The power! The fucking power! Fear me ants mwhahahaha. The feeling of omnipotence you inherit as a monster is tremendous, if played smart. That’s a big if. It’s hard to look past the simple 4 Vs. 1 definition from an outside perspective and an ignorant attitude towards it, but Evolve is incredibly detailed. It’s a lot more complicated than your generic multi-player shooter, if that’s what you’re wondering.
As I’m sure you’re aware, Evolve pits four specialist mercenaries against a perceived unstoppable creature, but, you know, they’re specialists and they come fully equipped to take the bastard down. Being fully equipped is all well an’ good, but if you don’t understand your role, you and your team are royally fucked. The same goes for the player controlling the monster. The beauty lies with the strategy you employ and your execution of that said strategy. The temptation as a monster is to go all out from the off to massacre the peasants with their spud guns. If that’s the case, good luck, you’re not going to last long against a barrel* of monkeys, let alone an experienced team.
Well, what should you be doing then? As the monster you should be scampering away from the origin area as quickly and as discreetly as possible. You should then proceed to hunt the local wild life as efficiently as possible. This fills up your shield and racks up your XP meter, once maxed you can EVOLVE! Uh, get it, EVOLVE…. *sigh* yeah. You become more powerful by adding points to your abilities. It also resets your shield to null, so you better top that up ready for your first attempt at blowing the little people up. If you’ve lost health, it isn’t coming back, unless you get a rare health buff from a creature you’ve killed of course, thus the shield is vital to your chances of winning a battle.
The hunters initial job is to actually find the creature. This can be a slog if you’re playing with a crew of Dory (That blue fish from Finding Nemo in it). You need to follow the signs! If the monster isn’t crawling, it leaves footmarks. If the monster knows what (s)he’s doing they can use this to trick you and take a stray hunter out quickly by leaving dummy prints, thus the importance of sticking together at all times, I’m looking at you Rambo. Other signs include startled birds which appear when the monster has ran past them without crawling and vulture like creatures pick at the remains of the monsters victims. Also you have the trappers pet, Daisy, if you play as Maggie, which sniffs out the monster and tracks it constantly. It’ll make your life easier, but you’ll soon be not needing daisy as you’ll trust your own instincts. Once you’ve caught up and the arena dome is set, there’s no escape. Let the carnage begin.
Once battle commences expect a flurry of crashes, bangs and wollops. This sounds like epic demolition, but truthfully, it doesn’t pack the punch you would expect. By punch, I mean the sense of impact you would expect when you’ve executed a fifty foot body slam. It feels good, no doubt, but not as good as it could be. The only indicator that you have is a health bar above a player. It feels like an aggressive cuddle because all that really happens is the health bar decrements, the player floats away and some environmental damage. The same applies to the players. If your ploughing the beast with a lightning gun there’s little feeling of feedback and an actual sense of damage application. All you see is health decrementation and a lightning visualisation. Something needs to be done for me to really feel like I’m hurting the beast, I don’t know what, that’s up to the developers, but something. It needs to be over the top. Something Michael Bay would fap to, but alas, there’s much left to be desired.
The feeling of importance applied to each class of hunter is something to admire. Turtle Rock have done a great job to get the balance of the team perfect. Every one has a job and if there’s one weakness, death is inevitable. The medic has to heal, the trapper has to hinder its movement, the support has to shield those in danger and the assault has to attack, duh. It is up to everybody to rotate and assist each other in defeating the behemoth. It is up to the monster to take advantage of those weaknesses and intervals of rotation. Focus is of big importance to the monster and it is up to the player to take advantage of that. It is a constant tug of war for position and strategy, and I love that.
In terms of aesthetics, it’s a beautifully detailed game. The environments are complex and can lend to many tactical choices, but at the same time blend in to one, in the way they look, but are very different none the less. The menus are easily navigable.
Turtle Rock have delivered an impressively polished game with little bugs which should be celebrated in today’s patch happy climate. What it has done is brilliant and executed well. As with agile software development, create a core functionality, the absolute minimum requirements so that a program is useful and ship it. Build extra functionality in the next development schedule. This is what evolve is. A core product to test the waters. If sales do well there will be another game (Or a massively expensive DLC), with a proper campaign, not a Star Wars Battlefront style galactic conquest. This would please me immensely, I love a good story. For those who are happy with just multi-player, go get it, you’ll love it if you’re looking for something way more innovative than Call of Duty. If you’re like me, wait until it goes cheap, it’s definitely worth it for something new and to challenge the meta, if only for a brief time. Essentially it lacks variety (which sadly looks like its coming in a lot of DLC), something that would have been provided with a story mode.
There’s plenty I haven’t mentioned about the game here as I wanted to focus on what I felt was important but feel free to rage in the comments.
*Yep, a barrel is one of many correct collective nouns for monkeys.
Medium – Edible, yet slightly over cooked with a hint of what could have been.
Please consult the rating guide.