Monster hunting has appealed to gamers ever since the classic Capcom franchise, Monster Hunter, came to PlayStation 2 consoles all the way back in 2004. With that in mind, Turtle Rock Studios has taken the concept and introduced their own multiplayer spin to monster hunting with Evolve – A 4 vs 1 multiplayer game that pits four humans against one monster in an all out battle to the death!
In Evolve, nature is wiping out the human colonies on a far distant planet called Shear. A team of Hunters are assembled to help the human evacuation and save these colonies from the native monsters that live on the planet. It is a simple nature fighting back story line which loosely explains why these hunters and monsters are fighting each other – however, Evolve’s main focus is on the gameplay.
The 4 v 1 game dynamic works well here, as a team of four hunters has to take on a massive monster in a fight to the death. The hunters have to think tactically in order to take the beast down, while the Monster has to be quick on it’s feet as it has to feed to get stronger and eventually Evolve.
There are two stages of evolution for each monster, and with each evolution you get to spend skill points to make your attacks stronger. Each monster has four primary attacks and these can be buffed up depending on your style of game play. For example, the Goliath has charge attack, fire breath. Rock throw and leaping smash. If you prefer to attack your enemies from a distance you may prefer to upgrade your leaping smash and rock throw attacks. Or if you are like me and like to go in for some close quarters combat, then the fire breath and charge attacks are probably more for you. These attacks can be mixed and matched and I found that the leaping smash and charge attacks worked better for me, so the choice is up to you.
The hunters are a little more varied as each team member has his/her own class and weapons. You can choose from four classes in total which are Medic, Support, Trapper or Assault, and each are vital for taking out the monster. The assault class is the heavy hitter of the team and it’s their responsibility to deal massive damage to the monster. Markov, the first assault class character you have access to, has a lightning gun which can only deal damage when he is up close – luckily he has a re-chargeable shield which lets him get into close quarters combat with the beast.
Markov can be aided by Hank, the support class who comes with a shield buffer weapon which can top up Markov’s Shields. Add Val the Medic into the mix and you have a someone who can keep everyone’s health topped up. Then, Maggie the Trapper completes the team, who can encase the monster in a mobile arena and pin it down with harpoons. As well as these abilities and weapons, each team member also comes with an offensive weapon to deal some damage to the monster and a jet pack for quick mobility and monster dodging.
Once you have mastered each of the characters weapons, you are able to unlock a new character in that class. Mastering weapons is pretty straight forward, all you need to do is use the weapons; the more you use them, the more XP you get, which in turn gives you mastery over the character. Once each weapon is maxed out a new character is unlocked with different weapons. This applies for the monsters as well and gives Evolve some great re-playability as you grind your way to unlocking the next character in your favorite class or indeed the next monster.
Even though the main objective is kill or be killed, Evolve does come with four different game modes that vary up the game play slightly, first of which is Hunt mode which is a straight forward 4 v 1 death match. Next is Nest mode where the hunters have to destroy monster eggs around the map before the monster hatches them and kills the Hunters, then you have Rescue which has the hunters saving NPCs, and Defend where the hunters have to defend a fuel station from monster destruction. The game mode that steals the show however is Hunt mode as its simple objective allows players to utilise all of their abilities to the max, which sadly makes the other game modes feel like an afterthought as they can limit each characters abilities. For example it’s all well and good for the trapper having a mobile arena trap, but in the Defend game mode the last thing you want to do is trap the monster in close quarters with a bunch of NPC’s you are trying to save.
First and foremost Evolve is a multiplayer game and has been advertised that way since day one. It can support solo play with bots should you want to level up your characters by yourself, which feels a lot like Unreal Tournament. This is a nice edition which could of easily been fleshed out more with a story based campaign mode. The game doesn’t support local split screen multiplayer, which could have been a great addition as you could have had 4 player split screen with an AI monster, for example. This in turn would of made the game more accessible for people who have a poor net connection.
+ Great gameplay Mechanics
+ Good mix of characters and classes
+ Monsters feel powerful and scary
- Lack of solo campaign
- No local multiplayer
- Additional game modes feel like an after thought
As a multiplayer game Evolve is great fun, the mechanics are well executed and it really encourages you to think tactically as both a Hunter or a Monster. It’s just a shame that it is so heavily focused on online multiplayer, and not much else.