Monster hunting is serious business, and any hunters worth their salt will tell you that no matter how tough they may be, their best friend on the battlefield isn't an assault rifle, but an ally who's tough enough to brave the front lines and watch his comrades' backs. Anyone can fire a gun, but how many warriors can resurrect the dead amid incoming assaults without breaking a sweat? In Evolve, the latest co-op shooter from Left 4 Dead developer Turtle Rock Studios where you and three friends hunt down ferocious, hulking monsters, the courageous medic Lazarus has to step up to the plate on a constant basis. He's unique among medics, because, in the words of his creators, he "kind of sucks at healing."
So what if he's not the best healer? Lazarus is equipped with a unique revival ability that makes him an invaluable teammate when the hunt begins to go south. It's expected that hunters will fall in combat, but rather than face the penalty of a "strike," which comes from being resuscitated by any hunter other than Lazarus, permanently reducing the revived hunter's health for the remainder of the match, they have the chance at a second lease on life, penalty-free, thanks to Lazarus' life-giving gauntlet, the so-called "Lazarus device." With it, he can revive incapacitated players without the impositions of reduced health, or the timeout associated with standard redeployment via dropship, and it's something that only he can do; his medic counterpart, Val, can directly heal other hunters from a distance, but she's incapable of undoing death's deeds.
No matter which medic you choose, both Val and Lazarus need to stay out of harm's way until their services are required. When playing as Lazarus, according to Stephen Oakley, Concept Artist on Evolve, "it's very important to stay back and pretty much just wait until your teammates die. Medics tend to have this automatic aggro on them, whenever a monster sees them, because the medic is really the backbone of making sure that everyone doesn't die. You pretty much just need to [stay] alive." Lead Animator on Evolve, Dave Gibson, agrees with Oakley's cautious utilization of Lazarus. "I noticed, too, that between battles, that's when Lazarus will try to get up next to the guy who needs the most healing, and that's when the team huddles up to use that area-of-effect healing ability, and a lot of times, we try not to engage the monster again until everyone's been topped off."
When the going gets tough, the tough have to get going, and this is when Lazarus' personal cloaking ability shines. To use the Lazarus device and his small AOE healing burst, he has to leave the safety of distant cover and get close to his allies, who are usually in the thick of combat. Although support hunters such as Bucket and Hank can cloak multiple members of the team at once, Lazarus often needs to sneak into battle at a moment's notice, which won't be possible if the support's cloaking ability is still in its cooldown phase.
When the going gets tough, the tough have to get going, and this is when Lazarus' personal cloaking ability shines.
Lazarus needs to be careful even while cloaked, because every action he takes (apart from standard movement) will temporarily disable his cover. Smart monster players can also negate the effectiveness of Lazarus' cloak if they know what to look for, according to Oakley: "Goliath and Kraken have tools to make sure that Lazarus can't do his job." When Goliath uses his flame breath, "you can find Lazarus because he'll stay lit on fire for quite a while. So even while he's cloaked, there's a burning ghost running through the brush, and Goliath will just throw all his heat in that direction."
Likewise, Oakley points out that "Kraken's aftershock ability emits static that will show up on Lazarus' ghost while he's running around. And because Kraken can fly, he can easily camp bodies, which is a tactic that's good for monsters playing against Lazarus because, at that moment, he's of no use keeping people alive during the battle. But as soon as you get somebody down, you want to keep your eyes on that body. Kraken has the tools to just stay in the air and just keep tabs on the corpse. As soon as Lazarus turns invisible, Kraken should start laying down the hate on the corpse of the downed teammate."
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Medics are capable solo, but they're most effective when they work in tandem with one or multiple allies in coordinated attacks. Lazarus, like Val, can inflict small amounts of damage from cover using a sniper rifle, and every hit it lands inflicts wounds that weaken monsters' defenses, thus increasing the effectiveness of the rest of the team's attacks. Hank, a member of the support class, can cast a shield on Lazarus that will nullify incoming damage, thus allowing him to use the AOE healing ability or the Lazarus device. If a monster player is camping over a body in an effort to scare off Lazarus, Hank can also launch an orbital missile barrage that will push him away, or Hyde, the new assault hunter, can toss a noxious grenade to create an offensive cloud that can scare the monster away and let Lazarus sneak in to get his hands dirty.
The new trapper-hunter, Maggie, has a pet named Daisy that will automatically attempt to revive incapacitated hunters, but when Lazarus is around, Daisy is thankfully smart enough to give him the chance to revive a player before inflicting a strike against the fallen hunter's health. Gibson notes that "she actually 'knows' that it will give the downed player a strike, so she knows not to revive if Lazarus is still up, but as soon as Lazarus goes down, Daisy will start reviving other players even though she's going to give them a strike."
It's likely that Lazarus will never be able to take down a monster on his own, but Evolve is team-based, so he'll always be in good company, presumably. Creating the perfect team requires a careful balancing of abilities and solid communication, especially when Lazarus' specialized abilities are needed. He may be slightly more complicated than Val, depending on your style of play, but considering that he can revive other players, penalty-free, and paint monsters with wounds from far-away places with a silenced sniper rifle, he's worth the extra effort.