Review: Evolve


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Pushing leaves aside as you slowly walk through a jungle, you can feel your heart pound. You concentrate your entire being on listening and being as quite as possible. Suddenly, a monster three times the size of man bursts out of the foliage, casually slapping one of your companions aside as fire pours from its roaring mouth.

This is the climax of a match in Evolve, a game in which four human players are pitted against one monster. The team must race to kill the monster before it becomes too powerful to bring down.

Evolve is a class-based multiplayer shooter with a different approach to things. Instead of fighting a blur of human enemies, it focuses on the thrill of the hunt. Four players control hunters with wide set of skills and abilities, consisting of a medic, a trapper, a support, and an assault. Meanwhile, a fifth player controls an ultra-powerful monster, and both sides attempt to find the other.

There is a twist though: The monster doesn’t start with its full potential. Instead, it must hunt and eat other wildlife in the area while also avoiding the roving hunters, who want to finish the fight before the monster grows to full strength.

Once the monster has eaten enough animals, it can evolve and become stronger with more abilities, finally reaching level three, where the monster definitely has the upper hand. Charging in as a level one is a quick way to die, so it is essential that the monster play smart and avoid early fights.

With the basic version of the game, there are three monsters. Available at the start, the Goliath is gigantic ape-lizard that brutally smashes and breathes fire. Later, one can unlock the Kraken, all tentacles and lightening blasts, and the Wraith, a ghostly monster that is particularly adept at hiding.

On the hunters’ side, there are three characters for each class, making a total of 12 options, with one of each unlocked at the start and the rest becoming options through progression. Outside of their traditional roles, each class has been given extra abilities to make them more useful and enjoyable.

For example, the starting medic, in addition to healing, can fire armor-piercing sniper rounds that create weak points on the monster for other players to target and also wields a tranquilizer gun to slow the beat down.

Functionally, everything works quite well. All of the hunters’ abilities are useful and complement each other. The monster controls very well and has abilities like smelling and climbing to help it navigate and hide.

There are some downsides, though. If the monster does its job too well, then both teams spend 10 unexciting minutes wandering around and killing local wildlife. Additionally, the unlock system feels arbitrary; in a game in which you perform the same task over and over again, it would be nice to start with a variety of characters.

On a personal note, I had a lot of matchmaking/connection issues where I would get dropped. The matchmaking system also seems to not work very well; it only ever grouped me with two or three other players and assigned the remaining characters to bots.

Overall, though, Evolve is very satisfying to play. Just make sure a few of friends get it, too.

Evolve, developed by Turtle Rock, is available on PC, Xbox One, and PlayStation 4 for 59.99.

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