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Evolve is closing up its alpha session with Xbox One and PC invitees, after the Playstation 4 alpha was pushed back indefinitely, and closing the hunting season for now. For the three-day period, this new game from Turtle Rock Studios revealed quite a few gameplay features between some inconsistencies in the level and connection quality. Overall, this alpha is a window into the potential full game experience, and will hopefully give some insight into problems for 2K that can be corrected before the full release.
In the alpha version of Evolve, hunters are given the impression that their progression through the game will be almost completely based upon time spent inside the various environments. The upgrade system, buried within which are new character and monster unlocks, is fueled by damage caused or prevented with the various tools of the five trades. For instance, the more fire damage doled out by a Goliath, the more powerful its base damage will be, and leveling through each of the attacks will eventually lead to unlocking the Kraken monster and more. Each of the four non-monster classes has distinct characters with different perks and specialties down the line with progression achieved much in the same way between each.
Matchmaking is a sore spot in this stage of Evolve. An alpha test, by definition, means the game is not in a completed state, so there are some rough patches to be expected. With that in mind, instances of spawning into a glitchy monster that is a hovering ghost and ends up crashing the game is an understandable quibble. However, when kicked from a game because of server issues, there is a timer that counts down from 60 seconds, signaling the length of time a player must wait to re-enter matchmaking. This seems like something that is unnecessary and adds to the feeling of waiting that already peppers this version, and should probably be looked at as a sacrifice for the full version.
Another piece that should certainly be looked at for the Evolve full release is the multiple instances of load times. There is one when attached to a team, another after picking a load out, another to get into the game itself and a final one at the end of the match, totally about five minutes of total load time. In the game itself, each of the environments feel quite similar, but the differences between each class and the monsters when compared to other titles makes up that difference. Anyone that has played as the Tank zombie in Left 4 Dead will have some idea of how the Goliath, the first available monster, controls. On top of that standard movement set, there are also added options of mobility such as stealth, climbing walls and a mixture of powers that can send a monster leaping away from danger, or the hunters flying away in pain.
Evolve feels like a title that will need a full release to grab the meat of the gameplay, unlike Destiny’s alpha which showed a wide chunk of the full content. There are subtle strategies to using each class, such as when to use the faithful Daisy to locate the monster and when to lay down some landmines, that have to be field tested to have their effectiveness judged. This alpha window shows that there are intense, strategic games on the way for Evolve players, and that this could live up to the E3 hype if some of these issues are addressed before release.
Opinion by Myles Gann