When I played Evolve during PAX East, I lost. I was playing as Goliath, an aptly named brute of a monster, well-suited for up-close-and-personal attacks. Alas, I was killed by my opponents, four human-controlled hunters (much more quickly than I care to admit). At E3 this week, I tried my hand at the monster again, only this time I tried Evolved's new beast, the Cthulhu-like Kraken. Senior producer Michael Boccieri describes Kraken as a "flying squid magician," capable of dealing a lot of damage from a distance – and yes, he can fly.
I probably shouldn't spoil the rest of this article, but I totally won.
Kraken does a good job of illustrating how Evolve's different monsters can impact the flow of the game. Where Goliath focuses on close-range abilities, Kraken's abilities allow him to take out hunters without getting his hands dirty. Kraken can summon a huge bolt of lightning to strike a specific target, though it takes a moment to charge and a skilled hunter can dodge at the last moment. He can also float in the air, where he can launch an endless string of electric spheres. When hunters get too close, he can knock them back with a whirlwind of sorts, or he can discharge an electric burst that damages everything around him. When it's time to retreat, he can drop floating lightning mines that drift toward hunters (or local wildlife) it they get to close.
None of this is to say that you have to play Kraken defensively. Just like Goliath, who can be played stealthily instead of in-your-face, Kraken can take the fight to the hunters if you play carefully. My favorite tactic – admittedly one that was given to me by Boccieri – was to float above the hunters, start charging my electric burst and then crash down in the middle of the fray just as the burst triggered, slicing off a a huge chunk of the opposing team's health. Drop a few mines, leap back into the air, zap whoever is weakest with a bolt from heaven, bathe everyone in electro spheres, repeat.
Yes, I was being coached by a developer, and yes, that might be why I won, but it was glorious, and some of the most fun I had at E3.
Don't worry though, I got my comeuppance later, as I tried out the new hunter medic, Lazarus. Rather than helping teammates with a healing ray à la Team Fortress 2, Lazarus resurrects them after they die, restoring them to full health. I did my best to keep my team alive, cloaking to turn Lazarus invisible so I could run past the monster unobserved and bring someone back to life, but ultimately we lost the fight.
Here's the rub though: It was still fun, even in defeat. That's reason enough to keep an eye on Evolve when it launches later this year, October 21, on Xbox One, PS4 and PC.