We write about FPSes each week in Triggernometry, a mixture of tips, design criticism, and a celebration of virtual marksmanship.
Evolve is ostensibly hide-and-seek taken to its unnatural extreme. Within that framework, though, Turtle Rock found room for some of the most creative and easy-to-learn, hard-to-master healing mechanics since Team Fortress 2. That’s no coincidence, considering the tiny overlaps in how Evolve’s three medics and The Medic operate.
Evolve’s healing role can be played as an aggressive scout, sneaky necromancer, or first-aid grenadier. Let’s briefly break down how the three (currently released) healing Hunters operate:
Uses the Med Gun, a healing tether tool with a long (but limited) range that’s the cousin of TF2’s Medi Gun. The starter, “vanilla” medic.
A ninja defibrillator. Lazarus can’t actively heal (other than Healing Burst, the long-cooldown AOE heal that all medics have), but revives dead allies at close range.
Hurls healing grenades that heal allies or NPCs in their radius for smaller amounts of HP. She can actively heal herself with her primary weapon, unlike Val and Lazarus.
Each of these characters has interesting, weapon-specific skills to master. On paper, Val is the shallowest, simplest medic to play—you point at a beam at whoever’s hurt and hold down Mouse 1. But the Med Gun doubles as a way to block and bait the monster. In most situations, the Med Gun’s green beam acts as a neon sign that says “You probably shouldn’t attack this guy.” So one of Val’s specific skills becomes keeping every teammate in your line of sight so that you can juggle between targets—a tall task in Evolve’s ragged, varied-elevation maps. Swapping between teammates with the Med Gun, even if they’re at full health, forces the monster to recalculate who the best target is, especially if Hank’s (support) shield generator is in play.
Lazarus takes a bizarre combination of patience, speed, and stealth to play well. It doesn’t suit me at all, but it’s certainly novel and ironic: he’s a medic that has to let players die. In practice, this means that he has to keep an eye on everyone and be ready to act, but not so much that he’s idling on the bench while the rest of the team fights. It’s like trying to keep your eye on the road while peeking at the rear-view mirror.
Lazarus is also the only medic who can cloak, which makes him resemble TF2’s Spy—the rhythm of waiting, watching, and maneuvering into position is similar, except that your backstabbing target is a dead teammate. It’s a clever twist on healing that adds a lot of uncertainty and fragility to the equation, but the payoff is great when you revive someone right under the monster’s nose.
What’s common to the three current healers is that they all carry weapons that deal damage passively. Val and Lazarus’ sniper rifles deal a tiny amount of active damage on hit, but their primary function is to paint damage-multiplying bullseyes on the monster for other Hunters to tag. Likewise, Caira’s healing grenade launcher also spits napalm, a damage-over-time effect. Evolve’s background reloading (all guns reload automatically when unequipped) means that medics can spend even less time with rifles in their hands and still feel like they’re contributing to the fight.
Bottom line: Turtle Rock probably could’ve gotten away with making the Med Gun the lone healing mechanic in Evolve, but the game benefits a lot from these asymmetrical healing mechanics.