Evolve is a bit of a weird one for me. I don’t generally go in for games that lean toward competitive multiplayer between strangers. Then I heard about the concept behind the gameplay experience of Evolve. An intriguing blend of competitive and cooperative multiplayer that hints toward some of my more preferred games.
The idea is that 4 players take one of four Team Fortress style roles: Assault, Trapper, Support and Medic. The four of you venture out in to a world that naturally evokes thoughts of Avatar’s Pandora, full of dense vegetation and the occasional industrial complex, and with a vast array of life which seems to want to cause you varying levels of hurt.
All of this is staged in a beautifully rendered world, which doesn’t restrict itself to a single design style, with characters ranging from a cyber-punk heavy, through a cowboy gunslinger and even a sci-fi medic. Turtle Rock have managed to make all these looks feel like they belong together, with each character looking different without being out of place.
In the Beta your main target is the fifth player. Choosing from the Goliath, Kraken, Wraith and Behemoth classes, player 5 seemingly has one objective. Kill. Creatures are to be hunted and consumed so that you may evolve and become more powerful, and the two main ways to win the game is either kill the other 4 players or destroy a key target per level.
The key here is teamwork. Evolve seems to be best played by four people who can talk to each other, which makes for a great game to sink a few hours into with your pals. Playing with strangers was still fun, but the monster has a much easier time of it, with players splitting up and the segmented power structure showing the flaws.
This seems intentional, a 4-player team working well will be a very tough match against an evolved monster, making it possible for the four relatively weak players to succeed. Don’t work together and instead plow fourth for personal victory, and you’ll soon be torn apart.
It suddenly becomes obvious that this is all down to the pedigree of the developers, with the former Left 4 Dead team once again making fun team based games and they have got the balance just right. Not relying wholly on a single player’s skill, a boon for a relatively inept player such as me, but also not spoon feeding you victory, leaving the sense of triumph empty. Players can feel good for a victory whether they are the monster or a human.
For a player that spends most of his time watching a multiplayer game while waiting to respawn, this is actually a big step. No longer was I losing because I wasn’t an elite quickshot, we’d lose because our monster foe had managed to take advantage of a weakness, or simply because we just hadn’t worked together.
If the Beta is anything to go buy then, Evolve is going to be a great game for multiplayer action, even for gamers who traditionally shy away from online battles. The environment was immersive and the action fast paced without being overly chaotic and the overall experience was fun but challenging. The proof will come from the final release, with its own single player campaign and other multiplayer game modes, but as a single player I’m looking forward to it.