Hands-On Preview: Evolve Singleplayer – Squad of Me
Last week I was able to check out how Evolve’s singleplayer held up while playing the new mode, Evacuation, in a private preview session hosted by 2K Games in NYC. After coming off the open beta I was curious to see whether or not Evolve would still be fun once you eliminate the human element from your team.
The Evolve Beta that ran Evacuation a while back gave me all the preparation I needed as far as what to expect from a match-to-match standpoint. I was more curious to see how the teammate AI would perform with a giant squid monster shooting lightning at us.
Evacuation takes place over the course of five days, where each day is a match on a different map. Monsters and Hunters will have their objectives to complete in every stage depending on what mode is selected. The winner of each map gets a bonus for the following stage in the form of weapon buffs or environmental support.
Hunter victories usually increase your survivablity against the monster. One bonus (and possibly the coolest) was an orbital laser that periodically zaps the Monster. Monster wins lead to more unique bonuses.
There’s an impressive amount of stage variations that makes each time you play Evacuation feel different. For instance, if a monster destroys the Dam to win a match the next stage is flooded with weird snake creatures that would attack the hunters whenever they came near water.
The first thing you’ll notice when playing alone is that you have complete control in squad customization — you can even choose which monster to go against in every map. You can do this in any mode outside of Evacuation, which is also great if you want to practice against certain monsters on your own.
Just note that if you’re doing really well (or really awful) at any given moment the game will give the weaker side a handicap for the next stage. Much like the online, this keeps one side from overly dominating for the entirely of five games. I would guess this is to prevent people from giving up on Day three or four if they are doing poorly.
If you’re feeling more destructive you could also play the Monster against a squad of AI controlled Hunters which makes for good practice for your nightmare creature skills.
Modes like Hunt that requires you and your AI Hunters to track down the Monster take a bit longer than usual since you’re the only one looking for the giant beast as opposed to four real people looking.
When you finally engage the Monster, switching between characters can be a bit jarring, especially when the beast is trapped in an mobile arena and literally tossing Hunters all over the place.
There were number of times where I had switched to an Assault character in the middle of being carried off by a Wraith. The Support and Medic classes did a decent job of provide shields and healing bursts, however.
Rescue has you reviving and escorting fallen soldiers to an extraction zone before the Monster eats them. Nest is where the Hunter team has to destroy eggs and the Monster actually gets to hatch them and unleash baby Goliaths on the Hunters. This where being able to issue squad orders would have been great.
Eggs and survivors are sprinkled through out the level and I would have love to have been able to split my squad and tell which objectives to go after and in what order. So if half your squad encounters a monster then they are pretty much screwed.
The mode where I felt everything came together was Defend, where you have to defend a series of generators from the Monster and its minions as a spaceship loaded with survivors is trying to refuel. I lost the match prior so I had to deal with a horde of Goliath minions each with upgraded armor. My squad composition focused more on characters who could set traps and who could deal big damage.
During a Monster encountered I was surprised to see how well the AI companions tended to play their class, considering there was no way to set teammate behavior.
Yeah you could hot swap to any one of your teammates and take control but in the heat of the battle it’s easy to lose track of what’s happening. During the demo my trapper was successful in containing the Monster in a mobile arena almost every time without me needing to take control.
It’s evident that the best way to play Evolve is with friends and against live human opponents. I find that the singleplayer Evacuation really felt like it served as a practice mode for the online.
You can’t issue commands or manage your squad in any meaningful way without changing into that class on the fly. Most of this is perfectly fine since the Monsters tend to have really predictable behavior.
As I mentioned earlier, it’s a good way for players to figure what class and/or Monster you excel at since you have a lot of freedom in customizing the solo experience.
Evolve comes out February 10th on PC, Xbox One and PS4.