With a pedigree behind it like that of Turtle Rock Studios (which you may know for the work on the Counter Strike series or for the two excellent Left 4 Dead) it was inevitable that the announcement of a new title, especially after a period of absence from the scene rather long, it generated some interest. The next "Big Alpha" first and the recent Open Beta then have definitely lit the fuse, confirming our positive impressions dated Lucca Comics & Games 2014. Arrived at the final judgment, however, what matters is only the game: it will be big game or Turtle Rock missed the shot?
Version tested: PS4
Who is the real monster?
In an unspecified future, in a galaxy far away, humans are attempting to colonize the planet Shear. Monsters, mysterious creatures whose origin is not clear, however, have something to the contrary and continue undeterred to claim victims and dismember terrestrial outposts. To fight them, a team of twelve hunters is hired whose aim is to clean up the creatures.Evolve focuses on the gameplay and it's clear right away
Turtle Rock Studios with Evolve has decided to concentrate all efforts on the gameplay, almost entirely sacrificing the narrative component and choosing to rely on functional characters to give life to some 80s action movie curtains that could easily have come out of The Mercenaries : what matters, as we will see shortly, is the gameplay, and it is clear from the start (hunting). The whole game is based on an asymmetrical four-on-one multiplayer component, pitting a monster and a team of hunters (made up of a Medic, a Support, a Trapper and an Assault) face to face. However, before going to analyze these two aspects of the experience in detail, it is appropriate to spend a few words on what they have in common: the progression system.
Evolve or dieThe biggest problem with the title is that the progression system forces you to upgrade all the abilities of a character, even if you don't "play" him that way.
Evolve's progression system is articulated on two different fronts. The first of these is based on the player's level, which is increased thanks to the points obtained at the end of each game according to the "sub-goals" completed (ranging from the classic "win a game" to challenges within the challenge such as "Evolve without losing health" when playing as the monster). By leveling up, you unlock the perks that you can equip at the start of the game to your character, differentiated by hunters and the beast.
The second component, on the other hand, depends on the character being used and allows each of the impersonable mercenaries (or monsters) to upgrade their weapons and skills as they are used, unlocking a new character of the same each time you move to the next "step". class (for a total of three hunters per class and three monsters) while providing bonuses to each upgraded perk. And this is where a contradiction arises that constitutes what is perhaps Evolve's biggest flaw: to unlock the new characters and access the upgrades of the next step it is necessary to upgrade all the weapons and skills of the character, forcing the player to use them all to achieve the objectives of the level. Not a small stake, considering that (for now take the affirmation for good, we will explain better later) the same character can be interpreted in several ways depending on the style of the player, which is however forced to maximize everything if it wants to access the other contents. Playing as Assault, for example, to unlock the other two hunters of this class it is necessary to inflict a certain amount of damage to the monster using the mines provided, also forcing those who want to play this role in a more "melee" way (after all to ambush the monster there are the Trapper and the Support) to this type of maneuver, quite distant from the philosophy of the classic tank.
Eat or be eatenFor each class there are three different hunters, who only share one skill
Having gutted the progression system, it's time to analyze the first side of the playful coin coined by Turtle Rock Studios, the experience when playing as a hunter. As mentioned, there are four different classes, each with its own characteristics: the Assault (predictably) deals with pursuing the monster by inflicting damage and being able to count on its Personal Shield able to make it invulnerable for a few moments, the Trapper as the name suggests. he can lock the beast in the Arena Trap (a sort of dome that prevents the enemy from escaping until he runs out or the Trapper is knocked out) and places lures to locate and slow the monster. The Medic, on the other hand, takes care of keeping the team healthy and the Support shows off a certain variability, being able to inflict damage almost comparable to that of the Assault and at the same time provide assistance to allies (for example by hiding them).
In addition to the class, which basically determines only one skill, the player can choose between three different characters to interpret it, each different from the point of view of the endowment (for example Griffin and Maggie are both Trappers, but while the former locates the monster by placing sensors that sound as it passes by, Maggie relies on her alien "sniffer dog" Daisy to follow its tracks, being able to use it also to reanimate allies) . The choice of class, character and perk to be used begins the real hunt, which sees the hunters intent on collaborating to find the common enemy, before it can evolve and become more dangerous, following a plot that therefore allows anxiety and tension. to gain a foothold as time passes. Third inconvenience in the dispute is Shear himself, with pitfalls such as carnivorous plants and hostile predators that can truly be hidden anywhere. and become the end of those who stray too far from the group and put a foot in the wrong.
