In many ways Evolve is a permanent boss fight where you can opt to play on either side

Evolve is Turtle Rock’s first game in six years, after their critically-acclaimed Left 4 Dead, published in 2008. They’re back with similar asymmetric gameplay: a team of hunters are assembled to take down a monster. This imbalance is the keystone to Evolve’s gameplay. Teams of up to four hunters rally together in an attempt to topple their beast-like adversary, an enemy that can, once it’s consumed enough carcasses, evolve into a more powerful opponent.

The game’s based on the planet Shear in the Far Arm of the galaxy. A human outpost has established itself to investigate the flora and fauna of the strange new world. But they have also discovered monsters lurking there, who aren’t so keen to see them.

Evacuation is a five-match multiplayer story mode, and I've been playing it on and off for about four hours, since the review copy arrived. The winners of one match receive an advantage in subsequent maps, causing changes to the arena. My favourite is the release of toxic gas when my Goliath destroys a power plant. Goliath is immune to the noxious mist but hunters definitely aren’t...


Fast forward a few matches and I’m undergoing evolution. I hold down the trigger buttons, choose which skill I want to level up (fire breath, naturally) and wait for the three seconds to pass. Boils cover my back, blister, then pop. Spikes pierce my flesh. I’m bigger, more powerful. Down the sides of my throat slits flicker with the flames churning in my belly. I’m a killer ready to sneak up on prey, ready to swipe their throats out and leap and stamp on them from afar.

During the first few moments of every match in Evolve the monster can seek, kill and eat prey before the onslaught of the hunters begins. You sneak up on dog-like creatures, careful not to distract flocks of birds. You chew, hurriedly, on the small bodies of the dead. Your armour increases. Occasionally you might kill an Elite monster and absorb a perk - such as increased climbing speed. Slowly you eat enough to evolve. If you don’t evolve before they find you? Good luck, you’ll need it, as harpoons dig into you, slowing you down. As you grunt and squeal as members of the hunting team rip you to shreds.

Evolution is key to monster success and I’m looking forward to unlocking more monsters as I continue to battle it out on Shear. There are 12 hunters in total, three for each class, and there’s a range of different skills and abilities. Maggie, one of the trappers, has a trapjaw pet which will chase after the monster and attack it. There are, so far, three types of monster. Goliath, the only one I’ve played as so far, is a rock-throwing lumbering beast; Kraken looks like Chtulu; Wraith disappears into veils of dark to surprise the hunters … Individually hunters might not be particularly powerful, but as a team they take down a low-level monster with relative ease. But let the monster evolve? It's another story.

In many ways Evolve is a permanent boss fight where you can opt to play on either side. So far that’s enough to be rewarding. Let’s see whether the introduction of other monsters and hunters ensure it’s enough to keep playing.

A full review will follow.