DJ Arruda ’16 / Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer
Just in time for Halloween, Turtle Rock Studios held a “Big Alpha” for their upcoming 4v1 alien shooter, Evolve. Originally slated for release on October 21, the game was delayed until February 10 instead. The spiritual successor of Left 4 Dead, Evolve takes the co-op team of four players and pits them against an evolving monster instead of zombies, hence the title of the game. The event began on October 30 for Xbox One, and on Halloween for PS4 and PC. Although it was intended to end on November 2, it was extended until the fourth. This multiplayer-only look at the game was limited to the game mode “Hunt,” only one Monster (Goliath), and four Hunters (Medic, Support, Trapper, and Assault). But what worked and what didn’t? Let’s take a look at what’s in store for the 2015 release.
• Each player has a distinct role that is engaging in its own way, which adds a lot of replay value.
• Communication is key in Evolve, as the team learns synergy in order to take down the Monster, and the Monster learns to hunt and navigate the maps.
• The game is visually impressive, featuring a handful of maps and differing weather effects like rain and snow.
• Evolve is a breath of fresh air for a genre saturated with Call of Duty clones.
• The game feels like Left 4 Dead, yet it is still unique to its environments and content.
• The natural flora and fauna of Shear, the planet on which the game is set, add another layer to strategies and threats, offering both more power-ups and additional foes.
• The after-match map recaps are handy and unique, showing the timeline of the Hunters and the Monster played out in colored dots.
• Even more Hunters and Monsters have yet to be revealed, as well as a single-player campaign.
• The early game can be particularly slow, especially for Hunters who follow footprints and other signs of the Monster’s presence, while the Monster finds prey to feed on and evolve.
• It is easy for the Monster to snowball, if the player is wily enough, which can allow fun but unbalanced team wipes.
• On the other hand, if the Hunters trap the Monster early enough, it can be a stomp in their favor as well.
• There were various server and matchmaking issues during the event, although this is expected at this point of game development.
• Leveling up is not entirely transparent, as players are given points for their specific characters based on the abilities they used. These lead to upgrades and unlocks, but the level-up rewards are not based on class.
• Gameplay can become repetitive once the maps are memorized and the various abilities and roles are understood.
• It’s an intense learning curve in the beginning, as players are literally dropped in with no tutorial and forced to understand their roles and abilities on the fly.
While it’s still too early to tell anything definitive about the game, the Big Alpha offered a good glimpse into the ambitious title. The gameplay is certainly fun and engaging once understood, but too often, the match becomes one-sided. Players expect an early build, but after a while, the newness loses its shine. However, there are many cool things going on here, from the different maps and native threats to the different roles and abilities, as well as the overall recapturing of some of the spirit that made Left 4 Dead so popular. It seems a wise choice that the game was delayed, but allowing players to get an early look will undoubtedly help the studio during the last few months of development. With a beta also coming for the Xbox One, there is plenty of time for the feedback to be implemented. Turtle Rock has shown us their thesis, allowed us to have a bare bones look at their vision, and ultimately – once more evidence is added – the game will stand on its own. For now, though, Evolve should remain on the radar, as there is potential for greatness, and certainly enough for a blip.