The only thing bigger than the enormous Goliath statue towering above the crowd at PAX east this year was the crowd around Evolve. With a line that averaged 4 hours all weekend, getting to play Turtle Rock Studios’ upcoming 4v1 first-person shooter was not easy. Luckily, we got to play it, twice.
The Goliath – Corey Atwood
Before starting our demo, myself and the four strangers I had been grouped with were given the chance to choose our roles. Out of childhood love of monster movies, I seized the moment I spoke up first, volunteering to play as the monster. After being seated apart from my adversaries, I was first met with a screen detailing the Goliath’s potential attacks (fire breathe, rock throw, leap smash, and charge) in which I could assign three points as I saw fit, strengthening each attack with every point assigned. I was also told that every time I was able to evolve, I would be able to spend an additional three points. After promptly spending all three points on fire breathe, maxing out the attack, the game began.
Making use of the monster’s head start, I hurried into the jungle, leaping and climbing as much as possible to avoid leaving a steady trail of footprints for the tracker. Deep into the jungle, I clicked the right stick, activating the monster’s sense of smell, which looks like a sort of sonar ping, highlighting all loving creatures in the area. After easily killing and feeding on a few ostrich type creatures without running into any hunters, I’d filled my meter and it was time to evolve into stage 2. Whereas I would be totally defenseless both during and immediately after evolving, I climbed up a high cliff face and found a nice, private corner to do the deed. After 10 seconds or so (which felt like an eternity because of my vulnerability), I spent three more points on the leap smash ability and regained control of the Goliath. After quickly feeding a few more times to regain the armor I had lost during the evolution process, almost as if on queue, the hunters attacked.
An intense battle ensued where I managed to down their medic and deal a great deal of damage to the entire team as they attempted to revive her. Making haste, I fled into the jungle to regain my armor and work towards a third evolution. After a bit of cat and mouse through the jungle, I was able to evade the hunters long enough to feed a few more times and evolve to the third and final stage; this time spending all three points on the charge attack. Once I fed to regain my armor, I was on the hunt.
Knowing that the hunters were most likely falling back to fortify the generator building (which, in addition to killing the entire team, I could destroy to win the game) I hurried to this location, marked on my HUD. To my delight, I arrived just in time to catch the hunters heading inside the still unfortified building. As a stage 3 Goliath, my attacks on the puny humans were savagely satisfying. Once I permanently killed the only hunter who could heal teammates from a distance (the medic), the team broke down, allowing me to easily finish off the assault and tracker classes with my fire breathe newly acquired charge attack. Now, only the support class hunter was left standing.
Although I outmatched the remaining hunter, I knew that if enough time passed, his teammates could respawn on a dropship and return to the battle. So, rather than aimlessly trample through the jungle, searching for the fleeing sole survivor (who also had a cloaking ability) I headed inside and began ripping apart the generator. Forcing the remaining hunter into a situation where they had to either face me alone or lose worked in my favor as I successfully destroyed the generator without incident, thus winning the match.
Playing as the monster and given the chance to transition from hunted to hunter was incredibly fun and I’ll definitely be picking up Evolve this fall.
Hank (Support Class) – Mike Mahoney
So Corey had fun playing as the Goliath did he? I imagine evolving into something that monstrous is a tough road to hoe. You know, with all the animals to eat , rocks to climb, buildings to smash and oh yeah, hunters to kill. Now, I’m not jealous as I had fun too, but ok, maybe just maybe, I’m a touch envious of him.
As we finished watching the canned presentation, my team and I were feeling pretty good about our possibilities of taking down the Goliath. I had, or so I thought, the game’s Community Manager, his brother, and famous Twitch personality Captain Sparklez on my team, really what could go wrong? As is typical with my luck in life, Captain Sparklez had to leave early for an autograph signing, which totally threw off the CM and before I knew it I was relegated to playing with random people I just met. We had no time for hellos or strategies. The Goliath was waiting and we kept him long enough.
To make things even more exciting, our seats were in the front row with about 100 or so spectators breathing down our necks. No pressure at all. We were short a man so luckily an employee of Turtle Rock stepped in as The Trapper. We heard good things about this ringer so our spirits were lifted, even if it was just briefly.
As we waited on the plane, we got our marching orders before we jumped to our decent. It was understood that the Trapper and Assault hunters would lead the way with me, the Support class, and the medic pulling up the rear. My job as the support class is to make sure the Trapper and Assault classes are able to increase the damage they are dolling out while shielding them from incoming attacks. If they are lucky enough to hit my shield with their guns while striking the Goliath, they will receive a brief moment of invincibility. In my arsenal of weapons, I also wield a laser cutter. This weapon can not only hurt the Goliath, but it can also provide a target for the other hunters. Lastly, when a dire situation arises, and did it ever, in my bag of tricks I posses the Orbital Barrage. This attack does a massive amount of damage and should not be used unless you absolutely have the Goliath lined up. I was reminded by the Turtle Rock employee that I might have gone overboard with it from time to time. Who can resist a good explosion, right?
Now it is with much regret that I should let you know that we did fail the mission. My first impressions about Evolve are mixed at this point. I feel the Goliath is going to have a distinct advantage in most situations but especially in the earlier matches while the hunters get a handle on their weapons and learn not to go rogue. Staying with your team is essential in this game. But what I’m most curious about is how Evolve will keep the players engaged. After a team has played the game 4-5 times, how likely are they to come back and keep chasing the Goliath? The game has an interesting concept and one I look forward to playing. I’m hoping Turtle Rock has a few tricks up their sleeves as I’m concerned about replayability.