My first impressions of Evolve

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Samuel Tow
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My first impressions of Evolve
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Are all universally bad. In fact, I will very likely not have second impressions unless given VERY serious cause to try this claptrap again. Gah! Couldn't help spoiling my opinion on it, could I? Because I own XCOM (and actually GOOD game!), I got access to a pre-release version of Evolve for free for three days. I actually went into it with high hopes, this being a game from the creators of L4D. L4D2 is one of my favourite games of all time, so how could Evolve be bad? Well, it starts with the game being a console port, and a not very good one at that. How did I know this? Well, here's a list of my first few thoughts upon playing it, along with a growing list of stuff Evolve doesn't have:

I launched the game and was taken to a screen which said "Press (A) to start." Instant facepalm. First thing I see from the game, and it's already punching me in the gut. One - I don't have a gamepad AT ALL, let alone one attached. Two - for fuck's sake! Stop putting "press start" screens in your games! Just bloody take me to the main menu! A main menu, I should add, which has only partial mouse control. You CAN click on the buttons, but their actual clickalbe area is far smaller than the button graphics, so I ended up clicking on nothing. But it's a console port, I thought. I'll just use the keybo... Nope! Keyboard controls in the menu do not work in any way. Then the main menu bugged out and kept selecting the same button in the same place in all the menus. I could still click, but it was clunky.

Then comes keyboard customisation. It exists and it's quite extensive, but a button is curiously missing - "Text Chat." This makes me curious, because I've seen people use text chat in the game... But the button's not in the options menu. Weird. And also, why doesn't my mouse wheel work on the mile-long list of keys? The menu is entirely mouse-controlled, so why not? No, I have to use a microscopic tick of a scrollbar on the side. I've never seen this before. It makes customising keys very fiddly. Not quite Darksiders 2 fiddly, but it's up there.

But whatever. That's just port nonsense. Is the game any good? Well, I went to the imaginatively-titled "Play" option to find out and was immediately slapped with the face with another thing this game doesn't have - the ability to host your own games. What? Why? OK, so the game has a progression system so they probably insist on you only ever playing on their own dedicated servers. It's bullshit, but fine. I'll buy it. But that doesn't explain why you don't let me host my own lobbies, at least? You know, lobbies where I can set my preferred map, invite players I like, set up my own games. None of that exists, it's all random game joining. You hit "play" and it starts looking to stuff you into a match. And the match won't start, by the way, unless you have a FULL team. That is, unless you have four people to play the humans and one person to play the monster. I don't even know if bots exist. L4D2 this is not. Well, there go my hopes of playing this with NuclearToast. Can't set up a game for ourselves. We used to play L4D2 PvP 1v1, but you can't even do that here because the game doesn't seem to supply bots to help you.

But whatever, let's just try the game and see if it's fun. I hit play and I'm asked to select my favourite class. So let me ask you - which is YOUR favourite class? The Assault, the Defender, the Trapper, the Medic or the Monster? Oh, I know you haven't played the game and haven't the slightest idea what any of that means, or even what kind of game this is. Neither had I played the game when I was asked to make that decision. So, I arranged them in some odd order. I put the Monster first because that seemed like the most unusual choice. What is that selection for? Well, the game told me that it would try to put me in games where my preferred role was free. Good, I though. I wanna' play the monster, so go for it, game. It proceeded to put me in a game where I was playing my fourth least favourite character of five by the selection I'd just picked. Oh, I get it, so the Batman: Arkham Origins Multiplayer problem of having a 1-in-5 chance of actually playing what you wanted to play. Lovely.

Aside: Let me take a moment about what this game is, for a second, since I'll be talking about that next. Evolve is a 4v1 competitive multiplayer shooter, where 4 players play the Hunters (humans with guns) and a single player on the other team plays the Monster (a big melee thing). Each map (of which there seem to be 3) has only one objective: The hunters must kill the monster, the monster must kill the hunters or blow up the thing. That's it. As the monster, you run away from the hunters like a little chicken and instead try to kill and eat the indiginous life forms to gain armour and eventually "evolve" into a stronger, bigger form. As a hunter, you spend most of your time doing jack squat, chasing after the monster. That's it. Literally, that is it.

