A shared concern by many going into Turtle Rock Studios’ Evolve was the recurring issue of uneven balancing seen in a majority of online multiplayer games. If 4v4 and 8v8 games tend to struggle with finding a firm grip on balancing, how on earth would a seemingly lopsided 4v1 game manage to overcome the same? The creators of Left 4 Dead seem to have unraveled the mystery behind this question, and it was on display for everyone to see at this year’s PAX East.
The 4v1 gameplay, in fact, is what makes Evolve so ingenious – it’s a refreshing change of pace from the typical online shooters and introduces an entirely new universe and gameplay style to the fold. Imagine playing Left 4 Dead against a murderous behemoth instead of mindless zombies, where the team of players are the hunters as opposed to the hunted.
The lone player controlling the monster is given the advantage of being a quick and agile Hulk-like monster with enhanced vision, fire-breathing and the ability to “evolve” into larger forms after consuming indigenous wildlife within the game’s play environment. It would be difficult enough being up against this monster if it were simply an A.I. bot, but the fact that it’s being controlled by a human with so many weapons at its disposal makes the monster extremely lethal, and players will have to go above and beyond the call in the name of teamwork in order to take this sucker down.
The “Goliath” monster was on display at the Evolve booth, while the four playable classes available were Assault, Trapper, Medic and Support. I played as the least self-explanatory of the four, the Trapper class, which saw me using a “Harpoon Gun” to slow down the monster, throwing “Dome Traps” to keep the monster confined to a certain area of the map, and placing “Sound Spikes” that allowed us to track the monster’s position based off the loud rumble of its footsteps.
While the monster can leap large distances and seamlessly climb up tall landscapes and structures King Kong-style, the hunters all traverse the area using Halo Reach-style jet packs. The levels have just enough scale to them to feel massive without feeling too wide, and give the monster enough space to run away, forcing the hunters to give chase and coordinate in order to confront the beast. Turtle Rock certainly did their homework and used everything they learned from the Left 4 Dead series to create an accessible, cohesive, and competitive co-op multiplayer experience.
Usually, the term “Diaper Dandy” is used by Dick Vitale when referring to outstanding freshmen college basketball players, but I’ve since highjacked the phrase to describe any game that gives me the urge to urinate in my trousers in excitement. Evolve was just that: by far the most fun and interesting game shown at PAX East this year. If you’re itching for a solid cooperative experience or even looking to try a game with a new and fresh concept, Evolve is the title I advise you keep a very close eye on.