Evolve Impressions: 'Just One More Round'

Evolve Impressions: 'Just One More Round'

Evolve can be simplified in many ways, and you've probably heard them all before. It's a first-person shooter. It's like Left 4 Dead, four players banding together, but you're up against a Tank — played by a fifth player — each round. It's one big boss battle, over and over. But the details that go into the new game, which comes out on Tuesday, a year since we first saw it, actually make it a lot more complex than that.

I've been thinking a lot about relationships lately. I've been thinking about how important teamwork is in maintaining relationships and how, in just a moment, that bond can break. Without proper care, all hell can break loose.

Evolve feels a lot like that, and abides by similar rules for survival.

If life is a path with certain goals and various obstacles, you inevitably pursue those goals and overcome said obstacles with a trusted group of comrades. In Evolve, your goal, unless you're playing as the boss, is to defeat the Monster before it can eat enough wildlife and evolve into an unstoppable beast. A team of four hunters with complementary skills take on the Monster together, but they have to work together effectively to get it done. The moment the soldier doesn't respect the role of the medic or vice versa is when the Monster can get its upper hand. Relationships, and teams in Evolve, are delicate. They don't take much to fall apart.

Evolve Impressions: 'Just One More Round'

I've spent a weekend playing Evolve, mostly on the human side and against others who got the game early playing as one of three Monsters: the Wraith, Goliath, or Kraken. I haven't played enough for a proper review just yet, but I've played at least enough to know there's something good here, something that feels like my kind of game.

I've always loved multiplayer shooters. There's something therapeutic about perfecting a tight, structured, competitive game. I sometimes prefer that to the feeling of exploring the nearly never-ending possibilities of a more open-world adventure. I don't always want to talk to NPCs and explore new levels. Sometimes, I want to play just one more round. I want to get lost in the business of refining and perfecting. Sometimes, I can convince myself that, with the proper team by my side, we can do better together next time. We can learn from our mistakes and allow each other to be better hunters.

Evolve Impressions: 'Just One More Round'

Left 4 Dead — which was made by the same studio, Turtle Rock, that has made Evolve — was one of the most formative experiences in my tenure as a gamer. I stayed up way too late playing "just one more round" of the first game and its sequel. Eventually, I knew my way around the Smoker, the Spitter, and the Tank. While your first few hours in a game like that are always an exploration of the limits and rules of the game, the pile-up of one-more-rounds teaches you to do more and to play better. It's at that point that a game based on characters and your skill using them truly opens up. Evolve is like that.

I suspect it will be some time before we start seeing some really high-level play from Evolve players. We'll see cunning tactics and a mastery of special abilities that will wow us, prove to us that there's more someone else could do with the same set of tools.

And Evolve already feels like a lot more to wrap our heads around than the more simple construct of the Left 4 Dead teams. It's not a matter of just unloading enough bullets into one of the game's Monsters until it dies; teams have to track, trap, attack and stay alive while the Monster may very well already be on its way toward more strength and tougher abilities. They have to stick together, to play to their roles but to also play as a team, without letting ego or hastiness or impatience or frustration disrupt their formation.

Or, of course, you can choose to play as the Monster. You can use a person's weaknesses to your advantage. You can target the healer who, if not properly looked after, will almost surely die immediately. A medic knows to mostly keep a distance, but they need the care of their team members to play to their own strengths to distract the Monster from targeting him/her. Or the Monster can lure the hunters toward some swamp-dwelling, alligator-looking predator then watch as their eagerness leads them to their own demise. What might seem like a small moment and break in the team's effectiveness can actually give the Monster enough space to run and regroup, growing both physically stronger and perhaps a little more brazen than the injured team can then take on.

Evolve Impressions: 'Just One More Round'

It's not enough to have played a handful of shooters in your time and assume you'll be a natural at Evolve. Sure, the assault class may seem fairly straightforward: you have buffs and guns that specialize in damage. Of the three assault characters that you have the option of playing, some fare better in close-range combat while others are handier at setting traps with mines. The medic class seems the most diverse: you have the option of supporting the team with various skills other than healing, such as tracking the Monster, or giving a boost to the team's running speed, or even resurrecting recently-deceased teammates. And there's an entirely new concept of character class in the trapper, who focuses on tracking and trapping the Monster.

Tracking, buffing and dealing damage are the main tenets of Evolve. Each class is equipped with abilities that make that process easier. Your experience of the game, therefore, is entirely dependent on you and your team's ability to grasp their respective duties. You'll have awful rounds — rounds where Maggie the trapper isn't following Daisy, her pet that sniffs out the Monster's location — and then you'll stumble on a team that feels cohesive and smart and considerate. You'll find the team that wants to act like a team.

