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Announcement - Valve
Today's Deal: Save 75% on Left 4 Dead 2!*


Look for the deals each day on the front page of Steam. Or follow us on twitter or Facebook for instant notifications wherever you are!

*Offer ends Monday at 10AM Pacific Time
PC Gamer
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title="Permanent Link to Evolve hands-on: hunting monsters with orbital strikes in Turtle Rock’s asymmetrical multiplayer shooter">Evolve







By Ben Griffin.



Picture Left 4 Dead on Avatar s world of Pandora. Picture hordes of exotic wildlife, some friendly and some not so. Picture Bill, Zoey, Louis and Francis replaced by four interplanetary Hunters charged with protecting human colonies in deep space. And picture a 30ft-tall beast gunning for them. Picture that, and you ve gone some way to picturing Evolve, the new four-on-one sci-fi shooter from Left 4 Dead makers Turtle Rock.



Founded in 2002, the developers made their name with the Valve-owned Counter-Strike: Condition Zero, and later Counter- Strike: Source. Then after a prod by Valve to design their own property, the Counter-Strike custodians replied with arguably the best zombie game ever. That was six years ago.



We wanted to do something big before people forgot that we were the Left 4 Dead developers, says Turtle Rock s executive producer Matt O Driscoll. We learned a lot from that game in terms of multiplayer and co-op. Evolve carries the Left 4 Dead DNA.



In Evolve, up to five players face off in class-based combat. Four of them band together as Hunters, while the last plays the monster, which will be different on each map. On Forest Ruin it s the Goliath the angry dad of the Star Wars Rancor with armoured skin and fire breath. O Driscoll likens each 20-minute match to an epic boss battle. Unlike most scripted encounters, where you aim for a glowing weak spot and dodge a flurry of forecasted attackers, fights here are organic. They evolve .







We learnt that people like playing cooperatively, says Phil Robb, founder and art director at Turtle Rock. We re always looking for experiences we want that nobody has given us. That s where a lot of our game ideas come from. As far as what we brought over, it s a lot of small things. Incapacitations, for example: People don t just want to die. We want to give them a chance to come back.



A lot carries over, but much has also been left behind Valve, for example. Certainly Valve had a big part in the initial days of Turtle Rock, Robb says. We worked very closely with them, we learned a lot from working with them. But some of their things are a little different from the way we want to do things. We have often been asked this question: You did Left 4 Dead, but how much did you really do? We re not going to sit here and say a bunch of words and expect you to take our word for it. We re going to make a kickass game. We ll do our best to prove that Turtle Rock is the real deal, and we don t necessarily need Valve to be great... as much as we respect and love them.



Turtle Rock want to establish their own identity, and the way to do that is Shear. A topographically scattershot ball of rock spinning on the end of the Milky Way s longest arm, Shear is Earth if humanity languished in the middle of the food chain. We ve broken from the bounds of the Solar System and spread out across the galaxy. There are colonies everywhere, and the farther you get from Earth, the more inhospitable they become. There is no planet farther than Shear. It s one big frontier town, and people are settling there or trying for the same reason that they settled in the American West. Money. Opportunity. A new life.



Early on, we tried some experiments with making the planet super weird, but at some point you take that too far and people become uncomfortable, Robb says. You want to create a world where people understand the rules... so you draw heavy inspiration from Earth environments. That s the ice, desert and lava levels confirmed, then.







I think you see that in pretty much every science fiction movie ever, he adds. Star Wars certainly did that with Hoth and . Avatar did it too. You ll think that you re in a jungle on Earth, but then something pops out and you re like, Oh, that s new.



That s where our Hunters come in. They re planet tamers think Liam Neeson in The Grey armed with armour-piercing bullets rather than poems. They drop down from ships and safeguard colonies from sharp-toothed natives. The thing is, Robb says, these guys are used to dealing with a certain level of wildlife, but they get here and the monsters are a bit above what they re used to. So they find themselves in a tricky situation. These things are intelligent and they ve got some mysterious unknown agenda that we don t understand.



Pitting differently-powered players against each other recalls Left 4 Dead s Infected mode. The main difference here being that, rather than monsters hunting humans, for the most part humans hunt monsters. So what s to stop the bigger and faster Goliath simply legging it?



