Turtle Rock Studios
Action/Multiplayer/First Person Shooter
PC, Playstation 4 (Reviewed), XBox One
February 10, 2015
PS4 and XBOne: ₹3499/-
“Fun till it lasts.”
Beneath the mask of a Triple A multiplayer shooter game, lies the real being, the real intent of an asymmetrical 4 vs. 1 game that breaks the clutter of all the military mercenaries and crooks and polices. Evolve the concept is innovative, strong and pretty advanced for most of the audience who bathe in the glory of a proper multiplayer competition. Almost every match of Evolve feels like a real competitive match with the right motivation and the righteous result. But that’s when you start taking the strain of a multiplayer, online dominated game that breaks every promise and fails to live up to what it was set out to deliver.
Months after I reviewed Destiny, believing it to be a concept that will only grow over the years, and witnessing how cheaply it wants its players to grind missions over and over again for a piece of engram, I feel that the trend needs to be acted upon. Evolve sets out just like Destiny, with lesser content than the latter, and convinces you to be a slave to the system in order to master the roots of winning each game. It is okay if you are spending 2-3 hours a day gaming, maybe Evolve is just the thing for you, but e-Sports and MOBA like concept with content that is the size of my palm? Ain’t my shift.[pullquote] You get hurt as soon as you discover that there is surprisingly a ton of content locked away for the sake of DLCs and microtransaction. [/pullquote] You get hurt as soon as you discover that there is surprisingly a ton of content locked away for the sake of DLCs and microtransaction. Even the cool concept is prone to exhaustion because of the lack of match varieties and some in-game weaknesses. At the moment, Evolve feels like a F2P game that I spent 3.5 grands on. Or maybe I expect every video game out in the year 2015 to be ballsy and fun.
The Story on Shear
Shear is the planet you are thrown into for those epic monster slaying matches, a world that is alive with perils of all kinds. From man-eating plants, toxic rivers, aggressive trapjaws to camouflaging tyrants. It is not only the monster that you must be wary about, but the hostile planet and its native wildlife that cause you much of the initial damage even before you encounter the monster for the first time. The colonists of the planet have asked for the support of a league of extraordinary hunters, whom you play as, as they kill the alien monster and restore balance to the system. The group was formed and is led by Cabot, combining marines, soldiers, convicts and engineers from all across the solar system. Whether it is the Martian pyromancer – Hyde or the mechanical sidekick of Cabot – Bucket, each character lends part to complete the story. But there is nothing coherent to the story of Shear, we know one thing and one thing only – Slay the monster.
The Core Gameplay and Philosophy of Evolve
Playing in the pack of four Hunters, one needs to understand and abide by one thing – bonding. Evolve, unlike Call of Duty, is a game that requires all hunter classes to combine their designated roles and attributes to come out on top of a giant monster. [pullquote]Until each of the classes perform to their best, there is no way you can resist the monster’s ways, even if it is at stage 1. [/pullquote]Until each of the classes perform to their best, there is no way you can resist the monster’s ways, even if it is at stage 1. The philosophy is a stern one and requires each one to be patient, caring and above all – friends with the gang. Unless you have friends on your console/ Steam client or a headset to chat with fellow Hunters, forget about Evolve. Matchmaking with random strangers can turn the tide towards the monster, as the only thing you will do is possibly run, wander off alone and get eaten by carnivorous plants and hunted by tyrants. Even worse, if you are playing all by yourself and find yourself in pack with 2 friends who know each other, do not expect help. Chances are, they will prosper by themselves and will always find ways to stay alive, sometimes baiting you and the other dude out. It is like the Pacific Rim for gamers, and that’s why I couldn’t resist playing Evolve, this game requires hardcore neural handshakes. Most monster players choose to play as the Wraith, who is the master of ambushing (with the decoy and abduction move), and if you aren’t a proper tribe, you will definitely feel the thumping.
Playing the monster can be tricky and boring, all you need to do initially is run and eat, if you get spotted, quickly leap across and disappear before the enemy trapper drops the dome on you. The camera aspect of the monster is in third person, with a highly zoomed out perspective, to encapsulate the adjacent environment. This comes back to haunt you if you are stuck and have no clue whether your blows are landing properly on the hunters, who are mere dots on the map. There needs to be a better marker/UI or at least a little zoomed in perspective to help the monster players, especially the ones running around as the huge Goliath. While in other games, a lonewolf works by being ballsy and offensive, in Evolve being a monster means you have to be super aware and defensive and not give in to the advantage of your size and strength.
