PAX East 2014: Hands-On with Evolve

Turtle Rock Studios' Evolve is much more than Left 4 Dead with monsters.
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After waiting in a two-hour line this weekend at PAX East, I had the chance to play Evolve, the upcoming co-operative shooter from Left 4 Dead’s Turtle Rock Studios. Only slightly reminiscent of the studio’s first game, Evolve pits four hunters against one giant, alien monster.

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While the demo I played was just a glimpse of what’s to expect from the full game, it was a ton of fun and here’s why.

The Hunters

Evolve features four classes of hunter: Trapper, Assault, Support, and Medic. These classes are completely unique in skills and weaponry, making each player an irreplaceable part of the team. The Trapper is responsible for, well, trapping the monster. Assault deals the bulk of the damage while Support provides a defensive shield and Medic restores health.

For the demo, I played as the Medic, Val. I was slightly peeved that the only female hunter was the healer, but was relieved when I realized she was much more than just a chick with a healing ray. Val also comes armed with a tranq gun to track and slow the monster down and an armor-piercing sniper rifle to deal damage and create exploitable weak spots.

If you’re playing as a hunter, teamwork is the only way you can expect to succeed. I watched a number of other teams disregard their teammates and the monster promptly destroyed them.

Pro tip: Teamwork makes the dream work.

The Monster

If you were on the expo floor this weekend, there’s no way you missed the game’s first monster – Goliath.

Assuming 2K’s statue is a to-scale replica, Goliath stands well over 20-feet tall. He’s a scary son of a bitch that only gets scarier as the match goes on.

The game gets its title from the monster’s ability to evolve. By staying hidden from hunters and chowing down on wild animals, the monster gains strength and skill points to spend on new abilities like fire breathing. Hunters are warned as the monster reaches new stages of evolution, and I may have peed my pants a little when our Goliath reached the third and final level.

Thankfully, Evolve is incredibly well-balanced. The monster is powerful enough to fight off four well-armed hunters but the hunters aren’t SOL when he reaches Level 3. Our match got way too close for comfort but ultimately the hunters came out on top. Huzzah!

The Thrill of the Hunt

So what makes this game any different than Left 4 Dead?

Well, for one, you can’t just go in guns a blazing. A large chunk of our match was dedicated to tracking the monster down.

The demo’s jungle-like map is pretty open compared to the more linear maps in Left 4 Dead, which makes for an intense hunt. The longer you take to find the monster, the faster he can evolve. The game indicates when you’re getting close, but otherwise you’re left to follow footprints, discarded animal carcasses and the occasional sound of growling. I actually found tracking Goliath just as exciting as fighting him, which is good considering we did a lot of it.

Final Thoughts

Our match was about twenty minutes and it was an absolute blast. I can’t wait to see what other maps, hunters and monsters Turtle Rock has in store. Fingers crossed for more lady hunters! 

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Lauren Puga
Designer, Dovahkiin, and aspiring Disney princess.