E3 2014: In Support of Turtle Rock’s Evolve
Earlier this year, I stepped into the big shoes of Goliath in Evolve. When presented with an opportunity to play it again, I wanted to see how the experience held up on the other side of the playing field. Four new hunters and a new monster were on display at E3 this year, making the battle completely fresh even for those of us that had previously taken part in the most dangerous game.
As Bucket, the support class robot, my job was to make sure my fellow hunters were able to concentrate on their jobs without worrying about getting tangled up in the Kraken's tentacles. Of course, that would mean not taking two steps onto the new planet and falling into a carnivorous plant trap. Which is where I proceeded to stay while the rest of my teammates proceeded to hunt down the new big bad. To say my first adventure into the cooperative portion of Evolve was not off to the greatest of starts would be a great understatement. Then again, that's part of the problem with playing a game that relies so heavily on teamwork on the show floor. Everybody wants to see the new shiny and do their own thing, forgetting that the biggest aspect of Evolve, as it was in Left 4 Dead, is working in tandem with your partners. I'm just as guilty as everyone else, though I at least did try to stick with the team once they came back to break me free of the plant's slimy grasp.
Bucket has some nice tools at his disposal once I'm actually able to use them. In addition to his default rocket launcher arm, he's got the ability to take his head off and send it into the air as a UAV, can deploy up to four floating sentry turrets, and when things get really rough, can cloak all nearby teammates in stealth. Now he doesn't include an alien bloodhood like Maggie's pet Daisy, but Bucket's certainly got his uses... as long as he's around long enough to be helpful. It's a bit of a different experience playing as the hunters, particularly after having seen how the other side lived. It's mighty tempting to want to go off on your own, but the monster has a tremendous advantage that the hunters don't: the ability to survive solo. Goliath and Kraken are built to last, and the player controlling the monster only has to worry about himself.
After a few close calls, and a few instances where teammates ran off into the darkness alone, my band of outlaws managed to pull it together to track the Kraken down by the map's generator. The Kraken has two ways he can win. One is by eliminating all the hunters before anyone can respawn, and the other is by destroying the massive generator on the planet below. Unlike the map I played at PAX East, this area's generator is outside in the open. That works to our advantage as we actually have places to flee should any of us get too damaged to contribute to the fight. It's especially tough when the Kraken is fully evolved, and starts ripping what appear to be massive gravity wells out of thin air. Fortunately even when every player is downed, Daisy can run off and revive the closest hunter so the fight can rage on. Like Left 4 Dead, you can be down, but not out, though three critical situations lead to your actual real death forever.
Somehow, the team manages to slay the mighty beast thanks to a hefty amount of great cooperation. Actually, the game should have ended due to its time limit, but the counter stopped counting at 01:57, giving us an infinite amount of time to take the Kraken down. It's was the first unfair advantage my team had gotten the whole time. I'm not going to complain because we won. I'm not even sure anyone else noticed it was happening. Evolve isn't out until later this year, so it's a small issue I'm sure will be fixed by then. Even with the compatibility issues my team had at the start, it's easy to see all the promise Evolve contains. There are still more hunters and monsters to reveal, too, as well as new maps and modes. From what we've seen so far, we're already hooked, so everything else is just icing.
Evolve will be available on PC, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One on Oct. 21.