Turtle Rock is famous for its Left 4 Dead series, so releasing a new IP was always going to be a challenge. Still, there has been a lot of hype surrounding it's next title, Evolve, which sees a group of four players hunt a player controlled monster and kill it before it kills them.
The description above says it all really as that's what the game is about and it doesn't deviate much from that. Sure there are mechanics thrown in to try and make things interesting, but in the end, as soon either the monster or the players are destroyed the game is over.
Evolve feels a little half finished on the face of it. There are five maps included but due to their nature they all look fairly similar, central hubs apart, which do offer something different to look at. There's also not a lot of choice to begin with either. You have one of four characters to choose from and while there are different characters and weapons within the game, they are all locked until you rank up via the progression system. Still, on a more positive note you will need to get used to each of the four characters and their different perks.
The first character you may want to look at is the Assault class, lead up by Markov, who sports an assault rifle as his standard weapon, as well as a lightening gun to shock enemies and arc mines to lay traps. Markov also has a shield, which allows him to defend himself when in the thick of it. Another character you'll get hold of to begin with is Val, a medic who is armed with a sniper rifle; a medgun, which heals up your teammates; a tranquilizer gun and her class special ability, healing burst, which can heal here team even when she has been downed. Both these classes are fun to play, while offering a different experience.
The other two classes are quite interesting too. Hank is part of the support class, he has a laser cutter and a shield projector, the latter of which is used to defend himself and his allies. He can also make use of Orbital Barrage, which is a strike he'll call down upon his enemies and finally, he can also activate a cloak. The last class is one of my personal favourites and is known as the Trapper. Maggie is the first to be unlocked and has a machine pistol, a Harpoon gun which allows her to lay traps for the monster and she also has a unique ability in the shape of "Daisy," her pet trapjaw that can sniff out the monster. Perhaps her best ability is the mobile arena though, which allows her to cast a dome over a set area, trapping her team and the monster inside together. As mention, there are other characters which you can unlock, each coming with their own weapons and abilities, it's just that it'll take a bit of grinding in order to unlock each of these.
Obviously all four of the character classes compliment each other extremely well, which is probably why Evolve is much better game when playing with friends. Getting a group together and communicating with each other makes for a much better experience, certainly better than finding yourself in a random group where no-one is talking to each other and therefore teamwork is out of the window. And that's Evolve's main problem really, as it's very rare to find a group who'll work together in over to make the experience a fun one, not unless like I say, you have a group of friends playing together.
If the players or Hunters as they are known in game, are working together then tracking down the monster is a lot of fun and there's plenty of ways to do it. Fresh tracks and startled birds often lead the way, you can tag wildlife that the monster may eat for its dinner, you can use drones and more. It always feels like quite an achievement when you finally track the monster down and trap it within the mobile arena, starting what is generally a fight to the death, unless the monster or your group decide to try and escape.
If you fancy a change or just want to play solo then you can always play as the monster. Here teamwork is not needed, it's just you against the others and it's a lot of fun. Monsters start out relatively weak, however as you feed on random animals and beasts they grow stronger. As this is the case, it's best to try and avoid the Hunters for a while and feed your beast up. Getting to know the maps is probably essential when playing as the monster as it allows you to evade the Hunters long enough to get to max level, at which point they'll find you a lot more difficult to defeat.
To mix things up there are a few different ways to play Evolve. There's the default Hunt mode but other modes include Nest, Rescue, and Defend. These offer different ways to play and some like Defend, can have different effects on the map the next time you play, depending on the outcome. What I will say about these modes though is that if the monster or hunters are killed, then the game will end no matter what, so other objectives become secondary.
Evolve is a pretty stunning looking game, it's just that when the action gets underway you generally don't notice this much. The monsters and characters are well detailed and the environments look absolutely fantastic. There's something quite exciting about hearing the monsters thudding footsteps or lightning crackling and brighting up the screen. Everything feels as it should, so its' worth stopping to take notice of the work that's gone into the game design on occasion.
Evolve is probably a good name for a title that will get better over time. When you begin and everything is locked down it's hard to be enthusiastic about it really, however once you open up the other hunters, weapons and the new monsters, things start to get a little more interesting and a lot more exciting. My main worry about Evolve would be how long it can keep your attention for, because it is just essentially a game which either sees you hunt or be hunted, there's not much else to it. Could this get boring quickly? It does seem likely, but with extra content due in the future, perhaps Turtle Rock's latest will Evolve into a different beast entirely.
Words by Joe Anderson
Twitter: @_wotta | PSN/XBLA: wotta
(Version Tested: PS4)
+ Lots of fun with friends
+ Looks amazing
+ Some great weapons
+ Plenty of innovation
- Formula could get boring quickly
- Maps feel too alike
- Hard to play without a good group