Class, Strategy and Progression
The Hunter pack boasts of 12 unique Hunters, each falling under the four primary classes: The Assault (who is the primary damage dealer of the clan), the Trapper (the one who sniffs out the monster’s last location using tools and pets), the Medic (the one who keeps the team alive and drugs the monster to slow it down) and the Support (who strengthens the team through solid defensive ways). As you master each character, you unlock the higher character in the same class. This requires you to fulfill some random mini objectives within the game, like following your pet for X miles, dealing Y damage to the monster using the Orbital Barrage, reviving fallen allies for Z times, etc. We know a thing or two about greed, and these mini objectives and the background greed to unlock a new character will come back and tell you to f the team and go for personal glory. I’m sure there are better ways to unlock a new character, except for buying them all at an extended +DLC price. Combine each class characters to make the team based on speed (always on the monster’s trail), or defense (Hank and Val), or pure attack (Cabot and Parnell). Each character’s disadvantage can be complemented by the other’s advantage, so it is always nicer to mix it up looking at what your other Hunters have picked, and especially which Monster are you going against.
[pullquote]The monsters are pretty amazing characters that keep the hype up in the game, and can easy make a boring game into an exciting one. [/pullquote]The monsters are pretty amazing characters that keep the hype up in the game, and can easy make a boring game into an exciting one. However, there are only three monsters to choose from at release date/price – The Goliath or the melee champion, the Kraken or the long range sorcerer and the Wraith, the subtle and deceiving invader. While the Goliath can smash its enemies out of breath, the Kraken performs best when it is in flight and out of reach. The Wraith, the last unlockable monster, is a little annoying brat who always turns out to be the human enemy’s favourite monster. The Wraith has limited health, but can deceive you and make you run around for 20 minutes before it snaps down unaware and rips your team into shreds using the Supernova and Warp blast combo. Eat to armour up, eat to evolve, is the way Evolve wants you to go around being the Hunter slayer.
There are a handful of perks for both the Hunter and the Monster, and as you level up in the game, you earn better and improved perks. As a monster you can choose to pick a perk to boost your smell awareness or feeding speed, as a Hunter you can perk up your jetpack boost capacity or your reloading and attribute replenishing skill. Picking a perk is perhaps the most important aspect of going on a hunt, especially if your perk is a two star credibility, it changes the course of the game dynamically. Well done on the perks, Turtle Rock.
The arsenal that Evolve presents is not exactly path breaking and innovative but overall fun and tactical. For example, a close range Hyde flamethrower is complemented well by his minigun, if the monster limps out of trouble. Similarly, Abe the third Trapper has a tracking dart that can be used on probable monster food, i.e. other creatures on Shear or on the Monster itself. Once the prey is consumed or the dart hits the monster’s skin, it gets tagged for an amount of time. Caira’s adrenaline boost does tons of aid to the team aside from her medicinal value to the team, and confirms my firm belief that the makers of Evolve put their head into making each decision an outcome of a tactical choice. The mobile arena and the Cabot rail gun are my favourite things out of Evolve.
Matchmaking and Game Variety Concerns
It surprises me that an average good game on Evolve lasts for about 10 minutes, while the majority either exceeds that average by twice the length or end as a 2 minute disaster. The monsters are very vulnerable characters in Stage 1, and 9/10 players would break down instantly if the Hunters keep up pace. If the monsters are played by slightly smarter players, they end up being an eternal chase, and can tire you out until the super sized, super armoured monster drops out of nowhere and smashes your team left and right. Exploring with new characters is one thing, but Evolve to me in this condition, looks like highly unpredictable and not fun at some times. Sure the asymmetrical way is fun, but if one team gets OP’d it doesn’t look fun or competitive anymore. There needs to be some perks to make weaker monster players come back better next time around, remember the drops in COD:AW when you die for the first time in every new match? Or else, people are simply going to abort matchmaking when they find themselves casted as Monsters, even though it stands at #5 in their priority list. Even the 1 minute penalty timeout won’t mean a thing to the player who finds cheated by Evolve’s random matchmaking. That brings me to part two of this discussion.