Evolve Impressions: 'Just One More Round'

The shelf life of games that are mostly multiplayer-based is hard to guess. There'll always be the Call of Duty releases that teens everywhere will spend every waking moment perfecting just to demolish those of us with full-time jobs and not as much patience. But then there are the Titanfalls; the games that have so much promise, and are actually tons of fun to play, but run out of steam quickly. There's a lot to figure your way around in Evolve, and it might just be enough to keep people's attention for longer than a month or two.

Evolve Impressions: 'Just One More Round'

Your first few rounds might be surprisingly difficult. Your team might get wiped out by an experienced Monster. Or you, as the Monster, might realise just how precarious a spot you're in, despite seemingly being so powerful. Then there's the Evacuation mode, which reads like a stand-in for a multiplayer campaign. You play five rounds against the Monster, each round built around the outcome of the last. So if the Monster destroys the power plant in the first round, you can expect to deal with noxious gases harmful to the hunters in the second.

There's enough to sink your teeth into, enough challenge to learn your way around that I suspect I'll be playing Evolve mostly like I played the Left 4 Dead games: frequently, and until 4 a.m., without remorse. That's how I learned the ins and outs of L4D, including every glitch and every inevitable workaround the player community discovered and shared together. And while the discoveries in Evolve probably won't always be congruent with the intentions of the gameplay — monster-hunters probably aren't supposed to spend time jumping rope — their potential, and the players' potentials, excite me.

Everything in Evolve is about evolution. The Monster eats to survive and to grow stronger. Each player individually plays enough to level up their characters across the board — unlocking new perks they can attribute per round, and unlocking new characters and their features. But what interests me most in Evolve is the evolution of the team itself, of players acting out their roles and learning to work together as a team. Because as soon as you lose sight of your goals, and as soon as you abandon a fellow hunter, that's when you lose control and you lose the fight. And that's the end of the relationship.

To contact the author of this post, write to [email protected] or find her on Twitter at @tinaamini.


Comments

    I also would have accepted the title "Just one more dollar"

    There's something good there, in the sense that your dog eats your wedding ring and then excretes it. Sure, there's gold in the shit, but it's still mostly shit.

    I am hoping they get the pressure washer out and clean off the poo-poo. It has potential.

    Why do I get the feeling that this game is going to be like Titanfall...
    Going to be massive popular for the first few months... Then, nothing...
    Every time I go into EB, the guys are going on about the game. The managers have all had a chance to play it and they loved it etc etc...
    It does look very cool, but I can't help feeling there's a little too much hype about it...

      That's actually one of the things which really is an issue with the current rapid cycle of games, particularly those with such a heavy online focus. After a couple of months, players drop off, and after a year these games are basically unplayable.

      One of my favourite games is Tribes Ascend, but the player base has evaporated to where the game is unplayable now. Such a shame.

        I hope this means that devs eventually realise online-focused games are unsustainable. They keep pouring more and more money in to these games but it's only a matter of time before consumers realise they don't like the limited return they get from their investment.

        I miss single player!

      I'm sensing the same thing - felt this since I first saw the game. Big hype that's going to die down a few weeks after launch.

    Played it for a bit in beta, while it was fun, and a bit of a learning curve, I sympathise with the sentiments of this post, but it's something I'll look at when it's ten bucks in a year or two. Got plenty to keep me occupied right now..

    Played the Beta, really turned me off the game. As soon as the Betas started it was so much fun. Everyone was on the same level. Everyone was the Goliath and in general I had alot of fun. BUT...Then I left it for most of the day and came back later in the night (Beta started early in the morning) and when I came back, it was horrible and here are the reasons why.

    When I returned, there was alot of people who were high levels (considering how long it had be up) and because of this all the games were extremely shit.

    If you played as the Monster, you HAD to be good at it otherwise you were dead in minutes. I spent my morning playing the Medic and never got the chance to try out the Monster. I played 7 games I think. 1 game I won, ONLY because the guys I was facing were low levels and weren't really sure what they were doing. The other 6 games I lost and my opponents were all higher levels than me. I was dead in minutes. You could say I need to git gud, but I really tried and couldn't when I was locked down within 3 minutes and then killed. So playing as the Monster was a bad idea unless I had done so from the beginning.

    The second thing that turned me off and this was the MAJOR one for me, was stun locking, as I mentioned above. I played the medic and nearly every fight I was targeted first which is understandable. But, the thing that turned me off the game, was stun locking. Any of the 3 monsters I faced. I would just get stun locked. Example. The Goliath charges me, knocks me back like 50m. When my character evnetually decides to stop waving her arms around like a Inflatable Wacky Waving Tube Man and gets back on her feet. The Goliath has caught up and hits me again. Which then also knocks me back. Then repeated till I am dead. EVERY game I played there was an instance where this would happen. It wasn't every battle though, just the times when I was unlucky enough to have no jet pack power.

