Hands-On Preview: Evolve Alpha

BANNER_JAKEHot on the heels of my EB Expo Preview with Turtle Rock’s new shooter Evolve, it felt only mere days between stints going from the EB Expo to the Big Evolve Alpha. My platform of preference the PS4 suffered astronomical disasters, with the release of firmware update 2.00 unable to cope with the game itself.

A few days later and a hefty patch finally saw me back on the monsters tracks. I only had the chance to experience 3 matches within an hour time frame but I feel that it was enough to solidify my feelings.

EVOLVE_0002_Layer 8I played only as the trapper class after selecting a “no preference” to player option. I found this to be odd but undoubtedly just the kind of kink these Alphas iron out. At the beginning of my first match I was given a brief tutorial on my role and how best to achieve my assigned tasks. No doubt an invaluable tool for people going into this game without having conducted any prior research.

The match began and all four hunters were on the move tracking down our prey. In-game chat was created automatically although not one team member chose to utilise it. Players were preferring to listen to the sound of each others controller clicks over team communication, I didn’t understand their choice but I moved on. Having found the monster at stage 1 of 3, I unleashed my mobile arena forcing the monster to fight for a set amount of time. Forcing the fight gave the assault and support classes the opportunity to deal huge amounts of damage and myself to deploy harpoons to slow the beasts movements, whilst the medic kept us all fighting fit.

The mobile arena eventually dispersed and the monster got away, we followed its glowing tracks for a while until we lost them in the river. Not long after that the monster had evolved to stage two and soon enough stage 3.

EVOLVE_0001_Layer 9He or she was now bringing the fight to us, tasked with defending the only man made structure on the map, a dam. We headed off to confront the beast. We found him along the way and engaged the mobile arena again, before we knew it he was dead. The damage we inflicted the first battle has given us a huge leg up and made the final third stage a considerable breeze. The match ended and still not even a word from the team, nor a sigh of relief.

At the conclusion, a new feature that I was unaware of reared its interesting head. A levelling up/progression system based on your in-game actions. Dealing an amount of damage with the harpoons for example accumulates and eventually unlocks other more powerful variations. A feature that will surely see lots of players experimenting to level up and find their favourite play styles.

I booted up again for another match and again, not a word of chatter just the ominous clicking of controller buttons. I was with a different group of players this time, mind you. My role was once again to be trapper and I nailed it. Finding the Monster almost right off the bat and the team annihilated it. The rounds experience accumulated and before I knew it I was back into the lobby waiting for my third and final match.

New team members, same pattern, find the monster, don’t talk to each other (it seems), do your job and do it quickly. I can go to my day job for a less stricter environment I realised and that is just about where it hit me.

EVOLVE_0000_Layer 10Evolve, to me at least seems like it could be a great game. It’s unique and trying something new. It looks good and the controls and experience features were a treat. BUT and a very big BUT, given my small hands-on with the alpha, this game is very much “Wash, rinse and repeat”. There are only so many times I could play this before the monotony drove me insane.

I think what I am looking for now are some newer features to hopefully be announced that will throw a massive spanner in the works and blow that “wash, rinse and repeat” rhythm right out of the water. What it could be? I don’t know, Hunters V Hunters, Two monsters V Hunters, Monster V Monster, I can only hope.

Maybe once people perfect the role of the monster they will force people to communicate a bit more to stand a chance but that still may be a long way off.

This game definitely is a new gen experience, no doubt about it and I cant wait to see more. I am expecting big things and want to see big things come of this. It is Turtle Rock after all.

BANNER_JUSTINHunt or be Hunted; Evolve

Evolve, by Turtle Rock Studios and 2K games is the first of it’s kind where four players hunt down a single monster. The Four player team each have a role that includes a Tracker, Assault, Support and Medic then are pitted in different terrains set the on the planet Shear to hunt down our fifth player, the monster.

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Firstly, the game was played in it’s alpha testing stages so naturally there were server issues and match making cue times that seemed unbearable at points. This is to be expected especially when they have attempted to give each individual player the ability to select a preference or rank; a preference from one to five for all of the different roles, I believe it too be very generous. The purpose for these alphas are to gain feedback and fix errors/ glitches picked up by player, noting that Playstation was completely derailed with the recent firmware update.

EVOLVE_0000_Layer 13Now that’s out of the way lets get into the good stuff. Visually there isn’t anything not to love about the landscape, it’s a very pleasant blend of an almost prehistoric alien flora and fauna which at anytime can turn on you and attack while also leaving behind some handy buffs if the threat is eliminated. Both the team and the monster can pick up these buff. Given this is the future, a touch of futuristic structures were built in, most notably the dam. While these features add so much to the game little light is shed about the “story” of planet Shear.

Ill start with the gameplay from the co-op team’s perspective. Once you’ve selected/allocated your role it’s time to parachute to the landscape of Shear and begin the hunt for our dangerous adversary, not without being given a nice little introduction video on the characters skill set and basic overall of the role for first timers.

To find and kill the monster players must find and tack down the monsters prints left embedded into different surfaces. The players must work together to in order to take down the beast, this is achieved through each player fulfilling their specified role. The Tracker with her trusty alien pet daisy must set up a temporary battle arena to lock the monster into a small location while setting harpoons to lock the monster into place.

The Assault specialist will be dealing the bulk amount of damage to the monster while locked in the arena. He’s equipped with a temporary shield for when the monster turns his attention to you.

EVOLVE_0001_Layer 12This is where the support steps in. Equipped with a long distance shield the support can protect any member of his team. A huge air support strike is a one of the most satisfying abilities to use in this game, watching the monsters health and amour drain is a big momentum changer and game ender.

The way evolve has redefined the role of medic is excellent. Yes you are there to heal, this is done with a ranged neon glowing beam of light. As medic you are in charge of using your two long ranged weapons to tranquilize and slow the monster so your tracker can set an arena and also leave target points on the monster which when hit by team mates deals extra damage, this gives a sense of being more than just someone that runs around healing everyone.

The initial learning curve on the team isn’t too difficult but does require some multi-tasking skills which I found refreshing as opposed to running around shooting aimlessly. A strong potential problem to being a 4 man team is when not in a party the potential for a disconnection or leaving the console ruin the game is REAL but is softened with the ability to quick shift from your characters role to the disconnected players role.

EVOLVE_0002_Layer 11As the monster your are given the option to pick your skills which range from a rock throw, fire breath, a jumping slam and a charge. this lets you dictate your potential early game fight with the hunters but also your hunting of neutral inhabitants to feast on gaining armour and strength to EVOLVE. That’s right as the monster you must feast to work your way from stage one to three growing larger, levelling up and becoming harder to take down. You have 2 basic abilities, sneak and sense. These help you find and hide from foe and food. As the monster you are in 3rd person mode which doesn’t help a somewhat clumpy control set and difficult learning curve starting out.

Throughout the gameplay of both man and monster you have small challenges to complete through your time playing, all of which will unlock different characters for each role as well as skins which is a nice blend to add some player preference customisation.

Overall the alpha has presented some very exciting and different content to other games almost making a genre of its own.  Turtle Rock Studio and 2K have some work to do but are definitely on the right track to create a strong fan base with this refreshing shooter.