Anyone up for the Hunt? Evolve has arrived on Xbox One and Playstation 4 and with it comes huge expectations from gamers. Can this title deliver?
The road from announcement to launch hasn’t been the smoothest for Turtle Rock Studios from Title delay to DLC controversy but throughout its development time, the feedback from trade shows was always hugely positive. I have listened to countless podcasts raving about its 4v1 gameplay and I was intrigued. For the record I didn’t really get into Left for Dead 1 or 2 and was worried if this would suit my tastes.
I am pleased to say that in my initial 25 hour playthrough I am impressed with what I have encountered. The gameplay in Evolve is second to non however it doesn’t offer up a huge amount of variety in modes. The 4v1 concept is straight forward and the initial tutorials in the game really help you understand the basic concepts and ability options. These video tutorials are probably the best I have seen in any game. This really helps you get into the game quickly and feel confident in what you are trying to do whether your playing as a Hunter or a Monster.
Evolve is a game that can be enjoyed either offline or online. When playing offline AI will control your fellow hunters or even the Monster if applicable. Turtle Rock should be applauded for the great work they have done with the AI as it genuinely at times doesn’t feel like im playing with dumb badly programmed computer controlled characters it feels like I have teammates and better yet they are going to offer value to my game. This was a real fear I had going into the title and its great to see Evolve cater for the offline player.
Playing online is naturally where I found my best experiences in Evolve its no surprise as its the top option on the main menu. There is matchmaking capability so you can join up with some random players online or invite your party members to the hunt. Matchmaking is fairly quick and an average wait of around a minute was common. We only encountered a few server errors and was kicked only a handful of times. From launch this has got better and I wouldn’t worry about finding a match.
The experiences you can have online are simply amazing the variety of options offered up by human player choice really show the game in its light. This is where knowing your classes and hunting in organised groups can really become advantageous. It’s not enough to be great at one character, you need to know how your character is complementing the whole team. Each character in Evolve has unique abilities and some work better with others finding this balance can be the secret to a quick win or surviving the monster at stage 3!
Players can play as Goliath to begin with and can gradually unlock Wraith and the Kraken. Just be warned in our play through we found the wraith to be super overpowered when it gets to stage 3 so unless your playing as the Monster in this scenario prepare to be on the defensive. Again each monster has their own abilities and characteristics to manoeuvre around the map.
The character progression is the one area I found to be a little disappointing. At times it is unclear what is scoring you points and what is not. If there was hit pointers during the gameplay that would help support our understanding however we found the progression to be vague and extremely slow. Our top tip is play defend if your heart is set on playing with the second and third tier characters as your will progress faster.
As for game modes whether it be solo or Multiplayer there are a handful to choose from. In Solo players can take part in the flagship mode Evacuation where you play 5 levels each one representing a day to save planet Shear. Within each day players can choose to vote on what game mode they want to be play from a simple rescue activity or Nest where you are tasked with destroying all the monsters eggs around the map. They are simple in design and approachable to every gamer however we did find that the gem hidden in these modes is how changes your tactical choices as you either face or avoid the Monster.
Variety is what Evacuation offers up and Turtle Rock estimate there are nearly 800,000 different variations to each time you play. This is delivered by a reward or penalty for winning or loosing on each day. If you are successful as a hunter for example you may be rewarded with sentry guns at key areas of the map. However if you failed in the last round you may have to deal with more wildlife or monster minions roaming across the map. Its a great balancing tool and adds to the competitiveness of the mode. Evacuation can also be played online and is a heap of fun.
If you want to make up your own game modes there are features here to do it. Choosing from map elements to wildlife population its fairly extensive. Hopefully this is something Turtle Rock can Evolve in future updates to support eSports features as this was certainly an area they looked at when they announced the title. For us it doesn’t quite deliver on this promise but it has plenty of potential to do so. A great example of this is the map replay feature. After each match players can see a live replay map which indicates player movements its great for seeing where you went wrong or simply reliving how long the cat and mouse scenario ran for.
The map design is key here and although we don’t think these are the greatest maps ever made once you get a familiarity with them you will find new ways to pounce on your prey or trap that monster. The environments are visually appealing and the elements you can interact with really support the feel of a hunt whether it be dead carcusses or birds fluttering after being scared by a monster. Turtle Rock have designed key choke points in the maps also and having a strong team will aid trapping the monster in these areas. Our real critic would be we want more maps and even more variety of wildlife.
DLC. Yep Evolve has micro transactions and there are plenty of them too. Theres over £130 worth of additional DLC you could opt to purchase if you so wished. The content of which is mostly skin packs so for those of you that are more into your aesthetics then this is the area for you. However there is nothing here that takes away from the game. We do though believe that some of the skin packs etc are a little over priced for what they are example £1.59 for a skin on a gun is a bit steep.
For those questioning the games longevity I can confidently say you will get plenty of time out of this and definitely get your monies worth. Its not all about the game modes hear its about the numerous experiences you can have mastering all the characters and finding that perfect team balance. We reviewed this on Xbox One and I kept finding myself capturing those Record That moments as you never know what this game will throw up next. It has its lulls where at times your just chasing the monster around the map but those are moments that with experience you will soon avoid as you familiarise yourself with the maps and abilities. Helping in you in those lulls is some pretty decent voice acting and what seems like endless lines of dialogue to boot. Even now I am still discovering new lines and statements each character makes and how they interact with each other also supports this. Its a notable effort and supports some great ingame sounds to immerse you further.
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