After their huge success with Left 4 Dead, Turtle Rock Studios are back and teaming up with 2K Games to bring us Evolve; a squad based 4 v 1 multiplayer game that has four humans teaming up to take down one ever-evolving monster. The humans need to use teamwork and cooperation to take down the monster before it picks them off one by one.
The hunters have four different classes – Medic, Assault, Support and Trapper. The game revolves around a strong team dynamic between the four different classes, with each of their skills being vital to the end-goal of defeating one of the monsters. Although I only got to play as the monster, I did notice that the medic seemed to be the most pivotal member of the squad, and defeating them was a massive blow to the entire squad.
The way that the hunter’s different skills and abilities play off one another, and the teamwork that is required to win feels very reminiscent of Team Fortress. However, in no squad-based game have I ever seen it being so important that the team stick together. One person going off on his or her own will immediately spell danger for the entire team. When I played, I was against a group of four friends, so they had the teamwork and unity thing down pat but I’m not sure how well this will translate across into online matchmaking but honestly I’m a little concerned.
Playing as the monster is an entirely different experience all together, the asynchronous gameplay makes it feel as if Evolve is actually two games in one. While the hunters are all about teamwork, the monster is on his own and his goal is to destroy EVERYTHING in sight. As the monster kills the wildlife around them, they get stronger, more armour and eventually evolve to a new and stronger beast.
In addition to their bevy of special attacks, all monsters also have their unique scent. By sniffing around, a monster can sense where the hunters and the wildlife are located. This is translated to the player in the form of a highlighted outline around the potential targets. I can’t tell you how often I was using my scent to find prey and stay one step ahead of the hunters (at one point, even running them around a giant rock for a whole minute before sneaking up behind them for a surprise attack).
I only got a chance to play as the Kraken, whos skills and attack style are all about long-range. In addition to his short-range flight, the Kraken has access to four different special attacks, any one of which can decimate the hunters if they are caught unaware. Playing as the monster, you have to spend the first portion of the game running and hiding from the hunters. Staying far away until you have evolved is your best strategy, biding your time and waiting for the perfect time to strike.
Visually, the game is pretty impressive. I only got a chance on one map; a river that was surrounded with short cliff-faces and densely populated with trees. Not only did it look great with its high textures and the variable height in the landscape allowed me a lot of places to hide, as well as some great vantage points where I could observe and stalk my prey.
The controls are also really solid. Although I can’t speak to any of the shooting mechanics of the hunters, the third-person gameplay of the monster feels really intuitive. keyboard/mouse combo, or plug in a gamepad and off you go. I opted for the Xbox One controller, and it was really simple to use. It only took me a few minutes in the game before I had an understanding of what each of my four special attacks did and how I could best use them in combat. This is aided by the fact that the monster’s UI is little more than his health, armour and what skills he currently has available. The minimalistic approach allowed me to really get stuck into the game without feeling bogged down.
It looks like Asynchronous gameplay is becoming a standard of modern gaming, and I for one am thrilled. The ability to create two vastly different experiences in the one game is something that not only enhances the replayability of the game, but also allows it to stay fresh and exciting. Turtle Rock seem to have gotten the asynchronous part down pat, as even though I only had a brief time with Evolve, I loved every minute of it and can’t wait to play the full game on February 10th, 2015.
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