You can say a lot of things about Evolve, 2K’s latest next gen shooter which pits four players against one player controlled monster – but above all, you have to give them credit for being original.
With an idea that’s actually new and fresh, in a gaming landscape where we’re so often given repackaged and recycled ideas, it’s then especially sad that Evolve is so much less than the sum of it’s parts.
Plot is pretty thin on the ground when it comes to Evolve – it seems as though the intent is far more directed at getting your Hunter on the ground to go face a variety of nasty monster. Based on my time with the game, all I can really tell you is that a non-Earth planet that’s inhabited by humans is under attack by a collection of immensely tough and dangerously monsters.
In a bid to fend off these things before they kill everyone, a four-person team is put together to flush these monsters out of hiding and, using their distinct personal abilities, take it down.
And that’s about all the info you need really – the rest is kind of just white noise.
When playing the five day campaign mode, hunters versus monsters, each mission will have something at stake so that aiding the survivors will make your next round easier.
For example, one mission sees you try and rescue survivors near the weather control tower. If you can do it before the monster kills them all, they’ll get the tower working and the next mission you do will be during beautiful weather – i.e. no shadows for the monster to hide in. If you don’t, the weather will turn nasty with clouds or fog, and the monster will gain an added advantage while stalking you.
Each hunter has a very well defined and explained role to play in the hunting of the monster.
You’ve got the Assaults – massive super soldiers with a range of powerful weapons and abilities designed to boost their own strength. You’ve got Trappers, who specialize in finding and containing the monster through a number of unique tools – the most useful of which is the mobile arena, a portable force field that throws up a dome around the hunters and the monster so that neither can escape combat.
Then you’ve got your Support, which does exactly what you’d expect by offering various boosts to your teammates, along with the equal self-explanatory medic. These all play really well, and in the (sadly quite rare) occasion when everything in Evolve comes together as intended, the dynamic across a team can be wonderful.
However, the class structure is so rigid that if you’re down a teammate (due to death), the game will use bots to make sure it’s always a four person team, the whole thing can come apart pretty quickly.
Each class has three different characters you can play as – each with a few different abilities – so there’s some variety there, but it’s essentially the same gameplay wise.
When playing as the hunters, I found the offline mode much more enjoyable, as you’re able to cycle between characters on the fly. This is something new and exciting for an FPS, and frankly, I’d like to see that expanded on more.
Playing as the monster is a completely different experience from the fairly standard, albeit very slick FPS experience of playing as the hunters.
The monster has you play third person, controlling a large and sometimes unwieldy monster, stomping or flying about, doing it’s best to stay hidden and consume other animals to Evolve until it’s third and final stage.
Where the hunters are bogged down with strategy in their various abilities, the monsters are not. While the three monsters do have different skills, fundamentally they’re mostly used to attack or free.
The real trick with the monster comes in hiding, avoiding startling birds and eating enough to become strong enough to either kill the hunters or destroy whatever the objective is. Most of the time objectives can only be completed by a Stage 3 monster, which puts an interesting time dynamic on the game.
But while originality is all well and good, this game would have worked better as a campaign style experience – work together to beat a few Levels, then work together to take down a monster.
As it stands, the player controlled element of the monster means you’ll spend most of your time playing hide and seek, boosting around the map, not really doing anything.
Every now and then some non-monster wildlife will take exception to your presence and attack you, but for the most part Evolve can be broken down as 80% finding the monster and 20% fighting it.
You can’t help but feel as though this is an extra game mode someone has taken and just fleshed out as much as possible –like Dying Light’s ‘Be the Zombie’ mode, so Evolve just doesn’t ever feel like a full gaming experience – becoming the latest in the unseemly trend of releasing online focused game with no real core to fall back on.
I’m sure that it’ll improve itself (evolve, if you will) over time for free, much like Titanfall did, but for me Evolve loses points for not feeling like a complete game.
Definitely not one for buying, but maybe worth a few hours of hire on a rainy day.
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