On the mode I played, Hunt, the Goliath must meet its own objective to win: here it is destroy the generators. Thing is, he starts as something small and squishy no match for a team of heavily armed Hunters. So his aim is to roam the map killing and eating its fauna in order to bulk up. The first of many different types and builds of boss, Goliath is a King Kong type who can scramble up vertical surfaces and leap like Ang Lee s Hulk. In terms of handling he reminds me of Left 4 Dead s Tank Goliath can charge, wrench and throw rocks from the ground, and flail around with his slab of a forearm.











Only after evolving is he ready to tackle the generators. There are three stages of evolution think of them in terms of height. Stage one: 10ft. Stage two: 20ft. Stage three: 30ft. Before the match starts you ll choose two abilities, and then an extra one upon each evolution. The general rule with consuming creatures is that the tougher they are, the quicker you ll evolve. Those long-armed sloths are a pushover compared with that imposing herd of dinosaur deer with blue spiral snouts, but they don t drop nearly as much meat. The fiercest animals give health bonuses and damage buffs, but sometimes they re better left alone entirely. Turtle Rock call these elite animals .



One such elite bathes in a cloudy shallow pool on Forest Ruins, an alligator-snapping turtle hybrid the size of a train carriage. Robb explains: One of the cool techniques as the monster is, say you re a little bit banged up but you need to bring the fight to , go hang out by the Tyrant pool. He s more standoffish against a stage three monster but he loves to eat Hunters. So you sit around there and sooner or later you re going to knock one of those poor buggers into the pool and he s going to eat them and all hell breaks loose. It s a really great strategy for the monster to use.



Indeed, there are numerous ways to utilise Shear s wildlife. As a stage one Goliath fleeing the Hunters, I spot a reaver den and cut through it. They re too small to pose a threat to me but they ll certainly give humans a hard time. Then, after lengthening the gap, I circle around and gobble up all the freshly killed reaver corpses. Yummy.



The wildlife stands in for Left 4 Dead s common Infected, but they re fewer in number and not as consistently aggressive. Sloths might give you a swat if you walk too close but they re not out for blood. The monkey-like reavers, on the other hand, are. Pack animals, they ll come after Hunters. At one point a Jockey-type jumped on my face and exploded in a green cloud of noxious gas. But what of Left 4 Dead s memorable horde technology? In terms of that sense of being overwhelmed we were not really aiming for that, but a different kind of tension, Robb says.







When you ve gorged on enough local wildlife to fill your bar, you can evolve. Choose your moment though, because just like a teenager in puberty, you re especially vulnerable during your transitional period. A ground-trembling roar echoes around the level when you grow, signalling that the Hunters are about to become the hunted.



However, if the Goliath instead wants to play it safe and evolve further before risking an engagement, Hunters have ways of finding him. They can follow the roars, feel vibrations in their controllers, and look for flocks of unsettled alien birds that give away the Goliath s position. There are also sound spikes to stick in the ground that alert the team to suspicious movement, electric mines (up to eight of which can be planted at once), and waypoints. For the latter, clicking the right stick paints a yellow marker on the horizon in order to guide teammates towards areas of interest. If you happen to highlight the monster as you do so, this marker glows red.



All Hunters have jetpacks as well. Navigating Shear s craggy terrain would prove impossible without them. They re limited by a cool-down timer, but Evolve is generous with it. If you fall short of a steep cliff, you ll automatically amble your way up to save being separated from your buddies. There are also Hunter-only perils. At one point I plunged down a deep human-sized hole that took an entire jetpack boost to escape from.



Each of the four Hunters has a unique role in the team. As the Trapper, Griffin can capture the monster. His harpoon gun restricts its movement, and he has sole access to sound spikes. His most important ability is the mobile arena. If timed correctly, you can trap the monster under a huge blue dome for a limited time. This is where the Markov the Assault comes in. His close-range lightning gun and long-range rifle make him the ideal damage-dealer, and when the going gets tough a personal shield makes him momentarily invulnerable.



If the Trapper and Assault are the front-man and guitarist of the group, Support man Hank is the drummer. His laser cutter deals moderate damage, but his shield gun makes him great backup: aim it at someone to reduce their damage. He also has a cloak, and anyone inside its radius will be rendered completely invisible to the monster, who will have to It s not just the boss you need to watch for these sloths are riled, too. The Hunters protect the generator from a third tier Goliath. All the characters have cool little touches, like cigar-chomping Hank. rely on infrared smell-o-vision (click the right stick to take a sniff). Hank also has the fiercest ability of the team, a fearsome orbital strike.







