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Evolve – One week into the ‘World of Shear’

February 16, 2015

Evole imagesMetacritic has Evolve with a score of 75.  14 reviews with a high of 90 (by IGN – btw which was spot on) and some lows of 60.   Surprising there aren’t more reviews.  My guess is that a number of reviewers are waiting (in a similar manner to what they did with Destiny).   This is a new Genre of gaming, and it takes time to see what one really feels about a game like Evolve.    On the other hand, the user scores are pretty poor because in the public arena, as it has become the typical “love / hate thing”.    Many 10’s and many, many 0’s…. We can see this sort of polar divide in the blogs.   Haters are hating.  And many for all the wrong reasons.

So… I am a level 16 now, and have played enough where I can put down my “Week One review”.    First off, I feel any review of Evolve will need to be done in stages, because we are still figuring this out, as we are in uncharted territory here.  This is a game like none we’ve ever played.

New / Different isn’t always good (or bad), it is just different.  And this difference can either be sweet or sour in the beginning, but then can change to the polar opposite given time.  So where do I (we) stand after one week, and where do we see this going in terms of longevity?

I played mostly as a hunter (mainly medic, then support), but did a fair share as a monster.  About half as a Goliath and half as a Wraith.   I’m close to unlocking the Kraken, and can’t wait to give him some love.

Week 1

I’ll start with the negative things I’ve discovered (things that truly affected my enjoyment).

1) Lobby.  Much of the time it is just broke.   Can’t join.  If joined, don’t see if everyone is even in the lobby.

2) Matches don’t load.    3)  We have team of 4, and a random joins as Monster, only to leave and we are stuck playing a AI.   5)  Playing an AI Monster is not fun for a lot of reasons (Hard to track.  OP to take down at Gen 3.  Relentless in their pursuit of whomever is unfortunate to be the medic, then support…).    6)  Shadowing issues.   7) Level reset or the fear of it happening.   8) Not really big on the unlocks  “Oh boy, I get a new…. badge…”    (I wish the unlocks were at least centered with new weapons, a lot of skins, and even new dialog for a particular character).   I will say that the class specific upgrades and overall upgrades are solid.

There are some other negative / concerns, but I’ll address that in a minute.

Positive / Good things.

1) Beautiful game!!    2) Great, HUGE maps!  3) Enjoyable characters.  4) A truly new gaming experience.   5) Very rewarding for teamwork / punishing for lone wolfing.

Now I’m just gonna write what I feel.   Evolve CAN be repetitive.   Especially the defend mode.  It feels a bit of a button masher to me.    Medic, stands back and is grooming the field with health buff.   Support stands back and buffs damage.  Trapper is pretty useless because the dome is not really needed.   Assault gets all the action and glory.   Rinse and repeat.  Very few EPIC moments.   Fun as a tutorial / time to boost progress, but not really engaging or dramatic.   I like Defend in the Evacuation mode though, as a nice “ending” to the Evacuation journey, but not as a stand alone mode.

Hunt (and to some degree Rescue) is where this game really shines.    But in order to shine I think certain conditions must be met.

1)  An actual person must be the Monster.    There is a tangible salivating that goes into the hunters when we know we are hunting a friend or (some random for that matter).

2)  It is a lot of fun for 4 hunters to “go up against the world” and play against some random (as long as it isn’t a REALLY GOOD Random).   Getting smacked down time and time again is no fun for anyone, and as you guys learned on the first night, a really good Monster (i.e. Cornie or someone like him), can win pretty much every time.    Maybe that will change as “We” get better as Hunters, but seems the game is stacked to favor a really good Monster player.

3)  It is a LOT of fun for a party of 5 to rotate who plays the Monster.  Those were my favorite gaming sessions in week one.   Doing “shifts” as the monster.   Playing the monster is an Adrenaline RUSH.   Love it!    I couldn’t do it all night, but a couple rounds as Monster, then turning it over to another friend to play a couple rounds is where (I Think) Evolve really shines, and will shine down the road.    Many of us are not comfortable yet as the monster, but I gave it some time, and am really starting to like playing as one.   And brother…   “What a RUSH!”    Sheer panic in the early stages, or even at Gen 3, when armor is low and I just got trapped in a dome.   The endings (for me as Monster) have been truly Epic.  I’ve lost games with the generator down to single digits (and won others in the same manner).

The brouhaha that ensues after the Monster rejoins the party chat is truly memorable, and “congratulations” are spontaneous and well deserved on both sides.    Then “Rinse and Repeat”, but not with the negative connotations, but in the manner of  “Okay…  I’m soaked with sweat.  Who wants to be the Monster next?”   Then there is silence waiting for someone to dare step into the spotlight.  Pressure is on because no one wants to be singled out.   Embarrassed to be killed at stage 1.   Or worse yet, drag out a game for 20 + minutes, only to make some sort of epic blunder in the grand finale.    The pressure is real, and THIS is what is so intriguing about Evolve.   It is a Community Builder.

