Evolve is an interesting beast (pun intended) as it’s an online multiplayer game that is basically entirely focused on a single gameplay mode, 4v1. The difference is, that 1 player is a big 1, in fact they get to control an enormous boss-sized monster that evolves (pun intended) as the match progresses. Players on the other team have to play to their roles in order to trap and defeat the monster, before they get wiped out themselves. I had the chance to play one round at E3 2014 this year as a Trapper, so here’s how the game has progressed, one could say evolved (I’ll stop now), so far.
As a Trapper, I had a very specific role on the team, as do all the other players. Trappers have all the tools needed to track and contain the monster, and lead the hunt by following their dog-like alien creature once he’s picked up the scent. A lot of the time in the match is spent locating and following the monster player, either by just following the dog or finding signs of their presence, like flying birds or tracks. This is probably the most tedious part of the game at the moment, as while there are other alien creatures for you to fight, we were advised by the developer running the booth to ignore them and just concentrate all efforts on finding the monster. Navigating the environment is pretty easy for the most part, given the jetpacks which all human characters are equipped with, allowing you to scale cliffs and double jump with ease (although it does have a limited period of use and a cooldown).
The other classes on the team include the Medic, who is the team’s only chance of regenerating and reviving when the monster attacks; the Support, with access to special weapons like sentry turrets or orbital assaults; and the Assault class, who are the primary damage dealers once the monster has been found. We did eventually catch up to the monster player, at which point I was able to deploy a force-field around the immediate area, to limit the battlefield and prevent them from escaping. This also applies to your team – once the force field arena is set, whoever’s inside is locked inside with the beast, who by the way, has a massive health bar. Even with our Assault and Support shooting full bore at the monster, his health bar diminishes incredibly slowly. As a Trapper, I was able to slow it down with tether traps placed around the arena, which grapple onto the monster and hinder its movement. However, after a time the force field does dissipate, allowing the monster to escape and re-starting the hunt once again.
We didn’t catch up to the monster again until it had already evolved to its final, third form, and had begun attacking the core power supply of our base. From there, it was more or less a slaughter, as one by one we were picked off as we rushed to defend the base, having to wait several minutes before any one of us could respawn (or, return as reinforcements, as the game portrays it) from a dropship. Ultimately, we were never able to take a significant amount of damage off the monster before being wiped out, which could be down to poor communication between us, or not utilising our unique abilities appropriately either. It was a massive win for the monster, and obviously made all of us want to give that role a go, before we all had to move along for the massive line waiting to play the game.
Evolve‘s strength is its unique concept, and the the strong emphasis on playing to your specific roles. If your Trapper fails to utilise any of their tools, and tries to go in guns blazing, you will lose. If your Medic doesn’t tend to the group’s injuries, you will lose. The monster seems to start off with a massive advantage with its huge health bar, and also its ability to outrun the team with ease, making encounters in the E3 demo few and far between. It’ll be interesting to see if this balance is tweaked at all before the game’s release, although since the premise of the game is all about the ‘hunt’, the pacing may prove to be too slow for some players. Gamers worldwide will get to check out the game for themselves soon, as it’s released in October this year.