Hands-On: A Wild Closed Evolve Alpha Appeared!
It’s past noon on Monday, the 3rd of November. To some, this would only be useless information as it happens every week, but to those who have been glued to their screens this past weekend, it means that there are only a couple of hours left of work/class/responsibilities before they can rejoin the world in making Evolve a better game.
We already got our grubby paws on Evolve at rAge last month but this was a little different.
This past weekend I was fortunate enough to have two things: 1) a stable and fast internet connection, and 2) access to the Evolve Big Alpha (which we received because we own XCOM: Enemy Unknown on Steam). Even though the game is only limited to a certain number of maps and monsters, it still took about a day to download the 14Gb alpha. The anticipation we felt was getting unbearable as the download ticked down to completion, but little did we know that what we were experiencing was only the start of the wait that is to come.
Editor’s note: Bianca sometimes refers to herself as two people. It’s really creepy.
The waiting. Oh my goodness, there was so much of it. There was a match I played with friends where we sat entertaining ourselves on Mumble because it took what felt like forever just to get into the character selection menu. One of the said friends made an observation that was as true as your existence on this earth, and that is that you wait longer to get into a match than the time you spend actually playing.
The people who have participated in the Alpha will know exactly what I’m talking about. You spend about 5-10 minutes waiting for the map to load and spend a minimum of 3 minutes playing. Mind you, it’s not every game, but a fair amount of them end quite quickly. This is only partially because of the fact that it’s an Alpha and glitches will occur, like the monster spawning right where the hunters dropped and being unable to move for a fair amount of time, so obviously the match will end quickly. But there were other forces at play there. Dark and mysterious forces…
There are players that had, by Saturday afternoon (I can’t imagine their skill levels now), come to know exactly what to do with their monster. They knew how to lurk in the shadows and how to conceal their existence. They are known as the OP squad.
Not really, but you could just as well give them a name. They kind of deserve it.
In the last hour that I could play, there was one guy that we had two matches against, and in both he just dominated. I mean, he went from newly spawned monster to stage three in nothing flat, and it actually terrified me. I might just be trying to make excuses so that I can maybe redeem my team, but he was level 8 and we were a collection of low level players, so it was quite easy picking. [Insert more excuses here]
Even though we got our asses handed to us in those two games, we still very much enjoyed it. In those matches I chose to play a trapper seeing as I had played with the assault hunter for about 3-4 matches before then. And man, was that a learning curve. I know that it would be an obvious thing, as the trapper isn’t supposed to be the front-line attacker, but damn that class dies quickly. Or maybe I just suck at playing that role. It might be that. Maybe.
However, what I learned is that the trapper has quite the important job. You can’t really say they’re one of the most important reasons why matches get won, because as the Alpha so explicitly made clear, it’s a team effort to get a monster to its knees. But you sure do make it easier for your assault and support if the monster only has a tiny dome to run around in. That arena dome also helps your medic to easily heal the team as there’s not much room to hide. But that’s also the down side. If you’re injured, there’s not much space to hide.
The thrill of each match kind of puts you in this frenzied state where you don’t exactly know what you’re supposed to be doing and which weapon you should be doing it with. But even if you just randomly throw out land mines (if you’re assault) or if you just always activate your cloaking mechanism (if you’re support) you gain experience for it. After each match a progress report shows you how well you’re doing as well as showing you how much damage you dealt in that match with each weapon. It allows you to realize that you should be using your secondary weapon more instead of relying solely on your primary gun. It helps you play your character a bit better because you’re utilizing everything available to you.
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With each passing match you gain experience. The more experience you gain, the higher your level. But here’s the thing about the Alpha: as you level up and complete challenges, you unlock other characters in your class. You can play every class in the alpha, but you can’t just play every character. You need to earn that right. It’s still unclear whether this will count for the real game or just the Alpha, but it’s not a bad system.
It forces you to try harder so that you can get access to everything the game has to offer.
I’ve been shipping Evolve ever since I saw some of the gameplay footage a couple of months ago, and after this weekend I’m shipping it even harder. I want this game all up in mah face! If the Turtle Rock team manages to get rid of the glitches that cause matches to be thrown (like monsters getting stuck in rocks), they will have a winner here. I wasn’t bored after playing the same three maps again and again, mainly because the players in the game keep things interesting. I have high hopes for the end product and I’d certainly love to own this.
That said, this game has some serious system requirements. We played it on a PC that is fairly decent by regular gaming standards and yet the graphics still had to be dropped to low just so that it won’t lag. So if you plan on buying Evolve when it comes out, make sure you’ll at least be able to enjoy its full graphical glory because it’s really a pretty looking game.
If you’d like to see some gameplay of the Alpha, go over to this GameSpot page to watch them play on the Xbox One. They pretty much cover the small things I didn’t want to bore you with. For those who did not know, the Alpha doesn’t end today but rather tomorrow round about 10PM (12PM Pacific Time), it has been extended due to the problems on the PS4. So get hunting!
TL;DR — The Alpha had problems, hence the need for it but it was massive amounts of fun. I suck balls as a trapper, the dog you get with it was more help than I was. There are people who are too good at being monsters, they scare me but I still want this game so that I can shoot them in the face.