A Slapped Together Review of Evolve

First up, let me just say I got pretty addicted to Evolve last night, so that should set the tone for most of this little impressions/review. Having said that…

– No, I don’t know for sure how much staying power the game has (I think at least a month, if not more… but I can’t really tell after one night’s play. Would need like a week.)
– There is heaps of depth. Almost an intimidating amount. Not on the level of learning DotA from scratch, though, I suppose.
– It is extremely expensive. Even though it is unquestionably tons of fun, and the unlocking system is pretty addictive, they’re still asking a lot with the base AAA full-price and then, down the track, paid-DLC for new classes and monsters. I think it’ll be worth it if they hit their marks with everything … but will they?
I’m mostly trying to convince people to play because I have these great ideas of solo queuing so I can play as the monster (and that works great) and when we’re in a team, we play as hunters. For that, I’ll need a few peeps.
SO. To give you an idea of the depth of the game, check out some of these short tutorial videos.
First up, a hunter. Hunters have 4 roles to choose from (Assault, Trapper, Support, Medic) and each role has 3 classes (that is, characters) to choose from. So for example, the Trapper role has a black chick, an Australian mustache, and a Texan mustache. The interesting thing here is that even though they all have the same ROLE, the three classes are really very different. To show you:
Maggie, the base-line trapper (that I played a bit of last night): This is her basic and advanced tutorials. They give a good indication of how the class works: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YU6zVIX17vQ  and   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SBF_LohTSJI
Compare that with one of the other trappers: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZykRxEqvt4s
The differences between the classes really makes the game play quite differently. I mean, something like Nosgoth has quite different classes too: you might play as a rapid-fire long-range dude, or a grenade launcher person, or a leaping vampire vs a flying vampire. But especially the humans in that game really just felt like different weapons. The vampires felt a bit more like totally different experiences but there wasn’t that much depth to it… just different ways of killing dudes. Not a bad game, but fairly shallow.
Back to Evolve, and consider: 4 Roles, 3 classes in each role… There are some combos to be discovered there. For example, Maggie, who has the pet “dog” Daisy. If you don’t take Maggie, instead selecting, say, Griffon, then the team doesn’t have any way to sniff out the monster. There’s tracks, and birds, and other hints to find the monster but the typical strategy I found from last night was for the hunters to stand around until Daisy picked up the scent. By far my most successful monster runs were when I could prevent Daisy from picking up my scent (more on that later.) So – if the trapper goes Griffon, perhaps the support should consider playing Bucket? A robot who can pull his head off and fly it around as a UAV. Hrm. Decisions, decisions.
Now, the monsters. The human classes are one thing, but the monsters are so different from each other it’s ridiculous:
So, story time:
Most of the time the monster was the Goliath. I like him, and besides he’s the only one unlocked at the start. But what I noticed the most was when I ended up a trapper and some other guy had a Wraith. The differences in strategy…
Hunting the Goliath came down to speed a lot of the time. When *I* played the monster, I preferred to sneak as much as possible, but I noticed most people would tear around the map at top speed to try and stay ahead of the hunters killing and eating on the move (as best as they could.)
So a typical Goliath hunt would involve following Daisy to get close enough to see the tracks, then following the tracks as fast as possible to try and limit his ability to stop and eat wildlife (and thus “evolve”) until such time that he makes a mistake and we get close enough. I’d drop the shield arena, and we’d do as much damage as we could before it went down.
While the fight is raging I’d move around the battle dropping harpoon traps to just consistently pin the big guy. They take less than a second to break off, but they really disrupt the monster’s rhythm (and slows his escape.)
Meanwhile, hunting the Wraith was much harder to pin down. They tended to play him a bit stealthier, so I really felt like we were always close (we could see tracks and other clues) but unlike the Goliath who you’d hear/see from quite a distance, I never felt sure if the Wraith was right there.. or not. Combine that with his decoys… we’d think we had found him but he was just dropping decoys in our path. It took a long time to work that one out – my teammates would stop to fight the decoys every time (and I did the first 5 or 6 times… bloody hard to ignore a kaijin tearing you up) which just meant we were stopped and the monster could put more distance on us.
Then, even when we did catch him, I’d hesitate – is this the real one, or a decoy? And that hesitation was often enough for the Wraith to dash out of range of my shield arena. With the ability to go invisible it was hard to tell if dropping the arena was the right idea. When locking down a Goliath it was just a matter of whether we wanted to be cornered with him or not. With the Wraith I actually missed a couple times and it was hard to tell. I’d throw it down, and things would go quiet…. did I miss, or is the Wraith just hiding? Catching a Goliath in a mobile arena was a totally different feeling.