Evolve says very outrightly that it will try its best to assign a role that is higher in our Role Preference ladder when in matchmaking. And 6/10 it always doles out the roles which are either #4 or #5, and worse, they put a BOT in a role which might have suited our play style. On one hand, Evolve makes rules, talks of role specialisation and mind games, and on the other it breaks its rules to assign you a random class that doesn’t fit your play style. It also has a tendency to drop you in an ongoing match, as a random character in a random class, which doesn’t even make sense. The night before, Evolve glitched my game and instead of replacing me with the BOT trapper in an exisiting game, made me role play a Colonist with a random shotgun with Assault like attributes. There was no dome to hold the monster, just two assaults who would stand back to back in the same line during the airdrop cutscene. I’m sure other players must’ve seen this glitch appearing in their games as well. Evolve kind of cheats matches with Daisy as the enemy AI or the ally AI. If Daisy is your ally AI, then do not follow her, takes cues from her at max, she has a terrible AI in an otherwise brainy game. If you are a Monster, then brace yourself, because Daisy will follow your trail and find you out as early as a minute into the game. You can’t run, you can’t feed, you can only feel cheated by Daisy. And what’s with the map switching ON/OFF every time you Evolve? Is it a part of the game rules as well?
Speaking of variety of matches, I think it becomes dull after a point of time when you’ve juiced the life out of Hunt. Hunt is the most preferred game mode in Evolve, as it demonstrates the proper 4 vs 1, Stage 1 to Stage 3 evolution game that also serves as the USP of the new IP. The Nest mode is wherein the Monster can protect its eggs spread across the map while the Hunters are out to destroy them. The Rescue mode is the opposite version of the Nest Mode wherein Hunters locate and save colonists and escort them till the drop ship while the Monster tries to kill them all. It is just a perspective shift, not a brand new game mode in my opinion. The Defend mode allows Hunters to protect a powerbase while the Monster comes in with minions respawned every minute, destroying 3 such stations in a given time limit. A combination of all these modes serve as the prophesized Campaign Mode for Evolve, which has a balancing system in the background depending on the WLR and changes the dynamics of the next game based on who won the last match. The game frequently adds a benefit to the hunters or monster, that ranges from more fodder for the Monster or health replenish stations for the Hunters and the fight continues until you beat the final chapter of Evacuation – the Defend match. The AI of the ally BOTs are fantastic, and the single player matches serve as practice grounds for the more dynamic and random online matches.
The Graphics and Sound Department
Honestly, the world of Shear looks fantastic on my Playstation 4, and with those key environmental elements like clear sky or torrential rain, you can easily deduce the top notch condition of the final product.[pullquote] The world feels different when you play as a Hunter and then as a Monster. [/pullquote] The world feels different when you play as a Hunter and then as a Monster. The frame rate is stable, even if the online gameplay lags and shoots random errors. A couple of animations look a little dodgy, like the Hunter/Ally revival animation and the jetpack hover animation, and leaves room for minor improvement, if any. Evolve suffers animation problems on the main menu on the PS4, especially if you open a new app and come back to the game menu, as you’ll find your character gestures boosted 10x times the normal speed.
Evolve has a very confusing soundtrack, with a fantastic menu theme and barely anything epic in the Monster Hunter clash. I understand that awareness is the key to which side you play, but apart from the elementary SFX, there could’ve been a suitable and subtle background track to benefit and amplify the tension before your lines cross with the monster. They should’ve considered Guillermo Del Toro’s Pacific Rim OST that I prefer over Evolve’s own each time I go out hunting. A killer track to cut off the cheesy drama talk between the characters (sans Bucket) could’ve aided the adrenaline rush.
Evolve is like that young talented boy with guitar skills and peerless art sense, who grows up to become the normal bank clerk. The 4 vs. 1 multiplayer style is a wind of change, only countered by the game’s inability to deliver more game modes. Strategies are aplenty, countered by the game’s weird sense of matching you with a low preference class. The lack of a solid single player story and the sorry Evacuation mode says it all – Evolve is best played with friends.
Evolve is not a bad game, nor is it boring for those who love playing online and want to experience something apart from generic military and jetpack warfare. Even though it falters as a game, add its in-game rigidness, Evolve as a franchise is well strung and is a sheer rebel to those generic shooters out in the market. It whoops @$$ especially when you are 20-30 games into it. Having played more than 200 games now, I would say that I am waiting for the next big announcement to happen from Turtle Rock, as I am not at all pleased by the content I was served and the way they broke their promises and slapped me back each time I came back into the game with a new strategy. For more on Evolve, you can follow my Huntbook series, I will be able to add a few more editions to the series before I fast forward to my next Triple A prey – Bloodborne. Until then, Go Big, or Go Extinct.
+Unique PVP concept
+Stunning class system
-Repetitive and limited game modes
-Class Preference System doesn't help
-Highly unbalanced matches
-A sorry Evacuation Mode