Developer: Turtle Rock Studios
Publisher: 2K Games
Reviewed on: Xbox One
Also available on: PS4, PC
If we had to give it a numerical score: 7/10
What I loved
- Looks great
- Unique and ambitious
- Plays awesome… with friends or a decent team of Hunters…
Not so much
- Plays not so awesome on your own or with other headless teammates
- Can feel repetitive
So Turtle Rock’s new game has arrived. Or rather, it has crash-landed on the current-gen consoles and PC. The promise of the asymmetrical gameplay had many salivating (much like the Goliath, Kraken and Wraith probably do when you aren’t looking at them) but the there was always a question of whether it would live up to all the promise the various ‘Game of Show’ awards hinted at.
For those not completely living on the same rock as the rest of us, I better get the basics out of the way first. The game is a 4 vs. 1 affair. This entails four human hunters (each representing one of the four classes available – Assault, Trapper, Medic and Support) and one two-storey monster battling it out across a variety of modes. Ultimately, it’s a kill or be killed scenario, but the various modes available (Hunt, Rescue, Nest, Defend and Evacuation) do offer other objectives that determine the winner. While the game is in essence a co-op multiplayer game (with a fifth player playing as one of the three monsters), if you have no friends in this world (or on Shear even) you can go it alone with the AI. Level up for perks and more characters per class, and that’s in essence the gist of it.
The modes – as mentioned before – are all similar in that you can almost always kill the monster to win the game. Hunt is a straight up you against them, while Nest requires the hunters to destroy eggs and the monster to prevent that from happening. Rescue tasks hunters with saving five survivors (and the monster with preventing that), while Defend has a stage 3 monster and some minions attempt to destroy a power station, and the hunters tasked with preventing it. Evacuation is the mode closest to a campaign and tasks players (hunters or monster) with a variety of missions (one of the game modes) over ‘five days’. Each mode victory offers up a map specific bonus, until someone wins the war on day five.
The game is actually a little daunting at first. Four puny humans up against a world full of creatures and one evolving monster is the sort of thing that won’t end well for the outnumbered (but seemingly heavily armed) hunters. The issue is that the world never feels that alive. There are low level creatures to shoot, but for the hunters, the monster is the target, and the creatures are there for the monster to eat until they’re so full, they can ‘evolve’. But as a hunter, the other creatures are easily dispatched with and are seemingly pointless diversions as you attempt to track your main prey.
Tracking is handled by finding signs in the environment. Circling birds, broken branches, and glowing footprints are all pretty handy tells, but the handiest assistant is ‘Daisy’ – essentially the bloodhound companion of Maggie (one of the Trapper class characters). Frustratingly, chasing the monster across the map is slightly tedious. The time between monster face-offs never builds tension like the quiet periods of Turtle Rock’s Left 4 Dead, and there you were usually assaulted by hordes of enemies to slaughter. However, maybe this is more about my own personal taste in high adrenaline quick fixes than a fault with the game.
In Evolve, the monster battle is where it’s at really, and it is pretty chaotic when you first start. Ideally, once you’ve closed the gap on the monster, your Trapper needs to – yes – trap it in a ‘mobile arena’. It’s up to the Assault to dish out the hurt, the Medic to keep (one guess) everyone alive and the Support to ‘buff’ his – or her – team mates. That all sounds immensely co-ordinated, but new players (and even some playing a class they don’t prefer) can be completely overwhelmed trying to balance damaging the monster and assisting teammates with their skills. Keeping tabs on where the monster is can be a real challenge and each monster has a multitude of tricks in its arsenal – especially if it is fully evolved.
However, whether you play as a monster or a hunter, one of the major issues I had was the lack of feedback when dishing out damage. The monster is big and relatively slow but whether thrashing through the hunters or into a solid wall or mountain the feedback is the same. The hunter’s weapons also feel like nerf guns shooting foam bullets into a cushion, and you might only know the monster is being hurt by looking at the health bar.
The game is not an ugly beast, but it does try to hide behind some smoke. The audio is a winner, but let down slightly by repetitive and average dialogue. The hunters do enjoy a few jokes while on the trail of the monster, but sometimes you wish they’d just shut up and shoot more things.
While the game promises much, and delivers on many levels, it can feel like a chore to play and unrewarding when losses mount up. But when everything clicks (either as a team or as a monster) it feels like the greatest victory you’ve ever experienced in a co-op game. Sadly for me, the losses were the majority results due to relying on playing with random players way too regularly, and having bots accompany (or battle) you is not ideally the best way to experience the game.
The game will not appeal to everyone and I would not feel justified in recommending it to everyone. If you’re looking for a singleplayer experience, I would not suggest it. Find the right group of people to play with, and the game is great. The game is ultimately a small evolution of the first-person shooter, but if Evolve 2 comes along, it might just be a complete revolution.
Read about our ratings here.