phil Robb says there’s another benefit to four-player
    teams. “If you’re going to split up, you can do the buddy system,” Robb
    says. “Two guys go here, two guys go here. You add that fifth player,
    and it always seems like that last player would run off and do something
    stupid and get himself caught.”


    Evolve’s asymmetrical team sizes play into it as well. “As a monster,
    that sort of works a little bit against him, which is what makes the
    four versus one thing very successful,” Ashton says. “Like I said, it’s
    hard to keep track of four. If I’m the monster and I’m fighting four
    guys, it’s really hard. I always lose one. I incap somebody and I’m
    fighting the other guys, and the next thing I know a guy’s up and I
    don’t even know who got him up – I can’t quite keep track of all four,
    it’s just too many. But that’s what makes it a challenge for him. As
    soon as you kill one guy and get one guy out of the picture, I think
    three humans are way easier to deal with and keep mental tabs on.”


    Team sizes are one of the bullet points that get a lot of attention
    from players, especially before a game is released. Small numbers are
    often looked at with skepticism, since conventional wisdom tells us the
    more, the merrier. If fighting with a few of your friends is great, then
    why wouldn’t bringing along a dozen or more of them along be even
    better? We didn’t get a chance to play with prototyped versions of the
    game with more than four-player teams, but what we did experience was perfectly tailored for a smaller group.


     “It’s kind of weird,” Robb adds. “There’s kind of some strange
    voodoo-type magic there. We’ve sat down and tried to figure it out from a
    scientific point of view, but there’s something about four guys.”

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  • Oh wow, great post Manio!

    I got the Game Informer issue that featured this, and when Turtle Rock were looking for publishers, they were accepted by THQ and when I read that I was like, "Ohhhhhhhhhhhh shiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiit".

    Then, they were funded by 2K. So all is well. :) Looks very fun, Left 4 Dead co-op but instead of mindlessly fighting hordes you're working together to take down a huge, smart boss character. Simple but appealing idea!
  • It's a game I'm really interested in. Just hoping it doesn't get too hyped up.

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