The snarling villain of Evolve, an enormous monster that attempts to thwart and smash four hunters trying to turn him into a trophy, isn't going to like this. The four-versus-one shooter is getting a new set of hunters, each one lugging unique weapons to match the monster's ferocious power and bring him down by the end of the match.
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Evolve (May 2014)
Though they all exhibit personalities and different voices, the hunters are primarily defined by what they bring with them to the lush arena. The one-eyed Hyde, who joins the Assault class, carries a devastating flame thrower, fit to match the Goliath's fire-breathing ability. According to Turtle Rock Studios, the flame thrower has the shortest effective range of any weapon in the game, but the highest damage. Hyde can activate a personal shield if things get too hot, and attempt to poison the monster from a distance with toxic grenades.
Meanwhile, Maggie brings a little monster of her own: The Trapjaw pet is a bloodhound in practice, and a nearly cute blend of fat Bulldog and toothy dinosaur. Dubbed Daisy, she can help her owner track the roaming Goliath down, or revive careless hunters lying on the brink of death. Tracking is an important aspect of Evolve, which has environments dense enough to obscure the monster and give him time to feed on other dangerous wildlife, evolve, and earn new attacks (or beef up existing ones).
If hunters die in the course of battle, without being fully consumed, there may be time enough for Lazarus to bring them back to life. He doesn't have an active way of healing people otherwise, which makes him an odd fit for the medic class. Instead, he's encouraged to hang back with a personal cloaking device and a silenced sniper rifle, rushing in only when his teammates are being savaged.
Finally, Turtle Rock Studios is showing off Bucket, a chunky bipedal robot with a missile launcher and a fondness for out-of-body experiences: as in, he yanks off his head and steers it around the map like a roaming camera, spotting the monster from the sky. His supportive role is also boosted by a batch of sentry guns he can toss into the foliage, though I found him to be the most isolated player in a match. If you're flying his head around, he tends to get separated not just from himself but the other hunters, who aren't going to stand about idly with a monster on the loose. Distance from the team can be a danger, especially if you wind up trapped in a carnivorous plant or run into one of Evolve's lesser beasties roaming the map.
These new hunters don't shake up the central appeal of Evolve – strong teamwork foiling a single agile target – but their addition is crucial to Turtle Rock's vision of a highly replayable multiplayer game. Evolve is built from a simple premise, with complex encounters emerging from a tailored set of weapons, character abilities, over a dozen environments and, of course, beasts.
We're up to a total of eight possible hunters (see the first four hunters in action here) against one gorilla-like monster type, so it's about time we see what else the inhuman side of Evolve has to offer. Expect that to happen sometime before the game launches this fall on Xbox One, PC, and PlayStation 4.
[Images: 2K Games]