It goes without saying that Evolve has a lot riding on its broad, hulking shoulders. In fact, by only releasing on PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC, Turtle Rock Studios’ co-op shooter is indicative of developers kicking old hardware to the curb, but such a commitment comes with an underlying caveat: studios can no longer afford to succumb to the pitfalls that so frequently plagued games of the last generation. Hell, we learned recently that Techland canned the Xbox 360 and PS3 versions of Dying Light because such a fluid, parkour-centric experience just wasn’t possible on older systems.
Subsequently, these development teams are no longer skewed across generations, visions are sheltered from compromise and, perhaps most important of all, the list of valid excuses for day-one issues begins to contract…and fast. This isn’t to say that Evolve will launch headfirst into problems — as a fan of Left for Dead, I sincerely hope it doesn’t. But given the recent string of beleaguered, multiplayer-focused games — Halo: The Master Chief Collection, DriveClub — it does raise cause for concern.
Once billed as the “definitive” next-gen game for 2014, excitement for Evolve quickly cooled when Turtle Rock Studios opted to push the title back to February of next year, carving out enough time to host a second alpha test across consoles and PC — at least, that was the idea. Matchmaking issues plagued the demo build from the get-go, and PlayStation 4’s troublesome firmware 2.0 only exacerbated the problem.
Moreover, Evolve‘s issues stretch beyond the technical. As an online-focused shooter, Turtle Rock is yet to fully unveil the game’s core, overarching narrative. Granted, it’s alluded to within the multiplayer component and we understand the the studio plans to weave story elements into your monster-hunting skirmishes in the vein of Titanfall, but still, unless players are given an impetus to shoot monsters in the face — or indeed chomp on humans — over and over ad nauseam, it will become very repetitive, very quickly.
I’ve played Evolve on two separate occasions — once as the monster, while the other time allowed me to get hands-on time with the Trapper class. And objectively, it’s a blast to play. Running on the Cryengine, the game is undoubtedly beautiful to behold, and the lush alien forests are rendered in a way that’s reminiscent of Avatar.
But there are problems lurking beneath its glossy exterior, too. For one, as a co-op shooter, it’s entertaining, yet uneven. Having four humans go up against a player-controlled monster was always going to be a bastard to balance, but judging from the so-called “Big Alpha,” the studio has some work to do before the game’s anticipated bow in February.
Ultimately, unless Turtle Rock continue to support it and give players reason to stay when the novelty factor wears off, Evolve is running the risk of being a monstrous flash in the pan.