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Friday, 7 November 2014

Evolve (Big Alpha) Hands On

Thanks to the generous folks at 2K Games, I was able to try out Evolve, the upcoming co-operative first-person shooter from Left 4 Dead makers Turtle Rock Studios and 2K Games, during its Big Alpha Stage.
Please note: this is not a review, as the game is not finished yet. This is merely a write-up of my time with the Big Alpha and does not warrant a “score,” nor does this reflect the quality of the full release. In an Alpha, bugs, glitches and problems are to be expected.
Since the reveal of Evolve, I’ve been actively excited, as I’m a big fan of Left 4 Dead (1 and 2), but there was always a suggestion that Evolve would have more depth and luckily, it seems to.
The game revolves around a group of four human hunters who need to work together to take down an alien monster, applying 4V1 logic (and very smartly implementing it into the logo), but in addition to playing as any four of the humans, one person is able to play as the monster. The Hunters’ team is made up of four classes: a trapper, a support, a medic, and an assault class, with each class offering a variety of different abilities and a different play-style, so trying out each class is a must.
Although there is a single-player campaign, the Big Alpha solely focussed on the multi-player mode, where the goal is a simple one: kill a monster before it “evolves” into a stage 3 killing machine.
Hunting the monster is usually best achieved as a team, but this will obviously depend on whom you are playing with. In the rounds I was able to get in on, I generally got lucky and was paired with some friendly players, who were quite happy to work as a team and help each other out. Hunting is key, and touches like birds scattering when startled by the monster are good signs, but Maggie, the trapper you get to plays as, also has a pet dog-like creature who will aid in sniffing out the monster, so regardless of what class you choose, you’ll still be able to keep tabs on Daisy and follow her if you get a little lost.
Hunting the monster requires bravery in itself, but there are other living creatures on each map that will attack you, so you need to keep an eye out for carnivorous plants and such all over the map. There are also large creatures called Megamouths, and if you’ve never seen the monster you’re hunting before, you might confuse them as your prey, seeing as they are pretty large. So if your teammates run past one, you should too.
As the monster, your goal is to stay out of the way long enough to evolve first to level 2, then to level 3, and then turn the tables on your hunters and wipe them out or destroy the power relay (or both if you’re an ambitious monster!).
I never actually got to play as a monster, but during the Big Alpha there were two monsters to play as. The first was the Goliath, an extremely strong predatory creature with huge damage-inducing close attacks. The second was the Kraken, a monster with the ability to fly and generate bio-electricity from the two tentacle-like appendages on its back.
Graphically, Evolve is pretty good-looking, especially on PC (providing your PC can handle it), but the pace and action can be so fast and frantic at times, that you may miss some of the finer details, which is no bad thing as I simply never got bored when playing. Controls are clean and smooth, but with no tutorial you are left to decipher what controls do what. As I was using an Xbox controller on the PC, it was pretty easy to guess what buttons do what, but I can imagine mouse and keyboard users pressing everything to find out (although there is a button layout menu in the options).
I had worried about how long Evolve would last in a “shelf life” type of way, but after playing the Alpha, it’s pretty clear that multi-player fanatics are gong to revel in the fast-paced action, the sci-fi weapons, and the intuitive teamwork, so I think in terms of longevity Evolve will – excuse the play on words – evolve into so much more, long past its release.
I’ve seen certain people complain about the ridiculously long matchmaking, and I too got a little irritated with the long delays to get into a game, but this was an Alpha. At no point did I think this would be a smooth and easy ride, but nobody paid to play, and nobody should have expected everything to be instant. Again, it was an Alpha, these things are to be expected.
That being said, I encountered no bugs or glitches, and the Evolve team from Turtle Rock Studios and 2K Games even came on to play a few games on the Sunday, which was immensely cool of them.
Overall, I genuinely enjoyed my time with Evolve, and I very much look forward to the full release, along with all the extras and features it will bring with it.
If you’re interested in seeing how it plays out, check out a video my co-presenter Dan from Podcast vs Player made.
Article first appeared on Blogcritics as PC Game Preview: ‘Evolve’ from 2K Games by Callum Povey
Evolve was previewed using a preview 'early access' beta code provided and sent to us by 2K Games. You can find additional information about Podcast vs Player's review ethics policy here.
Callum Povey  PvP Presenter/Website Editor
He's the hairy one. More than once he’s been described as both ruggish AND dashing. Cal was once a born again unicyclist, until he discovered that he wasn't. True story. You can find him writing for publications such as BlogcriticsVentureBeatGamesBeatFor The Geek and also his own blog. He also has two books published, which you can buy with your hands and read with your eyes. Imagine that!.

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