You've been following Evolve, right? If not, you should be. It's a delightfully original shooter in which one team of hunters (four human players) duke it out against one great big monster (a fifth human player) in an asymmetrical battleground of class-based warfare. It's fun. It's really fun.
But it's also a bit mysterious. See, every time I've had a chance to play Evolve over the past few months, the developers from Turtle Rock Studios have always hinted at other features included in the game that they're not showing: more maps, more monsters, and more hunters. At least until last week, when they revealed one new map and four new hunters, each acting as a secondary option to the classes that have already been introduced.
Now, even though these new hunters all fall into the assault-trapper-medic-support categories that the first wave of hunters did, they're no mere palette swaps. Far from it: each of these characters brings very different abilities and equipment to each match, giving their team an entirely different set of strategies to employ against that jerk of a monster.
If I had to pick a favorite, I'd go with Bucket, the new support character. Unlike the other support character, Hank, Bucket doesn't carry a shield gun to provide teammates with temporary invulnerability. See, Bucket is a robot. As such, he can do things humans can't, such as yank his own head off and fly it around the map like a remote-operated UAV. This lets you spot the monster when it's busy feeding on wildlife in order to reach its more powerful forms, a key early-game tactic for anyone playing against the hunters. Also, did I mention it's a robot whose name is Bucket? Bucket! How can you not love that?
Next you've got Maggie, the trapper. While Maggie doesn't look like a grizzled big-game hunter who's just emerged from the African savanna like Griffin, Evolve's other trapper, she does have a unique advantage of her own: a pet. That pet's name is Daisy, and she's a sort of alien doglike creature who can track the monster's scent and chase it down from clear across the map. She's an incredibly useful companion, but be warned: the moment the monster takes her out is the moment your heart breaks into a million little pieces. Luckily, she can respawn. But still. You can't erase that heartache.
There's also Lazarus, the new medic. As his name suggests, Lazarus has a particularly useful ability: reviving fallen teammates. Now, that bit isn't unique to Lazarus; anyone can revive an incapacitated ally. But whereas being revived by a normal hunter takes what seems like ages and counts as one strike against you (you'll die immediately after three strikes), Lazarus can revive you instantly and with no penalty to you whatsoever. All it takes is a quick blast from his special gun and its equally special life bullets.
And finally, we arrive at Hyde, the new assault character. Like Markov before him, Hyde fills the role of the tank, a high-damage, high-defense character who excels at offensive maneuvers. Hyde carries the single most powerful hunter weapon in the game: the flamethrower. But it's also the most short-range weapon in the game, so you need to risk life and limb by charging in close and unloading on the monster when the moment is right.
That could mean the trapper throwing down an arena to limit the monster's movement (either Maggie or Griffin can do this; each hunter class has a shared ability), followed by Hyde triggering his own temporary damage shield ability and then going to town on the monster. But it all depends on which combination of hunters your team has selected, because all those abilities will vary dramatically across each class. It also depends on which map you're playing on. The wide-open jungle that Turtle Rock first revealed is a big space full of possibilities for movement, while the new map the studio just unveiled is a bit trickier with all its caves and jagged, unpredictable rock formations.
All of this adds up to one very promising game. The sheer number of co-op possibilities was already pretty impressive with that first cast of hunters, and it's only grown with this new bunch--to say nothing of the new map. And there's still more left to reveal. Who knows how dramatic the difference will be between the monster we've seen so far, and the other creatures Turtle Rock has been cooking up? I suppose we'll find out soon enough.