Evolve Review

Gaming

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Evolve
Developer: Turtle Rock Studios
Publisher: 2K
Platforms: Xbox One (Reviewed), PS4, PC
Release Date: Out Now
Price: AU$99.95 – Available Here | US$59.99 – Available Here

Overview

Evolve from Turtle Rock Studios was one of this year’s more highly anticipated games. Asynchronous gaming where not everybody is doing the same thing is becoming a bigger and bigger, and the unique 5 v 1 multiplayer aspect of the game had everyone hooked from its first announcement. Well the wait is finally over and while Evolve is no doubt a solid game, it suffers from a few problems like bugs and connectivity issues that considering its status as a multiplayer-focused title, really let it down.

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Gameplay

Asynchronous gameplay is the hip, emerging thing in this day and age and now Turtle Rock are trying to tap into it with Evolve. Gameplay is pretty simple; four players operate as a team of hunters who are tasked with taking down a monstrous beast. The fifth player controls said beast, and their aim is to grow stronger and devour the hunters. Simple concept, tricky execution seems to be the case here as Evolve offers some really new ideas, but a lot of them get muddled up and lost in the confusion.

There are four monsters (only three playable unless you preordered the game) and each moves and attacks differently. For example the Goiliath moves a lot like a gorilla, climbing up walls and leaping long distances, while also smashing down with its fists, and breathing fire at its enemies. In contract the Kraken can fly and shoot blasts of electrical energy to zone and pick off the hunters. The variations between the monsters is impressive and allows you to play to your own strengths as a gamer. The hunters themselves have a similar variety in their characters, all of which have to work together to fell the giant beasts. The game features two support classes Medic and Support, and two combat-specific classes Trapper and Hunter. Once the team starts losing its soldiers, then it grows weaker and weaker.

With the hunters separated into two attacking and two support classes, it is simple for the monster to wipe out the team by simply eliminating the support characters first. Without a medic the team is unable to heal downed players, and without support they lose their shielding. With those two gone it is a matter of just steamrolling the two attacking units and the monster would emerge victorious. There is a lot of team work required from the hunters and sometimes it is beyond the capabilities of four random strangers on the internet. Not only that, but the classes themselves feel like watered down versions of the old Team Fortress classes, which makes the whole game feel a lot less unique than it outta be.

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So I don’t think this will come as a shock to anybody, but Evolve is a mostly online, multiplayer experience. While the single player campaign is present, it is far from the focus. This puts Evolve squarely up against some series competition with the Call of Duty’s and Battlefields out there. However, Evolve suffers from a very similar problem that the Halo: Master Chief Collection had, and that is the fact that online connectivity is tedious, and downright broken in parts. I shouldn’t have to wait 5-10 minutes in between round while the server tries to find me another game to join. More than once this issue took me straight out of the mood to even keep playing, being forced to sit and just wait for almost as long as I was playing does not lead itself well to holding my attention.

When I actually managed to get a round going, I actually enjoyed myself. Playing as a monster offers those who are less than stellar at FPS games to have a good go of it (and probably even win a few rounds) while those who are more classic CoD or Team Fortress players will find themselves right at home as a hunter. The problem with all of this comes down to the variance. Each round felt completely different and while that was an amazing and refreshing feeling at the start, being unable to plan or coordinate made everyone look and feel like headless chickens running around (except that one player was a much larger chicken). Admittedly though, a lot of the confusion and variance is eliminated if you are playing with people you know as opposed to strangers on the internet, and if that is the case then you will likely be having an absolute blast of a time.

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Visuals & Audio

Credit where it is absolutely due – Evolve is a beautiful video game. The monsters are all incredible detailed and look like horror-movie creatures come to life. The character models on the hunters all look as equally impressive, with little things like facial hair and movement animations really standing out. I was legitimately impressed with just about everything I saw in Evolve.

When it comes to the game’s presentation, it is the little things that matter. The Goliath’s fire-breath attack is one of the most impressive depictions of fire that I have ever seen in a video game. The way that it erupts from the beast’s mouth and bends and twists through the air on the way to its targets is amazing. However for every bit of good, there is some bad, as some of the game’s textures look a little flat or pixellated. It is hard to tell if these are the cause of bugs, connection issue causing textures to lag or just poor rendering times, but on more than one occasion I found myself staring at a rocky outcrop that was blurry or impossible to make out correctly.

Audio-wise, Evolve is very toned down, allowing you to get into the zone and the feel of the game without being bogged down by large musical numbers or over the top sound effects. What there is though is sublime, the monsters all have their own individual growls and snarls that serve not only to make the player feel powerful, but to alert the hunters as to how close their prey is. The vice versa is also true, as the sounds of a hunter’s rifle or talking too loud over Kinect can alert the monster to its victims.