After week one, I summarize Evolve this way.

Time will tell regarding the nuances of this game, and how we feel as we get better and better in each class (including the Monster).   Will bugs bring this down (like it did with BF4 and others)?   Or we be playing this for weeks, months, even years to come?    The most important question is :  Is it a repetitive game?  And That is getting asked / mentioned a lot.

My Evolve week one feeling / conclusion is this.    It is only truly fun to play when playing with friends, and against real people (preferably friends). Yes, it can get repetitive, but there are different ‘kinds’ of repetitive.

One manner is when as kids when we played “hide and go seek”  with neighbor kids you didn’t really like.  Got boring fast…

But there is another / better ‘kind’ of repetitive.   Let me explain or digress it in this way.

The beauty of childhood in Michigan.

When I was a kid up at our family cottage (10 acres of land with a house, camping trailers, a small barn, 2 sheds and 2 ponds. Half woods, the other half field or mowed).  Our “Ghost in the graveyards” were EPIC, because not only was / is the land awesome, but usually we had on any given weekend, a number of families with us, and a dad or two would join the game.   They would “Be the Monster” that we had to find, then rush back to home base screaming “BLOODY MURDER!!!”   They would chase and catch as many kids as possible before we got to the Safe Zone.   Epic moments of head first dives onto the beach or hammock or…  whatever we had designated as the ‘safe zone’.   God we loved it!!!

Flashlights bobbing from the shaky hands of 5, 7 or 12 kids on a Saturday night.   A dad or two lurking in the weeds, in the woods, or in one of the sheds or under a car, or …..     Hearts pounding as we split into groups and searched.  Then a scream in the night from across the way  “Bloooody Murderrrr!!!”   Or…. the Most terrifying of all…   Shining Your flashlight into the face of Your dad ready to pounce.   “Dear God!!   Run for it!!!”

I’ll be 45 this year.   Now, it’s my three kids.  Their 3 cousins.  A couple other families with children.   Now I am the dad lounging around the campfire ring with the other parents drinking a cold one.   Guitar now leaning against a tree.    Smores finished, fingers sticky, the sugar amped kids have wandered away from the fire ring.     It’s getting pretty dark now.   I know the time is coming.

I hear them in the distance, planning, plotting, explaining ‘the plan’ to the new comers.  Soon enough the kids come back into the fire light.   Shuffling their feet, they ask…   “Dad?….   Will you play ‘Ghost in the Graveyard’ with us?”….

I look at my brother in law David.  We smile, and then explain the situation to one of our friends who’s staying the weekend.

We finish our beers, look at the kids and pause….     Expectation is building, cause bloody murder is only fun when you have REAL monsters.    The three of us nod and stand up.   “Yes…  yeah..  We’ll play”.

——-

Deep into winter, our cottage is shuttered till spring.  On these cold February evenings, virtual “Bloody Murder” is such a treat,  and like in summer, I can now be in wintertime; that which children fear most.

I AM the Monster.

—-

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12 Comments
  1. February 16, 2015 3:31 pm

    This was a pretty enjoyable discussion by the IGN crew.

  2. February 16, 2015 6:54 pm

    Fantastic post, Kenai! Great story!

    Yep. Herandar mentioned a stealth Monster that was just hiding in the bushes as the hunters went by. It would not have been found if Daisy weren’t in the crew. I actually did that once, too. I just crouched and didn’t move and watched the hunters move around me oblivious, until one of them realized I wasn’t a rock – then pounce and the forest was alive with shouts and panic (we were playing 5 in the party chat). Hilarious. I would love it if there were proximity chat. There is for the AI voices, anyway.

    Another epic moment was when I was watching Cornie “preparing his den” for evolving. He was swiping at the Armadon and sure enough, it and a bunch of other wildlife started coming after him, but slowly as they do. It was like he was shepherding them into the cave. Then, just far enough to be safe for a moment, he pulled both triggers (because in Evolve, you don’t just “pull the trigger”, you pull *both* triggers) and presto, chango, level three, baby.

    Here is a great thread on the official forums about the experience of playing the Monster (one of the devs is reading and responding, too).

  3. February 16, 2015 7:23 pm

    Hey, there is no excuse anymore for us missing the big Monster events. Microsoft put up a huge update that will allow us to record 30 minutes!!!! BABY! Of course, if we are ever going to have anyone watch out shi, we are going to have to edit those puppies down, but this is just great news! Major Nelson’s Top Five plays sample video is a great idea! The next feature I want them to add is share films for editing with friends. This isn’t available already, is it?

