Evolve is a spectacular game in countless ways that really delivered what it promised. The intensity of some battles, and the teamwork needed to overcome the powerful beasts satisfies the urge that many are looking for. The varied classes guarantees everyone will play an imperative role, and the terrifying nature of being hunted as a monster really can be unsettling. On the other end, being a powerful monster is rewarding and uplifting. Evolve is a blast to experience, but after playing dozens of matches, I’m left wanting more.
There isn’t much of a story, but essentially, as the human race colonizes planets, some planets are slightly more hostile than others. When creatures can be as tall as two stories and breathe fire that might be a bit of an understatement. The story could be pretty interesting, but it is background noise to everything else going on in the game. I didn’t head into Evolve for the story, and I’m pretty sure no one else did.
On the positive side, the game is absolutely gorgeous graphically. The characters are fully fleshed out in creative detail, but the real beauty are the monsters. They are terrifying up close and it’s clear a great amount of care went into creating them. What brings them to life even more is the sound design. The Goliath’s footsteps rumble with power and listening to all the wildlife makes you feel like you’re really with the Hunters. One thing is for sure, Evolve is a beautiful game to look at.
That remains true for the environments on a technical level. They certainly bring out the setting of being on another planet, especially when there are cool creatures running around, exotic plant life, and some human touches to bring out the idea that the human race is trying to terraform the planet. It’s cool in the sense of creating a great atmosphere, but it doesn’t do much gameplay-wise.
No matter what level you are playing, you are still going to use the same tactics. There isn’t any dramatic weather that changes the way you need to play, as the Hunters or Monster. Half the time you won’t even know what level you’re playing. You’ll be sounded by trees, or rocks, or maybe in some buildings for part of it. I don’t have a favorite level, and I don’t have a least favorite level. Each level is just…a map. I feel this isn’t the biggest disappointment, but I also feel this is a wasted opportunity for a more interactive and engaging maps.
This remains true for all the wildlife roaming around. It plays an important role for the monster, who must consume wildlife to level up. It is also supposed to keep the hunters engaged between the big fights with the monster. In reality, you rarely fight the wildlife and run past it at almost every opportunity. Killing some wildlife will grant you a buff like faster reload, high jump power, etc, but you rarely go out of your way to exterminate the wildlife.
That’s for three reasons. One: killing wildlife just makes it easier for the monster to eat it. Two: It doesn’t pose a real challenge and you aren’t guaranteed buffs, so no point in going out of your way. Three: It takes valuable time that you need to hunt the monster down.
The second you drop into the arena as a Hunter you are trying to find the Monster before he or she can become too powerful. This means chasing it down without any stops, because the Monster can move much faster than you. You can see the footprints of the monster if he is running, but when he sneaks they disappear. That’s why you have a Trapper in your party, and each Trapper has their own way of tracking the monster. They might have their own dog beast to sniff it out or throw sensors down that will activate if the monster is nearby.
Once you catch the monster, it is up to the assault and support to do most of the damage. Naturally, it is the Medics job to keep everyone alive. There are multiple characters for each class, and each come with their own skills. The good news is everyone is active in battle. The medic doesn’t sit back and wait for someone to be injured (not that they have to wait long). A medic can also paint the monster with markers that will cause double damage if other people shoot them. The Support can put a shield around other people so they won’t take damage. Mortar fire, invisibility, mines, traps, are just a few other abilities the hunters can use to take down the beast.
Working in a team is a necessity. There is no hero that can take on the monster alone. It only takes a few hits from the monster to go down, unless someone is shielding or healing you. Half the time you pray your other teammates are either pestering the monster enough to pull him away from you, or setting up while you have his attention. Never in a battle should any person be standing still waiting for a job to do. There is always something that can be done, and many times, there isn’t enough time to do it all.
The battles are truly hectic and that makes them a lot of fun. They are nerve racking and action packed. It doesn’t matter if you’re the Monster or the Hunters. Your adrenalin will be through the roof trying to take each other down. It can be a tug-of-war and the winning side can get flipped in a matter of seconds. Evolve is the kind of game where you make a single mistake, and you will pay for it harshly. It’s a great challenge that forces you to play your best.
It is also this reason that can cause Evolve to fail miserably and make me not want to play. Unless you’re the monster, teamwork is a necessity. I mean that. If one person doesn’t know what they’re doing, consider the match over. If the Trapper doesn’t know how to keep up with the chase, there’s no point. You’ll never trap the monster long enough to damage it until it is in its third stage, and then it is a real monster to deal with. This isn’t just speaking skill wise either. Yes, a bad medic will be a huge disadvantage, but for the Hunters to win they need to travel fast and together.
