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Turtle Rock Studios isn't necessarily a household name, but it's likely you've heard of the game they developed: Left 4 Dead. Even though Valve is often quoted as the brains behind that title, it was actually Turtle Rock Studios who came up with the franchise, eventually selling the rights to Valve. For their next game, Evolve, Turtle Rock Studios goes back to what they know: a group of four players banding together to survive. However, while Left 4 Dead pit these four survivors against a mass of zombies, with players taking control of special zombies with unique abilities, Evolve pits these four survivors against one player-controlled hulking monstrosity.

Evolve is a frequent game of cat and mouse. The monster starts out weak, being easy prey for the hunters, but as the player-controlled monster snacks on the local wildlife, it can evolve, or level up, eventually becoming too much for the hunters to handle. The hunters must work together, using their skills in tandem with each other, if they hope to survive. Tracking the beast down is only the first step – taking it down is going to require much more coordination.

It goes without saying that Evolve is primarily an online game. While the game can be played offline with bots, this is far from the ideal way to play. Evolve is at it's best when you're playing with three other friends – playing with random players is a frustrating experience, especially when trying to work together with these complete strangers. With a good group, Evolve is an amazing experience; with anything less, you'll find it a struggle to overcome any of the game's monsters.

Of special note is the progression system in the game: Not all hunters, monsters or skills are unlocked from the get go. When you eventually have everything unlocked, the game has a wealth of options to choose from; however, when you first start, your small pool of playable characters and skills feels limited. It's worth mentioning that the game includes copious amounts of DLC, including new playable hunters and monsters. It's unsure how these DLC characters will change Evolve, but chances are good you may need to factor in future DLC purchases to stay competitive. However, the developer has stated that all future game modes and maps will be free for all players.

When it comes to game modes, Evolve is packed with them, featuring a grand total of four fully fleshed out modes. While most of the action takes place in Hunt, the 4 vs. 1 battle royale described above, the other game modes are fun and help extend the experience. Hunt, however, is at the forefront here and is the game mode that most players tend to migrate to.

Like most current generation games, Evolve looks beautiful. As usual, the PC version produces the best graphics, while the PS4 and Xbox One versions are about equal. Don't buy this game on graphics alone – purchase it on the system all of your friends are gaming on. It can't be stressed enough that to get the most out of Evolve, you need a good group of gaming friends.

At the end of the day, what you get out of Evolve is what you come into it with. If you come in with three other friends, you'll have the time of your life, similar to Left 4 Dead. If you're stuck playing with random players who aren't interested in teamwork, or AI controlled bots, you're going to have a bad time. While most multiplayer games encourage teamwork, Evolve requires it. Make sure you're got a good hunter group for when the game releases on February 10th, 2015.


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