Hot on the heels of the official reveal of Evolve’s third monster, Wraith, GotGame was right there to give her a test drive. Turtle Rock Studios has already revealed the brute force of Goliath and the “wizard-like” power of the Kraken, so Wraith is considered to be the “stealthy assassin” of the group of monsters. She is small in stature, but utilizes two long blades growing from her arms for devastating melee attacks. Get her to level 3 and she could be one of the trickiest monsters to take down due to her stealth tactics and speedy movement.
As noted by the reveal, Wraith doesn’t have a lot of armor and health, so players will have to use her abilities in smart and strategic ways to win against the opposing hunters. My personal favorite ability was the Decoy, an ability that allows Wraith to create an AI controlled clone to go attack enemies. What makes this move especially useful is how it turns Wraith invisible to her foes, allowing for sneak attacks or even just to escape from a dangerous situation. The Decoy is actually pretty powerful, and leveling it up can make it a very dangerous threat for the hunters, as it might not have a lot of health, but it still does quite a bit of damage, especially to an incapacitated foe.
Her Warp Blast ability allows her to warp in the direction of your choosing, creating a powerful explosive wave that blows enemies away in a short-ranged area of effect attack. Again, not only is this move useful for offense, but it also allows for escaping your pursuers, warping Wraith a fairly good distance forward and even launching enemies away from her. Supernova is another ability, one that makes Wraith go into a limited time “frenzy mode”, making her glow white and creating an area of effect where her melee attacks are even more deadly. The Supernova ability is definitely the most offensive ability of the set, but with good reason, as it makes it very easy to put pressure on the opposing hunters.
Abduction is the last ability Wraith holds in her arsenal, which happens to be my least favorite. Not that it doesn’t have its uses, as Abduction allows for Wraith to aim for a target and instantly warp towards it, grabbing the unlucky enemy and pulling it back to her original spot. It can definitely be useful for ruining hunter strategies like pulling away the medic or support classes, and can even be combined with the Supernova ability. Despite the positive features, I found it much more worthwhile to spend my ability points on the other three abilities to max them out. It’s always possible that there is a strategy with Abduction that I’m not aware of, but until the public really gets time to play with the game, only Turtle Rock Studios will really know.
Once I understood the basics of Wraith, it was time to dive into the previously revealed Evacuation Mode, though as a solo player. Solo mode was also recently revealed, as all of the content in Evolve can be played as a single-player experience, using AI-controlled bots to play as either the monster, or your teammates. Playing through each mode in Evacuation as Wraith, I was given plenty of experience with how to utilize her strategies in each of them. For those not familiar with Evacuation Mode, it is a similar mode to the campaigns of Left 4 Dead, where players will do a five part “campaign” that takes them through a light narrative where hunters will try to evacuate the colonist planet Shear, all whilst trying to hold off the monster forces.
Evacuation will always start with the main “Hunt” mode, and they will always end with the “Defend” mode, with the option of doing the “Rescue”, “Nest”, or another Hunt mode stage in between. As each stage is finished, modifiers activate to benefit the winner in the next one, each map offering a different type of modifier based on who wins and what the next stage is. According to the Evacuation mode tutorial video, given the 16 maps, the modifiers, the different hunters, monsters, and even game modes, the game offers over 800,000 possible combinations for Evacuation Mode to be played. Combine this with the amount of unlocks to be obtained for each character class, and there is a lot of content to explore in Evolve.
I started my Evacuation playthrough on Hunt mode, using the Wraith to get far away from the hunters from the start and feasting on the planet fauna to gain armor and progress towards my stage 2 evolution. The trapper Maggie had her pet trapjaw, Daisy, and with that I was quickly tracked and discovered by the team. This was my first test phase of using the Decoy, which not only helped me escape, but also did well keeping the hunters occupied. It also seems to help with escaping any of the harpoon traps placed by the trapper support class. Managing to get away, it wasn’t long before I made it to stage 3, moving towards the power relay to attempt destroying it. The hunters didn’t want to make it easy, but using a fully powered Decoy and smart use of Supernova, I managed to incapacitate all of the hunters, but I used the final moments to destroy the power relay to get my special modifier. I was given an early lead, and destroying the power relay created poisonous radiation clouds all over the next stage to damage the hunters.
