Evolve is freakin’ awesome. Walking toward the Evolve booth and seeing the gaping jaws of the Goliath certainly sends a chill down your spine and sets the tone for the game you’re about to jump into. Evolve‘s gameplay is fast-paced, requires an enormous amount of strategy and/or teamwork, and is an exhilirating experience. Alex and I actually got to play the game hands-on and walked away with our jaws on the floor. Here’s a character breakdown below the jump.
ALEX – Hank (Support Class):
My immediate reaction after playing Evolve was “This could dethrone Titanfall as the premier first person shooter of today.” I am quite the fan of class-based warfare (see: Mass Effect 3 multiplayer for a perfect example), and Evolve has a very interesting class-system. It is, without a doubt, immediately apparent that in order to succeed at Evolve, you need to not only play as a team, but play to your individual character’s strengths.
At first, I was a little disappointed to have been appointed to play as Hank, the support character, largely because he seemed to be the least-defined character. “Support” can mean quite a many things, but that appraisal ambiguity disappeared amazingly fast once I actually had the controller in my hand. I quickly found that the Support class offers an incredible balance between playing the role of Medic and playing the role of the Assault class. Indeed, it provides the best of both worlds, as he can jump into action and deal massive amounts of damage when needed, but can just as easily fall back and provide both cover and cloaking for teammates who are in danger. If the Support class was any indicator of the complexity of each character class, then Evolve has an incredible amount of room for mastery and strategy to suit every individual’s play style. I was not particularly excited for Evolve when I first heard of it, but playing the game solidified it as a day-one purchase for me.
AUSTIN – Goliath (Monster):
Oh. My. Gawd.
Playing as a big monster in Evolve is one of the most refreshing experiences I’ve had in a long time. The Goliath is not a just a big brute that can smash things (though you can definitely do that), it is a complex character that has quite a lot of strategy behind it. You would think that playing as the monster, you would feel overpowered against the tiny humans but the beginning of the match had me nearly paralyzed by fear. I felt like the prey until I evolved enough to put the hurt on the hunters. The Goliath is amazing.
At the match’s start screen, you begin by choosing which monster type you want to play as (only Goliath was available) and are given 3 points to upgrade your abilities. I chose to upgrade the “Charge,” “Fire breathing”, and “Leap Smash” abilities so that I could get up close and personal with the hunters. The developer next to me explained that they wanted to provide options for players to play with different playstyles, not only between the different character classes but within each class. The choices to upgrade certain abilities are also available during the match during the stage evolutions. After killing and eating enough wildlife, you are prompted to hide in a safe spot to trigger the evolution. Your monster goes into a cocoon and a timer begins to count down. While waiting, you can choose which abilities you wish to further upgrade but you are completely vulnerable during this time. Actually, you are weaker in the cocoon than you are out of it so being found in your vulnerable state is quite dangerous.
I was actually surprised at how easy it was to reach the final evolution. The match begins with the monster having a 30 second head start ahead of the hunters and in that time I was nearly able to make it to the first evolution. There are a variety of wildlife which range in the amount of meat they provide and how difficult they are to kill. The more meat, the harder they are to kill. Wildlife can have automatic defense measures, attack in swarms, and some even rival the size of your monster. A tactic the developer shared with me was to attack the large creature when the hunters were nearby and then jump away. The creature will attack at whatever is closest to it, including your enemy hunters.
Playing as the monster was a lot of fun. And I mean a helluva lot of fun. As a player you experience a balance of utter fear and unrivaled badassery that consistently keeps you on the edge of your seat. I was always wary of the hunters around every corner when I was a level 1 monster and once I finally reached level 3 I was taking the fight to them. The hunters proved a challenge (especially the Trapper) that provided a great deal of satisfaction when my leap smash sent them ragdolling into the air.
It’s apparent Turtle Rock not only set out to make a fun game to play with your buddies, they made it balanced and nuanced enough to invite players to use strategic thinking to take down their foes. No class is insignificant, each one is vital to the success of the team. Every character has offensive and defensive capabilities and each one can be altered to fit a different playstyle. Each map has different areas that provide different tactical advantages. Each monster has unique abilities that go beyond just smashing enemies. Evolve can and will provide players with a deeply strategic game that they can sink their teeth (or giant gaping maw) into for a long, long time.
Evolve comes out on PS4, Xbox One, and PC this fall.