Last week 2K Games and Turtle Rock Studios let loose a five day open-beta treat for Xbox One owners. The result? Gamers had an opportunity to get in some hands-on time with the hybrid, asymmetrical, competitive multiplayer shooter. The only problem is that the end result of the experience left something to be desired of the experience.
I haven't read any other hands-on previews of the games or gathered any feedback from gamers coming out of the miniscule amount of time I had with the title. I didn't want my thoughts tainted about what the game is about and what was to be expected from the experience.
Stepping away from the beta with only my own thoughts to fall back on, I can clearly say that based on what was present in the beta it's not indicative of a game that seems as if it's worth the $60 asking price. This has little to do with the content and everything to do with the game's mechanics.
For those of you who haven't followed the game, Evolve is a competitive multiplayer game. It's a 4-vs-1 arena battle game where four hunters attempt to hunt down and destroy a monster controlled by a player. Hunters come in different classes and have various abilities, skills and weapons at their disposal. Trappers can hunt down and trap the monster; assault provides heavy artillery; medics keep the team healed; and support offers extra shield and cloaking for teammates.
The human hunters are pretty straightforward and easy to grasp once you start playing. The monster, on the other hand, requires a lot more skill, thought and mindful tactics if you want to win. Turtle Rock really put a lot of effort into the varied playability of the different monsters, with players having to truly memorize the map layouts to know how to get around, as well as understand each of the skills to make the most out of the monster's abilities.
The objective of the hunters is to hunt down and kill the monster. The objective of the monster is to hunt down and kill the hunters. The monster has to eat other NPCs around the map in order to grow stronger and level up, making it tougher to kill and enabling its skills to dispense serious damage against the hunters.
All of the above is fine and dandy. However, the problem comes in with the game's lack of gameplay depth.
As hunters, you don't have to do much in the way of micromanagement other than using your skills repeatedly when the cooldown is finished. There is no weapon management – you don't have to worry about running out of ammo, or your guns jamming or finding new gear. There's no crafting meta-game or loot grind. It's all very... static.
The removal of equipment micromanagement means there's little to worry about with hunters and even less to think about when confronting the monster. The only goal is to stick with your teammates and repeatedly pepper the monster with fire. That's about as far as it goes, tactics wise, for hunters. So long as the trapper traps the monster and the other team members keep shooting (an artillery strike or two is also handy) it's hard for hunters to lose. There's nothing else really working against them if the four players just stick together.
Anyone in control of the monster has a lot more to deal with. The game has a much stronger flavor of intrigue, since getting trapped is pretty much a death knell for the monster. The objective then becomes to divide and conquer the hunters. There's a meta-game involved when playing as the monster, such as leaving dead bodies of creatures in one area while maybe sneaking off someplace else to get an advantage on the hunters. The game has a lot more strategic depth when playing as the monster, and this is what keeps the game somewhat fresh.