We’re only five months away from sky-diving off of our drop ships into the wonderful world of Evolve, which is set to hit store shelves on October 21 for the PS4, Xbox One and PC platforms.
Ah, yes, it’s a beautiful place to be. Imagine Disney World but a bit darker, minus the “magical feels,” and replaced with vast amounts of environmental threats and hostile indigenous wildlife. A world where the Pokémon don’t cooperate to the slightest and are big, hungry, and very much human controlled. A world where you’ll find yourself staring through your gun’s scope at this:
Yikes! Turtle Rock Studios gave us extended hands-on time with four brand spanking new monster hunters last week, all with their own fresh spin to the four different Evolve hunter classes. Let’s take an in-depth look at what these new kids on the block are bringing to the table.
Hyde was made for players who like to lay waste to enemies relentlessly and his sole purpose is to deal as much damage to the monster as possible. As if that weren’t obvious by looking at him– he does wield around both a chain-gun and a flamethrower after all. As the “tank class” of the bunch, it only made sense for Turtle Rock to also give Hyde the ability to shield himself, especially considering most of his combat is meant to be done in close-quarters.
Hyde’s flamethrower bears the shortest effective range of any other weapon in the game, but it’s also the most damaging and serves as a great equalizer to Goliath’s fire-breathing. Hyde can also damage the monster from a distance by using his toxic grenades. But be careful when throwing these, they do cause harm to friendlies as well, which I learned the hard way at last week’s press event after being on the receiving end of one of these nasty explosives.
Maggie joins the cast as the newest member of the Trapper class. The same rules apply: she needs to do everything in her power to track the monster down and contain it so that her squad-mates may focus on dealing damage to it. Maggie herself doesn’t have any tracking abilities and Griffin’s useful sound spikes that allow the team to track the monster upon it moving within proximity are absent from her arsenal. Instead, Maggie is accompanied by an NPC Trapjaw creature named Daisy, who not only tracks down the monster by sniffing its tracks, but also acts as a fifth team member, helping to up and revive incapacitated teammates. The most intriguing thing about Daisy is when she’s in pursuit of the monster, she attempts to cut it off as opposed to following its every footstep, which is a testament to some solid A.I. by the folks at Turtle Rock Studios.
Maggie doesn’t wield a harpoon gun like Griffin, but rather harpoon traps that she can place in the ground to activate when the monster walks within proximity. These propel movement-hindering harpoons into the monster, thus slowing it down substantially and giving the hunters a chance to either apply more damage or retreat as if necessary. Like Griffin, Maggie is equipped with the half-of-a-giant-pokéball known as the mobile arena, which is arguably the most useful tool when trying to trap the monster in one area.
Meet Lazurus. You’re probably thinking that he doesn’t appear to be the type of guy that patches “boo-boos” on the battlefield, and you’re absolutely right about that. He is, through and through, an exponentially shitty medic, especially in comparison to Val. That’s because Lazurus’ strong suit isn’t flying around replenishing the health of his teammates, but rather acting as the team’s necromancer, and automatically resurrecting teammates after they’ve been neutralized. In other words: as long as Lazurus is alive on the field of battle, his teammates will not die.
As you can imagine, this serves as a huge pain in the slimy ass for the monster during play, and thus, paints a glaring bullseye on anyone playing as Lazurus. Luckily, he comes with he ability to cloak into the environment and his sniper rifle shoots as rapidly as a single-shot burst assault rifle, making his damage output a little higher than that of Val’s. While Lazurus is a liability in that he lacks the healing capabilities that Val provides, he’s also one of the more dangerous characters given that while he’s alive, the rest of the team is essentially immortal.
The first non-human playable character in the game, Bucket, operates more toward the defensive side of the Support class. Where he lacks in the devastating orbital barrage-type capabilities that Hank has, he makes up for with the ability to set highly damaging floating sentry guns. These come in handy when fighting the monster in a confined area or when you have to set a perimeter and defend a certain area.
Being a robot has its advantages too. When locating the monster is getting tough, Bucket can detach his head and use it as a remote controlled UAV tracker. After locking onto the monster, its exact location will be revealed to you for a short amount of time, giving you the opportunity to catch up to it and blast it with Bucket’s arm-attached rocket launcher.
All of the new characters add extra layers of strategy to the game, making mixing and matching characters a huge factor in taking down Evolve‘s different monsters.
It’s rare that a new I.P. captivates folks the way Evolve has, especially this far from its release with very little to no advertising. But all of the word of mouth you’ve been hearing, from me to every other game critic on the face of the internet, is legit. This is a true expansion to the wonderful gameplay elements Left 4 Dead brought to cooperative gaming. This is shaping up to be the reason to own a PS4, Xbox One or high-end PC. This is what happens when a development studio is able to pour all of its resources into making a true next-gen experience without having to worry about scaling things down for the consoles of the previous generation. And by God, this is panning out to be the refreshingly unique change of pace that the FPS genre has been waiting for.
Remember, Evolve will be rocking our worlds like Goliath’s boulder toss move maxed out on October 21. Has this game grabbed your attention? Let us know what you think of Evolve thus far in the comments! And if you want to talk Evolve or anything else gaming related, I’m only one tweet away at @Malik4play.