It’s quickly becoming clear that the future of gaming has a heavier focus on multiplayer gameplay, with the likes of Call of Duty and even Grand Theft Auto offering much more in terms of online play, and games like The Crew and Titanfall solely focusing on multiplayer gaming. There’s just one little problem, no matter how hard a game is stress tested, there’s still problems, look at Driveclub for example; almost four months on and it’s only just stable enough. So with Turtle Rock’s Evolve being mostly multiplayer focussed, I was a little dubious as to how well it’d perform..
Evolve is a four versus one multiplayer shooter where hunters try and take down a gigantic beast of a monster, all of which are played by real players. The game requires teamwork on the hunters side, and wit and skill on the monsters side for either party to succeed. Unfortunately that’s easier said than done as the game, when playing as a hunter, relies on players working together, something you rarely find on multiplayer games nowadays. It’s this lone-wolf mentality that can sometimes ruin a perfectly good game, so it takes the player looking at the game from a new angle; how do they succeed when everyone else is doing their own thing? This is where Evolve’s progression system excels.
You may have heard by now that Evolve has a tonne of DLC, but not map packs or game modes, this DLC is purely cosmetic. Though many have been having a grumble about the sheer amount of it all, a lot of it can actually be unlocked by playing the game, so if yore patient and want your favourite character to look prettier than the default offering, putting in a bit of effort will get you this. It’s rewards such as this which keep you wanting to play more, earning more points, higher levels, and better character skins and badges, but even with that, something still stands in your way: the mild infuriation of other players.
Since intensely playing Evolve over the past week, I’ve quickly discovered a trend amongst players. You see, when you load the game for the first time you’re asked your preference of character, whether it’s to be the Monster, the Medic, Assaut, Trapper, or Support. You put them in order from preferred to least, and go about your business, but it seems for some players, they want this to be gospel, not a preferred suggestion, which in turn results in them quitting a match or backing out of a pre-game lobby when their preferred character isn’t available.
Another trend I’ve discovered is that when a player dies and has to wait around one minute-thirty to respawn via the drop-ship, they’ll just quit. Thankfully Turtle Rock has tried to penalise players for this decision, but waiting in a lobby by yourself for a minute isn’t adequate punishment because they can still access their stats, profile, and more. Though it’s a little annoying, it’s easy enough to ignore and right back into the game, only to quit again once you’ve died one minute in..
Now, my review so far has been a little misanthropic, but that’s because the game relies primarily on player participation, something that just isn’t happening.. Another example, my character of choice is the Medic, Val, who comes armed with an armour piercing sniper rifle which once fired at the monster slaps on a lovely big target onto where it hit, to which Val suggests the other members of the team “Aim for the weak point!” which basically means, shoot at that bloody big targed and we’ll take the beast down quicker! But do they? Do they heck.
Players aside, the game offers two main types of gameplay, a Skirmish, which is just a quick one-round game, or the games main, in-depth game mode, Evacuation. This game mode is essentially the ‘story mode’ as it were, with an overarching story which changes depending on the outcome of each game. The game as a whole consists of five ‘days’ which are simply five different missions which are voted on by the players, these can be anything from a simple Hunt or Nest, a game mode which sees players destroying monster nests, while the monster either tries to stop them, or if they can get there in time, hatch the eggs to spawn a minion, a slightly smaller version of the player controlled monster, but is just as powerful.
According to the games introduction video, depending on how each Evacuation ‘day’ plays out, the following mission will be affected as a result, which means there’s around 800,000 variables, meaning no Evacuation is the same. There’s just one problem. No matter how hard I try, I’ve only managed to hop into an Evacuation mission once. Most of the time I’m just thrown into a Hunt or Nest Skirmish. I’m not sure if this is intentional, to stop players from waiting in lobbies, or something unintentionally faulty with the game’s matchmaking. Either way, trying to get into a game is a chore in itself.
More often than not, I actually found myself in a severely underpopulated lobby, with one or two other players waiting to play the game. Now understandably, those who have four other friends with the game are probably playing private matches or have filled their own lobbies, but for those of us who don’t have four other friends, are hoping there are more players to actually play with. And this isn’t just off-peak times either, a Saturday and Sunday afternoon/evening even resulted in half-full lobbies.
Thankfully, you’re not thrown into a game by yourself with the expectations of throwing down the monster by yourself, you’re joined by “bot” players, which as soon as a player connects, will take the role of that character. Bot characters can also be switched-to mid game meaning if you’re done being the Trapper and want to try your hand at Assault, then you can, using the D-Pad. You can also take the role of other players once you’ve gone down, if that character is available.
Taking other players out of the equation for a second, I’ve been asked whether Evolve is worth it and in reply I’ve said that it definitely is, the game is fantastic once you’re in a game where players somewhat work together, it’s even better when you’re playing with friends, but these times are a rarity, and trying to get three or four other friends together for a game can be an impossible task. You could be that person who goes into a game with their microphone on, trying to round up the other players, but in my attempts, as well as seeing others having a go, efforts are futile.
As a whole, the game is graphically fantastic, with the speed that the game plays out and the amount of stuff that can be happening on screen at once, I saw little problems with tearing or popping of textures, that’s not to say it didn’t happen as there were a small amount of times characters would render poorly in the lobby only for textures to pop in a few seconds later, there was also an issue of the game’s menus becoming ridiculously slow and laggy, something which often appeared when you joined a game in-progress, though it quickly went away once you’d zoomed into the characters head..
There was also this issue that cropped up when I went down in a frantic hail of gunfire and monster breath, all while being shielded by the Support class..
Overall it seems Evolve has a few teething problems that I think Turtle Rock need to figure out. That doesn’t mean that Evolve is a bad game, in fact it’s thoroughly enjoyable if you can find a game full of players willing to work together. Now, I can’t blame the developers for the lack of enthusiasm from players, it’s no fault of the game itself, it’s just one of the many problems that come with multiplayer focussed games. If you have to work together, like in Search and Destroy on Call of Duty, it can go really well if you play as a team, but if you’re a lone wolf, shit will go down, really, really fast.
Does that mean Evolve is worth avoiding until the gaming community becomes less socially awkward? No, not at all. If you have friends with the game, then great, you enjoy that. I know I did. But if you’re a fan of the studio, and the game’s betas, expect to be frustrated by players and their choices and change your gameplan to accommodate for players doing their own thing – something you’ll have to anticipate if you’re the Medic.. Evolve? More like Babysitting Simulator..
This review was based on the Xbox One version of Evolve provided by 2K.