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E3 2014: Evolve Hands-On Impressions

Evolve, the next game from the development studio that brought you Left 4 Dead, is bringing a new take on the multiplayer shooter that has a very unique premise: a team of four human players try to take down one alien creature that can evolve and get stronger as the match goes on. At E3 2014, I managed to get my hands on Evolve to see how this intriguing approach to a shooter would turn out.

The humans trying to kill the creature can choose one of four classes: assault, support, medic, and trapper. Assault and medic have abilities that you would expect, while the trapper’s most notable ability is to lay down a huge bubble-like arena that prevents the monster from running away to a safe place. This is an extremely useful ability, as it allows you to lock down the creature if you have the advantage, or safely escape if you’re being overwhelmed. The support, which is the role I played during my match, can launch a UAV to try to scout out the monster, cloak himself and his teammates, and send out sentry turrets that gun down nearby enemies.

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If you’re playing as the monster, it’s your job to continually upgrade and improve your abilities by killing and consuming the variety of animals scattered throughout the level. There are 3 stages of evolution, and as you get to the next stage, you can increase the effectiveness of your moves. The monster I fought in my match was a flying squid-like alien that was surprisingly mobile. The monster also had a plasma charge attack that was reminiscent of the Hammer of Dawn in Gears of War, where several smaller lasers would slowly collapse into singular laser that can obliterate most things in a few hits.

After a few skirmishes with the monster, it was painfully obvious that coordinated teamwork is of the utmost importance if you want to take down the creature. Even at its first stage, it’s still tough to survive, even if we managed to get about a quarter through its health. But after the creature had evolved to stage 2, it was a pretty one sided battle. Without any sort of coordination, we were mercilessly slaughtered without any hope of survival. And then by stage 3, it wasn’t even close. Trying to fell the beast before it fully upgrades to its maximum capacity seems to be the only feasible way to kill it, unless you and your team can really outwit and outplay the monster even when it’s at its strongest.

I’m positive that if you have a group of friends that can work together and play their class, Evolve will probably be an experience unlike any other. But from my brief hands-on impression, playing with randoms without using any sort of teamwork may result in a sub-optimal experience. Regardless, this fresh take on a multiplayer game is undoubtedly an intriguing one that has me curious to see how the final product ends up.



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