The evacuation mode is a stroke of genius
I can’t remember seeing a co-op game mode that lives and breathes quite like Evolve’s evacuation.
Evacuation is essentially a five-mission playlist in which either the monster or the hunters are rewarded for their successes and punished for their defeats. Each mission adopts a certain story arc, such as a Shear colony asking for help delivering a shipment of captured animals. This is completely random. If the hunters win that mission, the crew will show its gratitude by giving the team an A.I. soldier or additional turrets to help in their fight. If the monster is victorious, the hunters will be denied that bonus and the captured animals will be set free, giving the beast a more delicious and evolution-inspiring dinner.
Each round also awards a series of powerful bonuses to the loser, giving that person or a team a chance to even the score in the next encounter. The winner is determined at the end of five rounds. If the hunters saved more civilians than the monster killed, they win.
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Evacuation mode is truly deserving of the name Evolve. The omnipotent narrator, who provides background information and guides players through tutorials for the characters, said that more than 800,000 perk/detriment combinations are possible throughout the five-round process. Winning teams get the perks, and losing players get the detriment — as well as a hefty bonus to their skills. The result is about an hour of highly competitive and unpredictable gameplay that should carry Evolve to mountainous heights in the hearts of its players.
What you won’t like
The jump/climb mechanic still doesn’t work
One of my biggest pet peeves from the beta tests was the fact that both hunters and monsters seemed to get stuck a lot while climbing the many cliffs and buildings that dart Shear’s landscape. I experienced this problem less in the finished product, but the mechanic is still buggy.
Hunters use the jump button for quite a lot in Evolve. Tapping it executes a basic hop while holding it allows you to jump larger distances or hover for a short time. In theory, holding it also allows you to scale walls. This is where you run into trouble, as the game seems to not understand if you want to jump, hover, or climb when you hold the button near a wall. It sounds like a really minor issue, but in a cat-and-mouse survival title where speed and mobility mean everything, the slightest holdup can cost you.
I hate the climbing mechanic even more as a monster. For some reason, players have to press left shift to climb as a Goliath (the Kraken can fly, and the Wraith is so fast that climbing is obsolete). As indicated above, my feeble brain can’t handle this extra command — especially given that every other character uses a different button to climb. It seems unnecessary to me. Either stick with the holding jump mechanic (and make that work, please) or designate a climb button for everyone.
In the grand scheme of things, this is a fairly minor issue. Evolve is a great game, but the climbing is definitely a feature that Turtle Rock should continue to improve after launch.
Like all multiplayer games, balance will be an issue at launch
Any gamer who has ever played a massively multiplayer online or MOBA title at launch knows that the game will change drastically in six months. Evolve is no different.
As players master the characters and explore their various mechanics, balance issues will arise. Turtle Rock and 2K will probably continue to tinker with Evolve for years, as presumably new monsters, hunters, and maps will force the experience to, well, evolve.
Many players took to Turtle Rock’s forums during the last open beta to voice their disapproval about the Wraith, which uses a nasty teleport skill to whiz in and out of fights. It is with great sadness that I must tell you that the Wraith is still broken. Inexperienced players will not lay a finger on the extremely mobile monster, and those with some skill will likely fall for its disgusting decoy skill.
The third tier of hunters are also pretty strong. This might be by design, which makes some sense. These talented hunters are a gift for those who toil long enough to unlock them. But I am not quite sure if it’s a positive thing for Abe to be much, much, MUCH stronger than Griffith. They are both the same class and should do the same thing, so why can one do it a lot better? A team of tier-three hunters will be nearly unstoppable against most veteran monster players, even if they are using the Wraith.
If you skipped down to this part without reading the top, you are out of luck. I won’t make any final judgments or deliver a score for Evolve until later this week. Once I get a feel for how the servers are holding up and how the game feels when played with thousands of other people, I will update every part of this review and republish it.
Evolve for the PS4, Xbox One and PC releases on Feb. 10. 2K Games provided GamesBeat with a PC Deluxe Digital Download version of Evolve for the purposes of this review.
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