Executive producer Denby Grace on the evolution of Evolve
Evolving strategies, variation on both sides are important as Turtle Rock and 2K Games settle in for the longhaul.
Evolve was the winner of countless E3 awards and it's the game that journalists and developers alike seemed most keen to shower with praise.
We caught up with executive producer Denby Grace in the Xbox booth where Evolve had a large presence and healthy line.
At launch Evolve will feature 3 monsters (Goliath, Kraken, and one unannounced), 12 maps and 12 playabler hunters (divided in 4 classes), pre-orders are guaranteed a fourth monster that will ship post-launch.
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"Every monster is loving crafted with [variation] in mind. We've had the big hulking Goliath who's very much a physically based monster. And now we have Kraken who's a flying monster. Much weaker, be able to deal as we like to describe it 'death from above'. So it's a very different thing."
"He's definitely inspired by Cthulhu", says Grace of the Kraken. "Also he's got touches of the Alien from Aliens you know. And a little bit of their own [Turtle Rock's] sort of love. But yeah, the guys, the character artist Brandon was just like to me 'yeah, he's very much inspired by Cthulhu and the Giger stuff as well. So I think he's very, very cool. He's very unique. Very, very different as well from Goliath. That's the thing we're really excited about. The variety that this monster brings."
But four out of five in each match are hunters and they're also designed with variation in mind.
"Each hunter character offers a very different and unique experience," says Grace. "Now whilst you're playing as say an assault character and different assault characters they play quite vastly differently. Ultimately yes you're still the guy who's going to deal damage. But the way that you do it is different, and so that is true of any of the characters in the game. The characters and the monsters. Every single one offers a unique experience and a lot of variety."
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"The support is a really good example. Hank the previous support guy we sort of talked about is a very defensive support character. He's got his shield projector, he can literally shield people from a distance to a point where you can do no damage to them. Bucket is a much more aggressive sort of support character. He has guided missiles. He's also got his detachable head, which acts as a UAV. They all share class abilities, so each class has that same class ability... And the medic is another good example. Lazarus has no active healing ability whereas Val's job was to keep the team alive, Lazarus actually comes into play once you're dead. So it's a very different way... strategically when you play with this character. I'm cool with going down cause I know my medic if he's good is going to bring me back, that's cool, whereas when you're playing with Val you're constantly shouting at them that you need healing and all this sort of stuff."
Naturally this also offers a range of different synergies between various characters and not just between the classes.
"One of the things that we're seeing is that as a team we're playing against a specific guy playing as a specific monster. We know this guy. We know how he likes to play. We know what he wants to do. So we might choose a very defensive sort of team and our strategy might change. We might choose to take Markov say who can have mines. We might then choose to have Maggie who can put harpoon traps down and then take Bucket who's also got sentry guns to create a massive ambush, sort of trap for the monster. So again yeah, that's where it gets really interesting. There's no sort of limit on how you combine these characters. Yes, we've announced them sort of in groups of four, but you combine them as much as you want and that's when we start seeing people making up strategies we could never think of."
Prior to launch there is going to be an open beta on Xbox One. What are they then looking to get out of the beta?
"Obviously we have a huge backend system, dedicated servers, statistics and so on. We want to make sure that's right before launch. That's one of the goals straight out of the gate. Noone wants to launch this thing for it not to work."
"But we're always looking for data. When you guys are playing the game at shows like this we're looking at the data. We're seeing what people do. We're always making balance tweaks and that. So I think there'll be a lot that we can learn when the beta goes live and I'm really excited by the things that we can do to sort of tweak dials and twist knobs and things like that. And it's something that I think we're going to do post-launch as well. Balance and that refined experience is really, really important to us and really important to a game like Evolve.
The discussion then went further into the match making that Evolve will offer, and potential of tournaments and the likes.
"Turtle Rock and 2K have a real steeped history in providing gamers what gamers want. Borderlands is a great example for 2K. Left 4 Dead for Turtle Rock. People want more content, then we're going to give them more content. The game specifically lends itself to that [post-launch content]. Adding a monster really changes things up across the board. Adding a new set of hunters so to speak, again it changes things across the board."
"We're invested in the project longterm and I don't think it's going to be a 'release the game and that's the end of it'. We can expect to see a lot more post-launch."
Evolve is set for release on PC, PS4 and Xbox One on October 21.