The first time I ever saw Predator, it had a huge effect on me. The premise was simple, over-the-top, and brilliant. An elite squad of commandos find themselves stalked through dense jungles and picked off one at a time while they hunt an unknown apex predator, pitting numbers and teamwork against patience, stealth and skill. It’s an experience I’ve been wanting in video game form since that first viewing, and with Evolve’s announcement, I saw it reconstructed with stunning clarity.
Though Evolve’s already revealed monsters offer glimpses, they aren’t designed to really drive home that promise of a stealthy hunter lying in wait. But today, Turtlerock Studios has unveiled the last of its three beasts coming to Evolve (at least at release). And with the announcement, it emphasizes the fear and paranoia that your quarry might be watching and waiting, that your hunters might just be the hunted. Meet the Wraith, Evolve’s monstrous assassin.
What the eponymous Predator had on Arnie and his band of commandos in technological savvy, the Wraith brings to Evolve as a genetic goldmine of pure terror. She’s the furtive executioner, and though she may have noticeably less health and armor compared to the Goliath or the Kraken, she’s incredibly mobile and slippery.
During my time with the Wraith, it quickly became clear she requires a certain finesse to survive against four well-armed hunters. But this opens up her potential for spectacular moments of strategic precision, and indeed, the Wraith feels as though she’s got the highest skill ceiling of Evolve’s three monsters. In my first round, I foolishly darted for the descending hunters, looking for a quick kill with a flurry of melee strikes before the hunt began.
It did not end well.
After some time I slowly began to understand her real lethality. The Wraith’s strengths lie in covering ground quickly, supported by her ability to dart through the air in any direction with a short teleport. With this in mind, the wise Wraith will run. Thanks to her high damage and mobility, killing and consuming the local wildlife is a faster process than with the other monsters, allowing her to get back on the move before pursuing hunters have any hope of catching up. But once I’d eaten my fill and bided my time, it was my chance to turn the tables.
The Wraith’s abilities all reinforce her driving theme of surprise hit-and-run tactics. Her first ability is Warp Blast, enabling her to target a faraway location, dash to it in a straight line, and explode on arrival knocking back anything in the vicinity for considerable damage. Yet now you’re out in the open, which is where her next two abilities shine.
Super Nova is the teeth in the Wraith’s arsenal. With a shriek the Wraith expels a dome of fuzzy white energy, dramatically increasing the speed and damage of her blade-like appendages while in the area. The goal is to isolate a hunter and kill them as fast as possible with a flurry of sweeping melee strikes during its short duration and get out quickly. That’s when Decoy comes in handy.
Decoy causes an exact replica of the Wraith to split from her body while she cloaks for a short period of invisibility. To the hunters, it looks like a quick spasm, and then the Wraith is right back in the mix. But in reality, the replica is convincingly controlled by the A.I. as it continues to charge toward the nearest living thing, attacking and causing considerable damage, while you skulk away undetected. Although both the decoy and invisibility last only a short time, it’s an absolute necessity to escape any precarious situation.
Last in her bag of tricks is the skill most inline with the Wraith’s philosophy: Abduction. For the Wraith, Abduction is exactly what it sounds like: She winds up, paints a straight targeting beam on her prey, and teleports a scary distance to grab the victim and pull it back to her launching point for serious damage. But the real beauty of Abduction is that it isolates your target away from the group of hunters for a few precious seconds while you shred it to death with her hand-scythes.
As you might have noticed by now, the Wraith’s skills have a synergy; they work together to cause confusion, lend incredible movement potential, and pump out disgusting bursts of damage. During my time piloting her claws, each hit-and-run engagement felt like a self-contained game to see if I could pounce, deliver a swift death, and retreat before my armor was exhausted. And that’s a game I never wanted to stop playing.
Here’s a few hard-learned tactics I picked up in my time with Evolve’s stealthy assassin. Hopefully, they’ll help you stay ahead of the curve when the Wraith, and Evolve, hit early next year.
- For starters, always sink one point in Decoy. Not only can you save time by using it to drop a pack of wildlife while you eat the remains, you’ll also need it to escape. If you’re unlucky enough to get caught out early by the Hunters or fall into a pack of aggressive critters, those few seconds of invisibility mean the difference between life and death while they beat on your fleshy facsimile.
- During my time with the Wraith I found an ability rotation that I really enjoyed, and it starts with an opening Warp Blast. Not only does it damage, but it’s also confusing and knocks back hunters. From there you pop Super Nova and quickly hit Decoy, since the buff also applies to your replica. While it’s attacking your hunter, you should be doubling back while invisible, ready to pounce on the hunter if it’s weak enough or abort and reset if it’s being healed and shielded.
- If all went well, you’ve darted away with a downed hunter waiting to be revived by backup. Use this opportunity to either eat wildlife to rebuild your armor or line up an abduction on the hunter as soon as it’s revived. If you can snag it from a distance, you’ll have a great chance of quickly downing them again. Strike two.
- To that regard, remember that you bring your victim back to where you launched Abduction. This is a great chance to use the skill with your surroundings. Dart up above some acid, or hang out near the map’s most dangerous wildlife creatures, then launch Abduction. If it works out, you’ll have a hunter worrying about staying afloat in eel-infested waters, or dodging pools of caustic acid while you begin your assault.
- Last but not least, don’t be afraid of running. Though the Wraith doesn’t perform as well in objective game modes when time’s running out and you have to go toe-to-toe, you’re no good to anyone dead. The Wraith doesn’t have the life bar to sustain too much damage after her armor goes down, but she can kill and eat wildlife faster than any other monster. Use this to your advantage by constantly dropping decoy to escape and replenish your armor with some much-needed meat. You might even get lucky and cause the hunters to split up when they try to pursue you. An alone hunter is a dead hunter.
Evolve comes out Feb. 10 for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC. But if you’re an Xbox One owner and looking to get your hands on Evolve, and the Wraith, as soon as possible, you’re in luck. Turtle Rock Studios has announced an open beta taking place on the Xbox One next month.