Turtle Rock Studios made quite an entrance into the gaming industry with the release of Left 4 Dead, a hugely successful co-op game developed with help from Valve of Half Life and Portal fame. Now seven years after the launch of Left 4 Dead, Turtle Rock has separated from Valve and released a new take on the four player co-op that saw them so much success in the past, replacing the zombie hordes with a singular hulking alien beast and a plethora of astonishingly well designed alterations to gameplay that makes Evolve the most compelling multiplayer experience I have had in a long time.
Evolve is a game that is in many ways, very simple at surface level, but after just a short time of playing I realised there was much more to the mechanics than I initially realised. My first few matches of Evolve were spent playing the monster, and what immediately took me by surprise was the focus on stealth mechanics for the creature. Each match begins with the creature relatively outmatched, with the primary goal of the monster to evade detection as opposed to immediately brawling with the hunters.
The monster needs to feed on the wildlife spread throughout the map in order to grow and evolve, becoming stronger and improving their abilities until they are strong enough to take on the hunters and complete their objective. Evading the hunters isn’t quite as easy as simply running away. Whilst moving at speed you leave footprints in your wake that appear highlighted to hunters leading them directly to your location. There are a number of animals in the environment that will make noise and run at your sight, including birds that will highlight exactly where you are to the hunters, as well as a huge amount of scenery that crumbles beneath you, leaving a literal trail of destruction.
Most of these tracks can be avoided by sneaking, slowing your movement but ensuring you are much less easy to follow. You can even begin to use these elements to your advantage, leaving tracks in one direction only to sneak around and hope the hunters follow the markings, or riling up particularly dangerous wildlife as a distraction to the hunters as you make a hasty escape. When playing against a well organised team evading the hunters can be an incredibly challenging and supremely entertaining experience. Once you have managed to eat enough of the creatures around you to evolve to your third and final level, controlling the monster becomes a distinctly different affair. The additional power you gain turns the tables and makes you a substantially more intimidating enemy, able to defeat a team of ill prepared hunters in no time at all.