But they're still "refining" the specifics
Evolve is shaping up to be great fun. After Matt and Brendan tried out Turtle Rock's 4 vs 1 shooter earlier this year, I leapt on the latest production build at Gamescom and succeeded in annihilating a team of uncoordinated hunters as a mine-spewing Kraken. Then I ate them.
However, one of the main concerns about the delayed project is whether or not its short matches will provide the longevity that many players look for in their top-tier shooters, and remain relevant once the novelty wears off. Will it have a progression system? How robust is it? What about eSports and DLC?
Apparently Turtle Rock are still "refining" the specifics and making the most of the delay, but producer Denby Grace filled me in on the latest details at Gamescom.
"There is a meta-progression system in the game, and again it's still being heavily refined, but the way it works at its core is you unlock new characters by playing that class," Grace told me during a video interview. "So you unlock new monsters by playing as the monster and sort of progressing up. But then the other thing is that you actually earn mastery with your individual ability or weapon, and you can skill those up as well. So as you're ranking up in the game, your character will have certain levels for each of its abilities.
"As you hit the whatever the top rank is -- I don't think we've settled on a number yet, say it's fifty or whatever -- you'll have ranked out everything and everything's will be topped out; then it's totally down to the skill of the players at that point. There is a much bigger meta progression system."
So what are these weapon and ability upgrades? Are they sweeping buffs?
"No, it's more sort of value tweaks," Grace elaborated. "So you use the lightning gun repeatedly, and you're good, and you get a hundred kills with the lightning gun as an example, and then your lightning gun does 10% more damage or the cooldown rate is faster or whatever. So those sorts of things are the things we're adjusting. The game is pure and it's mechanical in the way it works, and that was a very deliberate decision.
"Replayability, longevity, eSports, things like that -- competitive play -- that's the sort of stuff we wanted to do."
eSports, eh? I had to press him on that. Does Evolve have the potential to become a major eSport?
"Absolutely. On a fundamental level, the game is as fun to watch as it is to play, and the game's super-intense. It's a lot of fun and it is really well balanced; and the depth of play that comes from working as a team and the strategy you can employ in the team gets really strategic. It's a lot less reliant on twitch reflexes, which makes it genuinely something different from an FPS."
Before Denby could launch into more producer-speak, I asked specifically how they were planning to support the eSports scene in-game.
"We've not locked down the feature set yet. We're still looking at it and we're working with different partners, and we're working with ESL and MLG... we're looking at it. We've got no locked-down feature set at this time, but it's something that we're really keen to pursue."
Apparently Evolve's monster once had a perk that let them overhear hunter teamspeak for extra tactical depth.
In terms of DLC, Grace once again stated that nothing has been locked down, but that larger Left 4 Dead-style expansions haven't been ruled out.
The jury's still out on whether Evolve's novel premise will be matched with varied gameplay and impressive longevity, especially considering the limited number of monsters and preset classes. Its potential is absolutely monstrous, but we'll find out whether Turtle Rock are set to redefine multiplayer -- or should have pitched Evolve as an impressive niche title -- next February. Until then, let us know what you make of it in the comments!