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From revelation to superstar: How Turtle Rock's 'Evolve' has risen to prominance

'Evolve' - Screenshots-slide0
Photo courtesy of 2K Games, used with permission.

It wasn't that long ago when a game called Evolve quietly sprang onto the scene.

The 'Evolve' logo.
Photo courtesy of 2K Games, used with permission.

Since that moment noise has slowly been building and building and somehow it's grown to be louder than that of other huge titles releasing this fall like Destiny. Bungie's next big thing has $500 million and the backing power of Activision behind it and yet the game has just as much hype surrounding it as Evolve does. But Turtle Rock Studios and 2K Games have been working up to this moment, it didn't just happen by itself.

Details regarding the title have been sparse with the most clarity coming from the media's first hands on with the Goliath and the initial round of four hunters. From that moment on there was a quiet murmur among gamers.

Did you hear about that Evolve game?

When Penny Arcade confirmed that 2K would have the title not only prominently displayed, including a giant statue of the Goliath, but that it would also be playable and many knew they were going to wait in line for countless hours just to play a single round.

After three days and hundreds of matches the buildup for the title had skyrocketed. Ask anyone what titles they'll be purchasing this fall and chances are Turtle Rock's title will be among them.

The developer has had previous success with the Left 4 Dead series, something that reinvented multiplayer gameplay. According to 2K Games Executive Producer Denby Grace, the experience behind making that title has been one of the primary reasons why Evolve is the way it is today.

"I think the guys at Turtle Rock specifically are very original," Grace says. He notes that it's 2K Games that owns the rights to the franchise. "Since 2K has owned the property for Evolve, there obviously has not been any consideration for [Xbox 360 and PS3]."

That is since the project began, "I believe previously it began as a [past]-gen platform," he continues, "but where the game is at now, it really is a truly next-gen experience, especially when you look at things like the environment, the world, how rich it [all] is, how much is going on with the AI we’re driving, the wildlife system and how the game looks.

"It really is a dense experience; it can only be delivered on that next-generation of console."

And that's only made even better with a studio like Turtle Rock behind it. "It’s a constant effort from [them]," he states, "the guys at Turtle Rock are a very intuitive development team."

The project was actually a perfect fit for the studio due to Left 4 Dead's similar features. "They have the game coach and [in Evolve], the game is watching what you’re doing as a player. If you’re not doing it, then at that point we show you a message [explaining what you should do]. . .We use this to keep you on [the right] path and make sure you’re having a good time. It’s using the same game coach system that was used in Left 4 Dead."

The similarity between the two titles means that the studio has had time to iterate on things that fell short in its previous games. Grace also thinks some of this is due to the nature of the title, how it stresses a deeper level of strategy, leaves a positive flavor in player's mouths.

"I think the game is genuinely deep in terms of its mechanics and systems," he adds. "Much like you see from games like Starcraft, strategies change week to week with us. We find a way to beat the people we are playing against, then they find a way to beat that and it keeps happening that way."

There’s just so much depth, it’s a genuinely unique experience.

Grace injects his personal opinion into the conversation, "For a first-person shooter, it doesn't rely on twitch reflexes, which is something that for me, turns me off to a lot of games nowadays. I use to be a massive Unreal player, but as I've got older and I’m able to dedicate less time to players games, it puts me off playing those twitch reflex games. I just don’t like getting hammered by some 14-year old kid, we've all been there."

"Evolve doesn't rely on that, it doesn't rely on your reflexes. It’s a lot more about how you are using your brain."

Regardless of everything else, the results at PAX East can not be denied.

"What was really cool was taking the game to PAX and running some 400 games," Grace tells us. "We were actually very pleasantly surprised between [players wanting to play as the monster versus the hunters]. We expected to see more of a slanting towards monsters, but we just didn't."

"In terms of what we saw, there were some features that we didn't see people use that we use [internally].

"Overall, we were super ecstatic about the way things went."

For now, we wait until next week for Evolve to take one more monstrous step towards release.

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