Evolve Has a Monster Showing at PAX East 2014 - PreviewXavier Griffiths , posted on 14 April 2014 / 4,156 Views
Evolve was probably the biggest game at this year's PAX East. At times, the wait in line to play the game reached 4 hours, and crowds of attendees were herded into a theater for a short video presentation before getting their hands on the game. The video gave on overview of Evolve’s unique multiplayer premise and a rundown of the abilities of the four classes of hunters.
From the team that brought you Left 4 Dead, Evolve can be described as an asynchronous cooperative/competitive multiplayer first person shooter/ third person action game. That is a lot of PR speak to describe a 4 vs. 1 contest between hunters and one giant predatory monster.
While in line, the exhibitors at the booth handed out wrist bands to assign the class you would be playing as. We played on PCs with Xbox 360 controllers. The four hunters sat at computer rigs lined up in a row next to each other and could communicate directly via headset. The player taking control of the Goliath sat on the opposite side, so that neither side could cheat.
The monster serves as a player-controlled boss battle, with the Goliath being the specific entity that took center stage at PAX East. This ferocious beast can breathe fire and hurl large rocks at its prey. The name Evolve also describes the process by which the hunted monster becomes stronger. When the competition first begins, the monster is at stage one and is relatively weak and vulnerable. By hunting down and feasting on creatures inhabiting the game world, the monster will grow stronger and eventually evolve into stage 2 and 3 versions of itself. At stage 3 the monster’s power is so considerable that it can turn the tables on its pursuers and become the hunter. If you're on the team of hunters meant to kill the Goliath, it is in your best interests to destroy it before it has the chance to evolve.
The four classes are: Assault, Trapper, Support, and Medic. Assault is the muscles of the group and the one best equipped to deal large damage to the monster. The Trapper’s job is to contain the monster, using tools such as a harpoon gun and a portable laser arena to keep the beast in one place so the rest of the team can focus their efforts. Support can call in air strikes and deal damage with a laser cutter from a distance. Finally, the Medic, as its title suggest, is responsible for healing and sustaining the health of the team. You can do this by zapping your allies with a health ray or using a health bomb to heal several teammates at once. The Medic can also deal damage by firing at the monster with a special sniper rifle that also creates weak points on the enemy that will deal extra damage if hit by allies’ weapons.
I played as the medic - Val - the only female of the party. By holding the A button I could take off using my jetpack to get an aerial view of the environment, but I had to suppress my instinct to fly off and explore at the risk of becoming separated from the rest of the group. The first weapon I loaded out with was a tranquilizer that made it easier for the team to track the Goliath’s location. The Goliath left footprints in the ground that could be followed to find its location, but it was by no means the only creature inhabiting the map. Early on our Trapper made the unfortunate choice to step into swamp water and was devoured by an alligator-like creature in the water. In another instance I had to rescue our Assault hunter from a giant carnivorous plant. Once a player dies there is a two minute wait for them to be dropped back into the fray. If all four hunters are down at the same time, or if the Goliath runs out of health, then the game is over.
Graphically, Evolve is stunning. The game runs smoothly for all players involved, even when the onscreen action is at its most chaotic. Though it takes place in the dark of night, the colors still manage to pop out in a blend of intelligent and eye catching design choices. The art direction also results in inspired futuristic designs for the characters whose armor is both stylish and functional.
Unfortunately, due to a breakdown in communication among us and our inability to revive each other when needed, we four hunters succumbed to the Goliath’s overwhelming might. That decided the match; there were no second chances, and to the victor went the spoils. This wasn’t a matter of the game being imbalanced but was the direct result of my team’s inability to communicate, play unselfishly, and fulfill our assigned roles. Teams that managed to corner the monster - preferably before it evolved - achieved victory through efficient and effective means.
Evolve felt both novel and polished, which is why its line at the 2K booth was packed all weekend long. And the one game mode I played is just the tip of the iceberg; the developers plan to announce new features, game modes, and maps as Evolve approaches its release date.
Evolve seeks to be the next evolutionary step in online multiplayer when it launches on the PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC in Fall 2014.
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