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Evolve review-in-progress: The most dangerous game

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

Occasionally you get a match that comes down to the wire, but most of the matches I've played went one of two ways: The monster screws up early and is mercilessly murdered by the hunters, or the monster leads the hunters on a fruitless chase for eight minutes until it's evolved to maximum level and then returns to wreak havoc.

Evacuation mode, which tasks you with playing five rounds in a row, is better. Here, matches get small twists in the form of persistent map effects — if the hunters fail to save a power plant, for instance, there are radioactive patches in the next round that can hurt them. Also, you get some objective-based gametypes which help break up the repetitiveness of all-Hunt-all-the-time.

But even Evacuation can get a bit boring once you've seen what it has to offer or if you get stuck in a lopsided match where one side rolls the other. It's also spectacularly long — five rounds typically takes between 30-40 minutes, so it's not suited to quick drop-in play.

As a game built specifically for online and multiplayer, it's a bit hard to speculate on Evolve's future. Sure, this isn't an MMO but some of the trappings are there. Turtle Rock has already patched some of the more glaring issues found in the beta, and I'm sure that process of balancing will only ramp up now that the game is out. And I expect high-level play to improve as people start learning the game and playing with a team of four tightly-coordinated friends instead of with a random group of jagoffs.

I'm just not convinced of the game's broader staying power though, and that's a shame. I mean, Destiny is by all accounts not a great game and yet it's managed to (somehow) cling to life. Evolve on the other hand is pretty fun, and I'm sitting here concerned whether we'll be discussing it in six months. That's crazy!

Part of the problem lines in the much-ballyhooed DLC plan Turtle Rock's laid out. Here's how it works, if you haven't heard:

All new maps will be free, but you'll pay for new hunters and monsters. There are some pros to this scheme — making maps free means you don't fracture the player base in any way. Great! Admirable.

On the other hand, the hunters and monsters are core to the game, and undoubtedly much more interesting to players conceptually than new maps. The problem? You'll pay $7.50 for a new hunter and $15 for a new monster. That's a lot of money. And it leaves Turtle Rock in a weird situation — namely, how to convince players to spend that much without totally breaking the balance or usefulness of the characters that already exist.


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