Lastly, Medic Val s medgun emits green beams of health, and her healing blast instantly replenishes teammates within the radius. She s important in tracking, too. Her tranquilliser rifle slows the monster to a crawl, while her anti-material rifle pierces its skin. If teammates target the area where it hits, they ll deal extra damage.



Combining powers is key to victory. For example, restricting the monster s movement with the harpoon gun, trapping it with the mobile arena and then slowing it with the tranquilliser rifle allows the Support to line up an orbital barrage. These characters are designed to be memorable, too. Griffin looks fresh from the outback with his Aussie hat and hunting knife. The bruiser Hank has a lucky playing card strapped to his bicep. Markov heaves a pair of chunky Tesla coils on his shoulders. In both shape and colour, these characters are immediately identifiable in a firefight.



Each class contains several characters, too. All the Assault guys are big guys. Markov has these double Tesla coils but the other guys have things. We want the monster to take a look and base his strategy on who he s facing. Once you play it long enough you ll learn what characters can do. Oh there s Markov, I m going to play this way to counteract what he can do. Each one of the Assault guys does damage their own way, says Robb. This, he hopes, will lend longevity to the game.



Indeed, there s a lot more to come from the currently pre-alpha Evolve. Despite the absence of Valve, first contact leaves me impressed with its distinctly Left 4 Dead level of polish. Turtle Rock have evidently learned from the masters and grown as a game-maker. They ve evolved, and perhaps the very idea of co-op will, too.
PC Gamer
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title="Permanent Link to Leaked screens allegedly show off Source 2.0">source2_l4d2_shot2







It s only appropriate that a major leak in the games industry would come from an anonymous source with a pseudonym like crazy buttocks on a train (CBOAT), a NeoGAF user who recently posted images of Left 4 Dead 2 s Plantation level (the final chapter of the Swamp fever campaign) allegedly rendered in Valve s Source 2.0 engine.



The most compelling evidence here are the images themselves: six and a half Power Point slides out of 20, with a good look at the Plantation manor from the outside. You ll notice immediately that the game, real or not, looks far better than anything the Source engine as we know it is capable of the lighting, level of detail, and amount of assets in the frame (most noticeable in the vegetation).



Four of the slides previewed on the left show the stark difference between the level as it appears in Source and as it is rendered in Source 2.0.



The final half slide references Redesigned Tools & Workflow, followed by more technical details.

Valve Time has also obtained an image of The Plantation separate from the slides.







As far as rumors go, this one sounds pretty believable. If it s not, I am in awe of the effort someone went through to fake the information.



CBOAT, it seems, has quite a reputation. He s known mostly for his predictions about Microsoft s Xbox One, some of which were wrong, some of which were kind of right. He predicted, for example, that the native resolution on some Xbox One games will be lower than it is on PlayStation 4, Dead Rising 3, and other, mostly Microsoft related information. Not all of it exactly accurate, but close enough that he can t be dismissed entirely.



Here s what we do know for sure: Gabe Newell has confirmed that Valve will grace us with a newer version of the Source engine at some point and that it s waiting for a game to roll it out with. He didn't say what game, or when. Valve is not super into the when question, in case you haven t noticed.



However, another recent leak supports the theory that the new Source engine and Left 4 Dead are linked, somehow, at least more than other Valve properties. In August 2013, a photo of an internal Valve changelog list referenced "L4D3" as well as "Source2," indicating that the game will use Valve's new engine.



We have reached out to Valve for comment. This is the internet, after all, and there's every possibility the leak is entirely fake.
Shacknews - Ozzie Mejia
The Shacknews Chatty community continues to archive sessions of their favorite games across the large number of Shacknews Twitch channels and many of them have proven vastly entertaining to watch. And so we return with the second week of Chatty Twitch Highlights, featuring wonderfully over-the-top 80's action, virtual reality heart surgery, and a trip to Disneyland.

Here's a compilation of some of the best Shacknews Twitch highlights for the week of January 25, 2014.
Product Update - Valve
An update has been released for Left 4 Dead 2.

