I remember watching the first ever gameplay video for Evolve and thinking, this is going to change the way we play online games forever. The concept of 4v1 matches was exciting to watch as the hunters stalked their mammoth prey across a dangerous alien landscape filled with life and man-eating plants that even David Attenborough would be proud to study. Then I spent some hours in both the Alpha and Beta of the game and came away with mixed feelings about the concept, as it became very repetitive very fast, I mean how many times do you want to chase a monster around the map trying to kill it before you get plain bored? Now it has officially launched onto the market I have spent a considerable amount of time playing the different modes it offers, from the dynamic campaign to the online skirmishes. In fact, for this review I have spent over twenty hours in all playing Evolve and I have to say sadly most of that time was a massive slog.

Evolve starts out with three characters in each of the four playable classes, and three monsters on the other side. To unlock these characters you have to earn stars, with each of the weapons the characters are equipped with in order to unlock the next one down the line. To have a really good unique experience with games such as Evolve characters need a skill tree, making each class unique, with players being able to manipulate these to suit their playing styles. However, Evolve does not offer this, and while each of the new characters unlocked do have different weapons to a certain degree, there is little to make any of them unique in their own right. Yes you can equip certain perks to characters but these are generally nothing more than superficial and offer little in the way of making your character unique, instead you may have a percentage of damage added, or be able to jump higher; none of which really matter significantly in-game. The Monsters on the other hand do feel to have that degree of uniqueness and playability as you will notice big changes having to be made in your play style. Playing as these two-storey high, out of control alien beings, can be fun for a time, but if you are pitted against a team that are not communicating, victory is easy once you take out their hap-hazard medic. I have to say that Evolve is a game to be played with friends, being thrown into matches with strangers, sometimes speaking in a foreign language, is totally useless and coordinating any sort of attack plan becomes impossible. At times it seems that the monster has totally disappeared from the map and is impossible to find as you and the rest of the team run around like headless chickens trying desperately to find it before it reaches that critical stage 3 in its evolution. Once it does so, and you are on a team with little or no communication, the game is over before you know it.

Evolve also has somewhat of a campaign mode called “Evacuation”, which is held over five days, or five maps one after another. You play these maps in various game modes from Nest and Rescue to Hunt. Winning these matches places advantages for you in the next map, for instance if the hunters win a map then on the next map electro wall may come into play restricting the movement of the monster across the map, and if the monster wins the wildlife may become more aggressive towards the hunters, and so on and so forth. This Evacuation mode boasts over 800,000 combinations and is called a “dynamic campaign”. Once you have played this, either in solo mode or online with strangers for a few turns, the word “dynamic” soon turns into “lethargic”, and to call this a campaign is, quite frankly, insulting in my humble opinion. There may be people out there that will play this mode until their thumbs bleed, trying to gain status for playing every conceivable combination, but honestly my brain was bleeding after I played this for several hours. Developers seem to be putting all their efforts into developing half a game these days. What has happened to a solid campaign working side by side with the online modes? Call Of Duty deliver a massive campaign on a yearly basis beside one of the most popular online experiences in gaming today, so why can’t other developers give us our monies worth in this regard? Another example of a brilliant campaign working with a very popular online experience is Gear Of War. Somewhere along the line we have lost story-telling in games with the arrival of these multiplayer, online type experiences that are becoming far too frequent, such as Titanfall and Destiny for example. Then we are expected to invest even more money to expand on what essentially is only half a game to begin with. Graphically Evolve is excellent in its execution of the alien environments of Shear, with rampaging wildlife to man eating vegetation, I have no problem in saying Evolve has the atmosphere and setting it set out to create. All of the maps and environments are designed well and textured to a high standard, but that really does not matter as they simply blend into one as the monotony of chasing or being chased takes over far too quickly for any of it to be appreciated enough.

Evolve is one of those games that will either enthrall you to the point of obsession, or have you putting your shoes on the wrong feet because you can’t get down to GAME fast enough to trade it in and recoup some of your money before it falls in price. I do think that it will be a big player in the Esports scene as it is a joy to watch a match where the players are communicating and actually working towards a common goal in unison. Turtle Rock Studios are definitely onto something with Evolve but it’s just not quite coming across at the moment, feeling repetitive after a short while running around the lush environments. My opinion is that they have a solid concept with the right feel and setting, but it just has not gelled together in the way it should. The characters need more ways of being able to become unique with a deeper set of customisation and skills to make each encounter different depending on what skills the player has either unlocked or equipped. The monsters, once they hit stage 3, are overpowered and without a fully communicating team can easily take a match in a matter of seconds if they know what they are doing. With the industry focusing more on this type of multiplayer lately, it is a good attempt to bring us something new and experimental, but that’s just what Evolve became for me, an experiment that needs to go back to the lab for further testing.