Six years ago, Turtle Rock Studios brought us Left 4 Dead, the cooperative zombie shooter that became one of my personal favorite games, and the reason my grades might have suffered some in college. Now theyve brought us to the next stage in cooperative shooters with Evolve, in which you not only play as the hunting party but one lucky player takes on the role of the monster as well.
There are a variety of different classes that the hunters can choose from in the game, including the Medic, the Assault, the support, and the trapper, and there are a number of monsters including the four-armed ape like Goliath as well as the Cthulhu-inspired Kraken.
During the demo that we played I took on the role of Maggie the Trapper, who arms herself with a submachine gun in addition to a rifle that sticks harpoon traps into the ground, just waiting for any unsuspecting monster for wander past. Each of the different classes has their own special ability and the trapper is throwing down a forcefield arena, trapping the monster in a location, preventing it from running and all but securing a combative scenario. The Trapper also has Daisy, her tracking animal which looks like the hounds from Predators but way more friendly.
In the first round we played, we began by following Daisy. It really started to feel like a hunt too as we followed the tracks of the beast and saw a few markers indicating it had recently passed by, specifically an alert that it had disturbed a pack of birds. Then something unexpected and unfortunate happened, the game crashed for the person playing as the monster. Whatever the problem was, hopefully it is an issue that can be completely sorted out prior to launch.
Round two began for us at a different set-up in the Evolve booth, but it began just as it had previously. Our characters chatted on a drop ship just before the bottom opened up and we all jumped down onto the alien planet of Shear, which features some exotic and beautifully-rendered plant life as well as even more deadly critters that arent player controlled. We landed on a structure and already Daisy was hot on the monsters trail. It didnt take long before we caught up to him and I fulfilled my role as the trapper and secured the area, and then we lit him up. Machine guns, sniper rifles, poison grenades, flamethrowers, theres hardly anything not at your teams disposal when youre going up against a behemoth like this.
This is where the fun of the game really comes in. Its great to track the monster as a group, but once youre in open combat Evolve really feels like a team game. After a few more minutes of losing the monster, finding it, and fighting again, we eventually emerged victorious.
The match lasted about 20 minutes, but it really flew by while playing. Evolve‘s controls, at least on the hunter side, are easy to master. My only complaint about my Evolve experience, which isnt an issue with the game itself, was the player in the role of the monster barely attacked our group. There were a number of moments when we were separated and vulnerable, but he chose to run and hide instead of face us head on. Though this definitely helped us in the end, it made the game less of a challenge once the guns started firing. Your experience will likely vary as I doubt many people playing as the monster will choose flight over fight.
Evolve is the kind of game I can see myself getting lost in for hours. With the multitude of possibilities with the classes, monsters, levels, and worlds, I can only hope that the final launch of the game lives up to my experience with the demo, because its a hell of a fun game.
Evolve will be available for the Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and PC on October 21, 2014.