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Overall

There is one thing I want to really touch on with regards to Evolve, and that is the way that the game has been marketed and distributed. We live in a time where there are two distinct types of games – full priced games, and free to play titles that feature in-app purchases and microtransactions to account for the lost revenue. Sadly, Evolve tries to fit itself right in the middle of the two business models, and is a $100 game that still locks out some of the content unless you pay. Sure, more of the content are cosmetic changes, but there are some character classes that are completely locked away behind a pay wall. Not only that, but some of the game’s skins are exclusive to those who buy the season pass and the Behemoth monster class is reserved only for those who pre-order the game meaning that 1/4 of the game’s monsters are simply blocked off from the majority of players (until a later date). This is a frightening precedent for full-priced games and is a business practice that absolutely should not be allowed to grow. As of publishing, Evolve has 54 pieces of DLC available on the Xbox Live store, and this is a game that has been out for just under three weeks.

Frightening business decisions aside, Evolve is a solid game. While not necessarily reaching the heights of excitement, it differs enough from the regular FPS-shooters out there. However, while its differences are novel, they aren’t exactly memorable and the lack of consistency in gameplay sadly works to the game’s disadvantage more often than it works in its favor.

6-5-capsules-out-of-10

Capsule Computers review guidelines can be found here.

  • Alexander R.

    The way you talk about it makes it seem like people who bought the game
    got to play Behemoth right off the bat lol. The game had gone under a
    good few release set backs, but had grown into a game that people could
    play and wanted to play. It does have matchmaking problems still that
    they really need to work on, however they didn’t lock any game changing
    content off that was actually finished content. When Evolve launched,
    they had just finished working on the Wraith from my understanding and
    had just recently begun work on the Behemoth. Since they wanted to give
    more to the people who have been so very interested in the game, they
    must have decided that people who pre-ordered the 60$ could get more
    bang for their buck. All in all, the game as a release was basically a
    set of 12 standard hunters and 3 monsters. If Behemoth could have been
    done sooner, he would probably have been in the game as well as all
    four, but he was still being worked on so that wasn’t the case of
    course. Behemoth was more of a spur of the moment kind of monster, not
    meant to actually be in the vanilla version of Evolve because he
    wouldn’t have possibly made launch. They didn’t lock content away from
    anyone, however they are just doing their marketing with skins and
    post-release Monsters & Hunters to help increase profits as well as
    continue building the game, much like “League of Legends” does,
    releasing content every now and then to increase profit and keep
    consumers happy and entertained, rather than bored with the same few
    Characters and Gameplay.

    What the developers of evolve actually
    did was very generous. By pre-ordering the game, you were given a great
    deal, whether you payed the 60$ or the 80$. Pre-ordering the 60$ version
    allowed you to have the savage goliath skin, as a thank you to people
    who stuck with them and cared enough to actually not be cheap and
    pre-order, along with giving you Behemoth FOR FREE when he is finished
    and released. Now yes, savage goliath is not a purchase-able skin to
    anyone who didn’t pre-order, but as the saying goes, “You snooze, you
    lose.” They didn’t sell the skin and behemoth as the standard game for
    78$, but that was the value you ended up getting by simply purchasing
    the game in advance, saving you 15 dollars along with giving you a free
    skin(The skins that are in the store at the moment are 2.99$). When
    Behemoth releases he will be 14.99$ like all monsters post-release from
    my understanding. They basically threw 18$ worth of additional content
    at you just for buying the game anywhere, whether you did it online or
    at a store near you! Then going ahead to pay the extra 20$ on the Xbox
    One and PS4 instantly unlocked the third tier of hunters as well as the
    third monster, Wraith, allowing you to play more of the game, without
    having to unlock the characters! Bear in mind, unlocking them alone is
    free and not that difficult, but it was a nice gesture. Along with
    paying that extra bit, you received the Savage Goliath of course as well
    as the behemoth, along with three magma skins, one for each monster
    currently released. PC was 100$ rather than the 80$ versions PS4 &
    Xbox One got, however
    “PC Monster Race” gave more content! The extra content given by the PC
    version was the 5th monster when released as well as 2 more hunters some
    time after launch(Probably some new hunters).
    To get down to the
    numbers, if you Pre-ordered the 60$ version, you got 18$ worth of
    content for free! Purchasing the 80$ is slightly different. You still
    get the 18$ worth along with 9$ worth from the magma skins, that’s if
    when they release they are 3 dollars, they could be higher considering
    their quality on release. Either way, that’s then 27$ worth minus the
    20$ extra dollars so really, you’re getting 7$ instead of that extra
    12$(Total 18$ of course). You could count in the not having to work for
    the third tier characters as a bonus, but since they can be unlocked for
    free, it’s more of a time-saver rather than money-saver. PC had the
    same bonus cash of 27$ plus the addition of the two possibly new hunters
    along with the 5th monster, adding to a possible total of 40$+!