One person decides they want to stop and shoot some wildlife, and the rest of the team doesn’t stop with them. That person will take forever to catch back up or go out on their own. Step on the wrong plant, and they are too far away to help. They could get taken down by some wildlife, or get destroyed by running into the Monster alone.
I’ll say it again: teamwork is a necessity.
That doesn’t mean you need your mics to communicate. Half the time I mute people because they are blasting music so I can’t hear anything. I played plenty of matches where no one spoke and we worked perfectly together. You need to know your role and perform that role, or your team will die.
It’s a classic take on the cooperative play, and when everything clicks it is a lot of fun. Inversely, when you are matched with one bad person, the whole team suffers. No—the game suffers. I’m trying not to sound pretentious and I understand people are learning to play (by no means am I a master) but it really is as simple as one bad player making the entire match feel like a chore.
A lot of the time you are chasing after the monster. There are matches where this will be all you do, and it is as boring as it sounds. I played a few matches where I ran and saw nothing for ten minutes. I said earlier the wildlife should keep you entertained, but it doesn’t. Half the time you never find the monster because some teammate is slow and keeps your whole team down.
That doesn’t mean chasing the monster can’t be tense. At any point the monster could be nearby, waiting to strike, or you see it in the distance and try your best to catch it. Sometimes you always have eyes on it but it is out of reach. So even if you rarely fight it, you are always seconds away from a fight, and it keeps you gripping the controller ready for anything.
Of course, there are three things that solve the issue of teamwork begetting boring matches. You can play offline with bots, which do have sufficient enough A.I. where they know what they’re doing (better than most people). You can play as the monster, so you don’t need teammates. Or, you can have friends with the game. Sadly, I did not. Undoubtedly, Evolve would be a lot more fun to play with friends. That’s really what Evolve is made for after all, and for those people who have three other friends with the game will find Evolve a blast. For people like me who don’t know anyone, you are relying on the match-making. Sometimes you get a great team, other times…not so much.
Playing as the Monster is a lot of fun, and it’s terrifying in the beginning. You run and eat as fast as you can, always checking over your shoulder that the pesky Hunters aren’t around. Sometimes you can level up your Monster without seeing a single hunter, but the entire time you feel the intensity that they are after you. Other times they will be on you relentlessly, and you will struggle from the first minute. There are few things greater than being chased the entire match until you are strong enough and then completely turning the tides. Defeating the Monster feels like a job well done for the Hunters, but destroying the Hunters with the Monster feels like well-deserved revenge after being chased for so long.
There are more game modes so you aren’t always chasing the monster. Some have you destroy the monster’s eggs before they spawn minions, and others have you defending something important from the monster destroying it. They’re all fun, but they all revolve around the same tactics of taking out the monster or the hunters. They don’t change the gameplay dramatically enough to feel that varied. Some character classes are more suited for different game modes, but I never felt the game mode made me change my tactic that much. If I was defending something, I would lay more mines as a Support, or set more traps as a Trapper. It changed the way you play a little, but not in any dramatic fashion.
I like to think of Evolve like a boxing match. Some boxing matches are really long with a few great swings back and forth. Some matches of Evolve will involve a lot of running and only one real fight, but that one fight could be the most epic fight you will ever experience…or it could end in thirty seconds and then your match consisted for running for ten minutes and fighting for thirty sections. It’s a highlight reel kind of game. There is a lot of boring moments in between the great ones.
Evolve is a great game, and it is a lot of fun, but it is hard to recommend for a variety of reasons. If you have friends, you will like Evolve that much more. If you don’t, you will have fun but not nearly as much as you could be having. There are boring moments…lots of them if people don’t know what they’re doing, but then there are also some absolutely brilliant ones. Sadly, it only takes one bad teammate to ruin the whole experience, and a bad teammate is all too common. The biggest issue is how there isn’t that many game modes and they don’t feel different enough. The repetitive nature of Evolve is starting to hit me, and I can feel myself getting a little tired of it already. It isn’t much of a stretch to say I may put down Evolve in the next week once I grow tired of what it has to offer. Unless I want to invest in the thousand DLC packages they offer…which I don’t.
This review is based on a retail copy of the Playstation 4 version of Evolve developed by Turtle Rock Studios and published by 2k Games.
- Unique Take on Multiplayer
- Enjoyable Classes
- Extremely Intense Battles
- Can Feel Repetitive After Awhile
- Environments Don't Change Tactics
- Not Enough Game Modes