Evolve Review

From Turtle Rock Studios, best known for titles such as Left 4 Dead and Counterstrike, comes Evolve, a team based, third person shooter. Mixing humour, a mismatched band of monster hunters, violent wildlife, and ever-changing monsters, Evolve is fun but has some negative elements. Fearsome mutants stalk a terraformed planet and a group of hunters get sent in to save the day. No complex story is attached to this title, rather this is a game with the subtlety of teamwork threaded throughout. Forget the copy/paste combat of many AAA titles, Turtle Rock want you to work with a team to defeat a common enemy.

As previously mentioned there is a very limited story arc, hunters have been called in to a planet in order to rescue colonists from terrifying monsters that evolve and destroy everything in their path. Hunter teams are made up of 4 characters, each representing a player class: support, assault, medic, and trapper – one of the trapper characters has a companion animal that assists with tracking the monster and defending the team. Each member of the team is vital for the success of a mission:

  • The Trapper – Tracks and traps the evolving monster.
  • The Medic – Heals the team, slows the monster, and creates weak spots to assist with removing the monster’s defenses.
  • Support – Using a mix of offensive and defensive equipment, support can help protect the team from damage whilst also attacking the monster long range.
  • Assault – The character with heavy artillery, this is the character who can most easily deal heavy damage to the enemy.

Each character has a unique personality which is expressed through their clothing, weaponry, language, and even in snippets from the cut scenes. They behave like a group of rough men: bad jokes, bawdy antics, and oodles of arrogance. There are a variety of characters from the sultry medic to the Australian trapper seemingly inspired by Crocodile Dundee.

Stalking the planet for things to destroy and wildlife to eat are three breeds of evolving monsters:

  • Goliath – Can breathe fire, throw rocks, and generally behaves like Godzilla.
  • Kraken – Projects lighting strike attacks and has the ability to fly, this monster features terrifying tentacles protruding from its face.
  • Wraith – This beast is lightning fast, with two sharp blades, and can produce decoys, making the Wraith a most fearsome enemy.

To evolve monsters must eat, their objective is to evade the hunters until they have evolved to stage 3 (the final stage) and eliminate the enemy team/objective. Mastering control of the monsters, or even the hunters, does take time and effort, every character (12 hunters and 3 monsters) have unique weapons and abilities to be learned.

Evolve has multiple objective based game modes available, each of which can be played online, in a party, or offline. Without naming every single one there are a variety of challenges to attempt such as destroying the monster within a time frame, rescue survivors before the monster can kill them and verse a horde of monsters. All of these game modes can be played as either a hunter or a monster. Finishing each round shows the standard statistics and character progression, but also one of the most entertaining game replays in online shooters: until the next game loads players can see coloured dot representations of themselves and the monsters moving around on a mini map. Watching the teams hunt the monster, set traps, and seeing the monster flee for its life repeatedly adds a charm to evaluating the previous mission.

Presentation is what really let Evolve down; it’s not that the game design is poor, quite the opposite, rather that the frame rate (at least on the Xbox One) is inconsistent. All maps and areas are beautifully rendered with exquisite detail; the character designs suit the game’s premise, and design; the monsters, teamed with their evolutionary stages, are nothing short of terrifying. Admittedly this issue was more frustrating during the offline modes of the game, however it was still very present during online gameplay. When teamed up with familiar players and utilizing the social nature of Evolve’s game design, the frame rate issue was mostly ignorable.

To get the most out of Evolve it is best to play with a group of friends, much like going through a game of Left 4 Dead. Unlike Left 4 Dead working as a team is necessary to win any round in Evolve, because each of the characters has unique strengths that assist in destroying the monster. Most players online are occupied with their own scores and ranking up faster than anyone else in the game lobby, this is not a game for those people, and that’s where interest can wane. Having a group of 2-5 friends to communicate and play with makes the experience more enjoyable, these are people with whom you can co-ordinate an attack and take down a monster. Most online players have no interest in supporting their team, or if they do it’s not to revive downed players, it is to run from the monster until a new drop ship of teammates arrives. This tactic gives the monster two lethal options: 1. Hunt for more food and spend the time evolving into stage three; 2. Eliminate the last team member and win the game.

Before playing this game with a friend this review was looking dismal, however just one familiar player made an enormous difference in how a match played out. Trying multiple elements of Evolve prior to passing judgment on it is recommended because there are some phenomenally entertaining options within it, including the mini map replay. Presentation wise Turtle Rock has produced an excellent looking game, if not for that pesky frame rate issue, which hopefully can be patched sometime soon. All of the characters and the monsters brought unique elements to the game which impacted each round, this stands out in comparison to most other online shooters as not all players have directly offensive abilities. Several times the Console Domination Podcast has spoken about the value of playing games with friends, not in the sense of playing Battlefield or Call of Duty, but in a lounge room gathering way. Evolve is the kind of game that could provide the entertainment of playing with friends, whilst maintaining the convenience of an online game. Group gaming has long been enjoyed, from LAN’s to online competitions, if team games with friends interest you, then Evolve is a title well worth trying.

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About: Sarah Rigg

Mini metalhead with a love of horror movies and video games. First started gaming on her brother’s N64 with Mortal Kombat. Favourite series include Bioshock, Pokémon, Silent Hill and Mortal Kombat.

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