Evolve preview: scratching the surface of Turtle Rock's 4v1 monster game

At the end of one match, Evolve had me shaking. At the end of five, I was utterly convinced: developer Turtle Rock has managed to create another...

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At the end of one match, Evolve had me shaking. At the end of five, I was utterly convinced: developer Turtle Rock has managed to create another game that will have the same legacy as Left 4 Dead. On the surface, Evolve appears to be the natural continuation of the excellent co-op mechanics established in their zombie shooter. However, the introduction of smartly-designed and highly-differentiated classes makes it an even more cooperative affair than before. Of course, there's also the addition of a single player-controlled opponent--a giant monster--that changes the dynamic completely, creating a tense asymmetric multiplayer experience that is unlike anything else.

Work together or die

Hunters

As in Left 4 Dead, human players are grouped into a squad of four. However, the goal of the game isn't simply to survive--you have to hunt down and kill the monster. Of course, that's easier said than done. What makes Evolve so much fun as a co-op experience is how different each class' role is. And while they may seem to fit into rather standard shooter molds, there are some tweaks that keep things interesting. You can play as Assault, Medic, Support, and Trapper--with each squad having to include a unique team member (you can't have two Assault soldiers, for example). Each squad member offers unique skills that all compliment each other. Like Voltron, working together will be essential to victory. For example, an assault soldier will be able to blast away at the beast, but without the shield boost from the support class, he'll be shredded to pieces nearly instantly. Without the monster being slowed down by the medic's tranquilizer darts, it'll become a lot more difficult to snare the beast with the trapper. Every role compliments the others, and they must work in concert for any chance to win their game. My favorite playable class was the medic. While support roles can typically feel repetitive, the medic in Evolve is surprisingly engaging. Yes, she heals the group, but she plays an important role in the offense as well. Shooting a dart the monster will tranquilize it, slowing it down--and more crucially, making it visible to all players. By being able to tag the monster, the medic actually becomes something like the game's scout, putting the medic in as much the frontlines as the rest of the squad. Perhaps the most important character to play is the trapper. Hunters may be equipped with jetpacks, but they're still nowhere as mobile as the beasts they must capture. In order to dole out any damage to the beast, you'll need to trap it by deploying a circular dome trap, one that creates an arena which the beast cannot escape while the shield is active. It's in these domes where the human players will be able to dole out the most damage. With limited maneuverability, the monster will be forced into confrontation with the hunters. Assuming the team is working together, the human players will be able to combine their abilities for massive damage. For example, the medic may have pegged the monster with a few darts. The assault soldier can pinpoint those marked points to render significantly more damage. Meanwhile, as the assault class lays down a barrage of fire, the support class may be shielding him, making him invulnerable to the beast's mighty attacks. If it weren't for the trapper, none of this would happen. Because of how differentiated these classes are, teamwork happens very naturally, almost automatically. I was taken aback at how quickly new strategies were being figured out. For example, the monster has a time limit to complete his objective (like killing all human players, or destroying a generator at a key point in the map). However, one trapper was able to keep him in a dome--far, far away from the generator and the rest of the team. It would become impossible for the monster to complete either objective. Monsters have a tremendous amount of HP, and as the title suggests, they can evolve. The odds are stacked against the humans, so being able to cooperate and take down one of the beasts is a truly satisfying experience.

