Hands on with Evolve’s terrifying Wraith (Wired UK)


Turtle Rock
Studios / 2K Games


With its emphasis on asymmetrical multiplayer combat,
Evolve is shaping up to be one of the most intriguing games for 2015. Set on the
alien world of Shear where the would-be human colonists are at odds
with terrifying megafauna, a team of four hunters battles against
one giant monster.

Having already shown the Goliath and Kraken monsters, developer
Turtle Rock Studios recently unveiled the new Wraith. WIRED.co.uk
goes hands on with
the Queen Bee herself, and the game’s new Evacuation mission
mode.

The Wraith herself is by far the fastest of Evolve’s
monsters. She’s a lithe, serpentine lightning bolt, capable of
clambering over the terrain of Shear in double-quick time.
Accordingly, her attacks emphasise speed, with lethal strikes and
teleportation moves as key parts of her arsenal.

To make up for a lack of physical power, at least compared to
the mighty Goliath, one of her most interesting skills is
Abduction. Similar to a predator picking off the weakest animal in
a herd, the Wraith will lash out from afar and pull a hunter
towards her, separating them from the team and leaving them
vulnerable to her physical attacks. It also has the benefit of
ruining any strategy the human team may be working on. Another,
Decoy, creates a temporary duplicate which draws the hunters’
attention, rendering the real Wraith invisible and allowing her to
sneak to a more advantageous position.

Her more powerful moves are Warp Blast, providing a leap forward
accompanied by a blinding force blast, and Supernova, which
massively augments the Wraith’s stats for a short time, turning her
mantis-like forearms into a terrifying thresher. Playing as the
Wraith makes the game as a whole feel a touch nippier, and based on
previous play tests, rounds certainly went by faster. Partly, this
is because definitely feels the weakest, and goes down far more
easily against the hunters.

The first round lasted less than two minutes, as between getting
a handle on her moves and using the universal hunting mechanics –
a kind of sonar pulse to find prey, eating them to evolve into more
powerful forms — we were simply too distracted to notice the
enemies until they were upon us. Subsequent matches were more
balanced, but you definitely feel more vulnerable playing as Wraith
than as the other monsters. It’s difficult to do enough damage to
any one human without the others tearing into you, so the Abduction
skill becomes important. Timing the use of her abilities and
learning to use them tactically while keeping well out of reach of
the hunters is key to victory with this lady.

Weirdly though, the devs seem to have really focussed on the
idea of the Wraith being female — for a horrific multi-armed
creature of incredible power, she’s been given a tapered, hourglass
torso. It’s not exactly sexist, but it is strange to be catering to
the incredibly tiny market of xenobiological arthropod
fetishists.

Conversely, team play as one of the hunters feels like an
entirely different game. Switching perspective from third to first
person alone changes the experience, but you’ll also have to make
better use of communication and teamwork to conquer any of the main
monsters on the planet. There are 12 characters to choose from,
three each from the four categories of Trapper, Assault, Medic and
Support. Each team must have one of each, and although tactically
advisable, it would be be nice to have the freedom to field teams
of any combination, just to see what kind of tactics players could
come up with. An all-Medic team would be severely put upon for
instance, but victory would present the ultimate bragging
rights.

Each character has their own quirks though. We mostly played as
Bucket, a robot of the Support class who appealed due to his
detachable head that can be controlled as a remote camera drone.
It’s a versatile role, striking a balance between the other three
but not excelling at any. Maggie also impressed, a Trapper who
brings her ‘dog’ Daisy into battle with her, creating a technical
fifth member who can drastically alter the outcome of missions.

The missions themselves are one of Evolve’s most
enticing offerings, or rather the mission structure is. In
Evacuation, you’ll play through five linked chapters. As hunters,
you’re effectively running interference, trying to prevent the
spread of the monsters to allow time for colonists to escape Shear.
As one of the monsters, you’re out to kill as many of those pesky
terran interlopers as possible. On either side, your actions in
each chapter affects how the next one plays out. For instance, as
the monster you might destroy a processing plant, and even if you
lose the round there will be poisonous areas that weaken the humans
in the next one. The precise location of each round and the flow of
the loose narrative that builds is voted on by players between
chapters, and Turtle Rock claim there are over 80 thousand
combinations of effects and progressions possible in the course of
a full five-match Evacuation.

Overall, Evolve is shaping up fantastically well,
though it definitely still needs some tweaks to the balancing.
Although the creatures shouldn’t be overwhelmingly powerful, they
never quite feel tough enough, even after being fully evolved;
conversely, playing as hunters leaves you feeling underpowered too.
If Turtle Rock can fine tune that delicate but important aspect,
this could be absolutely massive, particularly on the eSports circuit –
potentially, a monster hit.

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18 December 2014 | 12:36 pm – Source: wired.co.uk

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