Evolve Evacuation Mode Hands-On Impressions
Check out our giant preview that runs down everything we’ve learned about (and played of) Evolve right here!
Turtle Rock and publisher 2K Games showed off just about everything Evolve has to offer last week at a lengthy preview event at the developer’s studio, where all of the title’s game modes and characters were laid bare. The biggest part of the game journalists learned about is Evacuation mode, a campaign-like game type that strings together five matches to create a reactive progression, where each victory or defeat leads to a major change to the next round.
We’ve detailed everything we learned about Evacuation, and the rest of Evolve, in a huge preview feature you can read right here (you’ll want to get the skinny before continuing here). We also spent a ton of time with Evolve in its nearly complete form, and fought through all its game modes on both sides: both as the hunters and the monster.
After spending a day and a half playing all of Evolve’s modes and specifically Evacuation, it’s fair to say that the latter will likely be the element that keeps players going long-term. Turtle Rock boasted that, with each of the potential map variations and game modes, there’s something like 800,000 potentially different ways an Evacuation campaign can shape up — and that’s to say nothing of hunter and monster choices along the way.
Evacuation is meant to feel like a giant epic throwdown of vast proportions, an extended boss fight in which a rivalry between a team and their monster player grows and grows over time. And to its credit, at least in the previews I played, it pretty much gets there. Skill level is always a factor in team-based multiplayer games, but for the most part, a decent team and a decent monster will have a great time squaring off against one another and trading victories back and forth as they progress across the map.
The new game modes also offer some variations on the “hunters tracking monster” tactics we’ve seen so far in Evolve, which is a welcome switch. Teams in Nest matches, for example, might try splitting their attention between two locations to destroy eggs faster and make themselves tougher for the monster to pin down.
The drawback, of course, is that a team of two facing an attacking monster player is much more likely to get crushed.
Rescue mode flips the script on Nest, with the hunter team pulling defense duty while a patrolling monster tries to take out vulnerable NPCs, instead of the other way around as in Nest. This one turns into a race of sorts, however, because revived survivors are moving, reacting AIs, which makes them tougher to pin down. Picking up all the survivors and hoping enough of them make it to the extraction point to trigger a victory is a viable hunter strategy, but I faced monsters who sat on the extraction point and just crushed anything that got too close — so a coordinated, intelligent hunter team is a must.
Often, game modes shake down into a race against the clock, and that creates a lot of tension in battle. During my final round of the event, in which I was playing as the monster against a team of journalists (including sister site Game Trailers’ Andrea Rene), the big Defense match came down to me distracting the hunters as my minion monsters wailed on the enemy’s last generator. In fact, the hunters killed me — which should have given them the victory — but it happened a split-second after my minions destroyed the generator. (It was probably the most satisfying gaming victory I’ve had all year.)
Map variations also can have a significant impact on how a campaign turns out. Not all the variations are created equal, but some can be pretty rough. In one match, winning earned the monster an AI-controlled minion at the start of the next round. In another, the hunter team had an AI mercenary to help them out. Still another earned extra armor for the winning team in the following Defend match: either for the attacking minion monsters, who are already pretty tough, or for stationary turrets that lend extra defenses to the hunting team. D
ealing with each of these potential changes ranged from merely paying more attention to drastically altering tactics.
So for those players wondering if Evolve will keep their attention, there will be a significant amount of variety on offer at launch, it seems. Between the 12 hunter characters to try out, each with a different set of abilities and weapons within their specific roles, and three monsters that each have their own play styles — plus the Evacuation mode that really is the best way to play Evolve — there should be quite a few epic battles available in the game.
Turtle Rock has plans for an Xbox One-exclusive open beta in January 2015, and (at least some) players will be able to check out Evacuation mode for themselves then. The game is slated to hit shelves in February.