Evolve’s Big Alpha event, was basically a limited free weekend, which show cased the game’s hyped game mode, Hunt, which see’s 4 human monster hunters, having to track down and eliminiate a monster, before it could “evolve” into a stronger, and more deadly form. I got to play the Big Alpha for several hours, and here are my general thoughts on the game, from what we know.
Evolve takes place on the planet Shear, sometime in the distant future, where humanity has begun to colonise the stars. Shear however, is not a very hospitible planet, with much wildlife around, from animals that can shock you, to monkeys called “Reavers” that look like monkeys, travel in packs and like to kill people, to large lake sunken monsters that can swallow you whole, to even carniveous plant life.
For some bizarre reason, humanity has decided to colonise Shear. However, despite all those deadly creatures, they are not the worst. Sometimes, rare monsters are sighted, big enough to wreck nearby facilities of humanity, and thus, a corporation sends in 4 hunters, with various skills, to go into the territory, and hunt the monster, before it can endanger nearby colonies.
Evolve’s advertised game mode (and the only one we are currently aware of so far), aptly called Hunt, is pretty simple. The monster gets a head start, to try and run away from the aproaching hunters, while trying to kill and eat wildlife, so it can fill the evolve meter, as well as gain some armor. The monster can evolve twice, making it’s abilities stronger, it’s health bar larger, and making it an even bigger menace to the hunters.
The objective is simple, the monster must kill all the hunters, or the hunters must kill the monster. However, if the monster evolve’s to the 3rd and final stage, an optional objective is presented, a relay on the map. If the monster destroys it, he will win the game, thereby forcing the hunters to go and defend it, and force a final confontation.
To help confront such a powerful monster, as well as to help track it, and take it down, the hunters themselves are comprised of 4 classes: the Medic, the Trapper, the Support, and the Assault.
The medic class has two main purposes, the first and most obvious, to keep the team up and going during and after an encounter with the monster. Val has the ability to use the TF2’s Medic’s healing beam, and fully restore a teammate’s health. Likewise, she can even heal an incapitated teammate back to life, without having to pick them up directly. She also gets 2 rifles, neither of which can do any direct damage, but can create weak spots on the monster, or the tranq rifle, which actually highlights the monster, and slows it down for several seconds.
Consequently, while Val serves as a somewhat front line medic, Lazarus is the opposite. He cannot heal people, but he can revive them, even from the dead, and can also bypass the incap penalties. With his personnal cloak, as well as a fast firing rifle which creates alot more weak spots, but don’t do as much damage, Lazarus is the team member who should avoid the monster at all costs, and when the monster kills and leaves, Lazarus can clean up his mess. However, while this may see people accuse him of being overpowered, he really isn’t. Since he can’t directly heal people like Val, with Lazarus in a game, it creates a self-fulfilling prophecy where people tend to go down more often since their health won’t be topped off.
The medics shared ability is the health burst, which… is pretty damn useless. The health burst is ridiculously pointless with Val, since she can heal everyone around her directly and quickly anyway, she’ll only need to use the health burst if she has lost some of her own health. Likewise, while Laz will be more likely to use it, the radius of it is so small, and gives out so little health, it feels like pissing in the wind. I get why it isn’t more powerful, since in the midst of a battle, if the medic had a button that could restore everything to pristine condition, then it would definetly be OP. However, in it’s current state, it’s something you’re just likely the forget about. My own suggestion would be to change it so it only benefits the medic in question, but restores something like 50% health, with perhaps a longer cooldown rate.
The Trapper class is definetly the most important class in the game, at least in the beginning stages, and arguably, a bad Trapper is far worse than a bad Medic, Support or Assault can do. The Trapper has 2 important jobs, he is meant to be the one in charge of finding the monster, and when the monster is found, his job is to restrict the monster, so it does not get away, to force a confrontation, and when the fight is underway, uses his abilities to restrict the monster’s movements.
Maggie helps find the monster by bringing her pet alien dog with her, a Trapjaw called Daisy. Daisy will sniff out the monster, as well as indicate if she believes the monster is nearby. Daisy can also revive people, and even counts as a 5th hunter, since the game will not end if all 4 hunters are down, but Daisy is still up, as well as the fact that Daisy can go down too, can be healed, resurrected, and will appear in the drop ship after death. Maggie also can lay down harpoon traps, which if the monster get’s near, will tether him, and until he claws the tether away, means that the hunters can fire on him for longer.
Opposite to Daisy is Griffin, who has a far more hands on approach. Instead of bring Daisy, he brings sound spikes, which he can deploy all over the map, which have a 50 metre radius. If the monster goes within the 50 metre radius, an icon will appear showing his location. Sound spikes can be destroyed however, but being able to deploy 5 (which is a golden number, harpoon traps, sentries, mines etc all have a limit of 5), means that Griffin can cover over half the map, and means that the monster can have trouble manouvering. Likewise, instead of harpoon traps, Griffin brings an old fashioned Moby Dick harpoon gun with him. If he fires it at the monster, it almost makes the monster dead in it’s track, but the tether can be destroyed.
