E3 2014, Featured, Main, PC, Previews, PS4, Trailers, Xbox One

Hands-On Preview: Evolve – Survival of the Fittest

by on June 14, 2014 7:27 PM 14

In the last generation, Xbox 360 and PS3 introduced online multiplayer on a huge, widespread scale. It was the beginning of an era as titles like Call of Duty and Halo brought online, competitive multiplayer to anyone, and everyone, across the globe to play at the same time in epic, big match-ups.

Another title in particular, Left 4 Dead, came to consoles and PC packing some of the most intense and strategic multiplayer around, but most of all, doing so through collaborative play. Like Battlefield or Team Fortress 2, Left 4 Dead was dependent on teams working together and each character having their own part on the team, and all engaging with one another to reach the end goal of survival.

Flash forward several years later, and now we have Evolve, the latest title from the original Left 4 Dead developers, Turtle Rock Studios. Debuting this fall as a cooperative multiplayer title on Xbox One, PS4, and PC, much of the DNA that made up Left 4 Dead is easily apparent in Evolve, and already it looks to be one of the highlights of the upcoming barrage of releases at the end of the year.

Evolve pits players into two factions for its cooperative, “asynchronous” multiplayer: four players are put into the roles of “the Hunters,” while another takes on the role of “the Monster.” During the demo we played at E3 2014, the Hunters were broken up into four distinct classes with unique abilities and equipment: Assault, Trapper, Medic, and Support. Likewise, the Monster being shown in the demo, the “Kraken,” certainly had a few tricks up its own monstrously long sleeves to hold its own against the four enemy players.

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Starting off with the Hunters, one of Evolve’s biggest strengths shown in the demo is the reliance on having each team member use their varying abilities and equipment collaboratively to take down the Monster. The four Hunter classes each serves a specific role within the team: Assault deals the most damage with its machine gun and flamethrower, the Medic and Support provide health and other bonuses to the group, and the Trapper assists with locating the Monster and keeping the rest of the team on its (ever growing) tracks.

Playing as the Assault class in the demo, my role within the team was to be the damage-dealer: the Assault class’s Flamethrower provides the highest damage in the entire game, but also is limited by short range, a problem fixed by the machine gun with its much longer range but smaller damage spread. Evolve shined when it came to how I used my class’s capabilities with the other team. While the Assault class’s weapons were more focused on short-ranged bursts of damage, using the flamethrower while the Monster was pinned down by one of the Trapper’s abilities/equipment made for a more effective use of our abilities. On the Hunter side, much like Left 4 Dead, the key of the game is to work together and find what combination of players, classes, items, and weapons work best in a given situation.

On the other side of the arena is the Monster, and as the game’s title so heavily implies, the goal for the opposing creature is to “evolve” into a larger, more physically imposing enemy for the Hunter team. With a litter of enemy creatures for the Monster to feed from, the Monster’s goal to progress through three levels of evolution provides a number of options for the Monster’s successful victory – rushing in against the player’s for an ambush as a Level 1 Monster could be a dicey (but effective) move, while slowly gobbling creatures and building up to the ultimate Level 3 evolution makes for a more imposing, carnivorous foe to tackle.

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After running through a mission with a complete team of four players against a Monster (the newly-revealed Kraken), it’s easy to see that Evolve, with its fast-paced struggle between Hunters and Monsters as they both race toward their respective end goals, could be one of the key titles to make this holiday season a big one, especially for the Xbox One and PS4 versions. Although the title may have some of the more demanding play requirements like its predecessor, Left 4 Dead, and the need for a coordinated group of four Hunter players, even just the first round of Evolve already had me wanting to jump right back in, even after the game’s fairly lengthy 30 min – 1 hour average time per match.

Though it may be a more involved experience compared to the swifter Call of Duty or Titanfall, seeing its advances and refinements from its Left 4 Dead origins makes Evolve all the better: it keeps the core, team-focused gameplay of the previous title, but at a slightly faster-paced and goals that make each side race toward the finish line. Even in a swath of other first-person shooters out there, it’s exciting to see that Turtle Rock Studios may just have the next evolution of the FPS on their hands this coming fall.

Evolve releases for PS4, Xbox One, and PC on October 21st, 2014.

Join the Discussion

  • superkarma

    I’m not too sure what to think of this game yet. Before E3, I was completely hyped for it…but after watching the gameplay demo at E3, my hype died a bit. Maybe it was just the people playing, but the gameplay just seemed a bit boring to me. I guess I’ll have to look out for more gameplay in the coming months. I really want to like this game, though.

    • Ryan Meitzler

      I think it’s great so far: it definitely seems (so far) as one of those games, like Left 4 Dead, that asks for a bit more commitment: you’ll need a good group of friends/people to play, and a decent chunk of time.

      That said, I think the gameplay moves a bit faster than L4D, and the back and forth between the Hunters trying to track the Monster as it grows stronger made it tense and interesting: it felt like it could really go either way with the Monster/Hunters winning the match, which kept me interested in it.

  • Orichalon Hades

    really can’t wait for this game, especially after they said there’s gonna be more goliaths added :D

    • Ryan Meitzler

      Me too! I didn’t get to play the previous demo of the game at PAX East, but the Kraken was pretty darn cool

  • Delsin Rowe

    Is there any single player mode ryan?

    • Ryan Meitzler

      As far as I know, there will be a single-player campaign for the game based on what I’ve read on the game: I don’t know though what it will be like, since we only played co-op multiplayer at E3.
      I’m assuming it might be like Left 4 Dead where it will be a similar experience (just with bots instead of players), but obviously we’ll cover it in more detail if we get more info =)

      • Aria68

        This is a bad trend, that developers are slowly ditching the proper SP. The only way i can convince my self is a cheaper price tag for such games.

        • Ryan Meitzler

          i think it just depends on the type of game: obviously something like this (or Titanfall too, for example) is designed for multiplayer-only gameplay in mind. Look at in the reverse as well, when you get titles like Tomb Raider or Batman: Arkham Origins that tried shoe-horning in multiplayer when they are clearly more single player-oriented games.

          It will be interesting to see how multiplayer changes over the next few years with titles like Destiny and The Division coming out, and how the sort of cross between single and multiplayer gaming might change how we look at online gaming.

          That said, what I miss most is local couch co-op, but sadly it’s going extinct each day, other than a few games (like Towerfall) or on Wii U =(

          • Ace TheFlame

            Here I thought I was the only one missing the good ol’ days of couch co-op. Though in those days it was just considered co-op..

      • Delsin Rowe

        Thanks ryan for the answer ;)

  • Ace TheFlame

    From what I’ve seen that need to tone down the medic. Instant healing, stealth, low revive cd, and full health revives is giving way too much power to one person. Every match(except one) had the monster losing. Not because the team of 4 worked so well together, but because the medic was just reviving them non stop. They basically just zerged the monster down.

    The one match the monster won was due to the medic being completely oblivious to everything. He chose to revive the dog and run around aimlessly…

    Other than the medic being absurdly OP, the game looks very fun though. I’ll be keeping my eye on this one.

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  • The Oathbreaker

    I’m interested for more details on the single player campaign, if it’s anything like Left 4 Dead’s I’ll pass as I’m not a multiplayer guy so this won’t hit home for me.

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