As the latest effort to return asymmetrical multiplayer combat to the AAA industry, Evolve has ridden a wave of controversy to its release date. From devs all but boasting about their DLC plans to severe communication problems with the public, opinions over this one have been extremely divisive.
The gameplay is simple: You go in as a group of hunters and try to pin down and kill a monster, or play as the monster trying to consume wildlife and gradually enhance its own abilities. Forcing each side to take a very different route to victory is a work of genius as it means both teams aren’t competing for the same goals, and offers a far more dynamic alternative to MMORPG boss raiding. This is especially evident with an extremely varied selection of characters and monsters, all of who fulfil their roles in extremely different ways. One medic has healing grenades, another a beam, another can only directly resurrect the fallen, and each monster has similarly opposing strengths and weaknesses.
The real meat of the game comes about when the monster is pinned down and both sides engage one another. With the monster left trying to break free and hunters slowly sap its strength display the real advantage of this style of multiplayer release, proving to be an entertaining mix of third person brawling and FPS fighting. Just where the monster is engaged and how much time it has had to chow down on the local wildlife is crucial to pinning it down, and when done well it makes for some truly entertaining running skirmishes.
The chief issue with Evolve is its lack of encouragement to have players directly engage one another, but also its inability to truly balance individual skill. As team mates are far more reliant upon one another as humans than in Left 4 Dead, a bad player can easily bring the whole team down. A bad monster will just end the game quickly, while by comparison a good monster will just turn and hide, turning the match into a lengthy, eventless chase. Without truly complex tracking abilities from the hunters or more varied PvE elements, all too often, this results in an empty experience hurts Evolve’s longevity.
To put it bluntly, we’ve seen better this - far better, both in recent years and prior releases. Compared with Giants: Citizen Kabuto, it lacks the complexity and depth of the varied factions. Matched with Depth or Left 4 Dead, it lacks the continual combat, activity, map variety and flexibility when it comes to how you engage your foes. While it has its moments, for all the hype behind it Evolve is simply nothing special.