Earlier this week, IGN’s Podcast Unlocked released a video discussing the possibility of seeing a sequel to Turtle Rock Studio and Take-Two game Evolve, after hearing Take-Two’s CEO Strauss Zelnick describing the game as “really important” and a “permanent” franchise for the publisher.
Evolve has taken up my attention like few other video games in recent years have been able to do. The hunting mechanic can make it feel as if it were a racing game just as much as it is a first-person shooter, and I have spent hours chasing monsters with friends and devouring opposing hunters as a monster. But even as a fan, it’s hard to ignore the negative comments that emerged from the Evolve community, citing Take-Two’s abundant paid DLC and the sparse content for gamers who prefer to play solo. But a sequel to Evolve could help remedy a lot of this issues. Here’s a list of ideas I’d love to see in the next title.
1. Single Player Campaign
A big part of Zelnick’s statement about Evolve included the implication that it may not have sold as well as it might have had it included a more fleshed-out single player component. Based on those words, if Evolve 2 is to happen, it would almost assuredly include a campaign mode—and that’s not a bad thing. The lore of Evolve, and the way its different characters together, is incredibly dense considering the amount of time its explored in the game. Seeing only in brief conversation between the characters prior to dropping into combat, the game’s dialog does an excellent job at illustrating a large and fascinating universe. Griffin is a famous big game Hunter, known for his series of films depicting him take down massive alien predators. Caira is the only member of the team from Earth, which no longer has movies or television; in the vast expanse of her universe, live theater is too valuable a commodity to substitute for anything else. Slim, the bug-man cowboy medic, is a veteran of the Third Mutagen Wars, while his comrades Lazarus and Hyde fought in the First.
Having a campaign mode that further explores this universe would be a welcome treat. There would be a central story about the alien invasion of the Monsters, but as you advance further into the story and unlock additional characters, you get to play flashback missions for each that fills in a little bit more of the overall tapestry. These missions would be a good way to teach players how best to use their abilities, with level design focused around highlighting a particular Hunter’s skillset. For example, maybe in a flashback mission for Griffin, you are trying to take down the legendary Orion Terrorsaur, and have to traverse a map while plugging harpoons into the beast, slowly bringing it to the ground. As Slim, maybe you are part of a battle in the aforementioned war, and have to use your healing abilities to keep an army of Ebon Star allies alive during an onslaught of an invading force. These missions could also explore areas beyond that of Shear—maybe an arctic planet, or the ruins of an ancient alien civilization driven to extinction by the Monsters, or a deep-space scientific research vessel crawling with unarmed scientists for the Monsters to feed upon.
The Monsters would have to have missions of their own as well, with levels that highlight their power and ferocity. In Evolve, you hear a whole lot about the destruction the Monsters are causing on the planet Shear, but with the gameplay being so (arguably) balanced, actually playing as a Monster feels anything but empowering. You are constantly on the run, and a decent team of Hunters is constantly on your heels. A single player campaign could change that, featuring levels that have a Goliath systematically stalking and devouring a group of colonists, or an elder Kraken driving a pair of stage 1 Wraiths off of its hunting grounds. Again, it would be a great way to instruct new players on different ways to use a Monster’s abilities, all the while continuing to flesh out the lore of the universe.
2. Dual Pricing Structure
The sole drawback to a solo campaign is that not everyone in Evolve’s community seems to want it. Some players really love that Evolve is so hyper-focused on a multi-player experience, while others felt that without a single player campaign, it felt a little anemic for a $60 game.
Evolve 2 could alleviate that problem by making its multiplayer mode free-to-play. It could offer a set of 4 base Hunters and one Monster for free, with other characters and modes sold off in pieces for a reasonable price. On the other hand, if you buy the $60 single player version, you get all of the characters and Monsters (even if you have to unlock them through the campaign) and only then have to spend money on cosmetic DLC from then on out. Multiplayer aficionados can check out the game, and justify if they want to spend only 20 bucks to unlock a few characters they’re interested in using. If they are interested enough, they can jump into the full version of the game and check out the campaign, instead. Pricing it out in this fashion will guarantee that gamers feel like they get a better value no matter what they spend, and could alleviate some of the grief that Take-Two received for having such an aggressive DLC campaign attached to the first game.
