Fighting on either side of Turtle Rock’s 4 vs. 1 multiplayer madness is both unique and extremely satisfying. Evolve pits a lone behemoth against a motley crew of 4 hunters, each with their own special abilities to help take down the powerful beast they are hunting. With a handful of game modes and maps, all of Evolve battles require finesse, tactics and smart thinking in order to gain the upper hand on your opponent. Despite the laborious climb to unlock all the game has to offer, Turtle Rock has delivered an addictive multiplayer experience if played in a borderlands 3 split screen so you can have an excellent view.
Evolve’s base game mode Hunt is where a team of 4 different hunters: trapper, medic, support, and assault, simply hunt down and defeat the gargantuan monster. Playing as a hunter begins as you hurtle from an airship and land amongst the dense forests of Shear. A cat and mouse game ensues as you try your best to hunt down the behemoth.
Each of the different classes in Evolve add a crucial element to taking down the monster, and playing as the hunters requires real teamwork when attempting to take on the beasts of Shear. If one of your teammates isn’t on point and doing what they are supposed to be doing then everything can fall apart pretty quickly. The Trapper has the ability to locate the monster and deploy a mobile arena that keeps the monster corralled in the same area for a short period. Apart from the Trapper’s abilities you will become aware of the monsters position through following their tracks and homing in on disturbed wildlife. The Support class adds buffs to other party members whether that is by increasing their damage output or by protecting them with a powerful shield, while the Medic is tasked with healing teammates and trying to keep everyone alive. Finally the Assault class is where most of the damage is dealt, whether that be from rocket launchers, flamethrowers, or mini guns. The Assault class is your team’s leading chance of taking the monster down. Each class has three different characters available and each of them comes with own set of unique yet similar abilities. For example, in the Trapper class “Maggie” has a pet dog-like creature named Trapjaw which tracks and leads you towards the monster, “Griffin” on the other hand has sound spikes which you can place around the map to alert you when the monster is close.
There are 3 different playable monsters in Evolve: the grounded brute Goliath who relies on ground pounds, hurling huge rocks, and breathing fire, the Kraken who takes the more aerial route with ranged attacks, homing mines, and electrical storms, and the Wraith who is easily the most devious and powerful of the three. The Wraith has the ability to create copies of itself to give it time to slink away and hide, it can also rip a hunter away from the protection of their group. The most powerful attack that the Wraith has in its arsenal is the ability to create a Supernova which increases it’s speed and damage immensely within a small area. All of the classes and monsters are great to go through so try them all out and see which one fits your play-style, yet keep in mind that at the beginning of the game you start with only one monster and one character from each class. Players will have to slog it out and upgrade each of their respective abilities in order to unlock a new character or monster. Depending on how often you play the game or how proficient you are with each ability, the process of unlocking all that the game has to offer can be a long and often tiresome ordeal. When everything is finally unlocked though, Evolve opens up into a game that is rich with plenty of options.
Playing as the monster offers unique gameplay mechanics that will challenge you to stay alive long enough to become a powerful beast strong enough to destroy the hunters that have invaded your home world. At the beginning of the round as the monster you will begin in Stage 1. This is the weakest stage that a monster can find itself in and therefore taking on the hunters at this stage is ill advised. As you scour across the varying landscapes of Shear you will encounter a vast amount of wildlife. As the monster you will need to kill and eat wildlife to gain armor and eventually upgrade to Stage 2 and ultimately Stage 3. This adds an excellent dynamic to the gameplay. At the beginning of the round the hunters are easily more powerful than the monster, so hunting down the monster as quickly as possible before it becomes too powerful is highly recommended. Playing as the monster is quite tactical, you will need to go through water to hide your tracks or sneak past flocks of birds so you don’t give away your location. If the monster gets the opportunity to hit Stage 3, things take a turn in the monster’s favour. Instead of the cat and mouse game the match began as, the hunters are tasked with defending a power relay, although they are really just protecting themselves and trying to stay alive.
The world of Shear is a thriving environment which features snowy mountains, dense forests, desert landscapes and man made structures. The wildlife of Shear ranges from docile creatures that are going about their day, to vicious animals and huge deadly beasts. It is an amazing feature that makes the world feel alive. The elevation of the maps blends in nicely with the gameplay, whether by protecting your allies with the Support or Medic classes or reigning down fire to a monster below with the Assault class. Using the buildings and cliffs is an excellent way to get the upper hand on the monster.
There are a handful of game modes within Evolve with Hunt being the most quintessential. Another mode is Rescue in which hunters are tasked to rescue some human survivors who are stranded on Shear. Nest mode requires hunters to destroy a number of monster eggs which are scattered throughout the map, while the monster is attempting to protect them before they hatch. The game also houses an Evacuation mode that combines 5 consecutive matches, which ends with the final game mode, Defend. Defend is where the hunters need to defend a number of generators and last long enough until their airship can safely escape. Evacuation is special because the varying game modes can change things up a bit and whoever won the previous round spawns environmental obstacles. These obstacles can come in many different forms such as man-eating eels in the water to help the monster out or friendly machine-gun turrets to fight along side you as the hunters. The obstacles faced in Evacuation will help turn the game in their favor and make every round different from the last. Even though each game mode has a unique twist and attempts to keep the gameplay fresh, ultimately it often boils down to either the hunters killing the monster or the monster dispatching the hunters. Regardless of Rescue, Nest, or Hunt, killing one another will end the match and this is usually where the results are decided.
Despite Evolve being almost an entirely multiplayer game, the option to play offline is a welcome addition. Bots replace the other players and when playing as the hunters you are given the option to swap between any of the classes. This is a nice touch and allows you to test out each class and decide on what suits you best before you take on the multiplayer arena. Offline bots also take over during multiplayer matches if one of the players is facing connection issues and happens to drop out. This is a good way to make sure that the balance doesn’t shift in your opponents favor just because someone is having some connection problems.
Turtle Rock have created a well-crafted multiplayer experience that gives you copious options on how to go about finishing each match victorious. You can tactically sneak around and upgrade to the devastating Stage 3 as the Monster, or work with one another on the hunt as the Hunters. Evolve falls down when some of the unique game modes just turn into glorified hunts and the taxing progression system takes novice gamers a little too long when unlocking all that the game has to offer. Despite all of this, playing online or offline is an absolute treat and whether it be taking down a Stage 3 Monster or tearing apart a team of Hunters, both payoffs are super satisfying.