    Either
    way, you can even see in one of their videos on their YouTube homepage
    that when they were making this game, the model was planned to be like
    league of legends, releasing content that players could buy. Keep in
    mind, all content is open to even the people who didn’t buy it to an
    extent, the extent of course being that you cannot play it, but you can
    play with it. When Behemoth is released, free to play maps will be
    released as well the mountainous beast along with the skins for players
    to purchase if they didn’t buy the deluxe edition(80$Xbox One & PS4)
    or the PC Monster Race. Others who are DLC-less will still be able to
    play the maps, but won’t be able to use the Behemoth or the skins unless
    they buy them. However, they can still see and play against people
    using the Behemoth and players using the magma skins.

    Evolve is
    an amazingly well done game, with great Gameplay and hours of fun,
    whether you’re the hunter or the hunted. There’s always talk of people
    being upset over the fact that when they buy a game they expect that
    whatever comes with it in the future to be theirs as well, such as “I
    already bought it, why do I need to keep paying?” The misunderstanding
    is that you didn’t buy the content that didn’t come out after the game
    released, but rather you bought the basic game itself with all of it’s
    delicious vanilla ice cream. Now, whether you bought the 32 oz tub or
    the 12 oz is on you, but either way, if you want more that wasn’t there,
    you’ll have to go out to the store and buy it. That’s how it works, and
    that’s how it will always be. How else will the ice cream men and women
    be able to profit and make different flavors!?!?!

    • Alexander R.

      Slight typo, it’s almost 5am and was writting it for about an hour to get all the proper information.
      (Last paragraph)

      “The misunderstanding is that you didn’t buy the content that came out after the game released, but rather you bought the basic game itself with all of it’s delicious vanilla ice cream.”

      Would have just edited it in, but I am not able to do so.

      • Andrew Day

        Hi Alex,

        First of all I want to thank you for your detailed, in-depth response. Issues like these are absolutely why I got into writing about video games, and the passion you showed here today is a testament to the wide-ranging opinions and tenacity of gamers everywhere.

        You and I disagree on a few fundamental principals, and that is ok but I would like to just explain my thoughts for the benefit of everyone.

        Straight up, DLC is a part of modern gaming and has been a standard of the industry (especially on PC) since basically its conception but has been dragged into the spotlight since our gaming consoles had the ability to be patched through the internet. The problem is that developers and publishers are starting to push out smaller DLC packs to rake in a few extra dollars. What was once reserved for large-scale expansion packs is now being used for cheap character skins and maybe an extra weapon or two.

        Not only are DLC packs becoming less substantial, but they are often announced in advance of the game itself being released in an attempt to further drive up preorders and sales. Being told by publishers that we should preorder the game or buy the season pass to get more content either now or down the line is a dangerous line to walk.

        Turtle Rock and 2K are not the only culprits of this either and I don’t mean to signal them out because it is a growing cause for concern industry-wide, where we just accept this behavior as part and parcel of playing video games.

        If a game wants to adapt the League of Legends business model then that is great and should be supported. However, LoL is a free to play game with the ability to purchase add-ons, whereas Evolve is a full-priced retail experience and a multiplayer based one at that. Like I said in my review, it tries to straddle the line by implementing free to play business decisions in a $100 game.

        With regards to your ice cream metaphor (which I loved by the way); while it is my choice whether or not I buy the 2L or the 4L tub of ice cream, It is wrong for somebody to charge me for neopolitan and then tell me “oh you only get the chocolate if you pay us before the ice cream truck arrives, or if you spend an extra $5” and that is exactly what this kind of behavior implies.

        Conversely, I can see WHY developers are starting to pull more stunts like this – because game development is an increasingly expensive endevour, and pre-orders and DLC help make up the cost differences and allow businesses to retain the same profits profit margins that they were hitting 5-10 years ago.

        It is an unfortunate situation for the industry to be in because I think a lot of people out there know that this kind of borderline anti-consumerist behavior cannot continue, and yet there are no viable alternatives for developers and publishers to pursue that would allow them to both stay competitive and make money.

        Thanks again for your input Alex, I’m glad to see that there are people out there legitimately loving Evolve for what it is and being mature enough to have the conversation without it just being an insult sling 🙂 Although we may disagree, I hope you can see at least a bit of where I’m coming from with my thoughts and opinions on the matter

    • One problem though Alex, League of Legends is free while this is a full price title.

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