3. Fleshing out the Hunters
The most obvious thing to do in another Evolve would be to add more Hunters, and while I’m having a difficult time arguing against that, it’s not the only way to add a little more variety into the gameplay of the Hunter classes. I would propose adding different load-outs to each Hunter, as well. Imagine instead of going into a hunt with a pack of Arc Mines on him, Markov jumps from the dropship equipped with a set of Tesla Pylons that increase the range and damage of his Lightning Gun by arcing blasts into chains across several Pylons placed strategically across the map.
Having different load-outs could also be a great way to introduce new gameplay modes into the multiplayer arena, as well, without feeling like you are necessarily changing the usefulness of a Hunter. Evolve’s new Arena Mode is fun, but somewhat decreases the utility of the Trapper class by rendering its major function—the release of an orbital dome that contains the Monster to a smaller area—completely useless. Introducing another few tools into the Trapper class arsenal might make it a more desirable class to play in that mode. It would also be a great way to ensure that the Monster doesn’t know what kind of Hunter they are approaching, as not every Lazarus or Parnell are forced to play according to a certain strategy.
4. The Monsters Mutate
Adding more variety to the Monsters would not be just as simple, as each of them already have the option of taking several different load-outs. What I would suggest in this case would be a set of Mutations, which would be similar to perks, but have more deliberate effects on both the Monster’s appearance and gameplay. Maybe you like to play a Goliath with a set of horns that allows a simple gore attack that occurs while moving, or a venomous Wraith that deals poison damage whenever it uses its melee attack. If you wanted to get all Gamma World with it (big nerdy gold star if you got that reference), you could have the Mutations be powerful enough that they also inflict a random drawback of some kind on the Monster. Maybe it has acidic blood that damages Hunters that are near you when you take damage, but also leaves a trail of smoldering grass along the ground when you are wounded. Players could build a sense of ownership over a particular combination of Mutations and Drawbacks, and could save a winning pair for future use—so long as they having a winning streak that doesn’t kill that particular Monster.
5. New Game Modes
The best way to add value to another Evolve game, however, is to add more game modes. By adding more variety to how each Hunter and Monster play, you can also bring in additional game modes that challenge players in new and different ways. These could be based off of the games new campaign missions. A few examples follow:
Hoard: a pair of Hunters must defend a base of colonists from increasingly dangerous forms of stampeding wildlife for as long as possible.
Territorial Dispute: a pair of Monster players race to see who can feed fast enough to gain the advantage on a certain map and rid its opponent.
Bounty Hunt: A single, buffed Hunter character is tracked by a pair of other Hunters across the map.
Objective Hunt: Evolve’s Extraction mode introduced the idea of environmental effects that took effect between matches, in Objective Hunt, these effects are cause directly by the actions of the characters in-game. Maybe a countdown in game introduces an opportunity for the Hunters abandon the Monster’s cold trail in order to try to free some more birds from hidden aviaries, for example, or maybe a Monster is forced to choose between making a beeline for the Power Relay or preventing the Hunter’s Support character from rebuilding a crashed gunship that could threaten to blast it from above.
Liberation: An expansion of Evolve’s Extraction mode, Liberation mode would be similar to Helldiver’s campaign mode, where Hunter players are entangled in a week-long invasion from the Monster forces, rotating through game modes in public matches to contribute to the week’s win count for your chosen side. Flash challenges would pop up during the week, adding points to a certain side’s score for competing in certain modes or under specific conditions. At the end of the week, the winning side reaps some benefits, such as an exclusive perk for the next week, or a new skin for the chosen faction.
These are just a few ideas about how Evolve can make a much bigger splash in the world of first-person shooters, while hopefully still being able to deliver a unique and balanced experience. I’d love to hear some more of your ideas on the subject, so feel free to let them go in the comments below!