Turtle Rock’s upcoming game puts a team of four players against one player-controlled monster in an intense online skirmish that will require teamwork, bravery and just enough humility to know when to retreat for a while. Earlier this week, I detailed my experience playing as the Kraken monster in Evolve. Today, it’s time to hear what playing on the hunter team is like, specifically in the Medic role. Playing as the monster is a solitary experience, but on the hunter’s team, co-ordination is key to success or at least survival.
Before getting into the details of my medic playthrough though, a little introduction of some general match details. As I detailed in my Kraken hands-on report, the hunter team are dropped into the stage a minute or so after the monster meaning they have to track it down, hopefully before it manages to evolve into later forms.
Maggie, the team’s trapper has a pet Trapjaw, an ‘alien dogbeast’ that can be used to track the monster, providing glowing images of footprints on the ground for the team to follow. Unless, the monster ran up the river like I did.
There’s more to worry about than the monster though as each map is filled with local wildlife that can be just as dangerous. Large creatures like the Megamouth like to lurk in bushes and will pounce upon and trap hunters in their mouth until a teammate shoots them free or they’re devoured. There are meeker creatures that won’t attack you and others that will if provoked. Generally though, you won’t want to kill much of the local wildlife because you’re simply providing ready-made meals for the monster, allowing it to reach its next form even faster as they beef up for the finale.
Getting around the large levels is aided by a jetpack that allows you to climb the cliffs when in pursuit of the monster. The Kraken can fly and climb walls, so be prepared for a few vertical chases. These jetpacks can only go so far before needing an unreasonably lengthy recharge, which can be a deadly issue when defending a generator on a high-up platform as the monster will switch between attacking from above and below, often stranding you below for a while if you don’t keep an eye on the fuel gauge.
Lazarus – The Medic
Lazarus the medic is a player strictly based behind his team. He’s the only character able to revive teammates and as such will be the first target for any savvy player behind the eyes of the monster. There’s no magic gun that fires a persistent healing beam as in Team Fortress 2 though. Lazarus only has a recharging deployable health pack that heals anyone in the immediate area. Player health does not regenerate automatically, so careful use of this Healing Burst ability is key to keeping them in prime condition.
The Lazarus Device is the most important item in his tool belt though thanks to its unique ability of reviving fallen players. Naturally, the monster will lay traps for you by killing teammates and waiting to kick your ass when you appear corpse-side with the device. Thankfully, this version of Evolve’s medic class (there will be at least two in the final game) also has a temporary cloaking device to turn invisible, giving you an extra chance of reviving a teammate without being detected. Your team will also play an important role in helping you revive comrades, as they can draw attention away from you with their weapons and traps.
When called into action to swoop in and save someone, playing as the medic can be fun. Unfortunately, the rest of the time it’s undeniably dull playing as the first-aider while everyone else gets to hog all the monster-slaying glory. Lazarus does have a sniper rifle to attack from afar and supposedly uncover weak spots for the assault class to target for extra damage, but the on-screen feedback of such spots is seemingly non-existent at this stage.
It’s clear that the devs (or at least the enthusiastic 2K rep dashing around behind us giving is advice) wants the medic to stay out of the fight and hang back as much as possible. Well, fingers crossed by the final game the sniper rifle will appear to be more useful instead of a token weapon to make it look like the medic is contributing on an offensive level. On the strength of this playthrough, the medic is the “not-it” character of the team-selection screen, where each hunter team must have one player in each role (assault, medic, trapper and support).
So far, Evolve hasn’t made the best of impressions. The Kraken is a clunky creature to control and it’s frequently unclear what it’s supposed to be doing when the objectives change beyond killing the hunters. While playing as the medic is sadly just a little boring unless you’re diving in under the monster’s feet while wearing your invisibility cloak to revive another teammate who got a little brave.
I can also see how until everyone gets really good at playing the game in the other hunter roles, the medic is going to be the most important player in the team –or the one that clears up their mess and suicidal charges. If you’re going to play Evolve online with randomers, the fact that you may have a moron in the medic’s shoes means you’re also probably fucked from the start.
I want to be more excited about Evolve than I am right now, but the great idea of four players taking on a massive boss character badly needs polish, or ironically given the name, a few more rounds of evolution as it’s currently slipping down the food chain.