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Evolve review-in-progress: The most dangerous game

Hayden Dingman | Feb. 11, 2015
Hemingway might've loved Evolve.

Hemingway might've loved Evolve.

Sure, there's technically a "reason" why you're hunting down the massive monsters at the heart of the game. In humanity's never-ending quest to conquer the universe and grind nature under its heel, it's landed on the planet Shear. Only on Shear, nature fights back. The "monsters" are just protecting their habitat, destroying valuable human colonies in the process.

Think Fern Gully on steroids.

Despite this reasonable, lore-supported explanation, it's impossible to get an image of the stereotypical big-game hunter out of my head — safari outfit, permanent sneer, big ol' elephant gun. Basically, the bad guy in Jumanji. Heck, one of the characters is even modeled directly off that archetype.

Well, sorry Space-PETA. It turns out big game hunting is pretty thrilling. At least at first.

Welcome to the jungle

Evolve is the first game developer Turtle Rock has made since Left 4 Dead, which in game terms is basically an eternity ago. And on the surface, it feels a lot like its predecessor. One (much-discussed) aspect of Evolve is a team of four "Hunters," tasked with taking out the aforementioned monster.

The catch — the thing that differentiates it from a reskinned Left 4 Dead — is that the monster in question is actually another player. Where Left 4 Dead relied on the AI "Director" for a constantly-shifting challenge, Evolve pits humans against other devious humans.

The core of Evolve is "Hunt" mode. The monster is let loose on a map and given a bit of time to run away. After that, the hunters land in the match and begin pursuit. Either the hunters kill the monster or the monster kills the hunters.

Matches start slanted towards the hunters — the monster is relatively weak to start. By killing and eating wildlife however the monster can "evolve" into its stronger forms, adding new abilities and more health. In its second tier the monster is an equal match for the humans. In its third tier the monster has the advantage.

It behooves the hunters to catch up to the monster as quickly as possible, which is where the games various classes come into play. There are four roles in Evolve: Assault (basic damage-dealing), Trapper (tracking down the monster), Medic (healing the others), and Support (variety of helpful abilities). Only one of each class can be in a game, and classes are further subdivided into three hunter choices per class.

For instance, the Trapper class specializes in tracking down the monster and then keeping it in one place with the Mobile Arena ability — think "Thunderdome." The initial Trapper you play as is Maggie, who has a dog Daisy that tracks the monster on its own. Griffin, unlocked later, tosses "Sound Spikes" that activate any time the monster makes noise nearby and notifies the hunters of its whereabouts. The third Trapper you can unlock, Abe, has tracking darts. Three different approaches to what's basically the same concept.


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