My short time with Evolve Big Alpha left me wanting for more storyline even more so than Destiny, but at least I knew going in the main focus of this game was the multiplayer aspect. First and foremost, you either play as a team of hunters or a monster. Each are trying to destroy the other with the hunters protecting a generator on the map and the monster trying to destroy it after evolving to stage three.
You might be asking yourself, “So what makes this game different from any other game where I have to go there and shoot that?” Well, I’m glad you asked.
Evolve pits a player controlled monster against a class based team of player controlled hunters. Playing against an AI is one thing, but the mind of a living, breathing human being can present dastardly challenges. This team based gameplay can be extremely rewarding or equally frustrating depending on how well your team interacts with one another. For example, if one team member has no mic (i.e. Me sometimes), then the entire team can suffer due to lack of communication. There are no in-game controls to let others know when you need a medic and such, but there are automated cues that spout from each character. This works well but sometimes it’s easier to say, “Hey, I’m wounded by insert landmark and the target is escaping heading north preparing to scale a cliff face.”
Coming into my first ongoing game session was a bit overwhelming as I had to learn a slightly altered controller setup on the fly, but ultimately I think it fits the style of gameplay presented. The d-pad is set up so you can hot swap between the four different classes if they are currently AI controlled. As with most shooters, you have a dedicated jump button, a use/reload button, and then two weapons buttons: one for primary and the other for secondary weapons. The left and right triggers are for zooming and shooting respectively, and the left and right bumpers are assigned to equipment and class abilities. A toggle minimap button does what it says: toggles a minimap. If you push in the right thumb stick, it will place a marker wherever your cursor is so your entire team can see what you are looking at. Complaints?
Well, I can deal with not having grenades, and the monster is so huge I see no practical reason to have a dedicated melee attack. Preferably, I would have liked to see a single weapon swap button and a crouch button for those moments where you might be able to sneak around the monster or even hide when you are wounded. Also, the hot swap selection on the d-pad would be better suited for player call outs such as medical assistance, I need some support, etc.
The visuals were a bit dark for my taste, but graphically impressive for the Alpha stage of the game. The dark backdrops fit the tone of the game and make it easier for the monster to hide and sneak up on players. I’m holding out for some brighter scenery in the games final release, but I won’t hold my breath too long. I did notice the frame rate was a teensy bit slow in the short time I played, but it wasn’t enough to affect the gameplay even as the monster on screen systematically destroyed my team with attacks that were remarkably beautiful. One bit I particularly enjoyed was how you enter the game as a hunter.
Initially you are aboard a ship, and when you are ready to hunt the bay doors open in front of you allowing your character to free fall into the games massive arena. Very cool! Soon, I was easily scaling rocky cliffs with the games auto-parkour assist to get to my teammates. Playing as the monster has a different feel entirely.
Instead of your traditional first-person view you play in the third-person as the monster. You assign points to different abilities before the match begins and as you evolve the monster grows in size and allocates more points to those same abilities. The monster evolves by eating local wildlife, which can also pose a threat along with the hunters that are after you. As the monster, you are incredibly powerful but in the beginning stages can be taken down very easily by a semi-coordinated group of hunters. That is why it is important to stay out of sight until evolving to stage two or three.
My experience as the monster ended in tragedy almost every time I played, but there were a few players who utilized the sneak mechanic as the monster with deadly results. If you can manage to stay out of sight long enough, victory is almost guaranteed as a stage three monster. Encountering hunters before then could end with you running circles inside a tracker’s net while being harpooned into place and pummeled with orbital strikes. Not fun.
Overall, I enjoyed my time with Evolve and look forward to the beta and final release of the game later next year. Please, watch the embedded video and have some laughs at my expense as I get swatted, squished, chewed, and flame broiled by a monster ten times my size.