There’s been a lot of talk about Evolve, the latest game from Left 4 Dead creator Turtle Rock, and we finally had a chance to give it a shot at Gamescom this year. We played two different classes and, of course, the monster over the course of three matches and here’s what we thought.
Unlike most competitive shooters Evolve is designed around the idea of asymmetrical multiplayer which, in this case, consists of one player controlling a hulking monster while taking on a team of four humans. The four player team is comprised of four hunters; assault, medic, trapper, and support with each of those classes having access to a variety of unique tools and weapons. The fifth player, however, plays as a giant monster whose objective revolves around feeding to “evolve” before eventually destroying an important target on the map. We started with the assault class and prepared for battle.
The match begins with a short cutscene in which you and your team leap from a drop-ship into the map. Once we hit the ground it was time to track down the monster. Here’s the thing, though, Evolve demands team work. If you aren’t talking with your team and working together you’re likely to fail which is exactly how our first match played out. We were scattered and unfocused during the hunt yet clumped together and vulnerable once we caught up with the brute. It wasn’t long before we were wiped out and lost the match. Lessons learned then.
For the second round we all shifted to a different class. This time up, the trapper. Once we hit the ground the second time, however, we got down to business. Right out of the gate we scouted the area until stumbling upon the monsters tracks. Hitting “Q” enables the player to drop a way-point marker for the team, which made it easier to understand where to go, while communicating via our headsets kept us together as we hunted down the creature. The assault was all about dealing damage, of course, but it’s the trapper that plays the biggest role in keeping the monster within range. The trapper has access to a shield grenade of sorts which casts a massive energy barrier when thrown. If the monster is caught within this field, then, it won’t be able to escape until the barrier timer is up.
From there it was all about throwing down traps to catch the monster while the assault and support players worked on taking it down. The medic, of course, was there is full force keeping everyone alive. It wasn’t long before we managed to take down the beast and win our second match. It was intense and exciting in a way quite unlike most other multiplayer shooters. When the match was over, the headphones came off and the smiles kicked in.
King of the Monsters
Following that, however, we had a chance to slide into the monsters seat and give it a go. It’s here that the game really transforms into something different. Just after getting used to working as a team, isolating oneself as the monster really does feel lonely and terrifying. Sure, you’re huge, but when facing off against four others things can heat up quickly. Hunting for potential prey was simple enough though the larger creatures required both more time to kill and more time to eat leaving the monster vulnerable for chunks of time. It wasn’t long before the team caught up and initiated a long, hard battle. It was close but, in the end, the monster fell.
Reaching the maximum level wasn’t too difficult but, once you do, the target changes to a power station which needs to be destroyed. Naturally this gives the human team an objective to hold which results in plenty of traps as they wait in ambush. Taking out this generator is no small task and only a series of hit and runs followed by feeding allowed any progress. It’s hard to comment on how well balanced all of this is right now but it’s clear that reaching perfection is going to be a difficult task indeed.
Crucially, all of this feels great. The controls are responsive and movement feels excellent. Using your jet-pack to leap around the map was a blast and engaging the monster felt dramatically better than Left 4 Dead ever did. The game is built on CryEngine 3 and is looking excellent at this point. We’re not sure what sort of specs the demo PCs were packing but the frame-rate was still a bit iffy at this point. It will certainly be interesting to see how CryEngine fairs on the PS4 and Xbox One when Evolved is released on those platforms as well.
Despite all of the praise at E3, those of us who aren’t really into the competitive FPS scene were pretty skeptical. After this demo, however, it definitely seems like one to keep an eye on even if you’re not a huge shooter fan. How successful the game ultimately will be comes down to refinement and balance tweaks. If either side has an unfair advantage you can be sure people will exploit it to the games detriment. In that sense, the delay Evolve recently incurred is very likely for the better if it means a more finely tuned product in the end. Here’s hoping.