Platform: PC/PS4/Xbox One
Developer: Turtle Rock Studios
Publisher: 2K Games
Release date: Out Now
Family Friendly?: Click here to skip the detail and see if this game is right for your family!
Tackling this review for the 4-versus-1 asymmetric shooter Evolve is a mildly tricky challenge for me. The main reason for this is that I was sold on the game’s concept before the game’s release, and have been following its development with relative excitement since. (You may have seen me geek out about the game in a video earlier)
Please bear that in mind whilst I attempt to place into words my thoughts on this game.
All that sorted? Good! Then let’s move out…
Evolve is rather different from your typical shooter, yet there are aspects of familiarity that doesn’t make the game too alien. For starters, the core principle of the game is based around this concept of asymmetry. Allowing a player to take control of the massive monster boss is unmatched in the AAA console games market when it comes to shooters, yet it is rather familiar to those who have played Left 4 Dead, another of Turtle Rock’s creations. In L4D, you had two teams battling it out against each other with one being the special zombies.
Evolve reduces the enemy team size to just one, humongous beastie that gets stronger the more it eats. That core difference creates one of the most fascinating (and sometimes stressful) multiplayer games out there, with four different modes to pit hunter and monster against each-other. Alongside the standard Hunt mode (kill one side before the other kills you), there are a plethora of objective-based challenges that pit the monster against the hunter team.
Each of these could be tackled individually, but what’s more interesting is how they string together to form Evacuation mode, Evolve‘s method of story delivery.
Almost Titanfall-esque in its delivery, Evacuation mode tells the story of humans making a frantic attempt at escape from the planet Shear across five challenges in five days. What makes this a lot different than Titanfall‘s method is that the outcome of each game carries on-to the next to create incentives for each side to win and making each win matter a whole lot more.
Take for example a mission where the hunters had to protect a rocket primed to deliver medical supplies. If successful, then it creates support for the hunters in the next game. Should the monster succeed however, then the supplies misfire and hit local flora, causing accelerated mutation to plants which can heal the monster once eaten.
Evolve claims that various combinations of these outcomes can create over 800,000 variations of how Evacuation mode can pan out, which is fascinating to comprehend, yet it is worth remembering that it all boils down to the four core mission modes available.
One key reward for continuing time with the game comes in the form of unlockable characters to play as, with new faces for each preferred class of play. New monsters and characters can be unlocked that each provide their own method of delivering on the skills that their particular role demands. Different characters in the Trapper class, for example, have different methods of sniffing out the monster’s whereabouts, whilst different Assault characters have different weapons to lash out the pew-pew.
With that said, respect for the roles in each class is crucial when playing as a Hunter. It’s all well and good knowing that a certain Medic has a sniper rifle to create weak points, but it must be remembered that the Medic’s primary function is to heal other hunters. Get lost in the moment of an approaching monster and the team will quickly fail.
Of equal importance to the Hunters is communication. This is one of those few games that pretty much demands that you have a headset plugged in. If you don’t talk to each-other then again, the team’s failure rate will surely increase. Be prepared to get talking a fair bit when you’re a Hunter. If you’re causing havoc as a Monster though, that isn’t an issue.
Jostling for position over the other side and clinching a victory from the jaws of defeat have regularly occurred during my time with the game, giving me quite a good impression that a lot of work has gone into the balancing of this game. Each session that I’ve jumped into has been as nail-biting as the last. I’ve typically found myself opting for the Monster role more, meaning that I get to do the Evolve equivalent of ‘tea-bagging’ in Halo – eating dead Hunters. Yum!
If there is one thing that worries me most about Evolve, it’s that despite the sixteen maps on offer and the wealth of characters available, the choice of only four game modes does make me wonder how many people will keep playing the game in the long term. Granted, this isn’t exactly different to previous works by Turtle Rock. After all, Left 4 Dead initially started out as a game where your only aim was to get from A-to-B whilst staying alive. The in-game AI increased the variability of each game though, keeping it fresh. Once the Steam Workshop’s modding community got its hands on it, there is now a massive wealth of content out there for the two games.
To see this game succeed in the long term, I would dearly love to see more ways to play the game and more opportunities to explore the history of the human colony on Shear. We know that extra maps will eventually come to the game gratis, but I don’t believe that is enough to drive people to keep playing the game for months on end. Furthermore, any set-up that would allow for an aspect of competitive play would be extremely welcome in encouraging people to come back.
Overall, Evolve is a fantastic and fresh idea for a shooter in a genre that’s filled to the brim with much of the same. The various roles gives each player specific challenges to meet and its reliance on teamwork through voice-communication is hugely welcome. The effort (and sometimes stress) in winning a game in Evolve can often yield to one of the most satisfying victories in the genre. It’s just a shame that its scope is unfortunately limited. Hopefully we get to see more of this game as time passes.
Good Times! :)
- 4v1 asymmetric multipayer is a great concept
- Good team-play comes from communication, which the game encourages well.
- Victories are hugely satisfying, due to the work involved to reach it.
- Unlockable Hunters/Monsters allow for new ways to meet the same challenge
Bad Times :(
- Despite wealth of maps, range of modes is a bit limited.
- Would be great to see a competitive mode for teams to take part in.
- For the most part, if your team doesn’t talk then you’re already in trouble.
Evolve is rated PEGI 16 in Europe. Strong language typically pops up throughout and the game is inherent in violent content by the very nature of it being a shooting game. That said, the violence is not really that gory and is towards fictional beasties or by said beasties towards the humans.
To remind families with consoles in the home, although Evolve has a solo mode to play against bots, the game is designed with the idea of online play in mind. As such, Xbox Live memberships or PlayStation Plus subscriptions are key to getting the full Evolve experience. without this, it’s experience is rather limited.