By Evan Bergstra - February 13th, 2015


Where were you on Monday night? I was downtown on Queen West in a dressed-up loft space above Design Republic trying my hand at Evolve on Xbox One. EB Games and Xbox Canada put together a launch-party-slash-demo of the game, where we could bathe in green LEDs and eat Doritos with Mountain Dew. Sounds like a wicked party, right? As a demo night, things were pretty simple as no devs were onsite to talk about the release. It was more of a barebones, hands-on experience for media and consumers to spend a few rounds in the game before its official launch at midnight. If you’re curious how it came together, the short answer is that the game is good. There’s still a lot we need to see before making more confident and thorough assessments, though, so stay tuned for our complete review.

So what’s Evolve about? In case you missed its trailer and the awards it won at E3 last year, it’s a sci-fi action FPS that involves the cooperative team play of a squad of four against great big monsters. Like any proper team co-op, each of the four player characters has unique weapons and abilities that are designed to complement one another in their collective efforts to bring down the beasts. One can also play as the monster which, as I’m sure you can guess, brings even further variety to the combat experience.

Someone needs a bigger gun or a weaker flashlight.

Each round starts with the team dropping into one of several lush and expansive maps. Depending on the game mode, the secondary goals will vary – but generally speaking, you’re out to hunt down a great big alien and kill it. The pace of the game is fast. Boosted jumping recalls the mobility of other sci-fi action titles, and because of their size the monsters tend to bounce around the map pretty quickly. The environment is not static, either, which means that trees can be shot down, monsters can throw boulders, and there are features here and there than can hurt you. Overall, there’s plenty to keep you on your toes even if there are fewer adversaries than is standard for an action game.

The four classes of hunter are: Assault (heavy hitters with decent shields), Trapper (better at tracking the monster thanks to a helpful pet, and can generate and Thunderdome-type-energy-shield that traps the monster in a mini arena), Medic (I’m sure you can guess), and Support (utility belt full of team-assisting tricks). In my brief time with the game it felt like each class certainly brought a unique perspective to the game-play, and I look forward to learning the ins and outs of each a little more.

In Evolve, nobody wins at paper-rock-scissors.

The only caveat I could see from an hour’s worth of participation was that the game is confined to various versions of the same basic model. Where the developer’s famous Left 4 Dead excelled was both in game design (which Evolve certainly isn’t short on) and range of content. I know I have a notable bias here because I’m particularly fond of a well-written campaign mode, and I will freely acknowledge that some folk just want to find the multi-player arena and dive in (I’m looking at you, Titanfall), but Left 4 Dead did an excellent job of providing both. There is likely a lengthy string of DLC in the works for Evolve, though, so there may yet be more to this game.

If you crave a rich story from your action games, Evolve may not be your jam. If you love the intricacies of cooperative play in a challenging environment, though, it may well be worth checking out. As I said, our full review is on its way.

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