In 2015, Turtle Rock Studios is going to launch their latest game, Evolve, looking to combine many elements that I fell in love with in their previous work, Left 4 Dead. In many ways, I look at this new game as an opportunity for developer to shape yet another generation of gamers into co-op lovers just like me. Therefore, I've decided to take the opportunity to explain why I'm so hyped to play this game and so should everyone else!
October of 2008 is when Left 4 Dead first hit store shelves. Everyone was talking about how awesome its game play was and how addictive it can be to play with you friends. It was around this time that I believe the the zombie craze of the last decade truly began (it's slowly dying down now though, thank god). I remember my good friend talking about the game constantly for months and showing me one Xbox Magazine article after another that explained the game mechanics and zombie apocalyptic setting. At first I wasn't all that interested, being that zombies never really interested me at all. Little did I know that the game would later change my perception of co-op gaming forever.
Sure, there are hundreds of co-op games out there that we’ve covered here at Co-Optimus and many can be considered the best of the best in their particular genres. At least within FPS's though, I feel like the Left 4 Dead series has no equal and firmly set the bar early for the prime co-op experience. While I can't speak for a game that hasn’t been released, I do have a strong feeling that Evolve may raise the bar to new heights and bring us the next stage in evolution for cooperative FPS's. Left 4 Dead may have have the crown for now, but I believe Evolve will obtain its own legendary status in due time and here are the main reasons why:
1. Multiple Playable Characters & Monsters
Left 4 Dead was a game about four Survivors who must work together to reach safe zones and, in the end, escape the zombie apocalypse. Players chose their desired character at the beginning of each campaign and keep playing as him/her throughout it until a new campaign was started. The thing was, each Survivor character is no different from another, save their individual personalities and models. Each was mechanically identical, leaving character development practically non-existent and forced players to obtain their preferred items retrieved within a level (they wouldn't carry over into another game). While I do think this was designed with balancing measures in mind, any synergy between co-op players in Left 4 Dead had limits. There is only so much a player can do individually that would make them stand out on a team, examples being the "best shot" or "always carries the grenade launcher". It never gets beyond a certain point because everyone pretty much the same role as the other and there's no real co-op team dynamic, save those that have better skills in certain aspects of the game.
Evolve, however, eliminates this by providing a large number of Hunter character choices for players to choose from and assume a role of. One step above that, each will have their own set of unique attributes, strengths, and weaknesses apart from any other character. This fleshes the game out in a lot of ways, having players choose the character that matches their likes and dislikes, instead of having to hope that their favorite weapon will be provided somewhere along the line. This even helps to build a cohesive team with the characters' strengths that are chosen. In a sense, this is sort of like how a MOBA would work when building a team that synergizes perfectly rather than just everyone assuming the same role as everyone else.
Additionally, it's nice to see some options to keep things new and fresh. I played more Left 4 Dead than I care to remember, and I know dozens of others who tried but got bored quickly of the "repetitive" nature of the game. This way, players can now mix up game play a bit and find their niche class within the game and keeps things interesting longer. Variety is the spice of life!