6 problems with the Evolve beta
Turtle Rock Studios and 2K recently wrapped up the beta for Evolve, its asymmetrical multiplayer game that pits four Hunters versus a single Monster. It happened to be the last opportunity to sample the game ahead of its release on PC, PS4 and Xbox One on the 10 February 2015 – but it wasn’t a resounding success.
While some engagements and situations proved to be entertaining, Evolve’s beta has dredged up more than a few concerns. From game structure, overall fun factor and sever stability, I’m starting to wonder whether the idea was strong enough to support an entire game to begin with. Of course, with only a few weeks left until the game’s release we will know for certain one way or the other. Until then, here are six concerns that you should be aware of before dropping your cash on a pre-order.
It’s boring for long periods of time
I’ve had the opportunity to play Evolve on a number of occasions over the last year – from reveal to final beta – and it’s interesting to see how the play test environment effects those playing it. Played with a bunch of journalists, all chaperoned by developers to coach us on how best to play and what abilities to use, and the game proved quite entertaining. In these situations, it was less about going for the win and more about pushing the engine and concept to its limits. Engagements between the Monster and Hunters would be often and brutal. It was great.
But as the Alpha and Beta have gone to show, out in the wild, it’s substantially less entertaining. An adept Monster player can ensure they aren’t found for long periods of time. Creeping, hiding or flying across the map and slowly levelling up to the final super-powered evolution state is all too easy, all the while the Hunters are running around in circles with nothing to do. It can be immensely boring, and then even more frustrating when a Monster swoops in out of nowhere (after 10 minutes of pointless hunting) and be killed in under 60 seconds.
The game modes
The problem of boring gameplay can be directly blamed on the design of the game modes. Here’s the thing, when you’re engaged in a fight – with the Hunters working appropriately together – Evolve delivers a huge adrenaline rush. But with Hunt – the standard game mode – those thrills don’t come often enough. 2K should have shown off Nest or Defend – modes that constantly push you into engagements with the Monster. There’s a chance you might have played these briefly in Evacuation, which is a blend of all game modes and maps, but by once again throwing Hunt at us it’s reminded us that Evolve’s premier game mode is lacklustre. And if that’s the case, what does that say about the overall product?
Single player isn’t fun
Did you have anyone drop out of your games during the Evolve beta? 2K has been hesitant to talk about it, but Evolve does feature something of a single-player mode. If you’re running solo as a Hunter (or if someone leaves a game) you’ll have the opportunity to switch into other character roles with the press of a button, instantly. Sadly, the AI won’t act independently. That means you’ll need to be constantly micro-managing characters – it’s a pain in the ass. Especially when you finally meet the Monster; it’s impossible to successfully do more than one job role at once.
Sure, this was just a beta, and a big part of this test was to make sure the servers are up to scratch, but we are concerned this is going to launch messily. The alpha was a nightmare for connecting to games and the beta didn’t prove to be much better. As a co-op centric game, Turtle Rock is going to need to ensure it doesn’t launch in the same state Halo: The Master Chief Collection did. After regular disconnects, crashes and long sever queues, I can only hope this was simply a beta issue and won’t translate to the final game. Otherwise, it’ll be a killer.
The Hunter balance
Evolve gives you the option of picking between 12 Hunters, all of which fall into four distinct job roles. Each Tracker, for example, will have similar abilities but a different set of weapons. It brings a nice variety to the game, especially when you start mixing and matching groups together. That said, it’s clear there is still some work to be done with the balance. Some groups feel extremely underpowered, while some make bloody quick work of the wildlife and Monster. Evolve is all about the balance, and once players realise there’s a winning combination of Hunters it’ll all be over. Expect to see a day one patch on the 10 Feb.
The DLC Debacle
I don’t have any major concerns with the way Turtle Rock is handling DLC. In fact, I’m excited to see new premium Monsters and Hunters – so long as they are appropriately balanced it’ll keep Evolve fresh months down the line, especially as there are no restrictions to play. The fact I can still play with friends, even if they don’t purchase the DLC is awesome. What isn’t so awesome, is the way Turtle Rock communicated this to fans. Left 4 Dead fostered a great community, and Turtle Rock will need to do the same with Evolve. If this DLC debacle is anything to go by, the level of communication needs to be sharply increased.