Evolve: Are you a Darwinner, or a Darloser?

A symmetric gaming is like giving your least-favourite friend the unsettling third party controller with the control stick that leans to the left. It’s deliberately unbalanced, but in those differences lie a competitive experience like no other.

Evolve’s fights could be the most balanced unbalancing we’ve ever seen. Between class-specific abilities, deadly Monster upgrades and auto-balancing that handicaps the winning side in each round of the Evacuation mode stitching five rounds into a mini campaign Turtle Rock ensures its four vs one hunt never feels unfair.


This is even more impressive when you consider the huge potential locked away in the tactical combination of its classes. Take a Hunter who can slow or limit the Monster with arena traps, tranq darts or a stasis grenade and add a Support character who can fire a damage-amplifying field and you’ve got yourself an incredibly easy target. The most exciting thing is the possibilities that await those that use creativity and well-oiled teamwork.

We imagine there are many combos of skills and weapons that Turtle Rock hasn’t considered like Lego or the inventor of candy underwear, they just provide the tools for interesting, imaginative uses.But where the number of possible team combinations is vast, Monsters are limited to three. With three stages of evolution, the latter the only one that can withstand serious battle, we found our Monster forced to play defensively, fleeing when possible and sneaking around the rest of the time.

This feeds in well to most of the game modes Hunt puts the Monster at a disadvantage but offers a minute’s headstart; Nest, with six eggs to defend, allows the Monster to hatch a Goliath minion; Rescue’s gradual release of survivors means that it’s the last wave that decides the winner.
If Ezio and a Xenomorph had an affair, Wraith would be the resulting lovechild
The devs know where the weak links could be and targets them superbly with a thoughtful mix of power-ups and balances to keep the ball rolling. It’s never over until it’s over Evacuation’s five stages mean that even if the Monster wins the first four, the fifth map will have a team kitted with maximum boosts and if they win, they get a vast pool of XP, despite having lost four times in a row.

Leap of wraith
The two previously announced beasts, Kraken and Goliath, are joined by a third: Wraith. Wraith is, for starters, female. You’ll notice this the second you clock her oddly feminine figure, because despite being a horrifically grotesque hellspawn, it’s important to make sure that all female game characters possess a great rack. Sigh.

Secondly, she’s the stealth option to Kraken’s range and Goliath’s melee attacks, with a sly focus on creeping, trickery and fast movement. Imagine Ezio and a Xenomorph had a long and confusing affair, and this is the resulting lovechild. Like the other two Monsters, she can climb, smell and eat wildlife, in order to evolve her four unique, upgradeable abilities/attacks.

The first, Warp Attack, harnesses her ability to warp over short distances and weaponises it. Abduction as it sounds teleports a Hunter out of battle, which you can use to isolate and attack one of them, or move the Medic far from their patient. Decoy is your chance to escape, turning you invisible for a short period but negating your ability to attack best used to go off and scoff wildlife. Finally, there’s the Supernova, which creates an arena of damage good for spamming when you’re feeling overrun.

There’s a brilliant ‘click’ moment when it all sinks in the complicated classes, the weapon loadouts, how all the abilities and specialties work together that makes the game sing. Giving strategic commands to others on your team while the Jurassic Park-like stomps and screeches in the background gets your heart pumping there’s nothing like it. Knowing there’s an unpredictable human brain behind that sinister, unseen entity just makes it all the more terrifying.

We wonder, however, how much our session worked because the majority of us didn’t know what we were doing. It’s balanced because we were all in the same, shoddy, badly patched-up boat. What happens when people get good? There’s a great deal of potential for Hunters to combine their strengths, but the Monster is a lone wolf no matter how good they are, it feels like the Hunters might gain the advantage.

It’s clear Turtle Rock has put a great deal of thought into the structure and balance of Evolve. It certainly offers a welcome respite from endless arena shooters, but its success will really depend on the skill and ingenuity of the fans. Just like how your chum is always left behind because of that dodgy controller, we can’t help but worry that 4v1well-balanced as it is right now might suffer down the line.

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