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2K discusses ‘Evolve’s’ balance: ‘PAX was really eye-opening for us’

One of the newly announced 'Evolve' hunters.
One of the newly announced 'Evolve' hunters.
Photo courtesy of 2K Games, used with permission.

Oftentimes the best thing about playing a large monster is destroying absolutely everything in your path. But when there are other players in the game, things get a little complicated. While that might be fun for the beast, those trying to take it down would experience only frustration. So how does Turtle Rock Studios go about balancing the creatures in Evolve with that of the four hunters?

Obviously at some point the Goliath needs to stand a chance against his four foes. The best way to do this is have a power curve where the monster starts off weak but slowly becomes more powerful. And that's exactly the methodology that Turtle Rock is utilizing.

Recently at PAX East, players got hands on time with Evolve and got a chance to play as either the Goliath or one of the four hunters. (Assault, Support, Trapper, and Medic) During our playtime, we chose to become the beast and attempt to take down our four foes. We were successful in doing so but the match was remarkably close.

In an exclusive interview, we asked 2K Executive Producer Denby Grace what his concerns were regarding the stark contrast between the two forces.

"We are constantly balancing the game, says Grace, "It’s a constant effort from the development team.

"The guys at Turtle Rock are a very intuitive development team and even before something is drawn. . .before they decide something would be a cool weapon. . .[they know that] it’s actually gameplay that’s being played with."

He continues, "Then at some point, they’ll find which character it better suits. Every ability, every item, every weapon has this counterpoint on the opposing team usually."

Grace provides us with an example saying, "Taking all support characters, they have a cool cloak, which is really useful for many different reasons in the game. What the Goliath has to counter that is he has fire breath. Fire breath will set on fire cloaked characters actually making them visible. Even those cloaked, you can see a burning flame running around.

How does the team come to realize this? Grace says it's due to the observations of the team members as they play Evolve.

"We play [Evolve] a lot, 2 hours everyday; it’s actually in their job description as a development team. We have a lot of data and [it] swings backwards and forwards as we balance and tune.

"Again, we’re constantly looking at data and modifying things."

But it was PAX East that perhaps gave them the most insight into the inner workings of Evolve.

"What was really cool was taking the game to PAX and running some 400 games. Every single game our guys were tracking the win/loss ratio. We came out with a 52% in favor of the monster," Grace declares. "That’s with everyone being a new player as well."

He continues to hypothesize as to why this was the case, "What we see is the monster is the most unique character to our game. He has to work independently on his own, he doesn't have to work as part of a team. A good monster player will be better than a bunch of players who are not working as a team.

"PAX was really eye-opening for us in terms of the balance.

"We thought the game was balanced, but we were pretty much right where we needed to be."

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