Free the Kraken!In the first instance, the monster must stay on the edge of the battle, trying to evolve as much as possible before the
inevitable final confrontation
If for the hunters the film at the beginning is the aforementioned "The Mercenaries" but then tends more and more to the thriller as the game goes on, for the monster the reference film in the first few bars is "The Fugitive": deployed on the field with an advantage of about 30 seconds over the hunters, the beast in the early stages of the game is little more than cannon fodder, and only by evolving by eating the local fauna (also useful for restoring armor) can it earn its chance of survival. Unlike hunters who can count on their arsenal at 100% right away, the monster has four skills available to them, but divided into three levels that can be unlocked and enhanced by spending the skill points that are obtained at each evolution (3 at each level up, plus three initials, for a total of 9 points compared to the total of 12 needed to fully evolve all four skills). Obviously the first phases will therefore be more "tactical" and defensive oriented (or at least to feed as quickly as possible), trying to sniff out the right prey and avoid the greatest dangers lurking on Shear or the pursuers. The three monsters present in the base game then obviously influence the type of approach, with the Goliath in the role of the most physical attacker thanks to his fire-breathing, charging and jumping attack, the Kraken instead trying to keep more distance by attacking. with the powerful lightning bolt, scattering the enemies with the vortex and helping themselves in the escape with the mines banshee and finally the Ghost, who on paper is the weakest of the trio given the low health but which in reality turns out to be the most unpredictable since it can become super fast and powerful with the supernova, distract the pursuers using the bait and cloaking or take out the hunters by separating them from the rest of the team using the abduction (teleporting close to one of them and then returning to the starting point taking away also the prey)The two factions are extremely balanced
The two factions, however, are confirmed to be really well balanced, given that the global statistics do not differ (at least for now) too much from those of the open beta and see a substantial balance between the victories of the hunters and those of the monsters.
There is modality and modalityThe two modes present work: in particular Extraction really offers a lot of variety
One of the crucial aspects when it comes to products markedly dedicated to online use (Evolve also offers an offline mode, but follows the multiplayer in its entirety by replacing other users with bots) is that of the modes offered. Turtle Rock Studios has essentially packaged two: Hunt, the "classic" mode of the main game of the Big Alpha and the Open Beta that pits monster against hunters without too many frills, and Extraction. The latter could be defined as a sort of cousin on steroids of the War Zone of the Killzone series: the experience is divided into five "days", each occupied by a different mission (with the only exception of the first and the last , again Hunting and Defense respectively) which, depending on the outcome, will provide the winning faction with an advantage on the day immediately following. For example, if the monster manages to destroy the Nuclear Power Plant in the next mission, the map will be characterized by toxic clouds harmful to the hunters, while in case of defeat the hunters will be helped by some turrets scattered on the map. The idea is absolutely right, and given the amount of variables of this type put in place by the developers to make the games always (at least a minimum) different, also helped in this by the different types of missions that can occupy the day.
In addition to the aforementioned Hunting and Defense (in which the monster already starts at level 3 and must lead a host of level one subjects inside the enemy base, knocking down the generators) Extraction can also count on Nest, in which the monster must defend some eggs on the map (with the possibility of deciding whether to protect them directly or have them hatch to free the monster inside and unleash it against the hunters) and Extraction, in which the mercenaries on duty must escort survivors to certain extraction areas before the monster find them and kill them.
In short, the playful package has all the credentials to entertain for a long time, but the "holding" of the players on the servers as a must in these cases must be verified over time.. The other key aspect of multiplayer, matchmaking, also convinces by addressing the problem making the player draw up a list of roles in order of preference and managing in practice to satisfy him most of the time (during our testing phase we almost always dressed in the shoes of our first choice, sometimes contenting ourselves with the second and very rarely playing with the third class of the list, generally when we entered the game in progress).
The beauty and the BeastPromoted netcode and, net of the controversy, also the approach to DLC
Our last words are dedicated to the technical sector of the title, which presents the player with a solid product from a framerate and netcode point of view (we have only had some occasional lag, otherwise no problem, despite a bug affecting the rescues has been reported) and able to have its say also from a visual point of view, helped by Shear's setting, geographically quite heterogeneous. The sound also does its duty (without excelling in particular) and the same thing can be said for the dubbing, good and faithful to the subtitles on the screen. Finally, it should be noted that Turtle Rock Studios' approach to DLCs which, net of the controversy relating to the 130 dollars of content not present in the Season Pass of the title (however, these are skins for the characters), should guarantee players all the additional maps for free and not to discriminate against any player if he decides not to buy the new characters, allowing him to play with all the rest of the users.
Verdict 8.5 / 10 Like Skyrim Monster Hunter with guns Comment At the end of the fair, Evolve wins and convinces: the biggest flaw lies in the contradiction of giving the player characters that lend themselves to different interpretations and at the same time forcing him to use them in all their aspects (which we hope will be removed with an update), while everything else works from matchmaking to balancing the two warring factions. At this point the ball passes partly into the hands of the players: will Evolve be able to remain well populated even months after the launch? Pros and cons ✓ Extremely fun
✓ Almost absolute balance
✓ Really successful extraction x Progression system with too many posts
x Will it stand the test of time online?