It seems that everyone is talking about DLC and monetization in gaming these days. Sometimes, even a great game can be brought down by a company that seems just a little too greedy to make a profit. It’s definitely a shame when one of the games that suffered this fate is actually an innovative game that stood a real chance to make a mark on the market. That’s the sad tale of Evolve. It’s our goal to provide a balanced and fair Evolve review to determine exactly where this game stands years after its controversial release.
|Type of game:||Co-Op Multiplayer Shooter|
|Total Play Time:||5.5 hours|
|System Requirements:||CPU: Core 2 Duo E26600 or equivalent
GPU:GTX 560 or equivalent
RAM: 4 GB RAM
OS: Windows 7 or higher
HDD Space: 350 GB
The World of Evolve
In this section, we’ll take some time to assess the component parts of Evolve. Not only will we look at the background and main characters, but we’ll also examine the plot and the DLC. It’s important to take a fair look at each part to determine not only why critics were so fond of the game, but why support for the game and its ambitions fizzled out so quickly.
Atmosphere & Location
If there is one element of Evolve that is truly amazing, it’s the design. Shear is a fantastic world, one that seems both very familiar and incredibly alien at the same time. There are little details here and there that show how much work the team put into making a living, breathing world – details that could absolutely have been skipped by a less adept team.
There are many different influences on this game. You can certainly tell that hunting games were a major influence, as were asymmetrical multiplayer games like the Left 4 Dead series. There’s also something of an influence from films like Predator, with teams of humans being sent out against a foe that is more than ready for them.
While Evolve does have a number of individual characters, they are largely just variations on a theme. More important than their names or short backstories are their classes – the roles they play in the grand hunt of the game. Evolve features four different Hunter classes and five different types of monsters. The combination of different skills and abilities on both sides means that every game is a little different. What we learn about the main characters is not who they are, but rather how they can contribute to the overall effort of the game.
The first of the four Hunter characters in the game is the Assault class. This class is the primary damage dealer, able to use heavy weapons and to shield him or herself from danger. Next comes the Trapper, who can track the Monster. This is the only character who is able to follow the signs of the Monster, eventually gaining a skill that is very close to the Monster’s own tracking ability. The third class is Support, who backs up the team. This is the class that can recharge shields and use various tools to help the group. Rounding out the Hunters is the Medic, who heals others. These characters generally need to stay back out of combat – their loss can crippled the Hunter team quickly.
On the other side of the fence is the Monsters. The native fauna of the planet, they play several roles. The Goliath is the largest of the monsters, able to breathe fire and throw large rocks at the Hunters. The Kraken can use traps, temporarily fly, and even use a few different electricity-based attacks on the Hunters. The Wraith has the ability to teleport and can even kidnap Hunters, effectively splitting up the group and keeping them from working together as a unit. The DLC Behemoth is a combination of the Wraith and Goliath, a huge monster that has the ability to isolate Hunters from the team. The final character, the DLC-only Gorgon, can make a clone of itself or send out smaller versions to fight against the Hunters.
It would be generous to say that Evolve has a storyline. Instead, it might be fairer to say that it has an excuse for hunting monsters. The game takes place far in the future, at a time in which humanity has learned how to colonize other planets. Unfortunately, humanity has run into a problem on the planet Shear. On Shear, the planet’s local wildlife has begun to fight back. These animals, imaginatively called Monsters by the settlers, pose a very real threat to the human attempts to create a sustainable colony on the planet.
Fortunately, an expert named William Cabot has come up with a solution that would work only in video games. Rather than bringing in an army to deal with the problem, he hires individual teams of monster hunters to get rid of the dangerous animals. The game’s plot, if there is one, revolves around this hunt. Four of the players take on the role of the monster hunters who are out to protect their communities. The fifth player takes the role of the Monster, who largely seems preoccupied with eating as much as it can and wreaking havoc. It’s a kill-or-be-killed situation in which only one side can come out on top.
In practice, the game is a series of asymmetrical multiplayer matches. There are a number of potential game play types that are lifted from similar games, with the main difference being that one of the two sides is a constantly evolving monster. The Hunters have technology and numbers on their side, while the Monster can evolve into deadlier forms that are progressively better able to deal with the Hunters. Whoever ends up accomplishing their goals first ends up the winner, and a new round can start almost immediately. In most cases, the real story takes place during the game and revolves around the actions of the two sides as they play their game of cat and mouse.
DLC & Expansion Packs
It’s very hard to talk about Evolve without talking about the Evolve DLCs. There was a fantastic amount of DLC available from day one, to the degree that many players were upset with what was held back from players. While this is sadly becoming the norm in many genres, players were further annoyed to find that much of this new content wouldn’t be included in the game’s season pass. Now that we’re well past the initial release date, it’s a bit easier to figure out what’s worth buying and what is not.
There are 44 DLC-exclusive skin packs for the game that can impact monsters or hunters. These packs are entirely unnecessary unless you really want a cosmetic change. More important are the new hunters and monsters, some of which are actually quite a bit of fun. There are also free DLC maps, which can be played with both the original and downloaded content.
It’s very difficult to separate the game from the way the game’s content was implemented. Evolve on its own is a fantastic concept for a game, one that perhaps thought more of the gaming audience than the audience was willing to give. At the same time, the way that the game was monetized is should have been a case study in how not to engage an audience. What we are left with is a game that saw most of its promise squandered in an attempt to squeeze a few more dollars out of players. It’s a sad look at what might have been something special.
What did you think of Evolve? Did you enjoy the game despite its flaws? Did the DLC plan turn you off? Make sure to let us know!