    Lastly, the Wraith and the Kraken, but mainly the Wraith. OVERPOWERED, OVERPOWERED, OVERPOWERED, OVERPOWERED!!!! I understand its a Beta, and this is what they wanted to know about and I did submit my feedback form afterwards and let them know. but my god, Any game I played when there was a wraith I immediately wanted to quit but I didn't because I am not a complete asshole. Anyone that faced the Wraith knew exactly how OP it was and when even in the lobby discussing how OP it was, they still chose it. WHY? Because they want XP and level up. Who needs to have fun when you can just choose the Wraith and kill everyone before you even get to Stage 2. If anyone has played against the Wraith AND WON. LET ME KNOW. That shit was redonk. Even with a bunch of dudes who were higher level, had the class they wanted. Still lost.

    Some positives. The level design is amazing, the little creatures that fill the area really brings the place to life. The game does looks absolutely fantastic. The verticality really makes exploring the area much more exciting. The idea of hostile creatures that attack you if you piss them off is a nice idea. Birds flying away when scared by the monster is a neat feature.

    Overall, this game is...a nice idea. I wish that the maps were a but larger and the gameplay was slowed down a little, that stun locking was fixed and less ridiculous. The wraith was an even fight.

    A long read I know, but. Eh

      Thankyou. That was insightful and will allow me to make a more informed purchase.

      I wonder how much of that is your team mates not being experienced enough to protect you as the medic adequately.

        Some were good, some were bad, but they never managed to get the monster away from stun locking me.

    I was going to say something about Jim Sterling's comments about DLC but shit it looks like everybody knows about the DLC issue.

    Good work, everyone.

    Its a game of cat and mouse where if the mouse eats enough cheese it can eat the cat

    I have been playing Evolve for about a week and I am very impressed with the game.

    My thoughts below:

    I was a little sceptical but decided I would pre-order and buy the game.

    I loved Titanfall and can see how people are drawing comparisons but Evolve looks to have a lot more legs in the lenght of how long people could play it as there is a lot more variability in the game rather than just a straight up online shooter like COD or Battlefield Hardline - people love these games and I do as well but nothing really ever changes in these games. There is almost no variation.

    Titanfall was fun as the wall running and double jump plus the actual Titans was really soemthing new but the game ran out of Fizz after a few months. I am not convinced Evolve will be the same but time will tell.

    COD Advanced Warfare introduced a few new things but it is the same old tried and tested game I have been playing sicne Modern warfare - they introduced a double jump this time but the speed of the game has not increased. There is nothign really new or revolutionary about the game.

    I have also spent a massive amount of time playing Destiny as well - repeating the same missions over and over again and nothing really changes either.

    Evolve to me feels fresh.

    The basic Evolve package has more than enough in it to keep gamers occupied for many many months and I believe the DLC maps will be free. This is a game with a point of difference which is refreshing. I don't pay for extra skins and the like - I pre-ordered the game so I do get the additional Monster which looks like a lot of fun to play.

    The Maps, variations in map element - weather, more aggressive wildlife, teleports to name a few creates a lot more alternatives to the game and outcome.

    I have been playing Evacuation solo for about a week to get better at the Monster and was very impressed with the constant variation and change given the maps are large and varied.

    Playing as the monster is a lot of fun - being able to sneak around and double back so your tracks are hidden is very enjoyable. I haven't even had a crack using Wraith yet. Kraken is a tonne of fun and how you play is different to say Goliath.

    I started out playing the game online and the outcome was pretty balanced between Hunters and Monsters but when I played as the Monster I got smoked.

    I then spent the week playing Solo and I am looking forward to playing online as the Monster and turning the tables on the Hunters as when I initially played the controls and how you go about evading and levelling up are a challenge.

    I believe I will give just about any team of Hunters a real run for their money now as if they are not co-ordinated they will get hammered. The AI for the Hunters is very solid and they work a unit well. If Online players scatter and do not stick together they will be punished without Mercy.

    There is actually a lot of strategy in the game - especially once you have a bit more of a feel for the map design as there are some excellent places to bait Hunters that provide the monster with a huge tactical advantage - same goes with the Hunters. being able to use the terrain to your advantage is critical.

    The Level design and variation are excellent. Aviary looks like something out of Jurassic park and is a lot of fun. Other maps have multiple 'levels' to them so drawing Hunters into an area where there are say 4 levels of cliffs and launching a surprise attack on them is a lot of fun. Even when they dome you in you still feel like you are in with a chance.

    I have read a lot of comments across the board about the cost of the game and what it offers - a lot of these comments appear to be from people who haven't even played the game.

    I will not give it a score but I will state that I rate it above COD Advanced Warfare and on par with Destiny.

    I can't help but notice that so much of this review is completely in opposition to the OVERWHELMING reviews by players that have put in over 10 hours stating they'd like to play more but the game gets boring fast and there is a severe lack of content , especially after many spent 90 dollars or more. This review smells of dirty money, because quite frankly the game on steam went from 20,000 average online to now less than 10k Average.

    This game was built on multiplayer , NOT solo. Lift your game Kotaku, this is the most misleading review I have read since your spin on Titanfall.

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