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After a rough and basically broken Alpha for the PS4 a few months back I have finally had a chance to play Evolve. Between the time the last alpha came out and now, I bought an Xbox One. So I downloaded the Xbox One open beta and played a dozen or more matches of this new co-op shooter.
Right off the back Evolve left a bit of a sour taste in my mouth. You can currently pre-order the game and if you do so the beta version will unlock all the characters for you. That is… weird. I don’t like the idea of betas having purchasable bonuses, but here we are. To make this situation even worse, turns out people who bought the game aren’t able to access the characters early. Great.
Anyways, to the actual game. Earlier we had a piece talking about the Alpha. I purposely didn’t read that or any other things about the game’s Alpha. I wanted to go into this without any notion of what people were mad at or liked or whatever.
After a short but informative tutorial I was able to start playing. And the first thing I noticed is how good this game looks. The world looks great, creatures look alien and dangerous and the characters themselves feel unique and are easily identifiable. The classes I played the most were the medic and the assault class. As an assault I was throwing myself at the monster and trying to get it’s attention off of other hunters.
As the medic I was healing my friends, of course, but I also was using a tranq gun to mark the monster and slow him down. The medic also has a sniper which creates weak points where other hunters can shoot and do double damage. It’s a smart way to allow the medic to be a part of the fight, even when they are at a distance.
I also played a bunch of rounds as the monster. I didn’t unlock any new characters or the other monster available in the beta, so I played only the Goliath. He is a massive ape like lizard creature who spits fire and throws rocks. He can leap across large sections of the map and land on top of hunters or other animals to kill them. Playing as the monster was a blast. My heart would race as matches would go on. Being hunted by four other players is a pretty scary thing. Even as a large crazy rock monster thing. As I ate creatures and sneaked around I was able to grow stronger and feel more confident in fights.
Here, though is where we run into a problem. I won every match as the monster except for my first one. I won so many by hiding, running from a fight, crouch walking around to hide my foot prints and focusing on eating creatures to get stronger. I would sometimes go ten minutes or more without seeing a single enemy hunter. It was fun and I won. But how much fun is that on the hunter side of things.
The answer is: Not much. I had a few matches where the monster did a similar tactic. Run and hide, run and hide. It became a tedious and boring mess as we slogged from one side of the map to the other. Even worse was if our trapper didn’t use their dome. This meant some matches were just terrible and not much fun at all.
Turtle Rock, the makers of Evolve and Left 4 Dead, have said that the tank encounters in Left 4 Dead were them playing around with this idea they had been thinking about for a while: four players taking on one large enemy. Those moments in Left 4 Dead were fun and exciting. But making a whole game out of it doesn’t seem to be working as well. I think the reason is simple. The best course of action as the Monster is to hide and try to grow strong before taking on the hunters. This isn’t much fun for the hunters though. In Left 4 Dead the tank was a throwaway character in a much larger game. You didn’t worry about dying. You charged headlong into the survivors and tried to kill or injure them. It was fun for the tank and fun for the survivors.
When players are more aggressive with the monster is when Evolve shines. But every time I ran into an aggressive monster it met the same fate: death. As players play more of Evolve and learn the better places to hide and run as the monster it could lead to a pretty boring game for the hunters.
Until Evolve is out and we see how players use the different monsters and maps, we won’t know for sure. But for now I’m a bit worried about it’s future. Hopefully Turtle Rock makes changes or adds new game modes to help shake things up even though the game is already gold.