2K Games is one of the bigger names in blockbuster gaming, so naturally, the company couldn't miss the opportunity to debut new titles at this year's PAX East exhibition.
Two big booths stand back-to-back in the middle of the show floor, and they're fairly impossible to miss: just look for the snarling, gargantuan monster bathed in crimson light.
Once there, be prepared to wait in long lines if you want a peep at 2K's newest games, Evolve and Borderlands: The Pre-sequel. Available later this year for console and PC, these games focus heavily on co-operative multiplayer in a first-person shooter vein, and deliver all of the over-the-top personality we've come to expect from a 2K title.
While Borderlands: The Pre-sequel is the next entry into 2K's hugely popular Borderlands franchise, it was surprisingly overshadowed (literally) by the company's newest IP, Evolve.
The monster, appropriately named "Goliath," is the poster child for Evolve. Set for cross-platform release this fall, Evolve mixes the co-operative desperation of Valve's Left 4 Dead games with the hunter/trapper impetus of Capcom's Monster Hunter. Players choose from one of four "hunters," each equipped with a separate set of skills, and are then tasked with tracking, hunting, and killing Goliath.
Sound easy? Well, it's not: Goliath has all the cunning, resourcefulness, and intellect of another human player—because it is one.
Rather than falling back on traditional shooter tropes, Evolve pits a team of four players against one big, player-controlled baddy.
The singular monster roams an asymmetrical map, hunting (and eating) any bizarre alien wildlife that wanders into its path. After enough "meals" have been consumed, Goliath can evolve, growing faster and stronger. There are three levels of evolution for Goliath to achieve before it has a massive advantage over the hunters; naturally, it's in their best interest to find and kill Goliath before it does so.
Hunter options include Griffin, the Trapper class; Hank, the Support class; Markov, the Assault class; and Val, the Medic class. After a short presentation to introduce the basics of Evolve, we were broken up into groups of five and got our hands on a playable demo.
I ended up in the boots of Markov, the damage-dealing Assault class. My team was able to slowly track down the whereabouts of Goliath via footprints and indicators of startled wildlife. Before we'd even caught up to it, Goliath had already evolved once, and was quickly outpacing us. The ensuing battle took upwards of five minutes, but my team only reduced Goliath's health by half. While we eventually triumphed, it was a very bumpy ride, and took some serious teamwork.
Evolve will test your mettle this fall on Xbox One, PlayStation 4, or PC.
BORDERLANDS: THE PRE-SEQUEL
Right next door to the Evolve demo, 2K is showing off Borderlands: The Pre-sequel. While little light has been shed on the nuanced details of the game yet, the newest entry into 2K's popular IP apparently takes place between the events of Borderlands and Borderlands 2, and was developed primarily by 2K Australia. This entry puts the player on the moon, orbiting the wasteland planet of Pandora.
While Borderlands: The Pre-sequel wasn't playable by the public, we did get to watch lengthy footage of the game during a presentation by James Lopez of Gearbox Software and Joel Eschler of 2K Australia. Of the four new playable classes introduced, the most exciting is undoubtedly "Claptrap," the spunky robot who served as a Virgilian guide in the first two games.
Because the game takes place on the moon, players are tasked with managing oxygen consumption while traveling between replenishing vents along the surface. Oxygen is augmented by new pick-ups called "oz kits," equippable items that allocate a set amount of oxygen to the player. Once it runs out, you start losing health, and will eventually die. Oz kits also give the player a jetpack-like fluidity within the moon's low gravity, allowing them to expend oxygen reserves for momentum and extra jumping ability.
This time around, the characters are working in the employ of Handsome Jack, the infuriating antagonist from Borderlands 2. While the setting may not be familiar, the characters should be: Including Claptrap, players take control of Athena, Wilhelm, or Nisha, personalities who have each made appearances in the first two games. While a large part of the game mechanics involve properly managing the new oz kits, players will also add ice and laser weaponry to the series' already staggering arsenal.
While it won't yet take advantage of your new Xbox One or PS4, Borderlands: The Pre-sequel should be available in its entirety just in time for the holiday season, so don't sell that Xbox 360 or PS3 just yet.