Home | News | Reviews | Previews | Hardware

Evolve: Predator Simulator 2015
Company: 2K Games

Evolve has stolen nearly every show itís been a part of. Indeed, Turtle Rock Studiosí (Left 4 Dead) latest brainchild is making some serious waves in the gaming community. And why not? The ideas at work in this asymmetrical first-person shooter could very well change the face of cooperative and competitive play. But is there any danger of the hype train picking up too much steam? I recently participated in 2Kís Big Alpha event for Evolve, and Iíve come away with some impressions. Bear in mind, this is only an Alpha, and not indicative of the full game in its finished state.

Evolve takes place on the planet Shear, which plays home to alien flora and fauna of all shapes and sizes. Humanity wants to colonize the world for itself, but thereís a problem: the monsters that call Shear home arenít too keen on the idea of having neighbors. Evolve takes this simple concept and builds its gameplay foundation upon it. Mankind sends a team of elite Hunters down to the surface to take out each deadly creature, one at a time. And the Monsters themselves, wellÖ they do what they do best.

Four hunters. One monster. Every game of Evolve is set up thusly, and each participant has a very specific role to play. Yes, the job of the Hunters is to kill the Monster, and the Monsterís job is to thwart the Hunters by any means necessary, but the gameplay itself is focused on teamwork and smart usage of class abilities.

There are four Hunter types: Assault, Trapper, Support, and Medic. You can guess what each one does based on their job descriptions. Within these types are a handful of characters who have their own specialized skills. But no matter which Hunter you end up as, you will always have a Primary Weapon, a Secondary Weapon, a Special Ability, and a Class Ability. All of these abilities can support the hunt in some way, shape, or form, but teamwork is invariably emphasized. Assault Hunters are the ones who dole out the heaviest damage to the Monster. They are the ones with the big guns and heavy ordnance. They are your front line troopers: the bloodthirsty damage-per-second dealers. Miniguns, electric beams, grenades. If you are assigned the Assault class, you are the de facto pain bringer.

Trappers are adept at slowing down the Monster and keeping it confined within specific areas, thus making it an easier target. Whether via harpoons or a special device that activates a dome-like barrier, the Trapper is the one who is responsible for limiting the Monsterís mobility and keeping it in the line of fire.

Medics are the ones charged with keeping the rest of the team alive; the Monster is a powerful foe, and unless heís under the control of a nitwit, injuries will almost definitely be inflicted. But they arenít just the party healers, however; they can assist in putting the Monster down in their own special ways. For example, one dart from the Tranquilizer Rifle is capable of slowing it down quite a bit.

Support Hunters are technical wizards capable of buffing their teammates. They can render their fellow Hunters invisible through cloaking devices or indestructible with energy shields. But they can also harass and injure the Monster by calling in Orbital Barrages, deploying Flying Sentries, and simply launching volleys of missiles at its face.

And then we have the Monster. The Monsterís ultimate job is to wipe out the Hunters, but it is vulnerable for most of each match. You see, each Monster has three Stages. Every match begins with the Monster at Stage One. And from the get-go, the best course of action is to stay hidden. Youíre powerful enough to last a while against the Hunters, but if youíre caught at this stage, running is the only viable strategy. The Monsterís short-term goal is to consume enough wildlife to evolve into its ultimate form (Stage Three). Itís easier said than done, however. Your prey arenít the kind to just sit down and become lunch (a lesson the Hunters must also learn); you must take them down if you want to feed.

As the Monster eats, a meter fills. Once it is filled, the Monster can evolve into its next stage. First, though, it must find a hiding spot so it can molt. Once thatís done, a series of upgrades become available. Each of these increases the monsterís hardiness and versatility exponentially, and reduces the Huntersí chances of survival.

The Big Alpha for Evolve only features a single playable Monster, but itís a doozy. The Goliath is a giant, lumbering, reptilian behemoth of a predator. Itís capable of climbing up cliffs and leaping long distances, but its combat abilities are the showstoppers. It can breathe fire, hurl its massive heft at its enemies either via air or ground, or rip a giant piece of earth out of the ground and turn it into a missile. All of these abilities are upgradable when Goliath evolves.

I canít imagine the nightmare it must be to balance a game like Evolve. There are just so many factors at play that it borders on insane. But based on my time with the Big Alpha, Turtle Rock Studios is on the right track. Evolve is due out February 10, 2015. Weíll be back with a full review.

-FenixDown, GameVortex Communications
AKA Jon Carlos
Related Links:

This site best viewed in Internet Explorer 6 or higher or Firefox.