Developer: Turtle Rock Studios
Platform: Xbox One, PS4, PC
Publisher: 2K (Take-Two Interactive)
Reviewed on: PC
I first heard about Evolve last year, after my friend returned from PAX Prime and told me about this new multiplayer game that had been showcased at the convention. He said that he played a hulking, squid-faced monster, and had to eat wildlife to evolve into a bigger and better beastie so he could kill four of his friends in PvP play.
Wait. Four friends against you?
Hell yes! Play as the single ferocious monster, or one of four hunters determined to track it down. Evolve is the first one versus four game – a pioneer of a new, interesting take on multiplayer – developed by Turtle Rock Studios (the creators of Left 4 Dead) and published by 2K. The game boasts a myriad of options for you to choose from: as the single player, you get your choice between the beefy Goliath, the long-ranged Kraken, or the swift Wraith. Hunting monsters more your style? There are four Hunter classes to choose from for your four-man team: Assault, who deals the majority of damage; Support, who buffs the hunters; Medic, who heals the hunters; and Trapper, who traps the Monster. Each hunter class has a choice of 3 characters, with the first tier of characters available upon booting up the game. The other two tiers you have to unlock by “mastering” the previous one’s abilities, effectively making sure you’ve played each one enough times to understand how to use them.
Evolve is the first one versus four game – a pioneer of a new, interesting take on multiplayer
The game is currently played in two modes: Skirmish Hunt mode, in which the Hunters must track down and kill the Monster before it evolves to Stage 3 and kills them (or destroys the power relay); or Evacuation mode, which is played over a series of 5 matches – these matches are played over 4 different game modes and will all take place on a different map. Gameplay consists mostly of evading the Hunters and eating wildlife to evolve and acquire new skills as fast as possible when you’re the Monster, and running after tracks, corpses, or fallen trees to stay on your quarry’s trail as the Hunters…then shooting the beast to death once you find it.
If you’ve heard of Evolve, you’ve likely heard of 2K’s questionable launch decisions. To start, there were confusing packages available for pre-purchasing the game, priced from $60-$120. For many of them, the content you paid for was not available on launch (and is still not available, but will be…soon™). Evolve was also released with day one DLC which sparked quite a bit of discontent from gamers who just dropped $60+ on the title. The biggest note about the DLC is this – it is currently cosmetic only. TRS has been very clear in stating that all future maps and modes will be made available to everyone free of charge, and that the only DLC that will be paid for are cosmetic weapon or monster skins or new characters.
The game was also plagued with bugs upon release. Hunters dying and dropping like stones through the floor, Monsters turning invisible and progress resets on Xbox One are just a few of the major bugs present in the game right now. There is an upcoming patch to fix these issues, but it’s been a month coming so far, with only the Xbox progression issue fixed to date. The game isn’t unplayable, but a few of these bugs definitely cause frustration for both Hunters and Monster players alike.
Speaking of matches, the matchmaking in the game is getting negative reactions from some players. The matchmaking system allows you to set a role preference, but it prioritizes a human player for the Monster over an AI, so even if you set the Monster as your least-preferred role you may be stuck with it anyway on occasion. Luckily there are no real penalties for leaving a lobby if you don’t want to play the role you’re assigned, just a one-minute timer before you can re-queue, but TRS has indicated this will change in the future due to abuse.
Some players have noted a lack of re-playability for the game, as the modes and maps are limited for now. This con is subjective – it depends on your preferences when you game. If you need badges to pop up every time you kill someone, or see your rank shoot up over everyone else, you may find the game dull after a week or two. For those gamers who look for improving their skills slowly and coordinating with a team, it may be much longer for you.
You really need a microphone. The game is frustrating at best if your team does not communicate, and due to the fast pace and constantly changing engagements, verbal communication is the most effective.
This game is fun. It is the most fun I’ve had with a new release in quite some time. The adrenaline rush you get as the Monster is undeniable, and the thrill of chasing a hulking beast through an alien world – knowing it could jump out and kill you at any moment – is exhilarating. This game is even better when played with other people – either friends or randoms. The player community on PC is the only one I can really speak about, and I must say that this game has the least amount of flaming I have ever experienced in a PvP PC game. The community seems to embrace new players, teaching them the ropes and helping them to improve rather than telling them to (expletive) themselves with a (expletive).
You really need a microphone.
I also find that the unlocking system they have in place, though tedious, is essential to furthering your gameplay. It ensures that you have an understanding of each Hunter character before moving along the line to try the next one. This comes in especially handy during matchmaking, where you may not get the role you prefer. That way, when you enter the game you (hopefully) have a grasp of all the characters, not just your preferred class. This also makes sure you don’t select some of the more nuanced characters right away, whose role in a fight may differ slightly from the norm.
Another refreshing thing about this game is how engaged the developers are with the community. They are regularly haunting their forums and taking suggestions from the community seriously. Though a bit slow to get things out, they show their appreciation for the Evolve fanbase through community play events, even releasing their TRS developers signature gold Monster skins to the public for free this past weekend. The player community for this game is also thriving, even though the playerbase has dropped since launch due to the DLC fiasco and the buggy release. There are still active players in many forums, and the majority of them are very friendly and willing to teach new players.
All in all, if you are willing to spend the $60 on this title, Evolve is a ton of fun. It’s a unique experience with a rush you won’t quite get anywhere else. Though the release and marketing could have been more streamlined, the gameplay itself is well worth the cash for hours of hunting.
Cockroach (Kill the Monster while incapacitated outside of the Tutorials) – 30G
12-Sided Die (Reach elite status on all Hunters) – 90G