We've already had hands-on time with Evolve's first four hunters and its debut monster, the Goliath. But with a new giant threat to play with, four new hunters to take it down, and an entirely new map to play on, how do GameSpot's writers fare? Does the fact that they are playing with total newbies diminish the experience, or is it still fun? Find out how both hunter and hunted played, below.
Daniel Hindes - The Monster
I played as the Kraken - the second monster to be revealed by Turtle Rock, after the Goliath. Where the Goliath stomped around the map and unleashed heavy melee attacks, the Kraken played like anything but--it sported wings to fly and glide, and focused on ranged attacks over brute force. If finding success with the Goliath was about punching the hunters off a cliff, the Kraken won matches through subterfuge and constant aerial repositioning.
The Kraken's flight is key to this--by staying off the ground, it avoids straying within the hunters' effective range. This means it's even more important for the hunters to have a good trapper, whose harpoon gun is essential for pulling the Kraken back to earth, where it's most vulnerable. The Kraken still leaves a footprint trail when flying, however, so it can be advantageous to drop to the ground and sneak for a short while. However, the monster loses agility on foot; in the air, it can perform three short but fast swoops which recharge over time. I used this swoop function as a panic button, as it gave me the opportunity to escape a fight--as well as rapidly reposition myself behind the hunters for a surprise attack.
The Kraken attacks with a short-range melee strike on the ground, which transforms into a ranged attack with small area-of-effect damage when flying. Keeping the hunters confused is key, by soaring high and firing volleys and intermittently returning to earth for a few close range strikes.
The monster's four special abilities complement this core movement and attack pattern. A ranged lightning strike calls down electrical bolts in a small area, which is useful as the primary means of dealing significant damage to the hunters. An overcharge-like electrical explosion can be emitted in an area around the Kraken--when followed up with some quick swoops, it's perfect for making a quick escape when surrounded by hunters. Electrical mines can be deployed, which lock onto and home in on any hunters who fall for the ambush. Finally a wind vortex can be fired that knocks hunters back a significant distance, which works well to split them up or push them from ledges. These Kraken abilities all felt far more effective and powerful than those of the Goliath.
Keeping the hunters confused is key, by soaring high and firing volleys and intermittently returning to earth for a few close range strikes.
To this end, I completely demolished the opposing team in my hands-on play session. Whether it was because I had played the game as the Goliath before, and so was familiar with the basic mechanics, or because the Kraken itself was overpowered, I could not tell. As a pure comparison between monster playstyles, I enjoyed the Kraken far more. It required more technique, but its abilities seemed to make more sense, and their effectiveness was more immediately apparent. In short, the monster was far more fun. But when you annihilate four strangers in five minutes and four seconds, when a match can usually go for more than twenty, it's going to feel great no matter what terrifying monstrosity I'm playing as.
Mark Walton - The Hunter
My Evolve experience at this year's E3 wasn't quite as successful as Dan's. I mean, my team of hunters won and everything, but it took quite a bit longer than a mere five minutes. I blame the E3 sleepiness. Still, I'd at least hoped my previous experience with the game would have given me a bit of an advantage, but I suppose when it comes to something like Evolve, teamwork is everything--and sadly, my team were total newbies. Education definitely helped push things along, though. Talking over the team voice line and communicating with my fellow hunters, letting them know what I was doing, and where I'd seen the monster helped matters greatly.
Not that I was in a lead role or anything, or even that there are lead roles in Evolve. Every member of the team has a place, and mine was in the middle of the pack as a trapper, a class designed to snare the monster in one place in order for the stronger characters like the assault class to launch an attack. This time I took on the role of Maggie, one of the recently revealed characters. Her special skills included the infamous mobile arena dome to trap the monster, a set of harpoon mines to ensnare it, and the help of her ugly, yet somehow adorable pet Daisy.
There's nothing quite like the sight of a 20-foot-tall Kraken to put the fear of God into you, especially one that looks more like a slobbering version of the evil Cthulu than a mere giant squid.
Daisy proved invaluable in helping to track down the monster, with her doglike body bounding across the level to sniff out its scent and chase it down. The glowing blue footprints that the monster left behind helped out too, along with red highlights on the map where it had disturbed a flock of birds. Frankly, it was all a bit too easy to begin with, and I had a sneaking suspicion that our monster opponent was being manned by someone with just as much inexperience as the majority of my team. Or maybe we were just really lucky.
Regardless, there's nothing quite like the sight of a 20-foot-tall Kraken to put the fear of God into you, especially one that looks more like a slobbering version of the evil Cthulu than a mere giant squid. We saw it, we panicked. The team, once a finely tuned hunting machine, was now frantically scrambling around, desperately trying to avoid the Kraken's devastating attacks. There was a call for calm. We needed a plan. I launched the mobile arena, trapping it in front of us. Somehow it stumbled into my hastily laid harpoon mines too, and there, for what seemed like the briefest of moments, the Assault class chipped away at the Kraken's health.
Eventually it escaped, but it was wounded. Mild celebration followed. But we were slow to track it down. Soon it had evolved into its third, most powerful stage, and it was ready to take down the level's generator to win the match. But we stood our ground. We worked together to trap the Kraken once more, the medic firing its sniper rifle to expose its weak points, the hunter laying down mines, and myself bringing up that big blue mobile arena to slow its escape. With a final blast of gunfire from the assault character it was done, and the creature slowly slumped down the ground. Jubilation. We had done it, we had slain the mighty Kraken. "Yep," I thought, "this is one hell of a game."