Eat to live

Monster

While playing as a hunter will be immediately familiar to Left 4 Dead aficionados, playing as the monster is an entire different beast (pun intended). No longer are you restricted to a first-person view. As a beast, you play in third-person, so you can better see your melee attacks and make massive map-clearing leaps. You may be able to pick up boulders and throw them, breathe fire out of your mouth, and tear humans in half. But when a match begins, a monster is actually at a disadvantage compared to the formidably-equipped humans. They have unlimited ammo and special powers, while the monster has a finite amount of health that can never be restored. As a monster, it's crucial to play smart. You'll feel threatened immediately after a match starts. Like a classic game of Hide and Seek, monster players are only given ten seconds to scamper away from the starting point. Yes, both human and monster players start from the same place. And when you run away as a monster, you leave a ton of evidence for humans to track you with: your footprints will be visible, and should you run past a flock of bird-like aliens, the disturbance will appear as a notification on the HUD of the human players. While you may tower over a single human player, it still pays to play stealthily--at least in the match's opening moments. By entering stealth mode, you can avoid leaving tracks and disturbing wildlife. You might also subtly blend in with the jungle environment. I was amazed when I was able to successfully evade detection by hiding in the bushes and crouching. I saw an entire squad of four run past me--and it was tempting to try and wipe them all out by catching them off-guard. I decided against that tactic, mostly because I hadn't evolved yet. Given that it is the title of the game, evolution plays a crucial role to the flow of battle. By consuming the wildlife that's scattered throughout the map, monsters will be able to level up and gain an additional ability. Feasting will also restore some of your shields--the only part of your health that can be recovered in some way. However, eating leaves you vulnerable: not only is it time-consuming, but it can attract the attention of the hunters. The feasting mechanic is responsible for creating the ebb and flow of each match. Players on both sides will want to avoid being caught off-guard. As a human, being unable to find the monster is terrifying--especially if you hear him shedding his skin and transforming into a higher-level beast. Because of how much health the monster has, it's effective to retreat whenever possible. Dole out some damage, get some scares, and then run. It's better to feast and restore some shielding while the humans stay on edge, preparing for the monster's inevitable attack. Monsters can evolve in other ways as well. By eating specially colored beasts, they'll be able to unlock special time-limited bonuses which can grant extra damage, extra health, or other special effects that can change the tide of battle. But wildlife isn't just food--they can be enemies and tools. Some can be quite formidable, taking serious time to battle. However, they can also be used as tools against the humans. Luring them to a swamp where a particularly ferocious wild animal is could help you take out a few human players, leaving the weakened squad to your clutches. Final Thoughts In spite of more than 1200 words in this preview, this is still scratching the surface on all the depth that Evolve packs. Even while playing on just one map with just one playable monster, it was amazing to witness how varied each match was. Sometimes the monster would win with brute force, other times, the cunning of the humans were able to eek by a narrow victory. Evolve manages to capture the sheer fun of hunting and being hunted--and I can't wait to see what other surprises are in store.
Disclaimer: 2K Games provided Shacknews transportation from Los Angeles to San Francisco to attend an all-day preview event.

From The Chatty

  • reply
    February 11, 2014 5:00 AM

    Andrew Yoon posted a new article, Evolve preview: scratching the surface of Turtle Rock's 4v1 monster game.

    At the end of one match, Evolve had me shaking. At the end of five, I was utterly convinced: developer Turtle Rock has managed to create another...

    • reply
      February 11, 2014 5:24 AM

      Hype level: Rising. PC Gamer video preview has footage hotness too! http://www.pcgamer.com/uk/2014/02/11/evolve-video-report-hands-on-with-turtle-rocks-new-shooter/

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        February 11, 2014 5:28 AM

        Also, reminds me distantly of Giants: Citizen Kabuto mutliplayer which was AMAZING.

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        February 11, 2014 5:47 AM

        Looks fun fun fun.

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      February 11, 2014 5:25 AM

      Looks awesome. Must be a very difficult game to balance.

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      February 11, 2014 5:56 AM

      Never heard of this game but it sounds really cool. As long as they get the balance right and there isn't some really cheap tactic to be found a week after launch it could be really good.

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      February 11, 2014 6:11 AM

      Looking forward to more of this one!

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      February 11, 2014 6:37 AM

      I am interested even though the 4vs1 setup makes me very skeptical of the games potential in versus multiplayer. I thought they had a good thing going with 4vs4 in L4D.

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        February 11, 2014 9:37 AM

        the problem with asymmetric games is that, even if they're balanced, one side is usually more popular

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        February 11, 2014 10:46 AM

        I think the point that you're missing here is that the entire core of the game itself IS basically one huge VERSUS mode. I doubt they'll have a need for a Versus mode in light of that fact.

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      February 11, 2014 8:25 AM

      Hmm

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        February 11, 2014 9:20 AM

        What? That's it from you? Dude, you should be all kinds of excited about this thing!

        I've played the same demo as Andrew has, it feels fantastic!

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          February 11, 2014 9:21 AM

          Let me know when its released.

