With much fanfare, Turtle Rock brings us Evolve by way of 2K Games and piles and piles of hype. Their first major release since Left 4 Dead 2, they continue their cooperative trend, but spice things up by making you objective a deadly, player controlled monster. If you’ve been wondering if the game can possibly live up to all the hype, you might be pleasantly surprised.
Shooting feels good and understanding strengths of each weapon/ability and each hunter or monster is critical. Traversal requires meticulous management of fuel/stamina as well as a reasonable understanding of map layouts. High level teamwork on the side of the hunters puts the monster at a sizable disadvantage if they get caught early, with most games being decided early on by monster play. Variety of maps and modes keep gameplay interesting, while quality of surrounding players generally dictates how fun a round will be. You can play with/against A.I. which are surprisingly competent, but these matches lack the excitement of their human played counterparts.
Top bounty hunters from across the galaxy are called together to evacuate the planet Shear. Particularly ravenous monsters are slaughtering the populace and the hunters have five days to evacuate civilians. This plays into the Evacuation mode, which takes place over five days with the winner of each mission impacting the next. I guess you could say this is the “story” mode. Characters have their unique quirks and have some interesting, if not quickly repetitive dialogue.
Evolve looks great running in Cryengine 4. The game runs well on all platforms and has very well detailed characters, environments, and most importantly, monsters, both player controlled and otherwise. Writing is classic action movie drivel, but characters are acted well enough. Sound effects are top notch and all monsters and their abilities are appropriately flashy. Fire breath creates heatwaves across the screen and massive laser wire nets form to enclose the monster, for better or for worse.
Evolve didn’t invent the idea of 4v1 multiplayer, though they certainly seem to have mastered it. While the general setting isn’t anything particularly special, the monsters have exciting abilities and superior players make for exhilarating fights. Evolve manages promote teamwork through indirect punishment by littering the world with hazards that will lead to a quick death for isolated players. While not an entirely original idea, it is the most well executed game of its kind.
The Big Question:
How long can Evolve maintain a player base large enough to keep the game relevant? The game is certainly fun, but as with all multiplayer focused games, players control the fate of the title. Should the skill gap between current players and late comers prove too large, Evolve will likely taper off as newer games release over the course of the year. Post launch support will be huge and Turtle Rock is clearly taking it seriously by ensuring new maps and modes are available to all. However, their overall DLC policy hasn’t gone over well with many, which could hurt it’s long term attraction.
While the idea of paying $60 for what is essentially a multiplayer only game might not sit well with many, Evolve offers enough excitement to cover the cost of entry. If you have friend to play with, the value only gets higher. Those looking more of an isolated experience should wait for the first major sale or price drop. Keep in mind, the game will only go as far as the community takes it, so a good value now may not be the same by the year’s end. If you are ok with buying Evolve for what it is right now, you won’t be disappointed.