- Fixed several rare but persistent crashes:
- Round restart in No Mercy map 1
- Witch eye glow particle system
- Chainsaw pose parameter update
- Common Infected post data update
- Scavenge mode scoreboard
- Fixed text input not working correctly in Hammer model browser search field.
Rock, Paper, Shotgun - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Alec Meer)

2014 would seem to be the year in which the games industry has another crack at making primarily multiplayer shooting games work all over again. There’ve been a few false starts in the past, but Destiny and Titanfall are some super-big, super-fat attempts at achieveing enormous mass market success from shooters where narrative takes a backseat. Now Evolve joins the ranks of big games looking for a piece of glossy, next-generation COD-seasoned pie, and it comes from Turtle Rock Studios, those former Valve chums who did the heavy lifting on the original Left 4 Dead. (more…)

PC Gamer
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title="Permanent Link to Far Cry 2 creative director Clint Hocking leaves Valve">Far Cry 2







Technically, I'm aware that the employees of Valve have regular jobs, doing regular things on irregularly mobile desks. Even so, when picturing Clint Hocking's year and half stint with the company, I can't help but imagine him strapped into a central development node, where tendrilled mind probes extract creative ideas to be fed into the Almighty Feedback Formula. I'm not saying that's definitely what happened, but if it is, it's perhaps understandable why he'd leave. Which he has.



News of Hocking's departure comes via his LinkedIn account and personal blog, where his biography states: "From 2012 until the end of 2013, Clint worked as a designer and level designer at Valve in Seattle."



Hocking is probably best known for his work at Ubisoft, where he was creative director for Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory - a game that, to this day, remains the highpoint of that series. He was also the creative director for Far Cry 2, which is either the best of the worst Far Cry game, depending on your fondness for emergent situations, jamming weapons and malaria.



In typical Valve style, we don't officially know what Hocking was working on. But based on leaked information taken from their internal database, he was suspected to be part of the team developing the yet to be announced Left 4 Dead 3. As yet, there's no information about his next project, but hopefully it'll evoke the same manic clash of systems that defined FC2's best moments.



Thanks, ValveTime.
PC Gamer
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title="Permanent Link to Left 4 Dead 2 is free on Steam until tomorrow">Left 4 Dead 2







Not killed enough undead monstrosities this Christmas? Let Valve fix that for you. Left 4 Dead 2 is now free on Steam. In case you've missed it thus far, Left 4 Dead is blooming brilliant. You and up to three human buddies fight through 90 minute missions set in different zombie-infested locales across America. The zombie throngs are managed by an AI director, which measures your health and stress levels and doles out varying degrees of punishment to match your perceived mood. Watch out, also, for the special infected - hideous supermutants with unique ways of punching/eating/melting your face.



The Left 4 Dead 1 maps have all been ported into the sequel, making Left 4 Dead 2 the definitive entry in the series. There are also plenty of fan-made campaigns and mods on the Steam workshop, including a Helm's Deep Lord of the Rings map and a mod that turns your party of survivors into Velociraptors.



According to a Left 4 Dead 2 Steam announcement, the game will be free until 10AM PST 26/12/2013. Go, go, go.

Community Announcements - Chet

To celebrate the holidays in a special way this year, Left 4 Dead 2 will be free until 10AM PST 12/26.

It will be free as in, grab it now, pay no money, and it is yours to keep forever – FOR FREE!

To claim your L4D2 gift, all you need to do is install it.

If you don’t install, it goes back to its regular price and you miss out! The zombie apocalypse is more fun with friends so make sure to tell all your mates to install it as well.

To help spread the holiday cheer, all current players can earn the achievement – Ghost of Christmas Present – Spread cheer by helping a free holiday player survive a campaign.

Left 4 Dead 2 is filled with so much content where do you start?

To avoid any grinches, we suggest jumping into campaign mode and get the basics down before moving into the competitive modes.

You can also check out some guides, read the forums and ask questions, check out some art, read the comic, watch some movies, and most importantly have fun!

Some other quick tips:

Before the game: HOOK UP YOUR MICROPHONE! Communication is important in L4D2. Make sure you can keep in contact with your teammates.

In Game: stay with your teammates. L4D2 is all about teamwork and leaving your dentist friend behind to go off on your own will only get you killed. It doesn't matter that you glow!

Post Game: Make friends. If you are having fun with a group, send them friend invites or join a common group.

And there is more!

You can listen to the Midnight Riders. Download and vote on Workshop items. Dive into the modding tools,and create your own items for the workshop including the scripts for the Extended Mutation System.

Welcome to Left 4 Dead and Happy Holidays!
L4D Blog
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