The 2 Trappers share the ability to project a dome over a large radius, so when the monster is nearby, forcing the dome down will force the fight, especially since it lasts 1 minute. However, the dome will be disabled if the Trapper is downed, and if the Trapper misses the dome, and the monster get’s away, it takes another full minute for the dome ability to recharge. Both trappers also get a gun each, an SMG and an assault rifle, but to tell the truth, both guns looks, and feel, and handle so similarly, I have no idea what the difference is. The weapon isn’t that powerful, compared to Support’s and Assault’s arsenals, but does mean the Trapper can lend a 3rd gun into the monster.
The Support class is probably the game’s least defined class. Equipped with 2 strong weapons, but with a tool which helps the team in some way, as well as the class ability being a cloak, which within a radius other hunters will be cloaked as well, the Support has the most wiggle room so that he can define himself to whatever the situation calls for.
Hank has a very powerful weapon of a laser cutter, a machine gun which fires lasers, basically, and deals a ton of damage. He can also call in an orbital strike barrage from space, which again, can devastate the monster if he manages to hit it on the monster at the right moment. His team ability is that he can project a shield onto another hunter, rather like Val’s medigun. It’s pretty damn useful ability, helping shield hunters from damage from the monster, even if it doesn’t last long. It’s also extremely useful with Lazarus on your team, since he can’t heal people, but Hank can help protect them in the middle of the fight.
On the flip side, there is Bucket, a robot, but despite not being human, still functions like all the other hunters. He get’s a guided rocket launcher, attached to his hand, as you do, and also is able to deploy sentry turrets, letting him be quite defensive as well. His team ability is the UAV, where he rips his own head off, and his flies across the map, where he can tag the monster if he finds it. The downside being that his body is left unattended. The UAV is a very useful ability, although one that n00bs often have the problem of using too frequently, and having their bodies destroyed when they were too busy tracking. Like Hank playing a sort of medic role, Bucket’s UAV let’s him serve as a kindof secondary Trapper.
Finally there is the Assault class. He is there to kill the monster. And that, for all intents and purposes, is the single role Assault plays. He gets a short range weapon, a flamethrower for Hyde and an assault rifle for Markov, a long range weapon, being a minigun for Hyde and a lightning gun for Markov, as well as a deployable, being a gas grenade for Hyde, and mines for Markov. They also share the ability to deploy a personnal shield for a short time, meaning they can make themselves invulnerable while they pound the monster.
You could argue that the Assault class is perhaps a selfish class, designed with no abilities to assist the team. But really, the fact that he is a pure powerhouse helps the team plenty. If the other 3 hunters serve their roles, the Trapper restricting the monster, the Medic keeping people alive, and Support adapting to the situation, the Assault is at his peak, where he can devastate the monster with his weaponary. And remember, the monster can’t regenerate health, he can only do it via evolving, and even then, he can’t regenerate a huge amount. Every chunk of the monster’s health bar that is erased before the monster can escape, equals a bigger advantage for the hunters in the next fight. The Assault may not help the team, but while he won’t be able to find the monster, or keep his teammates alive, you can depend on him to finish the fight.
I wasn’t able to play much of the monster myself, since I vastly prefer the 1st person co-op, rather than 3rd person monster frolics. However, both monsters work like this: each monster has 4 abilities they can use, and at stage 1, have 3 monster points, which they can sink into each ability up to 3 times, the 1st point just unlocking the ability to use. When they reach stage 2, they’ll have 6 points, and at stage 3, 9 points to use, as well as upgrading their health bar, and giving them some lost health back.
It’s important to have at least 2 abilities unlocked at hte start of the game, since abilities have cooldown rates. At stage 1 the monster should not fight, and while it is possible the monster can win the fight at stage 1, he does have the disadvantage. At stage 2, fighting the hunters is more viable, and at stage 3, he has the upper hand. I can’t really say much else about it, but Goliath is very fun to play, a kind of King Kong style monster, who likes to jump and charge all about the place. However, while I never got to play the Kraken, I did have the misfortune of fighting him, and… jesus, it was not fun.
I think me and other players consider the Kraken to be the only unbalanced element in Evolve. He has so many ranged abilities, which cause a ton of knockback, even at stage 1, he is just not fun atall to fight. It seems as long as you unlock 3 abilities at stage 1, you can cause so much damage, causing so much knockback means you can barely fire onto him, and means that when you’re flung back 20 metres, he can kill your teammates before you can cover them. I think the Kraken is the only element in Evolve that does indeed need some kind of nerf in my own opinion.
However, overall, I believe Evolve is great fun, and while we still don’t know alot about the final product, who the last 4 hunters are, what the 3rd monster is like, what the 4th pre-order DLC monster is like, how much variety the other 9 maps bring to the game, what other game modes there are, and even the rumblings of there being some kind of single player component. However, if it reachs the heists the Big Alpha has shown us, I believe Evolve is worth pre-ordering. Just 3 months left.