This past week marked the end of an era for online cooperative gaming as Turtle Rock Studios announced they are no longer working on Evolve. To us, this is a big deal, not because Evolve was a particularly great game, it’s not. (No matter how unique the mechanics are for hunting and trapping a monster are, the experience was highly repetitive no matter what level we played.) It’s a big deal because the studio that presented us the outstanding Left 4 Dead series, which is inarguably one of the best cooperative experiences ever, is packing it up which doesn’t bode well for its future.
What’s even more egregious is that we’re now playing Warhammer: Vermintide which lifts so much from the L4D formula that the devs should be paying Turtle Rock royalties. Even though the familiar routine is so well defined and nearly a decade old, it still works. As Turtle Rock looks to be sailing off into oblivion, another game arrives standing on the tall shoulders of Turtle Rock and wins best coop game of 2015. It doesn’t feel right.
According to their web site, Turtle Rock is still churning out a few VR experiences but appears to be dropping the mantle of cooperative shooters. They had a gold mine with Left 4 Dead and instead of banking on a true thing opted to go a different way – like other Valve properties.
We hope this isn’t the end of Turtle Rock as they clearly are a talented develop but they made so many missteps with Evolve that we lost count. They shortchanged any sense of narrative and campaign in favor of multiplayer modes, they limited the progression system so much that it took hours to begin having fun, and they overloaded the game with DLC packs (44 downloadable skins and counting) and modes that fragmented the available player base making it overly complex to just play the damn game.
The free-to-play Hail Mary move recently makes sense but it was too little too late. It drives us crazy as Vermintide proves to us you can just repeat Left 4 Dead and it’ll be a fun experience even if it’s in a well-worn Medieval world of dwarves and mages. Seriously, cast 4 gamers in a PvE game in a steampunk motif, or marauders in a apocalyptic wasteland (Borderlands with levels), or a Ghostbusters rip-off, or escaping a planet of robots, or, hell, just Left 4 Dead 3 and gamers would be thrilled.
Evolve was a misfire from a very talented developer and instead of cutting their loses and moving on, they double downed on their investment. We’re glad to have Vermintide but this Halloween we can’t but help but pine for the game we should be playing, Left 4 Dead 3.