Evolve – Alpha impressions

The Evolve alpha test was up this weekend but unfortunately it suffered from strange performance issues making it difficult to play. Read on to check our video and brief write up for the couple hours spent on the Evolve alpha.

Since my video focused primarily on the performance side, I figure I could write a bit more on the gameplay side. Normally when I play a new game I tend to pick up on it very quickly however I struggled with Evolve which was quite odd. Now keep in mind I only spent roughly 2-3 hours playing over a dozen of matches with the medic and support classes in their stock form. So keep in mind that I not only had a brief experience, I also suffered performance issues forcing me to run the game on abnormally low resolution and detail settings.

As a first time player the game didn’t seem particularly friendly or intuitive. The first example would be the one of the video tutorials that is pushed by the game, it clearly explains that tracking the monster via footprints alone isn’t recommended as it travels significantly quicker than you. While there is nothing complicated with that concept, 90% of of players in my games simply followed the footprints allowing the monster to hit level 3 uncontested before wiping us out. The game provides an extra queue with the ‘monster attracted birds’ icon but even that didn’t provide any meaningful information for the most part. Without actually playing as the monster and learning the maps, it becomes nearly impossible to formulate plans as you have no clue what to expect next at a very basic level. This is may the first game where I would have loved having an in-game tutorial with a couple bot matches to understand the basics before getting thrown online. Unfortunately they cannot provide a personal coach like they do during live demos at various game shows.

The second problem I noticed was the lack of audio/visual feedback for many elements in the game. I have died, ran out of ammo and jetpack boost unexpectedly several times during many matches. By the later matches I started getting used to the jetpack but I still found it hard to keep track of at times. Normally good games take advantage of peripheral vision and give various warnings by blinking/pulsating elements and/or changing colours too. In the alpha nothing really did any of that which made it hard to pick up on stuff like my low health or rapidly depleting jetpack. And then consider the fact I was running 720p windowed mode which meant all those elements were that much closer together on screen, it’s pretty far from ideal.

Was my low graphic and resolution settings to blame in this case? It’s tough to say but it definitely didn’t help me get into the game when I have to run absurdly low settings on my PC. On one hand the game looked very polished which would lead me to believe a lot of what I saw is close to final build but on the other they claim this is an ‘alpha’ which would mean its subject to many changes. I have played proper ‘alpha’ builds before and I can say with confidence this is absolutely well past that stage at this point.