Thursday, 6 November 2014

TROLL PREPLAY: Evolve - big Alpha - Xbox One, PS4, Xbox 360, PS3, PC

As it turned out, the Evolve Big Alpha ended on Tuesday rather than the originally planned Sunday. Sony's disastrous 2.00 firmware update which prevented PS4 players from joining until Sunday extended the event for everyone.

Thankfully Gamertroll had Alpha access on Xbox One and was able to really get to grips with Turtle rock's ambitious monster-hunting game over the whole 6 days.
Right from the first match Gamertroll played in this early Alpha build, it was striking to see just how finished the graphics look. The three environments provided were luscious and heavily detailed. Even a short introductory cutscene was in place for each match where players deploy from a carrier ship.


As a long term fan of Turtlerock's Left4Dead Zombie games Gamertroll has been cautiously optimistic since Evolve's announcement. Cautious because the 4 hunters vs. 1 monster play dynamic was always going to be a tough one to pull off.

After a great deal of play of those same three stages (screw that bloody Fusion Plant), Gamertroll is pleased to report that Turtlerock have got the foundations for such a wild premise to succeed.

However, it is also a good job that the game won't be seeing release in it's final form before Feb 11 2015, because there will need to be a hell of a lot of tweaking ahead to make that complicated dynamic work seamlessly.

Despite some horrid matchmaking delays (sometimes 15 minutes wait in lobbies), the character selection process makes perfect sense for a game of this unique nature. The player has to organise their order of preference for hunter roles and being the monster to facilitate successful matchmaking for all players. This works surprisingly well for the main part: Gamertroll got to play the monster plenty of times, also the medic, the trapper and the support geezer. The problem seemed to be getting to play the assault trooper - why couldn't Gamertroll play as that walking bullet-sponge at any point over 6 days? It was not for the want of trying. Frustrating.

Both the hunter characters and the monster gain experience and level up earning task-based unlockable perks. At certain intervals in this leveling up process new characters and monsters can be also unlocked for selection, a particularly nice touch.

The matches in their present form are pretty one-sided. For the monster player to stand any chance of victory the opposing team of hunters needs to be in total disarray. Each individual hunter has a terrific collection of skills making the band a real team of allstars. Any one hunter is no match for the monster but as the game currently stands even the slightest player co-ordination such as simply sticking together, spells certain doom for the monster player. Gamertroll only saw monster win once and that was because the trapper was so bloody stupid he kept missing the monster and trapping the hunter team in a forcefield! What a plum. Now add to the mix a medic too daft to heal anybody and a suicidal Assault trooper who kept running off and you're left with one pissed off 'Support Troll' and a lucky Monster.

As the monster you will need to keep away from the hunters long enough to find, kill and eat wildlife. Feeding grants the ability to 'evolve' into a more fearsome predator. Should you get to the stage where you could possibly take out the whole hunting party at once, you should pick your moment and subsequently go for your end game objective like destroying the Fusion station's reactor.

The single time Gamertroll managed to steamroller the hunters playing as the monster, they all disconnected and the game was lost. Hugely frustrating - let's hope Turtlerock comes up with a suitable punishment for such unsportsmanlike behaviour. Gamertroll humbly suggests the removal of fingers.

Other than the issue of PvP balance, the only other concern might be one of size and variation. Plenty more maps and unique objectives will be needed and additional modes couldn't hurt either.. but only time will tell if we get them.

So that's it, Evolve looks to be coming along nicely. It's hard to see how it won't be a sufficiently satisfying and memorable game from the evidence of this Alpha. Here's hoping.

Here's a clip of Gamertroll playing as the Medic (From Thursday's twitch broadcast) 
Thanks to those people who tuned in.