This past Saturday at PAX I had the opportunity to sit down and play Evolve, the upcoming game from the minds behind Left 4 Dead. While the final game is still months away the, build Turtle Rock Studios had on-hand at PAX East was already fluid, fun, and beautiful, so I can only imagine that the final build will be even crisper and smoother.
Evolve is a first person cooperative/competitive shooter. It tasks four player characters with taking down a giant monster controlled by a fifth player. The cooperative team forces each player to take on a specific role of either trapper, medic, support, or assault class. Each class has its’ own set of unique weapons and abilities. For example, the support class comes equipped with a sniper rifle, and can shield other members of their team. This makes each character vital to taking down the monstrous behemoth that is the fifth player.
The monster plays completely different from the other four. Rather than a first person perspective, it’s third person, which makes it easier to control the thirty-foot-tall creature. The job of this goliath is to kill and eat other animals around the environment to evolve into a bigger, stronger monster. To do this, the monster is equipped with abilities like fire breath, the ability to throw giant boulders, and a devastating leap attack.
Before the demo all the players in my group of five were asked what they wanted to play. Of course, I chose to play the monster.
When the demo first started, I was greeted by an ‘abilities’ screen, followed by a ‘perks’ screen. I was given three points to distribute among four abilities, including the previously mentioned fire breath, leap smash, and rock throw. At least one point was needed to be assigned to an ability for the monster to even have that ability. I chose to put two points in my fire breath ability and one into the rock throw, leaving my level 1 monster without the ability to use the leap smash attack. As for perks, only one is available per game, and I was able to choose from things like increased Melee or higher armor. I went with the armor, in the hopes of making myself harder to kill.
After these two screens and some quick tips from the guy presenting the demo, I spawned into a vast jungle. I was told that the hunters would spawn in the exact spot I just spawned, but in 30 seconds, so I had to make it out of there as fast as possible, because at level one the hunters can easily take you down. The first thing I realized was that the goliath moved slow while prowling around on the ground. Thankfully the goliath can leap super far and fast. Aiming my reticle slightly above the horizon, leaping around the jungle was a breeze and made traversing the landscape quick. The controls were super responsive and smooth, and anyone who has played Left 4 Dead will quickly become accustomed to them.
After about 15 seconds of putting as much space between myself and the hunters’ spawn point, I ran into an aggressive animal prowling around the jungle. I was told by the presenter that I would surely get decimated by the creature in my current state and to avoid it. I chose to scramble up the nearest cliff by jumping at it and holding the RT button. Just as I got to the top I was able to watch as the hunters engaged the hostile creature I had just avoided. I could’ve taken advantage of the situation and attacked the hunters then, causing them to fight both me and the creature.
Instead I choose to make my way further away from the hunters and find some things to eat so I could evolve. Pushing in the R3 button let me sniff the air around me and identify every living thing in the vicinity. Red things were hostile, yellow wouldn’t attack but I could kill and eat them, and white were passive. I quickly found a bunch of yellow dinosaur-like monsters and ate them. Each time I ate a creature, a blue circular progression circle would pop up. When it got full I was able to find a safe spot to evolve. Evolving increased my size, my damage output, and gave me access to three new skill points. While evolving, the goliath is super vulnerable for about five seconds so I rushed to find a safe place to evolve.
After a few skirmishes with the hunters and eating a bunch of creatures around the level, I was able to reach my maximum evolution at level 3. After this a new icon appeared on my map, the generator. So after hitting level 3 as the monster you don’t win just by killing all the hunters – you instead need to destroy a generator in one of the warehouses around the map. This totally flips the game dynamic on its’ head. Up this point I was being hunted, running from most conflict; now I was attacking and it was the hunters job to try to protect the generator from me.
The big skirmish took place right near the generator. I made quick work of the hunter’s medic and support, leaving the team practically neutered. One quick leap smash and I was able to down the other two hunters, killing them all in about seven minutes. I made my way to the generator and quickly destroyed it. If the hunters had respawned and shot me, it would’ve stopped me from destroying the generator, but at that point the respawn time for the hunters was around three minutes.
Evolve was nowhere on my radar before playing it at PAX east, but after playing the one round, I can’t wait to play more. It was revealed during PAX that the final game will have at least three different types of monsters and each class will have at least three different characters to choose from, with each character bringing something different to the class. Evolve looks like it will be making a huge splash in the gaming community this September.