Turtle Rock Studios’ new asymmetrical 4v1 first person shooter Evolve is finally here, and with it comes the questions. Is it really possible to balance a game where the whole idea is that one player is significantly more powerful than the rest? How do you handle matchmaking when people will inevitably want to play the same class? Can the game sustain interest long term? Let’s delve into our First Opinion and find out.
So far I have played about eight or ten solo bot matches and a handful of online rounds, and they both have their pros and cons. Perhaps the biggest benefit of single player play (over a pickup group, especially) is getting to play whoever you want. When you join an online game it’s a crapshoot whether you’ll get to play one of the hunters you actually enjoy and have leveled up, or if you’ll get stuck with a hunter you never play as and have no experience with. I recently joined a match and was assigned as Hank, the support hunter. I had never played as Hank before this so I had to learn on the fly in a live match, which is not optimal for anyone involved.
Anyone who has experience with shooters can pick up any hunter’s basics, but there are nuances that you really need to know to play them effectively. For example, I really like the Trapper class, but the two Trappers I have so far, Maggie (who you start with) and Abe both play fairly differently. Maggie relies on her pet trapjaw Daisy (which is really weird for me since my old dog was named Daisy and my current one is Maggie, so… yeah) to track the monster and can lay harpoon traps on the ground for monsters to trip. Abe on the other hand places sound spikes that alert the team when the monsters passes them, producing a more passive hunt as you lay the traps and wait for them to be tripped, but once you find the monster Abe’s harpoon gun results in a tug-of-war with the monster as you spear the beast and try to hold on to it while your team opens fire.
Unlocking new classes of hunter and monster require repeated play to achieve various statistical milestones with your current class’s abilities. Want to unlock the Kraken? You’ll need to play as the Goliath and use your fire breath, rock throw and other abilities a not-insignificant number of times on the hunters. This seems like a time sink, but it also makes sure that you have experience with all of a character’s abilities.
I have played all of the modes, and in my opinion the default Hunt mode, where the only goal is to kill the monster before getting killed yourself, is the weakest. You end up spending large chunks of the round trying to catch up to the monster to engage in a short fight (preferably within your dome trap), after which it will likely escape and go in to hiding again for another few minutes. That tedious cat-and-mouse feel gets a little old after a while. Fortunately the other modes are allot stronger. There’s the MOBA-like Defense mode where the monster and a couple of mini-Goliath minions try to destroy a series of power stations while the hunters try to fend them off, which is my favorite for forcing engagements between the sides. The Nest mode sets the hunters on a mission to wipe out Goliath eggs (regardless of the monster being played). The monster can hatch the eggs to sick a mini-Goliath minion on the hunters, and the hunters have to then kill the minion in lieu of its egg. Lastly, the Rescue mode has the hunters trying to revive and guide soldiers to specific spots where a dropship will pick them up. This wasn’t as fun as the other non-Hunt modes, but still better than Hunt.
Playing as the monster is a unique experience. You’re really powerful, but you can get swarmed and overwhelmed rather easily. My gripe is that once I’m spotted, I usually have trouble breaking away from the hunters. It takes a specific style and mindset to properly play a monster, and I don’t really have that down.
With only a handful of hours down, there’s allot of Evolve ahead before we can render a review, so look for that in in the next week or so.