After the successful launch of Left 4 Dead way back in October of 2008, the talented team over at Turtle Rock Studios decided to focus on creating a new IP with a more strategic and dynamic multiplayer experience. The end result of this experiment is Evolve, a sci-fi themed asymmetrical multiplayer game that pits four player-controlled hunters against a menacing player-controlled alien monster.
Last month, I participated in an open beta for this title and wrote up a very detailed preview on my experience. Now that I have had a chance to fully explore all that this unique 4v1 shooter has to offer, I would describe Evolve as a compelling concept that suffers greatly by its lack of content. Here are a few more reasons why you should exercise caution if you’re planning on picking up this title.
The basic premise of Evolve revolves around an alien monster invasion that takes place on a distant planet called Shear. Lead commander William Cabot is one of 12 elite hunters who have been handpicked to take down the creatures once and for all. These protagonists are split up across four different hunter class types – Assaults, Trappers, Medics, and Supports. Each class starts with one default character and several others can be unlocked based on how well players perform on the battlefield over a period of time. Likewise, there are also 3 different types of monsters that players can gain access to simply by mastering another creature’s skill-set. It’s worth noting that there is a 4th unlockable monster type that was a pre-order bonus for the game and is now $15 dollars for anyone who missed out.
In terms of a narrative structure, Evolve doesn’t really have one. Evacuation Mode, a five-match campaign that takes place over the course of 5 days, attempts to solve this problem by creating a story based on which faction is victorious in each match-up. These matches are taken directly from the game’s four main modes, which include Hunt, Nest, Rescue, and Defend. Brief cut-scenes are also used to show how each victory changes the landscape of the battle for better or for worse. For example: if the hunters are able to save colonists in a rescue match, then those same colonists will fight alongside them in the next mission. Likewise, if the monster succeeds in killing all the colonists before they are rescued, then it instantly gains both a psychological and physical advantage over the humans in the next match-up. Overall, this mode takes roughly 2 hours to complete and can be played cooperatively with friends or by yourself with bots for teammates.
The main reason why I say Evolve doesn’t have a proper storyline is because of how the confrontation between humans and monsters takes center stage over everything else. Turtle Rock Studios has done a fabulous job at creating cool and interesting characters that have a bit of personality to them, but none of which are ever really explored to the fullest. The game essentially becomes about grinding on the battlefield to unlock perks, master character abilities, and eventually unlock new hunters and monster types along the way. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing depending upon what type of game you’re intent on playing, but it does give you enough insight as to whether or not this title is worth both your time and money.
When it comes to graphics, Evolve is definitely a beautifully designed game from start to finish. Character designs are top notch and coincide perfectly with all four of the maps that are currently available in the game. In addition to all of this, the brutality of combat also shines due to the balanced gameplay system that the developers have implemented throughout. There are of course some exceptions to this rule as monsters have the ability to evolve a lot quicker if your team doesn’t track them down in time. Despite this fact though, the challenges of working together definitely can be rewarding and especially so if you share the same skill level with the players on your team.
On the negative side of things, the one aspect about Evolve that significantly hurts it most is the overall lack of content. As I mentioned above, the Evacuation campaign is extremely short and the entire game only offers players four multiplayer modes and maps to choose from right now. While the developers fully intend to add new maps, modes, hunters, and monsters through both paid and free DLC packages in the future, literally everything else about this product screams unfinished to me. Many will compare this game to Titanfall in the sense that it will have a low replay value and is currently destined to hit bargain bins everywhere sooner rather than later. Of course, Turtle Rock Studios have the ability to change this, but they definitely aren’t doing themselves any favors by launching a bare bones product and charging the consumers so much for DLC content that should already be in the game.
With all that said, if you’re a diehard fan of multiplayer-only games then you absolutely should check out Evolve. While the game lacks enough content to keep you busy for a while, the core concept of the IP remains both interesting and fun to play. Your best bet would be to wait until the price drops as I wouldn’t recommend buying this game at full price. My only other advice from here on out would be for you to either play with friends or likeminded strategic players. Then, and only then will you truly get the most out of the overall experience.
This review was based on a digital review copy of Evolve for the Xbox One provided by 2K Games.