Turtle Rock’s upcoming title wants to shake things up a notch. The idea of four players teaming up to take on a large boss enemy is nothing new. But having a fifth player controlling the boss? That’s something we can definitely say we want a part of.
During my visit to the recent MCM Manchester Comic Con expo I was able to play the game as one of the hunters and as one of the newly revealed monster characters, the Kraken. Today’s preview is going to focus on the later, because let’s face it, why wouldn’t I tell you about controlling this absolute beast of a creature first?
While there will be a separate solo campaign mode, most of the buzz around the game has been about the four vs one concept. In today’s stage the hunters were tasked with killing the monster before it was able to feed enough to evolve into larger forms. The monster’s objective though was either to take out all the hunters before they had a chance to revive each other or to grow strong enough to destroy a large generator at a facility on the other side of the jungle. Players are able to choose a perk in the match’s lobby such as faster feeding or tougher armour. I went for faster feeding, as I was keen to max out the monster’s form before trying to take on the hunters.
The monster gets a head start when the round begins before the hunters are dropped into the same location. Rather than wait for them, I was advised to get as far away as possible and to feed on smaller creatures to evolve to the second form to deal more damage and become tougher to kill.
Knowing the hunters would be using a pet creature to track the scent of my footsteps, I decided to start the match by walking up a river, hoping the water would hide my tracks. It seemed to work too as it was a good few minutes before I was discovered. Before being found I was able to eat a few herbivore dinosaur-like creatures after taking them out with a few powerful swipe attacks. Once a feed meter has been filled I had to find a quiet area to enter a vulnerable cocoon state to evolve to the second stage. After what felt like forever, I emerged with a few skillpoints that I was able to spend on boosting some of the Kraken’s abilities.
After getting out of the surprisingly sticky upgrade screen, I realised that I was under attack. The hunters had found me, and I was surprised at just how puny they appeared. Time to unleash some monster mayhem.
Unlike the Goliath monster (which Matt got his hands on a while back), the Kraken is more of a ranged specialist. Controlling the Cthulhu-like monster, I was able to hover in the air and send down multiple attacks. Targeted lightning strikes can be aimed at specific targets from afar, meaning you can pick off members of the hunter team one at a time, while also staying out of the way of the heavy damage weapons like the flamethrower. While the monster’s shield may regenerate, the health bar does not.
Monsters need to know when to fall back, as it’s all too easy to get trapped in one of the trapper domes. Although, if the hunters co-ordination goes to hell, it can be a case you having them exactly where you want them. Let’s just say I took advantage of them not realising they were free to leave the dome.
The banshee mine attack sends out numerous explosive orbs that are useful for keeping the hunters moving, ensuring they have less time to line up a decent shot. Keeping them panicked and disorganised is going key to victory. The most useful attack I found though was the vortex blast, which acts like a powerful gust of wind that, with careful aiming, can send the entire party tumbling away, which is perfect for giving you some breathing room if the little sods start to get organised.
Sometimes though, you have to move in for some close melee attacks, usually to finish off an opponent and maybe feast on their remains if their team has abandoned them. The melee attack moves feel pretty awful though at this stage, there’s no sense of weight or connection to them and they feel decidedly unresponsive and sluggish. I found myself hammering the melee button and just hoping to see a hunters health bar diminish. It’s even more noticeable when taking on the local wildlife in order to evolve to a new form. The lack of physicality for the melee moves somewhat ruined the sense of being a huge powerful creature and I dearly hope Turtle Rock can beef them up by release.
There were a few bugs during the demo that will hopefully be ironed out by release too. The sound dropped out for most of my playthrough with only the odd muted explosion coming through, not ideal when you’re trying to listen out for signs of the hunter pack. Also, on my final assault on the generator a prompt never appeared telling me I needed to hold certain buttons to initiate damaging attacks, so I just hammered away with regular attacks doing no damage. A big thanks to the 2K rep behind me who didn’t think this would be useful information for me either.
What has become clear though is that Evolve isn’t going to be one for quick matches. Most matches at the expo took around twenty minutes, which feels a bit too long. Alternatively, the monster could opt to ambush the hunters straight away before they’ve had time to compose themselves and I’ve read reports that matches can be over in less than ten minutes if you get lucky this way. But with queues at MCM being 90 minutes long, nobody really wanted to put this to the test.
Stay tuned here at Dealspwn for part two of my preview where the tables are turned and I recount my experience playing as a medic on the hunter’s team. [UPDATE: Or click this link to read it now!]