NEWS - Friday, May 23, 2014

Four New Hunters Join Evolve’s Fight

From Xbox Wire:

Unless you’ve been living under a rock - or have been pinned beneath the paw of a towering beast - there’s a good chance you might already be familiar with “Evolve.” Spawned from the same folks who brought us the “Left 4 Dead” franchise, the forthcoming title is a 4-on-1 co-op/competitive shooter that pits a quartet of hunters against a player-controlled monster. Or, as Turtle Rock Studios co-founder Phil Robb describes it: “It’s kind of like a big, epic boss battle, but the boss is controlled by a human.”

After assembling a team of four class-based characters—Assault, Trapper, Medic, and Support—players are tasked with working together to track and take down a Goliath that would make most other games’ big bads look like grade-school bullies. Of course, because the beast is controlled by a fifth player, it brings to the battlefield a level of skill, strategy, and unpredictability that an A.I.-directed monster just can’t match.

Thankfully, our recent demo was all about showcasing the creature-crushing guns and gadgets of four new hunters. While Turtle Rock had previously revealed Markov, Griffin, Val, and Hank—a menacing foursome that could have made Schwarzenegger cry uncle in his Predator-thwarting prime—they were now letting us lock-and-load behind Hyde, Maggie, Lazarus, and Bucket.

The former pair of hunters joins the Assault and Trapper classes, respectively. Hyde carries a mini-gun capable of turning forests into tossed salads, but it’s his secondary weapon that does the most damage; a flamethrower built into his left arm, Hyde’s backup—according to Turtle Rock co-founder Chris Ashton—is the game’s “shortest ranged, but most powerful weapon.” When not barbequing baddies from behind his butt-kicking appendage, Hyde can utilize his unique ability, Toxic Grenades, as well as his class-based Personal Shield.

On top of packing a Machine Pistol and Harpoon Traps, Maggie—like her classmate Griffin—can deploy Mobile Arenas; these cage-like domes are great for temporarily enclosing the target in a small space while your entire team attempts to fill it full of smoking holes. Maggie’s best asset on the battlefield, however, isn’t a hand-cannon, but a living, breathing companion named Daisy. Described by Ashton as being like a “big aggressive hyena,” the predatory pet (technically called a “Trapjaw”) is like a fifth, four-legged member of the hunter team. While it’s yet to be confirmed if Daisy can fetch your morning paper, we know she can sniff out the target and revive teammates.

New to the medic class is Lazarus, a sniper-rifle-equipped healer who uses more than bandages and ointment to bring his friends back from the brink. Sure, his Healing Burst class ability is a lifesaver, but it’s his aptly named Lazarus Device that literally allows the dead to rise; more effective than his class counterpart’s Medgun, this miracle skill can quickly turn the tables on a monster who thinks it’s transformed the map into a graveyard. Combined with his Personal Cloak, Lazarus’ ability to resurrect expired allies is as strategic as it is supernatural.

Rounding out the new recruits is Bucket, the only nonhuman hunter to be revealed so far. Possessing a Guided Missile Launcher and Sentry Guns, this snarky bot packs more high-tech toys than a Transformer. Even better than his violent skills, though, is his silent UAV ability; you see, Bucket can remove his head and control it like a drone to find and track the target—let’s see Optimus Prime do that! Of course, deploying his decapitated noggin also leaves him vulnerable, so activating his Cloaking Field is highly recommended when he’s sitting headless.

While our demo was focused on the four hunters, it also unfolded in a new desert environment. Contrasting with the previously revealed forest map, the arid battleground sports tighter quarters— including caves—and fresh wildlife, like the predatory dune beetle. A look at “Evolve” also wouldn’t be complete without a little love for the monster; those who play as the fire-breathing baddie can select skills, such as charging and leaping attacks, as well as the ability to toss giant rocks likes empty Coke cans. Rather than choosing multiple hunter-hating skills, however, Goliath-piloting players can now trade diversity for power by pouring all their points into a single ability.

With thumbs blistered and pulse spiked, our demo comes to a close. Before we can catch our breath, though, Robb teases that we’ve only just gotten a taste of “Evolve’s” enormous promise and potential. Before the game hits like a ground-buckling smash on October 21, the developer promises that “more is coming... more modes, more hunters, more environments, and more monsters.”


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