So I didn't get to play as the Monster. I was made to play as the Defender. The game gave me a 30-second tutorial video while it was loading and then dumped me off a dropship straight into the game. I had a laser cutter (kind of like a laser minigun), a shield generator to shield other people, a calldown airstrike that kills my team-mates and a cloaking field that I don't even know what it's for. So I'm dumped in the game and... OK, what am I supposed to do? I deduced that the woman with the beast thing is the Hunter and she'll be able to track the monster on my own - the game never told me. So we spent five minutes running like idiots doing bugger all. Someone's character yelled that they'd found the monster, but I never even saw it. Right up until the end when the Trapper trapped us in a giant dome so the monster wouldn't escape and it killed us all. Yay, fun. And then the game crashed twice. Yay, fun.

I restarted the game, it crashed again. I restarted again and after loading for 15 minutes, it let me play the monster. I ran around the map basically fighting jungle creeps and levelling up. I ran away from the Hunters a time or two until they trapped me in the dome and I killed them all. Well, that actually WAS a bit of fun. Next game, can I play the monster again? Of course not. I'm playing a Hunter. That entire map, we never saw the monster until it started destroying the thing. We showed up to kill it and it killed us all. Well, so much for that. Next game, I'm the monster again. They caught me before I could evolve and chipped my health, I ran away, ate some things and evolved, they caught me again and killed me. This time they dicked me around with shields and traps and I'm honestly not that good. By that point, I was done. I AM done. That's, what? Four matches? And not a single one of them truly enjoyable? Fuck that.

You know why, by the way? Why this whole thing is doomed from the start? It's a DOTA-style game, only without any of the DOTA-style elements. There's next to no character progression, there are no lanes or minions. It's just one big jungle. As the monster, you're "jungling" and trying to level up while the hunters are trying to root you and stun you and slow you and kill you before you can escape. And that's just doll, honestly. Gunplay for the humans sucks. All the weapons are either ineffectual or hideously inaccurate and anything you shoot shows no real sign of taking damage. Melee as the monsters sucks even more so, with crappy flailing animations and EVAN LESS hit confirmation, especially in a giant melee where your own torso blocks your view of the game world. It's all just a lot of running around and then shooting spastically as the humans, or else a lot of running around and flailing as the monster.

Let me put it like this - did you think that fighting the Tank in L4D2 is the height of gameplay in that game? Well, congratulations - Evolve is essentially nothing but that. Rather than being a worthwhile successor to L4D2, this game is like L4D2 with 3/4 of the features stripped out and running in the significantly less stable CryEngine 3. So on top of this being bollocks, you're very likely not going to be able to run it well, either. I am NOT spending 45 Euro to preorder this fucking shambles.

Orion Pax
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I had somehow presumed this game would be a bit more than this...Was it really just that much of a glorifed L4D2 Infested Tank battle, Sam?

marqaha
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I really enjoyed the game.

Samuel Tow
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Orion Pax wrote:
I had somehow presumed this game would be a bit more than this...Was it really just that much of a glorifed L4D2 Infested Tank battle, Sam?

I can't speak for what has changed since the game went Live, but in the pre-release build... Yeah, that literally is all there is to it. As the hunters, run after the monster and do very little else. As the monster, run away from the hunters and eat, fight only if absolutely necessary or when you're maxed out. Various videos show the monster stalking the hunters, but in my experience the damn dinosaur dog always picks you out as soon as you approach. Moreover, the monster is huge and very very obvious. You try to stalk them, you'll just get trapped in a Dome and forced to fight.

But all the maps are arenas and they all have the same objective. Indiginous wildlife exists, but you kind of have to walk into it for it to matter. There's no progression within the map itself, each character has a static set of four guns/abilities and each monster always comes with the same four upgradable skills. My experience was all but entirely negative, with most of my time spent either trying to avoid the multiplayer aspect or chasing someone determined to avoid the multiplayer aspect.

L4D2 Tanks are cool because they're a major change of pace from the rest of the game. This quite literally feels like L4D2 Versus where one player is the Tank and the other four are the Survivors, only with more complicated gameplay than that. But complication only goes so far, and you can't hide the fact that it's basically an asymmetric 4v1 deathmatch.

Of all the things I've lost,
I think I miss my mind the most.