Science

I never fully recovered from my trauma with the monster game Evolve

I never fully recovered from my trauma with the monster game Evolve
Written by insideindyhomes

Hobby monster Cortyn tells the inside story and explains why the death of the asymmetrical shooter Evolve (2015) still left its mark years later.

Anyone who has been following MeinMMO for a number of years knows that we have supported a large number of games. These are not always just the hottest games, but also those in which the authors were particularly interested. Because of this, out of personal interest, I covered Evolve for a while in 2015.

And Evolve was nothing less than the perfect game from my point of view.

For those who have no idea: Evolve was a pioneer in the field of modern, asymmetrical games. Four hunters had to fight together against a monster, all five figures were each controlled by players. At the beginning of a game, the monster was weak, had to hide and eat in order to be able to mutate to new “stages”. Later the balance of the round changed and the hunters are on the defensive if they don’t kill the monster early.

I wasn’t just good – I was damn good

I wasn’t good at Evolve. I was damn good. So good that in the meantime I was in 2nd place on the European ranking list with the Goliath as the monster, and only because the player in 1st place always quickly faked a disconnect when there was an impending defeat and Evolve didn’t count that as a defeat ( So much for “The game was perfect” (I’m sure you can tell, I tend to be nostalgic).

I knew every rock, bush, and wild animal on the map.

I knew exactly which route I had to take in order to get the strongest buffs and to be able to initiate the development to the next level right on the hunger point. I was so efficient at this that I was able to mutate half the maps before the fighters even landed.

I knew the perfect spot for an ambush, where I could stand in a bush and duck and the hunters just ran past me. I knew exactly which slope is just a jump for me, but the hunters would use up most of their jetpack.

Smashing fighters and being “the monster” in Evolve has never been so much fun.

If the monster breathed, I breathed too

I knew every trick. I knew what punch animation to time when a Hunter goes down so that my Goliath picks it up briefly and then carries it a few yards. That could be enough to just drop it down a cliff. And I knew every single one of those places where that was possible.

I breathed the game.

No, not just in a figurative sense.

When my monster breathed in to “scan” the world around him for hunters and other prey, I, too, took deep, tense breaths in front of the pc.

After 2 weeks and much closer to the “200 hour playing time limit” than I care to admit here, there just wasn’t anyone who could beat me either. At least not if I hadn’t imposed a handicap on myself. More and more often I only played matches with restrictions like “I’m not allowed to use creature buffs”, “I have to win already on stage 2” or “I’m only allowed to improve 2 of 4 skills”.

I was confident, but also had an extremely high level of play. And you know: level only looks like arrogance from below.

Joking aside. I was really good and really proud of it. I had so much fun.

My whole life revolved around Evolve

Was that a bit sick? Well, probably. I spent most of my day trying to somehow maximize my play time in Evolve simply because I had so much fun, like never before in a PC game. I scheduled writing my articles for work so that I could cook something quickly while a colleague read my article. I’ve completely written off every other gaming ‘commitment’, such as my WoW raid, for the time being. And I didn’t see sunlight in the two weeks either.

I still enjoyed it, every minute of it. I’ve never “felt” a game like Evolve before or since. It doesn’t matter whether it’s an exciting horror game, a gripping JRPG or more cinematic games like Heavy Rain or Detroit: Become Human. Not even my beloved World of Warcraft RPG came close to the immersive experience of Evolve.

Cortyn also played the Evolve Stage 2 beta – and ate it all.

Terrible communication first ruined Evolve’s image – then the whole game

Unfortunately, the dream of my beautiful Evolve then began to crumble much faster than I would have liked. While, even now in retrospect, I found the DLC policy really okay, the publisher pulled it off terribly badly. Poor communication made Evolve seem like a “rip-off” where each piece of content had to be purchased separately and hundreds of additional dollars would have had to be invested in the game. That was not the case and it certainly had nothing to do with Pay2Win. But Evolve did not recover from this reputation.

The number of players collapsed, but also for other reasons.

While you could play very well alone as a monster, you couldn’t as a hunter. The group of 4 players had to coordinate extremely well.

A single troll on the team could completely ruin the game for everyone involved. It doesn’t matter whether it’s from the monster’s point of view or from the other hunters: If a hunter went through an “ego tour”, the fun of the game was in the basement.

If you wanted to have fun as a hunter in Evolve, you needed a group of friends who were all on the same playing level. When it did, it had the best and most exciting rounds and was exactly what Evolve wanted to be at its finest. Whether as monsters or hunters, if the hunter party was a team that colluded, then Evolve was incomparably good.

It was all the worse if that wasn’t the case. Evolve just wasn’t a game that you could just play a few rounds with “Randoms” – at least not as a hunter.

Evolve Kraken
The Kraken was Evolve’s second monster and had clear C’thulhu vibes.

To save it, the developers made Evolve a shadow of itself

In order to counteract this trend, the developers rebuilt the game blatantly. In Evolve 2.0 many mechanics changed. Not only did the game become Free2Play, many of the core mechanics also changed or disappeared. Eating creatures suddenly gave no or significantly weaker buffs, hunters were faster, monsters lost some cool abilities, there was significantly less “mind games” and everything was designed to find the monster much faster and engage in longer fights.

Complexity and tactics have been sacrificed to create more fast, simple action. While that was fun for a while, to me it was just a shadow of what Evolve wanted to be.

And then it died ingloriously before itself. The servers became emptier, more and more players on both sides left the ongoing matches and nobody played the glorious campaign mode anymore.

Evolve Goliath Trick
Early fights when the monster is small have been particularly taxing for the monster player.

I miss that kick that Evolve gave me. In fact, I miss having a game that I love so much that for a while I dedicated most of my life to it.

It affected me more than I would like to admit. For me, Evolve was the personal pinnacle of gaming. I automatically measure every other game against Evolve in my mind and almost always come to the conclusion: It’s just not that good. Whether I’m using some of my current favorites with at least a similar theme, like Dead by Daylight, or playing JRPGs like Persona 5 or Tales of Arise, I can’t help but think, “As good as it is, it doesn’t pull me in quite the way it does Evolve has done.”

I’m always scared now that a game may die soon

At the same time, this “Evolve trauma” also means that I’m not willing to let myself fall into a game so unconditionally in advance. The thought that gnaws in the back of my mind that in a few weeks the game could already be dead gnaws at me. Even if, from a purely rational point of view, it is of course clear to me that I could still have a lot of fun a few weeks beforehand, this is such an obstacle that I can hardly mentally overcome it.

I hope at some point, for a week or two, to experience this “evolve phase” again, in which a game flashes me so completely that I don’t want to do anything else. At least for a while. Until then, Evolve remains a painful memory that will hopefully be overshadowed by a new, better one at some point.

Did you also have such a connection to any game? Or can you not understand it at all?

#fully #recovered #trauma #monster #game #Evolve

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