We checked out one of next year’s much-hyped video games “Evolve” over the weekend during a closed Alpha demo on the Xbox One and had a blast.
The upcoming co-operative (co-op) multiplayer game from “Left 4 Dead” makers Turtle Rock Studios and 2K Games was pushed back earlier this year until February after a small Alpha test back in August.
The game revolves around a group of four human hunters who need to work together to take down an alien monster. The real draw of the game is that in addition to playing as any four of the humans, one person is allowed to play as the monster.
Here’s what you should know about the game.
What It’s About
Unlike the popular “Left 4 Dead” franchise which pits four players against another group of four players, “Evolve” is a 4v1 game. “Evolve” will also have a single-person campaign level which we don’t know anything about yet. The Alpha focused solely on the multiplayer aspect which is what we expect to be the huge draw to the game.
The objective for the hunters is simple: kill a monster before it “evolves” (there’s where the title of the game comes into play) into a stage 3 killing machine.
If you’re the monster, you obviously want to avoid the hunters on the map you’re playing. Instead, you focus on getting stronger by feeding on small creatures found throughout the levels. When you (hopefully) get to level three, you have two options to win: kill all of the hunters or destroy a generator, referred to as a power relay, found in each level. If you’re feeling lucky, you can do both!
Who You Play As
“Evolve” is supposed to have up to 12 different hunter characters to play as who fall under four categories. We only viewed four of them although eight of have been unveiled. Each player has a different job that is vital to working together as a team to take down the monster.
We’ll go through these from left to right leaving the monster for last.
The medic can revive and heal teammates along with himself. Medics also have tranquilizer guns which can be used to slow the monster and sniper guns which can be used to create weak spots when hitting the beast.
A support team member works well with the medic by protecting characters with a shield. They also have a cloak which can turn other players invisible. The coolest thing the support team members have though is the ability to cause an air strike which can cause significant damage to the monster.
The trapper is tasked with tracking down the monster. One of the characters, Maggie (above), has a pet Daisy which will help find the monster on the map. Trappers also have the ability to cast a giant net under which to trap the monster for a set amount of time. A harpoon gun let’s them lay down traps that will latch onto the monster and keep it in one place.
Finally, the assault member has a lot of fire power to take out the monster. Among his weapons are a lightening gun and mines that can be laid out on the ground.
There are also a number of monsters gamers will be able to play as but the Alpha only unveiled two the Goliath (seen above) and the Kraken, which we’ll get to in a bit.
During gameplay, we weren’t allowed to choose our player. However, we could recommend our character of choice which usually resulted in us playing who we wanted. If you were playing with a bunch of AI robots, you were able to swap between the hunter characters to try out each role. You were extremely lucky if you got to play as a monster.
OK, so what was it like?
Every game starts out in a giant aircraft carrier that drops us from the sky onto one of a few different maps.
Hunters set off tracking down the monster throughout the map. The faster we found the beast, the better. A stage one monster was a lot easier to kill than one that evolved to stage two and definitely far more manageable than stage three.
When the monster evolved to its full size, it would be a lot tougher to beat.
Teamwork was key. If gamers didn’t stick together, they risked getting lost and eaten by the monster or worse — by random creatures and plants on the map.
Cooperation also made the difference in a game being as short as three minutes or as long as 20.
Trackers helped spot the monsters and trap them for the rest of the team to take down. We often played as one of these so there was a lot of responsibility to not let the team down. When we finally found the monster, it was game on.
Here, you can see the giant net used to trap a monster into a small arena.
The monsters definitely weren’t easy to defeat. The bigger they got, the worse it was for us. We mostly played a monster called the Goliath and when it started breathing fire or throwing boulders, you didn’t want to be in its way.
Everyone on the team wore jetpacks which had a booster that allowed us to keep up with the monster. It was a favourite of the team to use to easily traverse across each map.
Our team successfully won multiple times in a row. When everyone worked together, it was awesome.
It didn’t always work out in our favour.
Here, my brother was the last one left alive on the team. He valiantly tried to prevent the Goliath from destroying the power relay.
A video posted by Kirsten (@not_kristen) on Nov 11, 2014 at 8:40am PST
We played against two different monsters in total. The second, referred to as the Kraken, was a scary looking tall beast that could fly and had the ability to summon lightening strikes.
Here’s a better look at him:
We definitely haven’t had enough time to play through the entire Alpha, but since it was just extended until Nov. 4 we may get some more game time in before it ends.
I’ve seen other reviews worry about the game’s shelf-life, a concern I had of my own. After talking to people who play the game though, it’s easy to see this is a game people will play for the multiplayer aspect alone because of the co-op teamwork. Not only are there a variety of options to play as, but when the game eventually comes out next year, there will also be a multitude of arenas. If you don’t want to play alongside your team members, you can play as the monster trying to hunt down your friends.
Being able to play on multiple teams gives the game a similar feel to “Left 4 Dead,” a game series that has sold more than 12 million units. The multiplayer feature reminds me of watching custom player games in the “Halo” franchise like “Infection” where one player will be a “zombie” and will chase other players around to kill and turn them. Obviously, “Evolve” is a bit different.
For those who tire of the multiplayer, the game is also supposed to have its own single-person campaign mode which will reportedly be similar to that of “Left 4 Dead.”
A few other things I’ve seen early previews complain about that make little sense this early on including:
Wait time to get into a match.
This isn’t nor should it come as a surprise. This is an Alpha. It’s not the finished version of the game. It’s a sample of the game made to get feedback from players to make it even better. We actually found a trick that seemed to make the wait time for a match go faster. We quit the game, went back in and the game generally booted up pretty fast to get us back into game play. Was it annoying? A little, but it was better than twiddling our thumbs waiting for servers to load.
One person ruining the game for everyone.
In multiplayer, you can wait to get put in a game with a group of strangers from anywhere around the world, play with the computer, or join a party of friends and play with them. Since the game relies on teamwork of your entire group to succeed, I’ve seen some complaints about getting stuck with a player who has no interest in playing nice with the group.
This is silly. In these sorts of games, you’re most likely going to be playing with people you know, not random gamers who aren’t up for completing the team objective. If you’re playing with someone who’s weighing down the team, you can simply leave your match and join up with another group.
“Evolve” is aimed at those who play multiplayer games together. If you played Turtle Rock Studio’s last game, “Left 4 Dead 2” with a group of friends, you’re probably going to play this game. When you have a solid group of players working together, “Evolve” is a beautiful thing to watch.
Xbox One players will have access to an open preview Beta of the game January 15, 2015 before the game’s official release February 10, 2015 on PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One.
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