Evolve Hands On At E3 2014: A Monster Shooter

During E3 2014 I got a chance to play 2K Games' Evolve, a "4V1 shooter" that pits four hunters against a massive player-controlled monster. Evolve is in development by Turtle Rock Studios, the same team behind the original Left 4 Dead game, and is expected to launch on October 21 for Windows PC, Xbox One and PlayStation 4.

During the match, I played Hyde, an assault-classed soldier – basically the team's tank -- toting a minigun and flamethrower. According to the developer, when the game launches this fall, it will have 12 unique hunters (three per class), three monsters, multiple game modes and over a dozen maps. The hunters are played in a first-person perspective, whereas the monster is played in third-person.

For the demo, there were only three other characters. Maggie was the trapper, who carried a machine pistol and harpoon traps. Lazarus was the Medic using a silenced sniper rifle and the lazarus device, and Bucket was the support class robot carrying an awesome guided missile launcher and sentry guns. Each member of the team also had a unique ability and class ability, such as a personal shield, a personal cloak and more.

To beat the monster, players have to stick together as a team. However, there are other elements on the map that play in the monster's favor including the terrain and local wildlife that will attack. The team I played with eventually all died and couldn't be resurrected because the map's creatures ate their bodies. Needless to say, the odds were against me when the monster decided to come after the last man standing: my assault soldier.

The gameplay was quite interesting. You have no idea where the monster is lurking, so you look for clues such as footprints, disturbance of the local wildlife and so on. The Support class has a UAV (the robot's head) that can highlight these footprints. Once the players find the monster, the firefight grows really intense. Keep in mind that this monster, aka the Kraken for this demo, is incredibly massive, which only gets worse if the beast dines on the local wildlife to evolve.

Playing Evolve was a blast, and it seemed that both sides were playing a tug-of-war of sorts across the map: the hunters would have the advantage, then the monster would dominate. Rinse and repeat. We discovered that one of the best tactics is to push the monster back into a small area and then unload as much as you can before it breaks through and unleashes its own fury.

Unfortunately, my time with Evolve was brief: I guess we went down too quickly, and another round wasn't allowed. But I walked away really liking this game; consider it as an epic boss battle that could last for minutes or last for an hour. The controller was a little weird for me, but that could have been the demo configuration that we couldn't change. The PC version will presumably support a mouse and keyboard as well as a gamepad.

I can certainly see this game as an e-sports favorite. What I hope to see is a single-player element that includes bots for those who need to learn how to be a team player offline. Still, based on the demo, Evolve is developing into an exciting, awesome shooter that should have players glued to their seats and shouting into their headset's microphone this fall.

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