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Evolve Preview

by Diogo Miguel February 13, 2014

Evolve is the latest multi-player focused video-game from Turtle Rock Studios, the creative minds behind the successful Left 4 Dead.

Imagine what it’s like to get dropped in the middle of a jungle where a deadly predator is waiting for its next kill. No it’s not a video-game adaptation of Predator with four Arnie clones. It’s an idea that has been toyed with in many other video-games, but what stands out in Evolve is that the monster is in fact controlled by a human player.

Taking on this mighty beast is a crack team of four other human players who get to pick a class from one of the hunters available(only 1 class type per session). Interestingly enough, each role is not only unique but is also limited to a range of abilities typically associated with that role.

The medic class is the only one that can heal other players. The character Val is able to heal by means of a Medgun that focuses healing on one character or a Healing Burst that heals everyone within a small radius. It’s literally impossible for players taking on other roles to heal. A bold move that manages to make the Medic role more effective.

In fact, the medic role is not so simple and it’s actually quite tricky to keep everyone alive. This is due to the fact that this character also has a tranquilliser gun to slow down the monster and a rifle that pierces the monster’s tough skin to reveal weak points. Such a dynamic role requires careful planning to ensure that allies are healed whilst also attempting to help weaken the beast.

It’s safe to say that the Medic role ended up being the more interesting and perhaps also most satisfying to attempt to master.

One of the roles that most players will feel they can relate to the most is the Assault class. This hunter is the one that is packing serious fire power. Attempting to take down the monster without his aid would most likely result in failure. Markov has a short range Lightning Gun and a long range Assault Rifle. Given his front line role, it’s also natural for this character to have a personal shield to make him temporarily invincible and some mines.

As far as classes go, this is the one that demands the player to become exposed to the monster for the longest. Being in the front lines isn’t always pleasant seeing as other characters don’t usually manage to deal as much damage. The necessity to keep close to the monster means that only players who can function under pressure – whilst keeping the Assault hunter alive – can successfully take on this role.

Fortunately Hank the Support hunter is a valuable team member that more than often ends up rescuing others from the monster’s attacks. This character’s main ability is to shield one team member at a time from any damage. There’s also a cloaking ability that makes him and team members nearby invisible, but it didn’t work so well in practise during the play session.

Funnily enough this character’s best ability comes in the form of the Orbital Barrage – a deadly air strike that deals massive amounts of damage. Being able to successfully use this attack on the monster is almost impossible without the aid of other hunters.

Hank more than earned the right of being considered as a diverse character given his ability to function as both a support and offensive role. Funnily enough it’s very likely that this is only possible with the help of the Trapper.

Griffin the Trapper’s speciality is to get the monster within a closed area so the others can succeed in defeating it. He has a Mobile Arena bubble shield( effect is temporary) that will trap the monster and a Harpoon Gun that can stop the monster from running away. He is also responsible for dropping sound pins that help with tracking down the monster.

It’s a bit of a strange role given how little it has to do with facing the monster directly. Yet that is also what makes Evolve such an endearing experience. Being part of the team isn’t about who can deal the most damage. Each of the hunters has very unique abilities and the best way to bring out the best qualities of each role is to work as a team. After all, if the Oblivion film(the one with Tom Cruise) taught us anything is that working as an effective team is the only way to ensure survival.

This is easily seen when one of the hunters is incapacitated by the monster. It’s possible to revive a downed Hunter at the cost of leaving the other Hunter vulnerable to attacks.

But doing so will result in not losing any of the unique abilities that are necessary to win. Incapacitated Hunters come back after 2 minutes, but their abilities are sorely missed. Lose the Medic to the monster or an aggressive animal( like the pesky crocodile) and it will mean not having any healing abilities.

It’s essential to work as a team and ensure that everyone is kept alive to make the most of their individual skills. This means that chatting with others and attempting to create tactics on the fly works really well.

Facing the brave four Hunters is the monster which is actually called the Goliath. An apt name for a giant beast that gets stronger if given the chance. There are three phases to the Goliath and each comes with a new power(starts off with two picked by the player).

The main goal here is to defeat the four hunters at the same time. It’s also possible to win by destroying a generator when reaching the third phase. It may feel daunting to play as the Goliath given the number of enemies it is facing. But this is a monster that gets stronger with every phase. Eating defeated animals and even incapacitated Hunters results in filling up a shield bar. It also fills up the evolution bar with the end result being the Goliath transforming into the next phase.

It’s an interesting idea given that the Goliath must juggle fighting the Hunters and attempting to evolve. Obviously the Goliath is a powerful adversary, but the combined force of the four Hunters is just as impressive. It’s satisfying to play as this creature and crush the Hunters by making use of powerful abilities such as breathing fire and throwing large boulders

When the Goliath reaches the third phase it means the Hunters automatically win if there is no conflict between both forces within a certain amount of time. A fantastic move that will surely make it possible to avoid those dreadful campers that tend to spoil online gaming.

What is safe to say is that it’s just as satisfying to play as the powerful beast as it is to become a hunter. The arena mechanics mean that both sides have valid reasons for trying to eliminate each other as soon as possible. The hunters want to defeat(or at the very least significantly wear down its health early on) the beast before it becomes far too powerful to take on. It’s then in the Goliath’s best interest to evolve quickly or perhaps even start picking out one class and possibly take out a weakened team.

Deep down it’s genuinely refreshing to worry more about working together than the usual limitations like ammo. Only true limitations comes from some powers that have a brief cool down period to ensure that they are used efficiently. The Forest Ruin map also showed that it’s designed with the character abilities in mind( Goliath can climb just about anywhere and Hunters have a jetpack). It’s very exciting to start imagining how other hunters, monsters, modes and even different maps will affect the way that Evolve is played.

If anything Evolve has so far proved capable of being of the first titles that is truly an experience worth getting a PlayStation 4 or Xbox one system. An impressive new direction for online gaming that should hopefully continue to impress as more modes are revealed.

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