Evolve at PAX East 2014

When I heard 2K was going to be at PAX East this year, I kind of figured they’d be showing off the last Borderlands 2 DLC or something along those lines.  Instead, When I walked by their booth and saw a giant monster staring me in the face, I naturally went towards it against my better judgement.  I was not disappointed.
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The demo started with a short video explaining the roles of the five players in this innovative multiplayer experience.  The basics of this game are fairly simple;  four hunters try to take down one monster, called the Goliath, using teamwork and communication.  With those four hunters there are four very specific classes that must be utilized to take down their one common foe.

The Trapper was the first hunter we were introduced to, having access to a Harpoon Gun in order to limit the movement of the Goliath and a Mobile Arena which when deployed makes a temporary dome that traps the hunters and the monster inside, forcing them to fight and making sure no one can escape to safety during the duration of the Arena’s usage. However, be careful with this gadget as it could be the end of your team; you are trapped in the arena too, which makes death a very easy thing to come by.  This is easily the hardest class to use as one of the developers told us that during business demos one of them usually takes on this particular class to ensure that it is being used effectively.

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Next up was the Support.  This player has access to a vast arsenal of gadgets that are incredibly important in your mission to take down the Goliath.  They have access to a Lazer-cutter, which being their damaging weapon was essentially a beam of light that could be directed at monsters.  They also had access to an Orbital Barage which acted as a mortar that would rain hell-fire upon the Goliath.  Again, caution must be used with this gadget as it does appear to damage teammates as well as enemies. Finally, they had access to a cloaking device that allowed hunters to sneak up on the Goliath without being noticed, as well as a shield that could be used on their teammates, but couldn’t be used on themselves.  This is definitely not a class you want on the front lines, but rather in the back, away from immediate danger.

The Assault is the high damage guy in the group.  If you have a friend that is more likely than not going to pull a Leroy Jenkins on your team, this is what he should play.  He is given access to a lightning gun, which has the unique ability to attack multiple hostile NPC’s at the same time.  They are also given access to a rifle, which is absolutely fantastic at long range.  And their final arsenal piece is a land mine that will do massive damage to the Goliath, but will take a couple seconds to arm.  This is the class I was given an opportunity to play over the weekend, so the gameplay section of this article will be slightly more focused on that experience.

The final hunter is the Medic.  Along with having the ability to heal teammates, he is also given a sniper rifle which not only does damage to the Goliath, but also creates weak points which allow your teammates to do extra damage.  Since I didn’t personally play as the class, this is all I know they have at their disposal.  However, they are arguably the most important class in the team of hunters, as Medics can pick up teammates from a distance with their healing, rather than having to run up to a downed player.  Any player who should chose to play this class will have to think tactically as you will find yourself on the front lines healing your teammates, but you will also want to be behind all the action both conserving your own health, and allowing yourself the opportunity to take advantage of your rifle.

And now, the Goliath.  Tremble in fear before the mighty beast that is the Goliath; the ultimate boss battle; the king of your arena. The player who gets the chance to play as this absolute wrecking-ball will be treated to a huge upgrade in health over their adversaries, but will also have four players ganging up on them trying to end it all.  The Goliath has the ability to leap ridiculous heights, charge hunters at great speeds, and the ability to throw rocks the size of a car at their prey.  They can also Hulk-smash their enemies into the dirt should nothing else be available. Oh, and did I mention this thing can breath fire?  Add all of that up and the hunters have a formidable challenge ahead of them if you make this thing an NPC, but Turtle Rock Studios made the Goliath the boss battle to end all boss battles by giving this absolute monstrosity a controller and a human mind.

Right before we sat down to play the game we were told we would be playing the Hunt game mode.  The objective of this mode is for the Goliath to kill and devour NPC’s in order to grow and evolve into a level three Goliath, which allows him to eat the hunters and win the game.  That’s right, the Goliath evolves.  What you start as isn’t even his final form!  Naturally, the hunters aren’t too keen on this idea, so they have to track down and kill the Goliath before he is able to reach level three and digest them.

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Once we got into the game, we quickly found glowing footprints, letting us know we were on the trail of the Goliath.  Once we caught up to him, it was all out war. At this point I have to be honest with you, I was incredibly skeptical about this game going into it. I was incredibly worried about balance issues within the game; no matter how you spin it, 4v1 just doesn’t seem fair.  Rest assured, readers, I have no qualms with the way this game is balanced. The Goliath was everything I could have hoped it would be in a massive human controlled boss battle. At first he seemed slightly helpless, losing about half of his shield before we had even gotten up close to him. But as soon as we got in there, it was a whole different story. The Goliath had insane amounts of power, which made my job as the Assault fairly challenging.  Being face to face with a creature that looks like it could crush you in a single step is clearly daunting, and being the front line of our team’s attack plan meant I was clearly in danger of getting knocked out of the game fairly quickly.

Fortunately the Goliath tried taking on all of us rather than focusing on one player at a time, which allowed me to use both my long range rifle and my close range Lightning Gun, both of which were effective at their roles.  Unfortunately, my team got trapped in a Mobile Arena and lost our Medic.  Ultimately spelling the end for us as I went down trying to pick up my teammate.  The Goliath then defended my body and was able to take the Support out as he tried to rescue me.  Having only the Trapper left to take on the Goliath, our Trapper needed to get out fast and survive for a minute in order for a drop ship to come down and respawn us.  The hunter had become the hunted. The next 30 seconds did not go well for our Trapper as the Goliath was able to catch up and defeat him, losing us the match.

I would like to point out that our team has found the Goliath at level one and we lost.  I would also like to state that a few of our other writers went up against a level three Goliath and came out victorious.  When I said this game was balanced, I meant really balanced.  The Goliath gets stronger throughout the game, but it isn’t so weak at the start of the game that it gets pushed over nor is it so overpowered at level three that the hunters have no dream of taking it down.  Turtle Rock has made a masterpiece of a game, and they’re just getting started.  When Evolve comes out this fall for the Xbox One, PS4, and PC, we highly suggest everyone consider picking up a copy.

About The Author: Nate

I'm Nate, I write things down and put them up.