Players are given the option to vote for the next mode, given two options that relate to the starting point. I chose Nest as my next mode, this being my first time playing a different mode aside from Hunt. Still playing as Wraith, my objective was to defend six monster eggs placed around the map. I managed to do very well with this, as even though I lost one egg, I kept the hunters occupied at the second egg for the rest of the match, focusing on using my Decoy to keep them from attacking the egg while keeping the pressure off of my health. Winning this match gave me a modifier for my next selected mode, Rescue, where my successfully defended monster eggs had hatched and the monsters within left corpses in their wake, giving me easier food access to use for evolving. Despite being given a slight advantage, I actually found this mode rather difficult my first time. Hunters are tasked with helping incapacitated colony civilians get to the evacuation point, while my objective as the monster was to stop them. Of the five civilians I was tasked with stopping, I only managed to get three of them before I ran out of health, being attacked by not only the hunters, but the colonists they were saving as well. It ended up being more difficult than I was expecting, especially being given the stage advantage. Losing this match, the AI hunters were given some backup, having a small group of AI controlled colonists to help them out in the next stage, which I chose to do another Hunt mode.
This level went surprisingly well, as I managed to work my way up to stage 3 again, being given more time to feast on the wildlife again. Once I reached stage 3, it was again time to go after the power relay, which this time was contained inside a large cylinder like building. Before getting into the building, the hunters managed to catch up to me outside of it, where it was a bit of a face off, again using Decoys and occasional Supernovas. I also used Warp Blast more often here, as it helped to keep the hunters scattered and still dished out some heavy damage since I had it completely powered up upon reaching stage 3. Having managed to kill all but one hunter, who I had incapacitated, I decided to use my time to destroy the power relay, as I was unsure if the bonus would be different if I just killed the hunters rather than destroyed the power relay. Getting inside and using Supernova to deal additional damage, the power relay was destroyed once again, gearing me up for the epic finale.
Defend mode plays a little like League of Legends or other MOBA games, where AI controlled minions attack in waves, slowly destroying gate generators until they reach the end goal, the evacuation vessel power source. Despite feeling like Kraken would be the better choice for this mode, I wanted to stick with Wraith to get as much experience with her as possible. Defend mode is a winner takes all finale, and it starts the monster off in stage 3, so I was given all my upgrade points before starting, deciding on powering up everything except for Abduction. I ended up growing very comfortable with Decoy by this point, so I decided to use my perk on faster cooldown rates for my abilities. My modifier from destroying the power relay in the previous stage was giving my little mini-Goliath minions a power boost, as the exploding power relay had left more corpses for them to feed on before the finale began.
This mode, like Rescue, ended up being rather difficult, again, Wraith’s health being the issue. Time is against the monster in this mode, as running out of time would mean the hunters win, so keeping on the pressure is absolutely necessary. This is not so easy to do with Wraith, especially since this mode also has sentry turrets for the hunters that help take down the minion monsters, as well as take huge chunks from your health. Managing to take down the first defense gate after some trouble, I used a Decoy to stall the hunters so I could move onto the next gate generator. Even though they were powered up, my minions, coming out two at a time, still fell pretty quickly, as I couldn’t do much to help them out as I tried to keep myself safe. A lot of time had passed by the time I took the second gate generator down, and I was down to a small fraction of my health, deciding to ditch the hunters for the final generator.
This generator happened to be down in a pit-like facility, where I decided to keep the high ground, stories above the generator, trying to send a constant flow of Decoys down the pit to attack the generator. It was then that I realized that despite the Decoys being a good distraction, they didn’t really attack the generator, which was what I really needed now that I had about two minutes left of the match. The hunters would come up to attack me from time to time, as I would try to use my invisibility to avoid detection while my Decoy continued to attack. This unfortunately didn’t work out too well, as I only had roughly 30 seconds to take down the generator at this point, with more than half of its health bar left. I made one final attack, accepting my fate as I went in, a Decoy sent out, a Supernova activated, and a final barrage of melee attacks on the generator as I was finally taken down before time ran out.
I was treated to a cutscene of all the hunters holding off several monsters, effectively evacuating the colony and taking off in the transport vessel. Like I said before, Defend is a winner takes all mode, so even if one side wins the first 4 matches, the campaign could still be won by the other side by winning Defend. What is nice about this though, is that the one that gets the majority of wins will get a bigger experience boost, allowing for more upgrades and unlocks for the specific class the player used. Despite not winning the final battle, having won three out of five stages, I gained a good amount of experience and improved my Decoy ability in the process.
Even though I played Solo mode as the monster, I could already tell that the hunters are an effective group when controlled by AI, so I definitely look forward to playing the solo mode on the opposite side. It’s nice because players can hot swap between the hunters as they play, allowing control of whichever class they so choose to effectively do whatever strategy seems necessary. Even though Evolve’s main focus in on a multiplayer environment, solo mode is still just as fun and engaging, and has practically endless possibilities for replay value. Even though I had a lot of time playing Evacuation solo, I also had nearly twice the time playing it in multiplayer with several of the developers, which I will give my impressions on at a later time. I also managed to get an interview with Evolve Producer Chloe Skew, which will be posted in the coming days. Evolve goes into open beta exclusively on Xbox One on January 15th, and releases on Xbox One, PC, and PlayStation 4 on February 10th, 2015.