Review: ‘Evolve’ at its best when played with friends

Gamers who require a story-driven campaign and solo experience need not check out “Evolve”, but all others will be in …

Gamers who require a story-driven campaign and solo experience need not check out “Evolve”, but all others will be in for a fun ride.

Dubbed an asymmetrical first-person shooter, “Evolve” allows for a group of up to five human players to take control of four monster hunters and one hulking monster, pitting the two factions against each other. That’s online-only, though. While there is an offline component, that’s limited to playing against A.I.-controlled bots.

The four hunter classes — Assault, Support, Trapper and Medic — are varied enough, and teams benefit from each person playing his or her role. If the Medic focuses on healing teammates, everyone wins.

Controlling the monster is a unique experience played from a third-person perspective. It’s imperative for the monster to feed in order to evolve and grow more powerful and cause maximum damage. Each monster — Goliath, Kraken, Wraith and the new Behemoth — feels different enough that they aren’t simple re-skins.

Game modes are separated into Quick Play and Evacuation. Quick Play is a one of four single missions — Hunt, Nest, Rescue and Defend. Evacuation is a five-mission campaign loosely linked by the results of the previous mission. For example, if the humans win Hunt — a mode which tasks the hunters with tracking and killing the monster before it becomes too powerful — in the first mission, the next mission gives them an environmental bonus, but slants other balances in favor of the monster to avoid hopeless situations for the losing team.

That’s pretty much the entire game. It may sound thin on the surface, but unlockable monsters and hunters in each class that boast varied abilities give play sessions great variety. Those who play “Call of Duty” exclusively for online multiplayer won’t miss a story mode in a game like “Evolve”.

It must be said, however, that playing with random gamers instead of friends creates a different experience. It can be frustrating to be stuck on a team of hunters that isn’t communicating via chat and fails to work as a balanced group. By contrast, playing with friends is a blast and rewards teamwork. Playing as the monster doesn’t suffer in the same way because the beast is it’s own team.

Replay value in “Evolve” comes down to preference. It can be a one-week-and-done or keep gamers involved for months, based on how much its unique gameplay resonates with gamers. For sure, “Evolve” is worth a try.

“Evolve”, from developer Turtle Rock Studios and publisher 2K Games, is out now for PlayStation 4, Xbox One and Windows PC.

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