Gameinformer continues their month-long coverage of Evolve, a new IP from Left 4 Dead creators Turtle Rock Studios. For the most part, their coverage has focused on discussing the four hunter classes in-depth. Since Markov, gamers have been introduced to Griffin the Trapper, Hank the Support, and Val the Medic. However, the magazine’s coverage has also allowed readers to infer a few other things.
The first thing is that there actually is a plot behind the multiplayer gameplay. Evolve takes place in the relatively distant future where humanity has perfected space travel but has yet to successfully tame the “final frontier.” Hunters are essentially mercenaries and colonization specialists for hire, hardened men and women who help colonists settle planets with particularly savage wildlife. The Evolve campaign takes place on the planet Shear, an arboreal world similar to Avatar’s Pandora, settled by humans roughly a century before the game takes place. A team of Hunters arrives responding to a distress call on the planet, only to discover creatures not of Shear are attacking the colony. And thus the mystery begins… if the players can find the time to solve it after they’re done surviving the super-predators that is. Sci-fi fans familiar with the tropes and clichés of the genre can probably see where this is going.
The second is that much like the original Left 4 Dead did with B-grade zombie movies, Turtle Rock has mined all the popular character archetypes of the sci-fi horror genre in designing the game’s band of playable mercenaries. With the exception of Griffin the big game hunter, all the iconic characters look like they would be right at home in any number of movies and video games from the original Alien movie to the latest Dead Space game (most gamers can probably smell the obvious mod opportunities if Turtle Rock ships the game with tools.) From Val’s “Starship Trooper” to Hank’s “Joe the Space Plumber,” odds are Turtle Rock plans on touching on every sci-fi character cliché at least once, especially if they plan on making multiple characters for each class. Speaking of the classes…
Griffin, the big game hunter with the killer moustache standing to Markov’s immediate right in the promotional art, is the archetypical Trapper. The Trapper class is designed around locating the monster and making sure it stays in one place long enough for the other players to do some damage. To that end, Griffin carries a small number of sonic spikes, deployable proximity sensors that allow him to track the monster over a limited area. For making sure the target holds still, Griffin’s primary is a harpoon gun that functions much like a fishing rod. When he has to fight, the Trapper carries a vanilla submachine gun as his secondary. Finally there is his class ability, Mobile Arena, which traps both him and the monster in an energy cage. Exactly how the other players can interact with the Mobile Arena has yet to be adequately explained.
Hank, the gentleman in the construction yellow armor and with the Duck Dynasty beard, covers Support. His primary tool is the Shield Gun, a device that gives other players a few seconds of invulnerability similar to the Medic’s Ubercharge from TF2. A long recharge time between charges keeps players from player spamming but still, a few seconds of invulnerability can come in handy. When he has to do damage, Hank carries an industrial laser cutter (likely the big “grenade launcher” he’s holding in the promo art) as his secondary weapon. The laser torch does horrific damage to the monster, described as being almost as powerful as one of Markov’s weapons, but it’s also as vulgarly unsubtle as it is powerful, leaving a telltale muzzle flash inappropriate for situations where stealth is preferable. Hank’s third ability is to call down an orbital bombardment, a destructive ability that takes a moment to warm up and easy to dodge, requiring collaboration with the team’s Trapper to maximize its effectiveness. Finally, all members of the support class possess a group cloak that could come in handy for covering escapes or setting up ambushes.
Last but certainly not least in relative importance for keeping the team alive, Val represents the Medic class. The jetpack flying woman in some of the game’s promotional art, this lady is most certainly not bringing the standard FPS medic’s arsenal to Shear. Her primary weapon is a medgun, a healing tool described by Gameinformer as being similar to the ray gun favored by the Medic in Team Fortress 2 and her class-standard ability is a radial healing burst. That is perhaps the only thing players from other games would recognize as Val hits the ground with an anti-material rifle and a tranquilizer rifle. In addition to doing what players would expect them to do, the anti-material rifle allows Val to highlight spots she hit for additional damage if the other players can follow up on her attack. And yes, this damage bonus does apply to headshots. Meanwhile her tranquilizer rifle injects a solution that allows the Hunters to track the monster for a short while.