So in the quiet I’d lay down harpoon traps about the place hoping the Wraith would get snagged on them once the fighting started. I found it really hard though because he was so sneaky. Moving around, trying to pull people out one by one… the traps I’d laid rarely snared him, and when I’d throw some down near a fight, he’d usually hit and run before they activate. Fighting a Goliath was a much more violent affair. Snaring wasn’t a huge problem, it was more about getting the traps to stagger and be spread out so he couldn’t easily break them off.
So playing as the monster. This is what I did most of the time. Story time.
The longest game I played went for 15 minutes. And it felt like forever.
I lost nearly every match, but was getting better. In this game I had evolved to level 3, and was barely scratched. I’d done well by using a trick I’d worked out: At the start of the match, I’d bolt in one direction, then when I got to a junction, I’d sneak and then loop around. I could see in the replay, they’d usually fall for it. They’d follow my tracks until they suddenly stop, then keep going in that general direction, allowing me to sneak around eating wildlife. I just had to be careful not to leave a footprint, or stir up birds because then Daisy would pick up my scent. Once the monster gets to stage 3 he can destroy the power relay. Destroying the relay actually takes a really long time, and can be interrupted easily. It’s pretty clear that winning by destroying the power relay is never supposed to happen. It’s only there to prevent the hunters from totally avoiding the monster. If you literally stay away, he’ll just end the game without you. So it forces the hunters to defend the relay at the end of the match in a final show-down.
I got to stage 3 and bee-lined straight for the power relay. I was confident I could beat the hunters in a straight up fight, so really I was just attracting them to me.
Right on queue, they showed up. I burnt them, bashed them, smashed them. It was great. They had no hope. When a hunter is knocked down, it plays out very much like L4D + Tank. That is: Someone goes down, and the monster can keep beating on them until they’re totally dead, and if not, someone can go help them up. If you’re incapped 3 times you’re dead anyway. All dead people respawn together on like 3 minute timers… this is a very long time.
So as I smashed them to pieces they were dying all over. They’d all been incapped so many times, they had few hit points (every time you’re incapped you lose max HP) so it was easy to take them out and they’d die… but… they just kept coming back. Way too fast for it to be the respawn ship.
For some reason, the game just wasn’t ending, so after smashing them in the face, I’d go back to the power relay, and this is eventually how I won.
It wasn’t until later I worked out what was going on. The Medic role had picked Lazarus as his class. This character doesn’t really heal much – instead, he canresurrect players even after they’ve been totally killed. I had no idea.
It just goes to show, that because I didn’t consider the difference in strategy that different classes bring, I really fucked myself. I mean, for about 5+ minutes I had those hunters completely fucked over… but just couldn’t finish them off, because the fucking medic was running around resurrecting people. I could have lost that game that I had in the bag.
So that’s my opinion. There are currently 3 monsters, another one coming soon (March, I think?) and a 5th slated already (some of the more expensive editions get it as soon as it comes.)
Assuming new classes and monsters keep rolling out… there’s a lot of playability here. How quickly can they pump these classes out, though? I’m a bit dubious – there’s a LOT of detail here. Way more than a DotA hero. So they’ll probably be kinda slow after the initial roll-outs.
Then there’s the price… it’s confusing… it looks like everything (so far) is unlockable in the game. You start with 1 monster, and 1 class for each role, unlocking as you go. I think the more expensive purchase deals auto-unlock these? Then when new classes and monsters come out … can you unlock them, with auto-unlocking if you pay… or do you have to pay to get the privilege of unlocking them? I dunno. It’d be like paying for a new hero in DotA. Something LoL does, and I think is dumb.
Like I said, there’s a lot more work that goes into these ones though… so if they keep them coming quickly (but not too quickly…) then I might drop money on them to unlock it. It all depends on how I’m feeling in the coming months, I suppose.
One other thought comes to mind… you could wait until it goes on special. It’ll surely be worth the money if you can shave 25-50% off it… but I’m thinking of the population, which will be best in the early days. I suppose, the logical conclusion here, though, is that if the game really has staying power (like, say, DotA) then the population will actually grow over time, making the matchmaking betterer, and betterer.
Oh! The matchmaking. Did you know I played with randoms ALL NIGHT. Generally the same ones – we got into a match, and out of the 5 of us, I think 3 of us stayed in the same game and one of the guys only dropped out at the end.
If you’re still dubious, probably ask me what I think in a week. I certainly don’t have the Titanfall feeling – before I saw the game, and the moment I played it, I thought “I’d be surprised if there is more than a week of playtime in this…” I was hoping I was going to be wrong, but I wasn’t. This I feel like there is about a month, and if cards are played right, more than a month. I just wouldn’t stake my life on that prediction.
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