    • Herandar permalink
      February 17, 2015 7:47 am

      Oh my, this is going to be fun. My only concern is that my hard drive is already about 92% full. The original clip is stored locally, I imagine before they shunt it to the cloud.

  4. February 16, 2015 9:25 pm

    I spent a moment over in the official forums and it was interesting to read some of the arguments for my less favorite Hunters, and strategies for my bread and butter.

    One thing I realized is that when playing with Markov on the team, we really need him to lay out mines for area denial/defense even more than for just pure damage.

    There is a tendency, in the joy and urgency of a successful dome, to sort of panic and have everyone just pushing really hard to do their particular job. That is good, but I think teamwork can be cranked up to a whole new level. As Markov, I am realizing that my best use of the mines, isn’t even necessarily down the main path of the monster, but in front of the support and medic, so that when the Monster goes to wail on them, he has to take some mine damage. All the better if he is being amped when he does it. Of course, skilled Monsters just take the mines out with rocks – which is the argument for using Parnell or Hyde.

    I haven’t spent this much time thinking about a game when not playing, since Left4Dead.

    This isn’t what I am talking about, but there were some great moments here, including when the Tyrant was nippin’ at Goliath’s heels (1:55).

    And yes, Kenai, good discussion by the IGN guys. Thanks for linkin! (Mr. Man Titties in the blue shirt, his enthusiasm is hilarious – I can relate.)

  5. February 18, 2015 10:04 pm

    OT

    Behemoth Rock Wall

    WOOOOO!

    Behemoth Tongue Grab

    Looking forward to getting just a little bit more familiar with all the Hunters, and then jumping all over the reveal of the new Hunters, whenever that is.

    IGN test footage with Man Boobs narrating:

  6. FrenkoFrenik permalink
    February 19, 2015 8:27 pm

    March 17 & 24. If it can survive BF:Hardline and Borderlands Collection, then maybe it will have longevity.

    In any case I didn’t know this was a PC port. They get Behemot and two hunters on their “Monster Race Edition”

    If it’s anything like Left 4 Dead were they got tons of content and mods up to this day while the consoles get forgotten, then well I definitely backed the run horse on this gamble.

    • February 19, 2015 11:13 pm

      I will address your concerns.

      First, anything can survive Hardline. Are you planning on buying it? Because I don’t think anyone else here has that scheduled as a day one purchase. Even with Premium, I won’t be buying that for 60 bucks, so chances of me picking it up before summer are pretty slim.

      Second, if Borderlands grabs anyone, it won’t hold any them for long. We all played those games to death, just recently. Though for me, I will admit, I didn’t put in all that many hours. I don’t ever want to touch that micromanaging game again.

      As for the content for Evolve, there is no reason to believe that we won’t receive every piece of content that Turtle Rock Studios offers – maps, characters (the Behemoth of which I will be receiving for having pre-ordered), skins, gametypes. IF Turtle Rock has released editor tools, then there is very likely a chance that, as is always the risk with consoles, we will not get stuff that the PC community creates. Did they release mod tools?

      If they didn’t, then not only will we get all the goodies, but we will get them on dedicated servers for the price of our Xbox live, unlike the “free” servers that someone, somewhere is paying $50+ a month to provide for his friends.

      Left4Dead was published by Valve, notorious for supporting PC but not any of the consoles on which they dumped their wares. If Evolve is anything like L4D, you will be able to pick up the PC version for a couple of bucks in a year or two, and then you can get all that content you want. By that time, I will be playing The Division, RS:Siege, and probably Gear 4ever, or maybe even Evolver, I’m Comin’ For Your Mutha.

    • February 20, 2015 10:08 pm

      Love. And… “Here, have a s’more.”

  7. February 20, 2015 10:11 pm

    S’more for everyone. Well…. Almost everyone. Evolve tonight!

  8. Flenser permalink
    February 23, 2015 9:09 am

    Angry Joe’s review is up. I alays enjoy his reviews even if I don’t always agree.

    The progression loss bug has stopped me from playing Evolve for a week. Several friends have lost all progression(unlocks, badges and levels). I am not willing to be reset after lots of hours playing and grinding single-player to unlock content. There is no way this bug should have happened with all the beta testing they did. If you don’t know about progression bug make sure you check out turtle rock studio’s website. Its is most prevalent on Xbox 1.

    I have had fun with Evolve. I hope it will continue when the patch comes out. I fear that i won’t find friends playing and you MUST play with friends to have fun with this game. Hunters need use voice and coordinate or they will always lose against a competent monster.

    • February 23, 2015 5:14 pm

      Flenser, great to hear from you. Thanks for the review. Will check it out. Yes, you know our crew is going to be playing this for a while (I think). And the old fogies bus still has lots of seats available. LOL!

      I think that we will end up having to provide to provide our own monsters for the greatest enjoyment. The more the merrier.

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