Note: This review is based on 6 hours of Evolve gameplay, both single player and multiplayer, but with only gameplay of the first tier of hunters and the monster.
Evolve is a fantastically frantic and always unpredictable shooter, but is severely hampered by a slow burning ranking and reward system, and an imbalance of power for certain monsters.
I had high expectations for Evolve, the spiritual successor to Left 4 Dead from Turtle Rock studios, which plays somewhat like the original team shooter. In many ways Evolve lives up to the incredible hype it generated from being delayed since October, being a brash and brutal shooter which adapts to your playing style and never becomes in any way predictable. It’s just about the only AAA release this past six months to have technically flawless gameplay, bringing it above flawed games like Assassin’s Creed Unity and Halo: Master Chief Collection.
The gameplay itself is nearly flawless; four hunters chase one monster around large maps, with various strategic objectives depending on what mode the match is played in. The different modes cleverly play to the strengths of the hunters and the monster, with hunt, in which the hunters have to track down and kill the monster, being the only balanced mode. The other modes can swing in the favour of either team very easily, with the monster able to kill and protect the human survivors and its own eggs respectively, in the modes Search and Rescue and Nest, depending on the skill and speed of the human hunters.
Each match is distinctively different, as although almost every monster player will avoid the hunters until they’re at least stage 2, you can never predict the actions of any one player, leading to an experience that never gets old. However you get the sense the majority of players will experience everything Evolve has to offer within it’s first few weeks of release, making the timing of any new DLC, particularly the behemoth monster, critical to the lifespan of the server population.
The monsters themselves are fascinating to face, let alone use, and with only the Goliath I already had more fun than in any other game this year. However just fighting each monster individually, you could already sense the presence of a serious imbalance of power, for example the Goliath is good at close quarters combat and is relatively quick on it’s feet, whereas the Wraith is deadly in close combat, can flee the fight unseen, can make duplicates of itself and can strike and simultaneously vanish at any given time. The fact that the Wraith is the last monster to be unlocked further points to it’s clear superiority, and anyone using a Wraith only has to have minimal understanding of the game to be virtually unbeatable.
Evolve possesses unrivalled intensity, a clean matchmaking system and extremely fun characters, but is ultimately let down by the Wraith’s clear dominance and a lack of commitment towards a structure for future DLC release.