Evolve review

I’ll admit to being sceptical about Evolve when it was first announced. The concept of 4 vs 1 just didn’t appeal to me, I mean, how could that be fun! I therefore gave the Alpha a miss but when it came to the beta, curiosity got the better of me and I just had to give it a try. I ended up enjoying it more than I expected although I couldn’t quite put my finger as to why.

When I got my hands on the game at the launch event in London, I began to see how the game could prove popular… teamwork. The teams of people around me were having a great time and the atmosphere was electric, I mentioned I could see this proving popular as an e-sport and I stand by it.

For those who aren’t in the know, Evolve is a 4 vs 1 first person shooter where a team of Hunters take on a Monster player. There are four classes of Hunter and three types of Monster that can you can play as. There are various game modes that you can tackle including a single player campaign although if you can find the right mix of people to play you’ll have a great time with the multiplayer, which is certainly the whole point of Evolve.

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When you first start the game you’ll play two tutorials, one as a Hunter and one as the Monster, it’s a good way to get used to what to do in the game as well as getting familiarised with the controls. You can go back and play the tutorial at any time to try to beat the target times. From there you’ll get to choose your preference of class, don’t worry too much about your first choice because you can change your choices whenever you feel like it.

What are the classes you ask? Well there is assault, medic, trapper and support. There are three characters in each class that need to be unlocked, each has a different loadout for you to explore. The assault class is the one that gets in the thick of the action, the first character you play as; Markov can wade in with a protective shield, use his lightning gun to cause as much damage to the Monster before retreating until his shields have recharged. At the same time the support can use rocket launchers, rail guns and even air strikes to do some serious damage while giving valuable shield support to help protect against the Monster’s vicious attacks.

If you decide to play as a trapper you’ll need to keep up with the action, when the Monster is spotted you’ll be able to release a mobile arena that will trap it within an area, allowing your team to focus an attack. At the same time you can set harpoon traps, stasis grenades and use a tranquilliser gun to slow the Monster down. That leaves the medic who as you can imagine plays just as vital a role to the team. Without healing your team will struggle to survive and the medic can  also dish out acceleration boosts and use a Lazarus device to bring back fallen comrades.

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Naturally you’ll align yourself with a class you feel comfortable with but it’s worth playing through all of them to see how they differ. I started off favouring the support role, but as time went on I found I was better suited as a medic, possibly because I was better at being as far away from the Monster as possible! It’s so important to play as team though, otherwise you’ll be dominated by the Monster. I’ve spent some time playing alone with other players rather than friends and thankfully the majority of the time we managed to gel as a team.

Making good use of jetpacks is crucial for getting out of harms way, as is timing of the respawns. In some matches you may be the only player left, but a dropship may only be seconds away from restoring your team to full strength, avoiding the monster for those crucial seconds can mean victory or defeat.

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I’ve spent all this time talking about the Hunters that I’m starting feel sorry for the Monster. There are three types – the Goliath, the Kraken or the Wraith. Much like the Hunters you need to learn how each plays before you start to reign over you opponents. You start with the Goliath, despite its size it’s quick and very strong, The Kraken however plays completely differently – you’ll spend more time in the air co-ordinating lightning strikes than taking swipes out of the Hunters. I liked playing as the Wraith most – it also happens to be the only Monster class that feels slightly overpowered. The Wraith is particularly stealthy and almost impossible to find when you are a hunter.

At the start of each game, the Monster has some time to hunt down local wildlife, which when eaten bolsters armour and helps to bring about the next “evolution”. As the Monster evolves more skills are available – you can choose from four different skills/attacks. There are three evolutions to each Monster, with each stage awarding three points, which are invested into any of the skills/attacks – the Hunters really don’t want a level three Monster if it can be avoided.

The character progression is really well-balanced, for the Hunters you are forced to use each of the weapons to level up, some may find this frustrating but I see it as good practice. Experience points are earned over the course of each match and reward you with perks, from increasing your weapon damage to faster jetpack recharging. It’s definitely one of the better player progression systems I’ve experimented with.

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The game modes are all rather good fun too – Hunt is the classic who can kill who first. Nest sees six eggs planted around the level that the hunters need to destroy before the Monster kills you or worse, hatches an egg – it’s a great mode but the hatched minions are relentless and are rather overpowered – over the past week I’ve started to vote against playing Nest. Rescue involves… well rescuing survivors that are dotted around each map – once rescued, they need to be escorted to a dropship before they are killed.

All the modes can be played individually or as part of a five day evacuation mode, you get to vote for which mode you want to play in between each of the days before defending a refuelling dropship on the final day. What’s great about this mode is that each day can be different based on what level you play and who the winner is, for example not defending a power plant could leave gas clouds around the next level that could effect the Hunters, the game tells you there are 800,000 different connotations, but I’m not about to start counting!

Evolve is quite the Marmite game, personally I love it but I know many people who really don’t. It looks amazing, the level designs are superb, although you could argue that there isn’t enough colour in the game’s level palette. The sound design is awesome and I highly recommend you have a surround sound headset to get the most from it. Some of the modes need tweaking slightly as do some of the weapon power – I’m looking at you Rich – that Rail gun is devastating in the right hands.

If you have a team of friends that play together regularly then I recommend that you definitely add this game to your collection because the thrill of the chase is so much fun!

Thanks to Xbox for providing TiX with a download code

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