During this year’s Comic-Con International, I got a chance to play Evolve for the Xbox One at Microsoft’s Xbox Lounge. Previously, I got a crack at the game at the Electronic Entertainment Expo. However, that was the Windows PC version, and I did not get to play as the character I really wanted to try, the monster called the Kraken. Generally, I am leery of games moving in the direction of online-only gameplay without any type of single-player campaign (though I have read recently that this game will have some type of single-player element). That said, I was highly impressed with what Evolve brought to the table for its demo, and playing as the Kraken was an absolute trip.
During E3, I got to try out playing as the Trapper character, but playing as the Kraken was where it was at for the game experience. For the Kraken, the game is in third-person perspective, while the human characters are in first-person. The Kraken, as a monster, has a great design that looks reminiscent of Cthulhu or some other HP Lovecraft creature. The creature has three stages of growth. In order to grow to subsequent stages of life, the Kraken must consume various wildlife creatures or beasts freely roaming around the map. Some of these alien life forms actually will make you work for your food and fight back, so you have to be aware of that. While I really wanted to see the creature evolve to Stage 3, I was not able to get that far. The good news is that I managed to vanquish the entire monster hunter team at only Stage 2.
Basically, playing as the monster or Kraken in Evolve is like playing a giant boss character in a video game. One experience that came closest to evoking a similar feeling was playing as Bruticus or Grimlock in Transformers: Fall of Cybertron. The sense of power and strength you have playing as the Kraken is immense. The Hunter team consists of several team members: Lazarus (Medic); a robot Bucket (Support); Maggie (Trapper); and Hyde (Assault). The Hunter team is armed to the teeth, but the Kraken has various abilities of his own. At the start of the game, in the select screen, I was able to pick among various abilities for the Kraken to use during combat. My personal favorite was the Vortex attack, which basically sends a blast of swirling energy at your enemies, almost like a mini black hole.
What I like the most about the abilities is that you can customize the special abilities for the monster to suit your play style. So, you can use your attack points to max out the Vortex attack. Each attack appears to be three slots deep on its meter. The attack points can be spent across different abilities, instead of maxing out just one in particular.
As the Kraken consumes beasts and evolves, so do his stats. Again, I was not able to reach the final stage. Eventually, I made a final stand against the Hunters and managed to beat them. From my previous play experience, a helpful technique is to go after Maggie’s bloodhound alien creature, Daisy. Daisy helps Maggie and the Hunters track down the Kraken. So, my obvious recourse was to find Daisy, kill it and eat it. Some creatures take longer to eat than others, and staying around too long to eat can make the Kraken vulnerable to attacks by the Hunters. Luckily, the Kraken has some flight ability in order to make a hasty retreat.
Much like the E3 demo, the controls were very smooth, fluid and responsive. The action and gameplay were a lot of fun. Playing as the Kraken was an experience unto itself. Graphics and visuals looked fantastic.
According to the Turtle Rock developers I spoke with, the game will have three monsters available at launch. A fourth monster will be released later on via downloadable content. Evolve is set for a February 10, 2015 release for the PlayStation 4, Xbox One and Windows PC.