Saturday, June 28, 2014

EVOLVE: redefining the online first person shooter experience.

When EVOLVE was first shown to the gaming community by the people at Turtle Rock (Left 4 Dead), many gamers were surprised because of how much of a fresh idea it was. Up until now the concept of an online session on any first person shooter game was always about just shooting the enemy down, capturing their flag, dominating their spots,etc so the game took that into a whole unexplored direction. Now with a game like EVOLVE we see a re-imagining of the online first person shooter experience with a fresh and interesting new idea. This time you are not only the one behind the guns and gadgets, but also a mighty creature who's job is to make sure that all its enemies are dead at once. The great thing about this concept is that it is surely something that many gamers were wanting to do ever since the first time we had to defeat a giant boss in a video game, so now that we can opt to be the heroes or the big bad guy, let's see how good the idea is holding off.

The Game Play

evolve goliathThe game play in EVOLVE revolves around a group of 4 hunters, trying to defeat a giant monster. Looks simple enough, but it quickly becomes fascinating when you see that the battleground is not arena styled. On this game you will have to move through very well designed maps that feature a mix of jungles, forest, caves and small urban areas as you either hunt the creature or as the creature, you creep on the hunters looking for a way to wipe them out.  The nice thing about these maps is that they are packed with various types of flora and fauna that can either be helpful or harmful, giving each session a good sense of survival, rather than a plain fire fight. The mood on the game maps is also something worth noting, as it has this eerie feeling, sort of like the one you would get if you were walking through a jungle late at night, heard a sound of some bushes moving, pointing your flashlight at them and managing to catch a glimpse of something that has been creeping on to you from the shadows. It is all a mixture of elements that give the game a very intense, but suspenseful feeling.

The Hunters

evolve huntersAs the hunters, you will fight the monster with a party of 4. The basic jobs for these hunters are assault, trapper, medic and support (which means 2 damage dealers, a healer and extra support), but many other different types of hunters have been shown which seem to have their own characteristics and skills which may or not differ from the basic classes. Assault, medic and support are class types that are already known in the first person shooter genre, been the trapper is the one that makes a difference. On this game, the trapper is the one that has the task of playing "tricks" the monster by slowing it down, holding it in place and various other things that will help the rest of the party in their effort to put it down for good by maximizing damage which makes the trapper one of the most important classes other than the medic. If this were a medieval styled game, the trapper would be some sort of wizard who puts status effect hexes on the enemy in order to weaken them.

The Monsters

evolve goliath fire attackAs the monster, your goal is to wipe the hunter party any way you can. There will be a lot of monsters to choose from as you progress through the game, but right now the ones that have been shown are Goliath and Kraken, with Goliath been the basic "grunt" type monster you start with. Playing as the monster puts you in a disadvantage early on, as you begin small and not that powerful, but if you manage to survive the first encounters with the hunters then you get to move around and feed of the local plants and animals in order to get bigger and stronger, which is separated in "evolving stages"(hence the name of the game) as each stage make you bigger in size, gives you new attacks and even some special skills if you live long enough.

EVOLVE E3 gamplay footage by IGN

Balance is king

A game formula such as the one featured in EVOLVE is very prone to balance issues, considering that we have the possibility of the monster been too powerful or too weak and the chance that giving too many tools to the hunters can somehow turn into players finding some way to exploit them. Up until now it seems that most of these issues have been dealt with while playing as a hunter or the monster so neither of them have any unfair advantage.

evolve hunter vs monster
Playing as the hunters gives you a fair deal of weaponry and tools as well as fluid movement which doesn't have you confined to any tight space (including some sort of jet packs used to float around a bit). While it looks "safe" enough to play as a hunter, you are still only human so you can still be mauled if you are not careful enough. While playing as the monster, you may believe that you will be at a clear advantage or disadvantage, but in reality what really decides how well you do, is your instinct for survival. You have to think like a beast and not like a human. Forget about cherry-picking your enemies because the hunters will constantly find you with the help of their trapper and also forget about "camping" because this will prevent you from getting stronger. You will have unnatural strength and powers, but you will not be able to spam your way through, because the game design will not allow it. The game flow in this game involves several skirmishes followed by some calm moments that serve for you to prepare for the next fight, so use them well and don't try to rely on dirty tactics and they don't seem to work. In summary, with game sessions averaging on 12-15 minutes each, we can see that there not much room for error with game play as balanced as this, it all relies on your skills and not on the game's technical issues.

evolve kraken monster
Kraken joins the battle!

Potential for greatness

Right now, as far as we have been able to see about the game, we can conclude that it has lots of potential. Not only it redefines what an online first person shooter plays like, but does it in a balanced way and promises to give us a little extra for our effort as the game will feature unlockable things like new monsters and hunters, so in order to try them all, you will have to go the distance. Add this to the well done game maps (it seems that there will be 12 in total), eerie and suspenseful atmosphere, balanced game play and fast paced action and you have a possible winner in your hands.

Wrapping it up

EVOLVE looks like it will be an interesting, different approach into the online first person shooter experience that has the makings of a great and fun game. If you ever wanted to feel how would it be to be the big bad boss at the end of a stage or if you love long and difficult boss fights, this game is right up your alley and it will become available to you on October 21, so get ready.

Youtube: IGN

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