Evolve: Meet The Goliath

by Jeff Cork on Jan 10, 2014 at 08:00 AM

A monster movie is only as good as the monster, and that’s often the case with games. In Turtle Rock Studios’ upcoming shooter Evolve, up to four players battle against a powerful player-controlled beast on an alien planet. The company has unveiled the first such creature, the hulking creature known as the Goliath. Read on to learn more about him and some of the behind-the-scenes stories behind his creation.

In Evolve, up to five players battle it out in four versus one matches. If you didn’t know the makeup of the teams, you might think that’s an unfair split. The reality is different. Four of the players take on the role of hunters, who are tasked with defeating monsters on the planet Shear. The lone player is one of those monsters. He starts off in a weakened form, eventually growing in size (and power) by eating local wildlife. You can learn more about the game by watching our video feature "What is Evolve?" The first of the creatures that Turtle Rock has revealed is the Goliath.

The Goliath is, simply put, an absolute beast. He’s a massive creature that’s able to pull boulders from the earth one moment, before sprinting off and springing dozens of feet into the air. He’s at once familiar and deeply foreign, relatable but strange. As it turns out, that’s no coincidence.

“We knew we wanted him to be the first monster that would ever be revealed, and the first monster that players would have access to, and the first one the media would see,” says Turtle Rock Studios head Chris Ashton. “So we wanted it to be recognizable and not too weird.”

The Goliath is their jack-of-all trades, a bipedal powerhouse who crouches into a simian sprint and maintains his balance with a spiked tail. Even in his smallest form, he’s intimidating; at stage one he’s about 10 feet tall, and he only gets taller with each of this three evolutionary forms. “If he stood fully up, he’d be in the 30s,” says character modeler Brandon Yanez. “He’s really big.”

Even though he does have a recognizable form factor, you probably won’t be looking at his back for a zipper. “We didn’t want him to feel like a dude in a costume, we wanted him to feel as believable as possible, and that transcends into a lot of our theory,” says Yanez. “We exaggerate stuff as long as it feels believable.

“It’s not like a Silent Hill kind of horror, but it’s more of a James Cameron, Aliens style, where it just looks cool.”

These sketches show some of the concepts and evolutionary dead ends from the Goliath’s early design.

 “Usually in games, there’s a concept artist who concepts things, and then then it’s given to the modeler like, ‘Build this, just build this,’” says Ashton. Instead, Turtle Rock says it takes it’s taken a more collaborative approach to Evolve’s character design.

Yanez says he immediately began modeling the Goliath after seeing a few concept sketches. From there, he and the concept artist – or anyone who had an opinion to share – would bounce ideas back and forth. “We’re all really good friends and we all get along really well, and there’s no ego,” Yanez says. “If somebody came by and said ‘I don’t like it,’ nobody is going to get offended.”

If you look at these sketches, you can see some of the details that made it through from the very start, as well as some ideas that were scrapped. “In the concepts he had four arms, for example, and that was just a lot of extra that you don’t really need,” Ashton says. “Two arms is enough to realize that he’s going to punch you in the face.”

This screenshot shows off Goliath’s roaring face, as well as his myriad spikes.

Goliath won’t win any beauty contests, but he has his share of fans at Turtle Rock. His face is a ruined wreck of bone, teeth, and tissue. When his mouth is closed, his face is like a bony, crested helmet. Get him mad, and things change. “The idea is that when he screams at you, you get this wet grossness with all these bony protrusions,” Yanez says. 

He’s had some dental work as well. Originally, the Goliath had symmetrical, almost human teeth. “For whatever reason, I remember going with Goliath and thinking those teeth are too perfect, and we have to tweak the angles and make them much more chaotic,” recalls Ashton. 

The result is a ruined-looking maw. “If you got bit by that, it wouldn’t be clean like shark bites,” Yanez says. “It would be like a grinder.” If you’re playing as a hunter and you get that close, odds are you’re doing something wrong. Players can get a better look at the Goliath’s mouth if they’re unfortunate enough to get incapacitated around the beast and it decides that hunter is on the menu.

Goliath also sports an impressive arrangement of spikes on his back and body. “When we started, he didn’t have any of the spiky stuff,” Yanez says. “As we were hammering on it, we tried as a test to see what spikes would look like. It looked really cool, and we only had a couple. I kept putting more and more all over him, and he looked like a mace, like something with so much muscle and bone that if he landed on something it would be like a bramble bush. You would not survive it.”

Just as the hunters have their own unique abilities, each of Evolve's monsters is equipped with its own arsenal. Here's an illustration of what the Goliath brings to the battlefield.

The Goliath is an innately strong and powerful creature, but players will be able to buff him up as they play. As the game's name suggests, he can evolve through three different forms by feeding on kills and storing energy – provided the hunters don't kill him first. Players can choose two of Goliath's four abilities when they start, and they're able to select another with each additional growth spurt.

His flame breath is a great way to punish hunters for getting too close. Once a character is alight, they continue to take damage. The pain inflicted isn't as great as some of his other attacks, but the DoT effect compounded with the panic it can create makes it invaluable.

The Goliath's leap and charge attacks are versatile maneuvers that can be used offensively or defensively. The charge is an effective way to close the gap between fleeing opponents, or it can be used to create some space between you and the hunters when you’re feeling pinned down. Similarly, the leap attack is a tool that’s useful to pounce on unsuspecting hunters from above, or to make it tough for them to draw a bead on you.

The rock throw is an attack that speaks to the Goliath’s raw power. The Goliath digs its claws into the ground, extracts a boulder, and chucks it at the nearest pest. It only takes one hit for new hunters to learn to respect this attack. It delivers a punishing, disorienting blow that can take precious seconds to recover from. The rock throw was added to address one of the issues the team discovered in playtesting. Before he had a longer-ranged attack, the hunters could lay mines and play a straight defense – effectively forcing the Goliath player to participate in his own inevitable demise.

The Goliath is only one of several different monsters that players will battle – and battle as – when Evolve ships this fall. If he’s any indication, hunters are going to have their work cut out for them.

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