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          February 11, 2014 9:57 AM

          Well it could be cool, my only concern is there is just one Boss basically to fight not sure how many times you could play that over and over again.

          Are there no little mobs around to kill while you plan to kill the boss? or is it really 4 vs 1 any nothing else.

          Also is there a SP mode and your 3 others become bots and the boss dude can be AI as well?

          Don't know I just have a hard time seeing how a 4v1 could be cool for more than a day, I have not played it so I can't judge but up front I have a hard time seeing how a boss battle only game would be cool. To me if it really is 4v1 I might as well just go play DOTA2, LOL, or HON.

          We will see I guess.

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            February 11, 2014 9:58 AM

            There are smaller mobs. If the hunters kill the larger of the smaller mods, they get stat boosts.

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              February 11, 2014 10:11 AM

              Ah just like L4D! well that is a different story then, so the other human player who is the boss what does he do just wait and cause havoc does he have any mission like fortify an area manage the small AI mobs or does he just wait?

              I am about to watch a game play video this may clear up a lot of my questions ... juices are starting to flow

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                February 11, 2014 10:13 AM

                The boss player has to go kill the larger enemies as well in order to evolve. Once he tries to evolve, he goes into a cocoon for 15 seconds, during which he is vulnerable to attack. Once he gets to evolution level 3, he can then go for alternate victory conditions.

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                  February 11, 2014 10:20 AM

                  Cool, sounds like a different take on a MOBA basically. The gameplay vid I posted looks cool, just got to try it out.

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            February 11, 2014 10:16 AM

            READ THE ARTICLE

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            February 11, 2014 12:56 PM

            http://www.usatoday.com/story/tech/gaming/2014/02/11/evolve-game-preview/5398599/

            Turtle Rock has unveiled the Goliath, a "brutish" monster similar to King Kong, says Grace, but other monster types will be available for players to select. "Each monster and hunter has its own characters and abilities and items and equipment," he says.

    • reply
      February 11, 2014 8:34 AM

      MY BODY IS READY (TO EVOLVE)

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      February 11, 2014 9:44 AM

      This sounds pretty awesome.

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      February 11, 2014 9:54 AM

      This game looks really interesting. I'm looking forward to seeing what happens to it between now and release, cause it already looks pretty well polished!

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      February 11, 2014 9:57 AM

      "Not actual gameplay" does that mean not in game, meaning cg trailer? 2014, it's the new gen, show the fucking game.

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      February 11, 2014 10:01 AM

      oh man this looks and sounds really good

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      February 11, 2014 10:19 AM

      game play vid it is the best I could find --> http://ca.ign.com/videos/2014/02/11/evolve-lets-go-hunting?abthid=52fa654e1de7c8f67300001a

      Looks pretty cool I want to try this out, I just hope there is enough to keep each side busy when not doing the actual 4v1 battle.

      Btw what do MOBA -> DOTA2, LOL, and HON dudes think of this game?

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        February 11, 2014 11:10 AM

        The hunter team is constantly on the hunt for the monster. They have all sorts of tools and ways of using the enviroment to find him.

        Meanwhile, the monster is trying to avoid detection and gain strength so he can defeat the hunters head-on, or maybe try to seperate them from each other for an easy kill.

        It's essentially one long cat and mouse game, except the mouse turns into a 100 pound rottweiler at some point.

        (Although a skilled monster player can decimate the hunter team even in his initial state if they aren't working properly together)

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          February 11, 2014 11:21 AM

          Cool, sounds good, I shall try it when it comes out.

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        February 11, 2014 12:32 PM

        That looks like a lot of cinematic bullshit mixed in with some bits of gameplay. I thought the two guys talking were actually playing this. I guess they were just reading something that was given to them?

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          February 11, 2014 12:50 PM

          They got the same b-roll footage that everyone else from the press got. I guess the words are their own...

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      February 11, 2014 12:25 PM

      That Danzig cover is awful.

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      February 11, 2014 12:37 PM

      Loads and loads more info here http://www.gameinformer.com/p/evolve.aspx

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      February 12, 2014 10:08 AM

      my neighbor's step-aunt makes $75 /hr on the laptop . She has been out of work for 8 months but last month her check was $15309 just working on the laptop for a few hours. look these up

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