So I’ve been playing the Evolve alpha for the past few days on the Xbox One and, I must admit, it’s kind of a disappointment. In fairness, I expected a hell of a lot from the game; probably too much, in fact. I had pictures in my head of a futuristic, monster based Left4Dead, and it just wasn’t that. In fact (other than the idea of four players playing together in a co-op team), the games are completely different. I guess that’s a good thing. Still, I didn’t fall in love with Evolve whilst playing the alpha, but there is a lot of potential there.
Before I start talking about why I was disappointed with the alpha, I’ll just point out the fact that it is, indeed, an alpha. That means that it’s a VERY early build of the game; so it’s going to be changing considerably between now and next year. That kind of means that anything I mention here is about a version of the game which, in all probability, doesn’t exist anymore. So keep that in mind whilst you’re reading my drivel. That, and this is also the opinion of one member of IM PLAYIN, so I don’t represent the other writers who have been playing Evolve over the past few days.
My first disappointment with the alpha is that there was a lack of any real direction. There was very little introduction to the game mode and you were just kind of thrown into the game without really knowing what you were supposed to be doing. They explained bits and pieces, here and there; like how best to use your class type or the monster type. But, for how to play the game mode, I kind of learnt by doing, or pieced it all together from the tips on the loading screens. A proper introduction would have been nice, and it could have gave the game mode a little more direction.
This lack of direction was really evident in the alpha. Every time I played it just turned into a massive game of cat and mouse, with the monster (ironically) spending most of its time as the mouse. The four hunters sprinted around the map, following the monster, whilst the monster tried to find a quiet place to eat smaller monsters and, eventually, Evolve. That was until the monster reached the third tier of evolution, then all hell broke loose. That was the story of every single game; and it got boring, fast. But, in fairness to the game, this was just one mode and I’m sure that there will be a few other online game modes when Evolve is released… and a story mode… hopefully.
I think my biggest problem with the alpha is that I was expecting Evolve to be a really ‘stand-out’ game. I was expecting it to be kind of fresh, and a bit revolutionary but nothing about the alpha felt special. It reminded me a lot of the Versus Left4Dead game mode, but not throughout the entire match. When I was playing as the monster, I felt exactly like the Tank from L4D; especially as most of the animations were incredibly similar. And, once I’d reached the final tier of evolution, the game quickly divulged into an all-out grudge match – exactly as it did when the Tank spawned on Versus mode. The only difference here is that the monster has a secondary objective; to destroy the hunters’ power station. In all, despite the fact that the monster had some relatively cool special abilities, Evolve was incredibly samey and not that much fun. It didn’t stand out, and that was a real shame for me.
But again, I can still see the potential with Evolve. That, and you can never really judge the final product by the alpha. Whilst the game mode eventually got kind of boring, it was pretty fun in the first two or three plays. I think it got boring because I was only playing the same mode, as the same characters. I think, once they’ve thrown in a few game modes and you get to play as other monsters / hunters, Evolve will be able to extend that initial period of fun and novelty a little longer. However, I am hoping that the game mode we played in the alpha, isn’t their crowning mode. If that’s the best they have to offer then I really hope they step things up between now and early 2015. Still, the alpha isn’t a game demo, they’re not trying to sell Evolve to me just yet. So it’s good that there was the occasional bug, or things I thought could be changed. That’s because I, and other gamers, can give our feedback and, hopefully, Evolve will change for the better.
In all, after playing the alpha, Evolve wasn’t the best thing since sliced bread. From what I’ve played so far, I wouldn’t call Evolve revolutionary or ‘game changing’. But I do see the potential that’s there. It could be a great game. Could it be game of the year, though? I’d struggle to see it getting that title from what I’ve played so far. But I’m holding out hope, because I really want it to be a great game. I guess we’ll see over the coming months!