Evolve: The Evolution of Multiplayer?

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Coming from Turtle Rock Studios (Left 4 Dead) and published by 2K, upcoming co-operative / competetive action game, Evolve, promises to be the evolution of multiplayer experiences.

But what exactly IS Evolve?

With promises that grand, you’d be forgiven for thinking that Evolve is here to offer something different from the run of the mill, team-deathmatch or free-for-all action. And you’d be right. Firstly, Evolve takes the unusual approach of pitting four players vs. a lonely one. Secondly, the lonely one is a hulking great, razor-sharp taloned monster.

The idea of taking a multiplayer ‘deathmatch’ type game and giving players different roles is hardly groundbreaking. Splinter Cell‘s ‘Spies vs. Mercs’ had different experiences for the Spies and Mercs, it also offered balanced teams. Games like Metal Gear Online or even the recent Batman Arkham Origins multiplayer had unbalanced teams (6 vs 6 vs 1 in Metal Gear, 3 vs 3 vs 2 in Batman), where randomly selected players would get to play as Snake or Batman and Robin respectively. These games essentially had a standard team deathmatch, with a superior skilled spanner in the works.

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However, what Evolve is offering has one player cast as the beast – they take a third person view and an entirely unique skill-set and approach to the remaining four players. The other four players take a first person view point and are armed with a variety of guns, accessories and skills. What’s more, the four human characters are all massively different from each other.

There is a fairly standard, heavily armed ‘Assault’ class, a ‘Healer’ class – there to keep the four alive, an intriguing prospect in the form of the ‘Trapper’ class – his job being to track and trap the beast; and the ‘Support’ class – who’s skills can be adapted to help defend or attack as the situation requires.

So that’s the unusual cast, what about the premise? Simply put, the aim of the game, for the four man team, is to track, hunt down, trap and eventually kill the beast. As quickly as possible. For the beast, the game is different. It isn’t quite as simple as evading capture until it’s time for tea.

Littered throughout the game world are various flora and fauna. It’s the fauna the beast will want to pay particular attention to. As the beast runs, hides, jumps huge distances and tries to blend in with his (or her) surroundings – he must also eat. Eating the local animal imbues the beast with strength. If he eats enough, he will ‘evolve‘ into a larger and more powerful form. Using the new found strength and speed, the beast can continue to practice the art of evasion and eating until achieving his most powerful form.

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Now the tables are turned, the hunters become the hunted. Being big and strong enough to withstand the traps and gunfire long enough to take down all four hunters is the ultimate aim for the monster. Not as easy as it sounds, which is why getting away and staying hidden is essential early on – and likewise for the hunters, why its important for them to find the monster quickly.

A first and third person shooter and brawler – where the objectives and gameplay can change dramatically as you cat and mouse your way through the jungle, sounds pretty unusual to me. Whether Evolve really is a step forward, rather than a step sideways remains to be seen, but right now the game certainly stands out as both stunning and unique. And those are definitely two steps in the right direction.

Evolve is currently scheduled for a Q3, 2014 release on PS4, Xbox One and PC. Watch the official trailer below:

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