Colonization of the planet Shear has turned into a tragedy as vicious mutating beasts start preying on the colonists and ripping their infrastructure apart. It’s up to a team of elite hunters to track down these monstrosities and save the day. This is the premise of Evolve; an immensely enjoyable asymmetrical multiplayer shooter. The thrill of the hunt is exhilarating, but sadly the game stops short of greatness due to a slew of flaws.

Every match and game mode in Evolve pits a four-player team against one player controlled monster. The monster must evade its pursuers while feeding on wildlife in order to evolve into a more powerful form and either destroy the hunter team, or complete its objective. There are three evolutionary stages for each monster. On the first level the monster is vulnerable and is best off using stealth and cunning to avoid being obliterated by the hunters. On level two it grows in size and power and can usually stand its ground against its foes. Level three turns the tables and now it is the hunters that must make use of each team member’s abilities and cooperate to stand a chance against a super powered monster.

Evolve screen1

The Kraken can be a tough nut

 

There are three starting monsters, with additional ones to be available through dlc. You start with the Goliath and as you rank up your monster’s abilities by using them in-game, you will eventually unlock the Kraken and Wraith. Each monster has its own unique abilities, and they all play quite differently. The Goliath is a burly brawler that can breath fire, hurl giant boulders, perform a powerful leap-smash, and charge at full speed towards its prey. The Kraken can take to the skies and gain an aerial advantage on its enemies, blast them with bursts of electricity and kinetic energy, and lay spiked homing mines. The Wraith is the stealthiest of the three, and can wreak havoc by getting the drop on the hunters and use decoys to evade and disorientate.

There is a noticeable lack of balance between the three monster classes, as each seems to be more powerful than the last. Often at times it feels like the Wraith is downright overpowered, as it will take plenty of skill and coordination to bring it down even at the lowest level. They are all a lot of fun to play though, and we can only hope that future updates will fine-tune some of these issues.

Playing as a hunter is a completely different game from playing as the monster. The four classes: assault, medic, support, and trapper must work together and complement each other’s abilities in order to achieve victory. The assault class is the tank in the group that has the greatest potential to deal and absorb damage. The medic obviously heals the other team members, while making use of its other abilities to slow the monster down and reveal weak spots in its armor. Support provides… well, support and buffs the rest of the team, while the trapper specializes in tracking the beast, and deploying a “mobile arena” that traps the monster within a specific area of the map once the monster is found. Each class is equipped with a jetpack that can ascend structures and cliff sides, and perform evasive actions and dashes.

Each class also has three different playable characters (two unlockable for each class) that all have different weapons and equipment. This adds a nice variety as you can switch up your tactics quite a bit while still playing as your preferred class. The four hunters must work together to follow whatever tracks the monster leaves behind such as: footprints and broken trees, frightened wildlife, carrion birds attracted to carcasses, and various other audiovisual clues. The monsters can move a lot faster than hunters too, which means good map knowledge and anticipating your enemy’s movement is key to success.

There are a few different game modes to choose from in Evolve. The main skirmish mode pits the hunters against the monster and the game ends when either the monster or all hunters are down, or if the monster manages to destroy a power relay once it’s reached level three. Other game modes have hunters defending specific locations or rescuing colonists. Then there’s the “Evacuation” online campaign that consists of multiple matches with different maps and objectives, where the winning side earns a bonus and slightly changes a loosely spun dynamic storyline. This offers a nice variety, but it all feels pretty thin considering the scant number of maps available.

Which brings us to some of the many issues that Evolve grapples with. After a couple of hours with the game you’ll have seen most of the maps, and the long time it takes to unlock new characters and monsters seemingly only serves to pad out the meagre content. The loading times are long, and if you’re playing in a party, the matchmaking can take forever. There’s a lot of dead time in between actual game play. There are also a few minor bugs that can really be infuriating in the heat of battle, like the ascend/vault mechanic not working properly, the revive function being unresponsive, and occasional crashes or falling through the map. Since the game is so reliant on tight teamwork for the hunters, you really shouldn’t play as hunters without at least a couple of buddies that you can count on pulling their weight. Playing through a 15-20 minute match only to lose because someone on the team wasn’t playing their role simply feels like a waste of time.

The native wildlife can be dangerous too

The native wildlife can be dangerous too

Despite all these flaws, however, when Evolve works the way it is supposed to it is incredibly fun and satisfying. Matches where both sides are on their A-game provide quite a thrill. It is extremely fulfilling when your team pulls together and takes down a great Wraith player, or on the flipside; successfully conquering a tough bunch of hunters that give you a run for your money. It’s just too bad that, unless you are playing solo as the monster or with a full team of friends, the really superb moments are way too far and few between.

On a more positive note, the presentation is top-notch. The game looks fantastic, and the map design is beautiful both from a game play and visual perspective. The different characters look awesome and their personalities are a lot of fun albeit camp. The monsters and their design are also a pure joy to behold, especially when you get to catch a glimpse of them up close during the victory screen. The sound effects and what little music there is also holds up very well, and when a monster charges right at you; their shrieks and roars can really put the fear in you.

Overall Evolve is very enjoyable when it plays the way it was intended. Proper teamwork as hunters, or skilful evasion and use of force as the monster makes for a great time. The beautiful presentation and all the great ideas going on have us convinced that this is an IP we would like to see more of. Which makes it all the more sad that there are so many issues plaguing the experience, and the fact that the content on offer is fairly thin. We do however definitively recommend Evolve to anyone that is interested in experiencing something new and interesting in the realm of multiplayer shooters. Especially if you have some friends to play with.

Evolve Review
GRAPHICS80%
AUDIO80%
GAMEPLAY70%
STORY65%
PROS
  • Awesome presentation
  • Many interesting ideas
  • Game play is great when it all clicks
CONS
  • Long loading times and matchmaking
  • Scant content
  • Unbalanced and slightly buggy
74%Fight or flight
Reader Rating: (0 Votes)
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About The Author

Ingólfur Ólafsson

Metal head, front-man, natural gamer and editor at Eskimo Press.