Counter-Strike and Left 4 Dead are two of the most beloved online multiplayer titles ever to exist. They offer a variety of options and give players the chance to experience a changes in gameplay as they progress. With L4D specifically, you are given the chance to take on the role of something far more complex than just an opposing side with a slightly different outfit. Choosing between human survivors and a variety of undead changed the way we viewed multiplayer, and since its release in 2008 and the sequel in 2009, the games still hold strong with millions of players to date. Even Counter-Strike, a game that has been around for more than a decade still maintains a respect in the multiplayer gaming genre that most games will never see.
Considering the above, and the thought that game developers have not found new and unique ways to innovate gaming in years, I am happy to say that these statements just are not true. Turtle Rock Studios has done something incredible with Evolve, and it feels like a title that will last for years to come.
By now you have likely familiarized yourself with Evolve to the point of either owning it yourself having played countless hours though the night of launch, or you are one of those on the fence about what they have seen or read online. Fair enough. But rest assured if you do not already own Evolve, you are missing out on some really good game time and incredible online competition.
Goliath woke up on the wrong side of angry this morning. Little is known about this Monster because scientists studying the beast wind up getting torn in half. Proving just how unfair natural selection can be, Goliath can not only punch through the hull of a starship, it can also breathe fire. – EvolveGame.com
“Goliath is a massive powerhouse… you can absolutely feel the power at your disposal“
Evolve starts out with a simple enough tutorial on how to play as Goliath, the first available monster (the rest are unlocked after you have leveled up Goliath). You are instructed through a large playable area that teaches you the basics of climbing, fire-breathing, and hurling massive boulders at your enemies while learning to comb the environment for escape routes and NPC that provide Goliath with energy to transform into Stage 2 and 3. Along the way, the game tailors specifically to that type of monster, and as Goliath is a massive powerhouse with strength to its advantage, you can absolutely feel the power at your disposal, but at the cost of speed and agility (can’t make it too easy).
Once the player has gotten a firm grip on how Goliath moves about, the first part of the tutorial is over. Though once again, the tutorial picks up in a whole new perspective, this time in the form of Markov, the assault powerhouse and damage-dealer of the group.
We all have dreams. Markov’s just happens to be dying in glorious battle. This explains his desire to go toe-to-toe with giant Monsters. But his deadly arsenal consisting of a Lightning Gun, Arc Mines, and an impenetrable Personal Shield means that dream may never come true – and that’s just fine with his fellow Hunters. – EvolveGame.com
Playing as Markov quickly made me realize that this game is a lot up front but a lot more beneath the surface. And by that I mean that depending on which side you play as, the game feels like a two-in-one. The third person perspective as goliath was unique and unlike anything I have played before. Scaling walls, leaping great distances, torching the living with my fire breath, never have I felt something so strong and destructive quite like this before. But then, you are placed into a semi-familiar first person perspective where you are given a whole new arsenal of weapons whereas your objective changes to working with a team in order to take down the monster you have grown so quickly to understand. Sort of poetic if you ask me, but the emotion was lost the moment Goliath bitch-slapped Markov halfway across the map into a wall.
The Hunters vary in playing style, though all have their typical assets like jetpacks (which are surprisingly easy and fun to maneuver), and guns to match their play style. For example: Val is your first available Medic to play as, and as such, she has to stay back so she doesn’t get herself killed. If this happens, she can’t heal the other players (though players can be revived much like those in L4D). Because of her field duties, she is given a sniper rifle to deal damage from a distance, only to come close in the battle to heal, then quickly retreat.
The Trapper role at first seemed to me to be a bit more boring, but that changed when I realized how much of a pain in the ass this role was, when it provided me the most trouble in confrontation while playing as the monster. I found myself incapable of escape due to energy fields surrounding my every direction forcing me into a confrontation, not to mention all the grappling harpoons that locked me in place or slowed me down while I had no means for a quick getaway.
