Review Price free/subscription
Available on Xbox One (version tested), PS4 and PC.
Evolve release date 21/10/2014
Ever wondered what it would be like to control a 40 foot monster being hunted by a pack of your bloodthirsty mates? Well wonder no longer. Evolve, from Turtle Rock Studios, creators of Left 4 Dead, lets you do just that. We got to play the action-packed co-op game as both a monster and hunter at E3 2014.
The plot is thinner than a bread stick on Atkins, but, like Titanfall, this is a multiplayer-only game so that’s not a big problem. A team of four hunters is tasked with taking down monsters in the inhospitable planet of Shear. The map we played was a dense jungle with rivers, valleys and mountainous passes.
There’s more to Evolve’s maps than just four hunters and a monster. The trees act as cover and hiding spots while other flora will attempt to take you out. Huge Venus Fly Trap type plants can encase a hunter whole and slowly digest them, with only swift assistance from your teammates will set you free.
Fauna plays an even bigger role in the game as it is both an adversary to the hunters and vital food and genetic material for the monster.
Just like Left 4 Dead, each hunter has unique abilities, strengths and weaknesses. Teamwork is vital for taking down the powerful behemoths. Fragment, or forget your responsibilities and you’re toast.
There are currently four classes in total with two characters to choose from for each class. Trapper, Support, Assault and Medic and each performs a vital role for the team. As you’d expect the Assault class performs heavy damage, but you’ll need to get up close and personal with a flamethrower or lightening gun – depending on whether character you like the look of, sociopathic Hyde or warrior Markov.
The Medic is perhaps the most important member of the team. Not only can they heal teammates, the medics Lazarus and Val can resurrect the dead and use stealthy techniques like cloaking devices and sniper rifles to stay out of danger.
Evolve’s Support class characters come in the form of Bucket, a robot armed with sentry guns, UAVs and a ludicrously camp British accent and Hank, a gruff hunter with a laser cutter and a beard ZZ Top would envy.
Finally comes the Trapper class. Griffin is a mutton-chopped hunter who uses harpoon guns to pin the monster down. But the star of the Hunter class is undoubtedly Maggie, a character reminiscent of the Walking Dead’s Michonne, who comes with a massive alien dogbeast called Daisy.
Daisy chases down the monster by smell and runs off after it. Procrastinate too much and the monster has a chance to evolve into something far tougher and nastier. Daisy has another trick, though. She can heal incapacitated hunters by licking them back to health. Yucky, but useful.
A total of 12 hunters will be available when Evolve launches, three per class.
Evolve plays like a first person shooter if you’re a hunter. As hunters you and your team need to stick together and speedily track the monster down using the tracker’s abilities. Once found you need to protect your medic and start dealing as much damage as possible.
The actual fights are frenetic. Pressure must be kept on the monster so it cannot run away, lick its wounds and evolve. This leads to a game of cat and ginormous mutated mouse. Monsters are fast, have a variety of abilities and some can fly, which means hunters need to keep up. To aid this each hunter is equipped with a jet-pack that lets them access high ledges or make long jumps. This can only be used for a limited amount of time, but the time is generous and it recharges when not in use.
Currently, Turtle Rock has shown off two monsters, with one more to come before Evolve is released. The first is Goliath, a hulking horned gorilla-like brute. He can climb quickly and jump huge distances to get away from hunters. Goliath’s unique abilities include spewing fire from his mouth and using its strength to tear up Evolve’s maps and throw massive chunks of rock at hunters.
Since Goliath doesn’t have too many ranged attacks he needs to get close to the hunters to cause damage. He can pounce onto hunters and ground and pound them.
The Kraken monster unveiled at E3 plays very differently. The Cthulhu-like beastie can fly and has a number of ranged attacks, but can’t withstand as much punishment as Goliath. This means it needs to keep its distance from the hunters as it cause damage with a lightning strike, mines or vortex ability which scatters the hunters far away if they get too close.
As the Kraken we couldn’t resist getting up close and whipping the hunters with huge tentacles. Kraken is a hoot to play as.
Turtle Rock has opted to make the monsters a third-person experience. It’s a good move. The monsters are huge and beautifully detailed so you want to be able to see all the damage you’re inflicting on the pesky hunters.
As a monster you enter the arena first and have a 20-second head start to get as far away as possible from the hunter’s landing site. It’s a crucial time. The monster starts off relatively weak and needs to feed on the local wildlife to get enough genetic material to evolve.
By pressing the right thumbstick the monster can sense its surrounding and track down prey. Once enough have been killed and consumed you’ll need to find a quiet spot to evolve, a process that leaves you totally defenceless for 10 or so seconds.
There are three stages of evolution and each allows you to add points to your skills, making them even more deadly.
First ImpressionsWhether you opt for a monster or a hunter Evolve is a blast. The hunters are varied enough to likely keep the game fresh for a long time although we’re sure there will be plenty of arguments between friends about who gets which class.
Evolve is one of the most fun games we played at E3 2014. Roll on the 21st October 2014 Evolve release date.
Read more: Best Xbox One games
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