Evolve is a game that has drawn a lot of interest since it’s initial reveal. Sporting unique look and being made by Turtle Rock, developers of hits like Left 4 Dead 2, it had quite the reputation to uphold. Luckily, Evolve manages to deliver as a fast paced team shooter that’s sure to be a hit with multiplayer fans.
The world of Shear forms the backdrop for a range of combat scenarios to play out amidst off world colonisation, exotic plant life and plenty of creatures waiting to kill you, besides the big one. The maps are really quite pretty, capturing the feel of a world that still retains it’s wildness, from the plant life to the scary creatures lurking within it.
The hunters, a team of four tasked with taking down the monsters of Shear, vary greatly through a high level of customisation within each class subset. Being able to select from one of three vastly different characters was an aspect that allowed both the roles and the entire matches to play out very differently each time.
During my time with Evolve I mostly gravitated towards the Trapper and Medic classes, finding these the most fun to play as for me personally. From what I could gather, thanks to priority choices of each player, classes like support have been quite popular, but I didn’t have too much trouble at all securing the roles I wanted to play in online matchmaking.
The classes do as they say for the most part, the assault class is in charge of taking the brunt of the damage and dealing that back, to be backed up by his team. The support will buff the hunters with shields to keep them alive, all the while hitting the monster with damage from abilities like orbital drop, a missile barrage.
The trapper’s job is to first find the monster, and then keep it locked down with harpoons and a dome containment shield. Our medic serves as the main way to keep the team alive, healing from afar but also able to slow the monster, hit it with tracer darts and poke holes in its armour with a heavy sniper rifle. There’s a really nice synergy between the offence and defensive abilities that means when a team works together well they can be an incredible force to fight.
This brings me to what Evolve is recognised for, its huge and dangerous monsters. The Goliath, the Kraken and the Wraith are all terrifying creations that are just waiting to be taken control of, and with a little practice, these creatures can do serious damage to our hunters.
The game features three monsters, each with very different play styles. The Goliath is a melee based creature, capable of absorbing a tonne of damage while slamming the hunters with leap slams and fire breath. The Kraken is more of a ranged monster, able to fly and hit enemies with beams and orbs bristling with damage from afar. Perhaps the most interesting is the Wraith, a huge but stealthy creature that relies on sneaking through the shadows and using decoys to pounce on unsuspecting hunters. I really enjoyed the way the three handled in very different ways, providing unique challenges for the hunters depending on how you play them.
Even with some of their devastating attacks, these monsters are not just pick up and destroy machines, they take a bit of work and skill before you can start dishing out the heavy damage. You’ll also need to think and play cautiously as these creatures – even the tankiest of them, the Goliath, can go down without too much effort should he thoughtlessly take on a team of hunters before he evolves.
The balance in Evolve is something central to the experience. If abilities threw it out even a little the game would lose the fantastic tug-of-war feeling it has. Thankfully, since release the balance seems to be near spot on, with tense battles that really could go either way. It’s one of the reasons matches are so fun, that factor of unpredictability without feeling like it becomes unfair or overpowered.
While you can play Evolve solo, I highly recommend you don’t. Between poor and unresponsive AI in both the monster and hunters. It can get really tedious and repetitive playing by yourself without the factors of unpredictability and teamwork the game relies on. The main event here is most definitely the multiplayer.
Multiplayer gives you the option of playing a single game on random maps with a random game type, something that’s fun to jump right into when you only have time for a match or two. Your other choice, for a longer, more campaign feeling mode, is Evacuation.
Evacuation is the game mode that shows off how good Evolve can be. Over five matches you compete with a team against the monster, gaining global advantages or disadvantages depending on wins and losses, permanent consequences of your actions in battle. For instance, should the hunters win the first round they may unlock a scout ship or armed workers to help them take on the monster next round, but a monster victory could mean more creatures on the map for them to feed off or damaged mini-map capabilities.
The mode also has an auto-balance feature, adding a little extra power to the losing side to keep the balance going. I found this was a really cool feature to keep even newer players in the fight against more powerful or communicative teams, but it also makes that final victory all the better if you’ve had to work for it against a balanced up opponent.
This is a game you’re going to want to play with a group of friends if you can. While online match making does work well, the game is at it’s best when coordinating with a communicative and thoughtful team, something I found hard to rely on in matches with random players.
My only qualms with the matchmaking is that sometimes you’d be placed into matches that are mid game, taking over a bot, but left in an awkward position without having known what is actually happening that game. You can push through and win okay, but joining fifteen minutes into a match when you were searching for one to start from scratch can be a little jarring.
Turtle Rock should be praised for what they’ve achieved in Evolve. Despite some lacklustre single player content, the game performs excellently as a multiplayer title. Matches are energetic, fun and even tense without drawing out for too long, and give you a wide array of choice as to how you play. I’m sure plenty of people will be enjoying Evolve in the months to come, eagerly awaiting the addition of extra monsters to smash things with.