The PlayStation 4 and Xbox One have been out for more than half a year now, but a lot of us are still waiting for a definitive “next gen” experience.
Sure, we’ve had plenty of fun games, but most of them don’t feel all that different from what we were playing a year ago. Hell, most of us them even come out simultaneously on the older Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, even things originally hyped as harbingers of the future like Watch Dogs and Titanfall.
Still, one game got a lot of attention at last week’s Electronic Entertainment Expo tradeshow in Los Angeles as a totally new experience. It wasn’t really because of the fancy graphics (although it certainly does look nice) or some gimmicky motion-control or voice-recognition support. It didn’t even involve virtual reality. Evolve was turning heads simply because it looked like something we haven’t played before.
You see, Evolve is an asynchronous multiplayer experience. Four players of hunters take on one controlling a giant monster. For the hunters, Evolve is kind of like a team shooter. For the monster, who has to attack smaller wildlife in order to evolve and grow stronger before taking the hunters out, it’s more of an action game with elements of a multiplayer online battle arenas like League of Legends and Dota 2.
Most important, it’s fun, and the reception the game saw at E3 could indicate that developer Turtle Rock has a big hit on its hands. I got to play it twice, getting my hands on a controller fairly quickly during a pre-E3 media briefing the first time. But on the show floor, I waited for over two hours in a line just to try it again. I wasn’t the only member of GamesBeat that Evolve impressed.
So, why is Evolve getting so much attention? Timing has a lot to do with it. New console owners are actively looking for the next big thing, and Evolve seems the likeliest candidate.
“I think that’s been the big thing, just timing wise, being on the new consoles,” Chris Ashton, the cofounder of Turtle Rock Studios and design director of Evolve, told me during the pre-E3 media event. “Everybody was expecting to see something different, but all of the games that have been coming out haven’t really delivered on that, and this is really capturing that for a lot of people. We’re lucky on the timing.”
It makes sense. Sure, games like Watch Dogs are selling well, but many of them seem surrounded in controversy. The final version of Watch Dogs on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One doesn’t look nearly as good as an early video for the open-world game did back when it was first shown in 2012. The whole thing also felt much more like Grand Theft Auto and less like a new experience than some were hoping.
Even a lot of the other stuff on the E3 show floor, most of which is not hitting retailers until later this year at the earliest, looked derivative. Battlefield Hardline, for example, looks like a cop and robbers-theme mod for the less-than-a-year-old Battlefield 4, but it’s a full-priced, standalone product. Assassin’s Creed Unity looks nice, but it’s also the sixth entry in the series in as many years.
You can see what Chris was talking about. The timing for Evolve is perfect. Here’s a new console release that’s a new IP, not getting a dumbed-down port for older systems, and actually looks like it’s offering a new experience. For anyone who invested at least $400 on a new console, it’s hard not to appreciate Evolve.