Evolve Beta Impressions 1

Evolve Beta Impressions

In a previous article about the Evolve Alpha, I said that this game was worth playing. After playing 7 hours of the Evolve Beta, I can safely say that I will be buying this game when it releases. The difference in those statements was made up by all the improvements that Turtle Rock Studios has applied to their newest creation.

Evolve pits a team of four players against one. Four hunters, one monster, their goals are to kill each other. The monster consumes eats animals to gain armor and can eventually evolve to increase its health and upgrade its abilities. The hunters must work as a team, using their class abilities to hunt the monster down. Think of it as a high-tech version of hide-and-seek.

Everything I said about the Evolve Alpha is true for the Beta, but several aspects are amplified. The game has more variety, more customization and is better balanced. It’s more of what I loved from the Alpha, and less of what I hated.

Unlike the Alpha, the Beta had few server issues and connections problems were practically non-existent. There were two occasions where a game got stuck on a loading screen, prompting me to alt-tab to my desktop and re-launch the game. Otherwise, the game ran incredibly smooth with no stutter and no lag. This wouldn’t seem like such a big deal if it were not for the continual online woes of games such as The Master Chief Collection (which still doesn’t work two months later).

Evolve Beta Impressions 3

A monster with low armor isn’t highlighted to other players which makes hiding in a bush a valid tactic.

Upon reaching the main menu, players are immediately greeted with a short tutorial. This tutorial is skipable but it’s inclusion is a much better introduction to the game than what the Alpha had. Even better is that players can experiment with different class setups in Solo mode which allows for offline play. They can even switch between hunters at the touch of a button.

But lets be honest, most of you want to play as the Monster and this is where Evolve truly shines. There’s more strategic depth and the game is keen to remind you that stealth is now a legitimate option. For example, sneaking doesn’t leave tracks, which allows players to double back to mislead hunters.

Several balancing issues from the Alpha have been addressed in the Beta. The Kraken is no longer overpowered and going against a level three monster is no longer suicidal. It feels as though skill is a bigger factor. A good enough player in Evolve can overcome any disadvantage. In one instance, I saw a single player keep a level 3 Goliath busy for two minutes until all their teammates respawned.

On the other hand, the third monster, called the Wraith is in desperate need of balancing. While I didn’t personally experience this, according to telemetry data, the Wraith has a 71% win rate, which is worse than the Kraken in the Alpha. In compraison, the Kraken and Goliath were close to a 50% win rate in the Beta.

Evolve Beta Impressions 2

After every game, you get an overview showing player positions throughout the match letting players know how close they were to the enemy.

The Beta’s biggest upgrade was the presentation. Simply put, it’s phenomenal. The art direction is outstanding, the graphics are better, the framerate is higher and the added cutscenes are gorgeous. I want to give special mention the hunter dialogue, which brings out the personality in the characters the same way Left 4 Dead did with the survivors.

There’s little I can say about the Beta that I didn’t say about the Alpha but somehow the game has gotten significantly more enjoyable. How a match goes is largely determined by the player controlling the monster. However the monster’s actions are influenced by how well the hunters are doing. There’s a push-pull relationship between players that elevates the gameplay into new levels of online interactivity.

The Evolve Beta is a significant improvement over the Alpha. Turtle Rock Studios has taken a solid foundation and made great amounts of progress making it better. The game has become more stable, more balanced, and better paced. There’s nothing complicated about it, Evolve is damn good fun. I hope I can say the same for the entire game when it release on Feb. 10.

Version Played: PC (on highest settings).

Time played: 7 hours.

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