“Up close and personal seems to be a way to appreciate the quality of the textures, though the overhead third person view as a monster definitely makes you appreciate the environment more…“
Support was also a good time, as it has the ability to make nearby allies invisible, though their versatile tools and weapons make them a well-rounded mixture of nearly all Hunter play types but do not seem to be among the bigger threats to the monster when running into the four on one scenario.
The graphics for the PS4 version of Evolve are simply incredible, though you can certainly notice an improvement when playing as a first person character on the Hunter side. Up close and personal seems to be a way to appreciate the quality of the textures, though the overhead third person view as a monster definitely makes you appreciate the environment more especially since your survival and chances of winning depend on it.
Sound adds a particularly fun aspect to the game, especially when we got to play as Goliath. As a giant monster crushing the rocks under his feet and knocking down nearby structures with his bulbous two story body, any noise you make has the possibility of revealing your location. From squawking birds that feed off the carcasses of animals you kill for energy, to knocking down rooftops or constructs of the remains of civilization, to all the dead bodies you leave behind in your wake of rampage, its a great addition for a challenge and a frustrating piece for those that want to stay hidden. Though not much in the way of music, which isn’t really a disappointment on any level that would bother me.
The controls are a little different as a Hunter, but the mechanics are roughly the same. L2 to aim, R2 to fire, etc. The real challenge is how to maneuver as a monster and getting the hang of using their abilities and skills as each one is good one at a time, and will go out of commission for a short period so as to recharge. Use them all too quickly, and you have nothing but the R2 melee attack to defend yourself. Given the aforementioned, I will say that there were times where Goliath felt a tad too sluggish and my constant button mashing felt anything less than elegant. Though I suppose this is necessary to provide players an understanding of what type of character you put yourself in the perspective of.
Everything I have to say about Evolve is positive, though with Turtle Rock Studios I have one slight complaint: DLC. Well, let me be clear; not so much that DLC is a thing, but their plan on making nearly all DLC available at cost. And even then, most DLC should be paid for given the man hours and development that went into creating said DLC, but it just seemed to me like there was a lot of content left out of the game on purpose. Let me explain.
There are 24 character skins available for download at $1.99 a piece, with 9 more at $2.99. Buying them one at a time will cost $74.67 (yay, math!). But if you play on buying the bundle packs, you can get all items for $60.89. Not much in the way of savings there. Of course, this does not include Evolve’s DLC Season Pass, which costs an extra $24.99 if you didn’t pick it up at the time of purchasing Evolve, where as the price for the Season Pass dropped to a staggering $19.99. Not a bad deal considering it throws in three Season Pass Exclusive skins and four new Hunters (yet to be released).
Honestly, my gripes about this DLC plan are nothing more than thinking, “huh, well thats unfortunate but okay.” While others online have shared their deep displeasure with Turtle Rock Studios, last month Turtle Rock co-founder Phil Robb commented that the DLC content provides “options, nothing more.” Turtle Rock has stated it will release all future DLC maps and game modes for free to prevent dividing their gaming community.
I suppose that its great the maps and modes are free, as most game developers would charge quite a bit for such things, while others release free lackluster content simply because of missteps and poor execution to games being released with countless bugs. *ahem* Halo: TMCC Matchmaking, *ahem* Assassin’s Creed Unity, *ahem* Far Cry 4, *ahem*. Then again, options are options and in the case of Turtle Rock Studios and Evolve, you don’t necessarily need to pay anything more beyond the game itself to complete Evolve in its entirety (at least for now). Options are great, paying for it maybe isn’t for some, but quality is important and sometimes you get what you pay for.
With all that I have read prior to owning the game myself, I must say I was not surprised that the game lived up to the hype, but instead I found myself far more surprised at how well Turtle Rock continues to deliver in a constantly growing and ever-changing multiplayer world. PvP is a lot of fun and can be a great way to compete with friends while kicking back, or simply to entertain yourself solo. The difference in play styles and strategies of a multiplayer game certainly do add to the fun and how long you keep and play the game yourself, though with Evolve, the multiplayer genre just got a whole lot more interesting.
Developed by Turtle Rock Studios, and Published by 2K, Evolve is available now for PS4, Xbox One, and PC.