Turtle Rock Studios returned with a brand new beta for its 4 vs. 1 multiplayer shooter Evolve. Evolve centers on a group of Hunters, controlled by players, who must enter the wilderness and hunt down a Monster to prepare the planet for colonization. In a way, it’s a throwback to the studio’s Left4Dead days when teams had to band together to combat the overwhelming Tank.
The twist in Evolve – and you knew one was coming – is that the Tank here is controlled by another player. By consuming other animals in the wilderness, the Monster can become stronger and eventually evolve into more combat-hardy forms. Different buffs can be obtained in the wild such as reducing melee attack speed, cool-down of certain abilities, the amount of fuel consumed with each boost and more.
"Perhaps the biggest thing to take away from the beta is Evacuation mode which puts a campaign spin on things. No, you won't be getting barebones voice-overs and story sequences like Titanfall."
However, Evolve’s main motif is distilled down into a primitive game of survival. As the Hunters, coordination and deadly precision will be the key to winning the fight but you’ll need to quickly track down the beast and dispose of it before it evolves. As the Monster, you can choose to hide and stalk your prey, taking your shots while retreating and becoming stronger. You can also choose to attack the Hunters full force, which can either end well if they’re unprepared and less skilled or collapse into chaos if you’re underpowered.
Evolve’s dynamism shines despite the rigid goals, match types and skill sets you can play with. Yes, you have three different Monsters and 12 Hunters across 4 classes – Assault, Trapper, Medic and Support – but you’re never limited in where you can go, how long you can drag out a hunt or how you want to play.
The open beta offered a chance to play as a new Monster this time around with the Wraith. This only further plays upon the style of sneaking and quickly striking before running away. The Wraith’s play style is very much serial killer-esque in a number of ways – it can even kidnap a member of your team and whisk them away to Oz if you’re not careful. A minor quibble could be its slightly overpowered attacks at close range combat but this will likely be balanced out before launch. It still doesn’t hold a candle to the Goliath when it comes to bare-knuckle brawling and assault.
Perhaps the biggest thing to take away from the beta is Evacuation mode which puts a campaign spin on things. No, you won’t be getting barebones voice-overs and story sequences like Titanfall. Instead, Evacuation is composed of five different stages of varying match types. You can either go on a Hunt to kill the Monster before it destroys a map’s power relays (though it needs to be at level 3 to do so), attempt to save a number of colonists on a map in Rescue before the Monster kills them or destroy eggs in Hunt which the Monster can hatch to spawn minions. Eventually, the end match will have you defending a refueling station from a Monster and its minions who must destroy the attached ship.
"That being said, the core mechanics are awesome and addictive. Turtle Rock Studios has significantly improved the matchmaking and connectivity aspects of the beta, resulting in less one-sided matches and more successful lobbies compared to the Big Alpha."
Each success in Evacuation mode gives some advantage to the winning side. The best example is for the Hunters who gain AI turrents to assist them during later stages against the Monster. Evacuation is fun for players who want to sink their teeth into something meaty and fulfilling while retaining a sense of randomness. You can even play with a team of bots if there aren’t any teammates available. It’s less fun but then that’s a given for Left4Dead as well.
Overall, the beta highlights what could ultimately divide players. Like Titanfall, one could get bogged down by the overall repetitive nature of it all. There’s no extensive PvE to take advantage of a la Destiny but in terms of depth, it provides much more variety (perhaps even more so than Titanfall). The amount of skills and the utterly unpredictable nature of fights mean something new each time but rabid players may find themselves wanting new content fairly quickly when Evolve finally launches.
That being said, the core mechanics are awesome and addictive. Turtle Rock Studios has significantly improved the matchmaking and connectivity aspects of the beta, resulting in less one-sided matches and more successful lobbies compared to the Big Alpha.
Evolve is a multiplayer game that will ultimately survive based on the enthusiasm of both its community and the developer. It may even inspire you to give multiplayer shooters a try if you haven’t before. Regardless, based on the beta alone, Turtle Rock is on the right track and we can’t wait to see how the final release pans out.
This game was previewed on Xbox One.