As with most co-op games, doing well in Evolve requires thoughtful planning and constant communication between teammates. This means that having human players is, without a doubt, key to being successful in online matchmaking. While bots occupy any open slots available, I’d still try to find a solid group of four to go into online with, and for good reasons. For example, if you’re not running with your full team constantly - or at least in pairs - the wildlife and Monsters can surprise lonely teammates and destroy them one by one without struggle. Having a human teammate around to fend off enemy creatures and free a player from their grasp faster is a game changer, similar to how players dealt with Special Infected attacks in Left 4 Dead.
Some of the most intense parts of the game are during Stage 1 of the Monster's evolution. This is the Monster’s most vulnerable stage, so the potential for Hunters to track and trap it before it has the chance to evolve definitely changes the pace of the game. At Stage 1, the Monster will either have limited attack options or its attacks won't pack enough of a punch to ward off the Hunters before they do permanent damage.
On the flipside, if the Hunters let the Monster reach Stage 3, there is little chance they'll survive the final attack, provided that the Monster knows what it's doing. Though the developers of the game have stated that the game’s balancing is ridiculously refined, I still feel that core mechanics like the Hunters' locomotion should be retouched, as the Monsters usually have the advantage when it comes to using the terrain to their benefit.
If you simply want to play a few quick rounds by yourself, then Custom mode is a great way to start gaining experience points quickly with characters (coupled with the Evolve: Hunters Quest mobile app). Evacuation mode also plays very similar to how a Left 4 Dead campaign contains multiple rounds in a game. However, some local co-op features would’ve been a particularly nice addition here, in case a friend would like to join in on a moments notice. As of now, is no local co-op in the game at all, only online multiplayer. Both Left 4 Dead games last gen had split-screen capabilities which are sorely missed here in Evolve. Still, I do find the single player aspects of the game very rewarding if you want to practice a particular mode, Hunter, or Monster before running with online players.
It’s also worth emphasizing that Evolve currently has a ton of downloadable content attached to it. While maps will be free for all players (a necessity, to avoid fragmenting the community), skins and monsters won't, though can still be seen during all matches. The sheer amount of DLC will make the game a little hard to swallow for some; the retail price of the game plus the Season Pass and any future Monster or Hunter additions makes it a significant investment. Still, much of this content is optional, and any resulting alterations likely won’t be significant enough to make or break the online multiplayer. I would only suggest purchasing some to help camouflage your Monster or Hunters a bit better.
Evolve is a game that has great co-op gameplay and the potential to be a standout title of the year. What holds it back is the developer's/publisher's choice to include so much DLC that it turned off many players from the get-go. Still, if you're willing to see past the modern business practices of the gaming industry, then Evolve won't disappoint.
When I wrote a previous editorial about whether or not Evolve could top Left 4 Dead's co-op, I was sure that it could at least rival the game. After playing it a bunch, I can say that Evolve might not recreate the same type of gameplay, but it manages to be a distinct experience in its own right. In the end, they are two separate games that should be appreciated differently. Evolve is a solid addition to Turtle Rock's catalog, and it’s worthy of any co-op junky's time.
The Co-Op Experience: Team up with three other players to take down a large computer-controlled monster in a first person shooter scenario.
Co-Optimus game reviews focus on the cooperative experience of a game, our final score graphic represents this experience along with an average score for the game overall. For an explanation of our scores please check our Review Score Explanation Guide.