“Monster or Medic?” The 2K representative asked me and Nico. Perhaps a little too quickly, I jumped in with “Monster!” and I was handed a wristband with the corresponding logo and word. Joining the queue, an enormous model of a saliva-dripping beast loomed over the watching crowd, and I was ready to try and escape from the four guys queueing to my right. This was the game I was looking forward to playing most at the show.
Evolve, the new title from Turtle Rock Studios, the masterminds behind the original Left 4 Dead, has a very simple concept. Four players act as a team of hunters, aiming to take down one very large, very pissed off monster. The promise of Evolve? To make a player feel like a boss, and to make sure that a team works together to take that boss down.
I played the PC version of the game with an Xbox One controller. The first thing that hit me was how good it looks, even in the darkness of the arena on display. The E3 build was showing off the Kraken for the first time, an enormous beast that has the ability to fly. After setting up the monster’s starting abilities, I was given a 10 second head start to evade the initial onslaught of the four players sat opposite me.
The Monster’s key focus, as the game’s title suggests, is to evolve. By finding and slaughtering smaller creatures across the map, you begin to level up. When you reach a certain point, you can “evolve” into stage 2. A brief pause in the action is required whilst you hide inside a cocoon, enabling the hunters to find you and inflict damage throughout this cocoon phase. After Stage 2, the evasion mechanic that is pushed so heavily begins to crumble as you can face off against one or two hunters, and by the time you hit stage 3, you’re ready to take on the entire team as a hulking beast with fully loaded powers.
I can’t speak much to the gameplay as one of the hunters, but it was extremely clear that the humans need to “play their class”. If you stray from your team and encounter the monster alone, you will regret it immediately, even as the assault class. If you’re a medic that’s decided to go on an expedition, you might as well have turned your TV off for all the good it will do you. My biggest worry going into the game was a question of balance. With the monster being given all of the power throughout the three stages of evolution facing up against a small team of humans, each with different weaponry, it’s a very valid question. Fortunately, it seemed absolutely spot on. Playing as the monster gives a definite sense of urgency at the start of a round as you try and level up nice and quickly whilst avoiding the hunters, whilst at level 3 the tables well and truly turn, and the hunters have to work extremely hard to take you down.
It’s very clear that this is the new game from the team behind Left 4 Dead, as some of the mechanics feature here, including a respawn mechanic if the monster cannot eliminate all of the humans quickly (After a minute or so of being dead as a human, you will reappear somewhere on the map). It’s a game that should definitely be on everyone’s radar, and with the Beta going live in the summer for Xbox One owners, it’s a multiplayer only title with a really good asynchronous twist. And oh, I won my match. It was close, and extremely exciting.
Evolve releases on October 21st on PS4, Xbox One and PC.