Evolve Preview - E3 2014
Going on a monster hunt
Evolve is Turtle Rock Studios' (makers of Left 4 Dead) latest multiplayer, asynchronous FPS pitting four hunters against a single evolving player-controlled monster, and we had the chance to tackle both sides of the game during some hands-on multiplayer monster hunting at E3.
As hunters, we entered an area named "The Dam" and, after some brief banter in our dropship, plunged into the valley below. The Dam area was a jungle environment speckled with murky caves concealing alien monsters wanting to rip or faces off, and scaling cliffs of jagged rock we needed to surmount.
Your mission as a hunter is to track the monster before it has chance to evolve to a "stage 3," fully realizing its destructive capabilities and destroying a generator (or your team) as a means to claim victory. To give the monster an advantage, it is allowed a brief period before the hunters set out, to feed off the land's creatures and power up.
There are several classes of hunters available that have their roots in basic multiplayer classes most of us will be familiar with. When the game is released, there'll be 12 unique hunters (three per class), three monsters, more than a dozen maps and multiple game modes. And with either monster or hunter, you'll have the chance to choose different class abilities such as improved damage output or resistance that give you a slight advantage in the game.
We played as the "Trapper," whose job it was to track and trap the monster. You serve as the guiding light for your team, helping them find their way across the treacherous landscape with the help of your pet "Daisy the Trapjaw," who guides you via luminescent monster tracks on the ground.
The other roles we played with was Hyde (Assault), Lazarus (Medic), and Bucket (Support). These units function how you might expect. Assault is your main damage dealer and tank with personal armoury of a Minigun, Flamethrower, Toxic Grenades, and a class ability of Personal Shield, which decreases the damage received. Lazarus is there to heal the others and attack from range with his sniper rifle. He's able to heal the players with the "Lazarus Device," and has a personal cloaking shield to deter other enemies from attacking him. The final member of our team in the demo was Bucket, a mechanoid support unit with a guided missile launcher, deployable sentry guns useful for drawing and dealing damage, as well as a UAV that can search the land for the monster who has a habit of hiding when things get tough.
To help manoeuvre around the vertically challenged landscape, you have a jetpack that allows you to easily scale cliffs or boost your way out of danger. This proves invaluable when facing off against the arena's many bloodthirsty inhabitants, because dealing with minions works against your mission to find the monster; it's all about tracking the Kraken down as swiftly as possible before it can power up.
When you actually encounter the creature, it's the Trapper's job to stop it getting away, and there are a couple of options at your disposal. First and most importantly is the Mobile Arena, a device that projects a digital, wireframe hemisphere that contains the creature so it can't flee. When you've got it trapped, it is then down to you to use your Harpoon weapon. Firing a couple of these into the ground will ensnare the monster and keep it relatively stationary so you and your other units can deal significant damage.
What we learned from the demo, as with most multiplayer games, is that Evolved is all about good communication. The first game we played with one team was a real close call, but we all stuck to our designated roles and worked as a single unit, emerging victorious despite the monster reaching level 3. The Trapper did the guiding while the others stayed close; Assault did his thing and laid on the damage, distracting the monster; Support was there to search the monster out and draw its attack, allowing the Medic to swoop in to heal and revive.
Our second game, however, didn't go so well. As a Trapper, we soldiered on forward, doggedly tracking the monster with Daisy leading the way, but the other members of our squad went on a walkabout. Some got bombarded by the arena's AI enemies and got caught in traps, others got stuck trying to scale ridges, while another just plain lost their sense of direction. Communication was lacking and we paid for it, dying in less than five minutes of playtime. To get enjoyment and satisfaction out of Evolved you must work together, play your roles, and communicate.
The monster, on the other hand, may have a significantly easier time in some respects. As mentioned, you get a little time at the beginning to grind and power up, feeding off the land. You need to keep this up even when the hunters are on their way, and ensure you keep moving until you're strong enough to engage head-on them. If you are slow to level up and don’t move through the level quickly enough to keep your distance, you’ll be tracked down and eliminated by a half competent team rather quickly.
However, when they do come knocking on your monster door looking for a fight, you have a few tricks of your own. Kraken specifically can hover, making scaling the landscape a breeze, and this helps immensely when evading. If they can't see you, you're safe, and the staccato, vertical landscape works in your favour. You also have melee attacks at your tentacle fingers, as well as a Vortex attack, which works as a knockback, taking out multiple hunters and allowing you some breathing room. During each level up, you can increase the power of your various abilities to assist in combat and survivability.
To have these battles work to their full potential, we found you need people who are on same page, who know the advantages of the hunters or monster they're controlling to make rounds exciting. As with every multiplayer game, Evolve was at its most thrilling and engaging when both sides were putting up a good fight.
You'll be able to join the hunt on either side in October 2014 on Windows, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One.