Hands-On Preview: Playing as a Hunter in Evolve

on April 16, 2014 11:00 AM

To say that Evolve was the biggest game of this year’s PAX East is an understatement. It easily had the biggest presence on the show floor with a gargantuan Goliath monster statue. This was also the game that pretty much everyone spoke about. Whether it was those who played it or those who wanted to play it, Evolve was generating a buzz everywhere at the show.

If you know me then you know I’m not really into multiplayer only games. I need games with a narrative thrust to keep me engaged. Running around and killing other people for points never made much sense to me. Although Evolve looked different than the standard First Person Shooter shooter it still didn’t exactly come into my radar.

Early during our planning stages for PAX East, my fellow staff writer Jorge told me that he would play the game and write about it. After doing so,  he insisted that I play it myself but to do so as a human since he played as a monster. This sounded fine to me as it meant we could cover the game from multiple angles. I was still iffy about this thing but for the good of the site I decided to wait on the line (which was pretty long despite me having a shiny press badge) and try it out.

Let me tell you now that I’m glad I listened to Jorge because this game was fun as hell. Let me highlight that: Tony, a guy who doesn’t like multiplayer games, had a blast playing Evolve. What I’m going to do now is give you my experience of playing as a human while leaving out the finer details since Jorge already went into them in his preview.

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After watching an introductory video that talked about the monster and the four different player types, we were lead to another line where we were assigned roles. I chose to play as a  “Trapper” because that seemed like the most fun out of the four classes. I’m not great at first person shooting but at the same time, I didn’t want to be relegated to Medic or Support. I’m good at finding things in games and I like to live dangerously so I felt that the Trapper role was suited for me.

We chose our perks (I picked extra health) and then were dropped into a thick jungle with the task of finding and killing the Goliath monster who itself was controlled by another player. My team had a coach who lead us through the basics of the game. He emphasized that we needed to stick together and coordinate. There is no room to be John Rambo in this game. For the humans, it is essential to stay close and help each other out.

As soon as we landed we started tracking the Goliath’s footprints. Along the way, I placed sensory mines every 100 feet or so. I did this so that if the monster tried to sneak up on us we’d know it. If we found our prey it would be my job to throw a force field which would enclose it in one spot to keep the fight localized. I also had access to a harpoon to further limit its movements and a handy assault rifle so I could damage it as well.

We searched the jungle, using our jet boosters to get over obstacles. As we continued we were notified that a group of birds were startled. This could have been the Goliath so we all went in the direction of the disturbance. We found a big monster alright but it wasn’t our prey. The jungle is filled with NPC monsters that come in all shapes and sizes. These are what the Goliath feeds on to evolve but they are their own creatures and will attack you if they feel threatened or want to eat you. The monster we found was Goliath-esque but it wasn’t what we were searching for. We took it down fast and continued along our merry way.

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During this part is when I noticed how smooth and precise the controls were. The shooting mechanics were tight and responsive. It was also easy to switch between different weapon types by pressing the directional, face and shoulder buttons. Movement was silky smooth as well and despite the fact that this was a first person game, platforming never felt awkward. I had a lot of fun using the jetpack which would take me up pretty high. The controls quickly became second nature.

As we ventured forth, one of the sensory mines I placed down went off. Was this our prey? We all quickly did an about face and headed to the direction of the disturbance which was clearly visible on the HUD. It didn’t take long until we found the Goliath eating a creature. It actually took us a long time to find him which gave him ample time to evolve into (I believe) the third stage. Whether he was second or third, he already had armor and a slew of abilities at his disposal.

I threw a shield around the area and the fight began in earnest. We mostly kept our distance and shot at the monster from afar. He kept pushing forward and would get into a one on one fight with whoever he was closest to. I would either super leap out of the way or jump into an opening in the ground if there was one. We pressed the attack and eventually tore down its armor. I cannot speak for my fellow players but I got cocky and figured that this fight was all but over.

Boy was I wrong.

Perhaps knowing that he was in danger, the player who was controlling the Goliath changed his tactics and went directly after our Medic. The player controlling the monster had a coach sitting next to him so it’s possible that they told him to do this. We did our best to keep the Goliath off the Medic and tried to help her when we could but the Goliath would not let us revive her and she eventually died. After the medic’s death the match was pretty much done for the rest of us.

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The Goliath then took out the Assault class which left me and Support to try to stay alive long enough for our teammates to be revived. It was a (long) two minute wait but in that time I stupidly got myself killed when I tried to be slick and pretend that I was the Assault class. After I died the Goliath ran over to a generator, quickly destroyed it, and the match was over.

I think it’s safe to say that we lost the match because we weren’t well coordinated. This speaks to how important it is to communicate with your teammates in this game. I’m confident that had we talked more and really watched each other’s backs that we would have been victorious. While it may sound like I’m complaining, I assure you that it’s the opposite. I praise the fact that this game will punish you for going solo or not sticking by your team.

What I enjoyed most about what I played is that it is a slow and methodical shooter. It isn’t for twitch players or those who want to compete. This game practically demands that you be deliberate in your actions. This counts for the Goliath as well since it needs to eat to evolve and is actually vulnerable when it is trying to do so. The slower pace is something I found refreshing and I love that I was encouraged to use my brain.

Yes, once the battle starts it becomes frantic but in the moments leading up to the confrontation(s) it is important to be methodical about your actions.

Evolve was the talk of PAX East and I have first hand knowledge as to why. While I can’t speak about the game’s longevity, I can say that what I played was very enjoyable. It takes a special kind of first person shooting game, let alone an online only one, to get my attention but this game certainly has. Evolve is definitely a game too keep an an eye out for when it’s released this fall.

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Tony has been a gamer ever since he came to the United States from the Dominican Republic when he was a kid. He's been a geek since he could draw his first breath and will be one until he draws his last. In addition to video games, Tony loves Comic Books, Anime, Science Fiction and Fantasy. If it's geeky then Tony is most likely into it.