Belly of the Beast

Turtle Rock’s new beast has to wait a little longer before it’s unleashed upon the world, and to prep for its initial deployment on the 10th of February, the team over at Turtle Rock let out an open beta for any player who wanted to get a taste before it hits shelves. Both Jayden and I spent quite a bit of time in the game, trying out both Hunt and Evacuation and have conjured up our initial impressions.

Toby’s Thoughts

Evolve’s 4v1 mechanic was something that stuck out to me when it was initially unveiled back in an issue of Game Informer last year, and it’s already evident that the idea of 4v1 in the multiplayer space is shaping the way developers are crafting their co-op experiences for the future. Right from the very get-go of jumping out of our ship into Shear and exploring its surroundings, you could tell that Turtle Rock has spent a tremendous amount of time experimenting with how that very mechanic will work and how to balance it throughout the various maps and modes. In short, the game nurtures this ideal very well, and it will be something that will be looked back upon when the game launches next month.

From a pure gameplay standpoint, Evolve plays incredibly well. Much like Turtle Rock’s previous efforts, controls feel natural and fluid and take only moments to come to grips with. Even though the four classes and the monster(s) itself control and operate in very different ways, it only took me a couple of matches to adjust to their separate abilities and use them for maximum efficiency. Utilizing each characters skill in battle is what makes Evolve feel more like a team-based experience rather than a lone wolf one, unlike many other multiplayer titles on the market today. A player running off into the distance without their other hunters is a problem waiting to be capitalized on, as the monster makes short work of lone wolfs. Adapting to each class did take some time as I mentioned above, but once you understand how each class operates and works together, working as a team becomes much easier and really enjoyable. My favourite class was easily the Trapper, as not only did I enjoy Maggie and Daisy’s bond and banter with the others, but you truly felt like you were the main character in your team of hunters. Without the Trapper, team’s were much less likely to kill the monster and stop it from reaching stage three. Assault, Support, and Medic classes are great and all – but come February 10, it’s going to be me and Daisy turning the screws.

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On the other end of the spectrum, playing as the monster was a ball. I only had time to play as the Goliath, but after experiencing the joys of progressing to stage three and kicking serious butt, I’m excited to see how the others operate and change up the experience. Learning to play as the monster did take some time, because while the creatures themselves are easy to understand and operate, when a team of capable hunters come face to face with it things can get a little hairy if you aren’t careful and aware of your surroundings. I joined a game when a Kraken was at stage three and survived about ten seconds before being blown to pieces, so I’m really looking forward to trying it out next month.

Evolve’s modes also offer up enough replayability to keep the wheels spinning. Hunt was the mode I spent most of my time in, and it’s quite self explanatory. Simply hunt and kill the monster before it destroys either you or the power relay. Evacuation was where things became interesting, as losing or winning a game would affect the way the next game played out. For example, if the monster destroyed the power relay in the previous match, toxins would be released in certain parts of the map that hurt you. On the other end, if the monster was defeated, areas of the map would have turrets the next time around that would help the attack against the monster. Subtle things like this were what stuck out to me personally and gave Evolve a sense of depth and real meaning to winning matches. There was consequence to failing, and I really dug that.

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Evolve is looking sharp. I really enjoyed my time within Shear and will be dropping back in on launch day. The game feels like a complete package, and with a bunch of DLC planned and a variety of modes, I’m optimistic that it won’t fall into the holes so many other titles in this day and age fall into and lose its player base quickly. We’ll have to see if it’ll stand the test of time, but from what I’ve played, I’ll be dropping in and out of Shear quite often.

Jayden’s Thoughts

Evolve has always been quite an intriguing title. We’ve seen asymmetrical shooters before, but the way Turtle Rock have framed Evolve made it stand out to a lot of people throughout its development. Now, with less than a month until the game hits shelves, we’ve been given a chance to play a fair chunk of the game and get a good feel for it.

Once I fired up the beta and tried out all of the classes I found I settled into the Trapper and the Medic roles most comfortably. The Support and Assault classes offered some attractive abilities, but in the end I just generally enjoyed the play styles of my first two choices better, and fortunately many of the other online players were all too happy to fill the roles I avoided.

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The beta locked out the third character in each class, but from the first two available we’re given quite a variety of choice for how you play. These different characters all have a nice spin on the core roles, allowing quite a bit of personality to leak into the gameplay of each.

One of the hardest decisions I found myself having to make in the beta was deciding between Trapper characters. On one hand you have Maggie with her alien dog hunting pal, Daisy, who can sniff out the monster and revive players, something that has saved the team more times than I care to mention. On the other, Griffin, the second Trapper, has sound sensors that allow you to cover the map and detect the monsters far off movements as well as a harpoon gun to hold the beast in place while your team fires everything they have at it.

Once I had made my choice it was time to drop – no matter how many times I did this it still felt so exhilarating, diving headfirst (quite literally) into the action.

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Evolve is a game where teamwork is pretty integral to success and enjoyment. Over the matches I played the success of our team hinged on people understanding their roles. Even mic-less, for the most part people were able to pull together with only a few poorly played characters contributing to the team’s early death.

It seemed to me that the most important roles were that of the Trapper and Medic. As you begin to engage the monster finding him quickly and stopping him evolving is a massive priority – the longer he’s out of site the more dangerous he seems to get. Setting up traps and being able to nab him quickly with the containment dome means you can deal a lot of damage before he gets too strong, and this is where the Medic heal becomes paramount to keeping your team going.

Evolve’s monster is certainly quite the beast. What may seem like an invincible killing machine is instead a character that can be deadly in the right hands, but also can end up dead fast if they strike too soon. When playing as the Goliath or the Kraken you really need to find the happy medium between attacking and feeding – generally I found it was unwise to attempt to kill the hunters before evolving to stage two. Sneak is also an ability that becomes incredibly strategic in staying alive, allowing quick kills and the ability to disappear if too badly hurt. Unfortunately I was not able to try the Wraith as he was locked behind a pre-purchase wall, but I’m very excited to try him out in the full game.

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Of the two game modes, Evacuation was by far the most fun. In it you play a five mission campaign with direct consequences for wins and losses, such as upgraded turrets and extra AI units for the hunters or gas clouds and more wildlife to feed off for the monster. These were a really nice way to mix up what could potentially feel a bit monotonous after a while, providing a differing experience each round. In this mode the game does try to auto-balance and strengthen the losing team. I found it didn’t do much to hinder a well organised team or proficient monster, but its enough to even the spread of skill levels, likely being quite helpful when a much wider audience get to enjoy it.

All in all I’ve had a lot of fun playing Evolve, the game seems to have enough going for it to save it being one repetitive game mode like some have feared, though I do worry that this is may not be enough to save it from becoming a game which sees similar decline to Titanfall. I can’t help but wonder if post launch there will be enough of a community to keep Evolve being played by a large audience, and not just in tournaments and by a few dedicated hunters.

Either way, Evolve will have to face its own beast when it launches February 10th.

Did you have a chance to dive into Shear and try out Evolve? If you did, leave your impressions in the comments below! Evolve launches on the 10th of February on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC.