Monday, November 10, 2014

My Time With the Evolve Big Alpha Weekend [Part II]

Welcome to Part II of my exceedingly late posted experience with Turtle Rock Studios and 2K's #BigAlpha test weekend for the upcoming FPS MMO monster hunting game, Evolve.

Before I get into the actual gameplay, I will say that Saturday of the alpha weekend was spent exactly like Friday: trying to see if the game would start and being greeted with the Steam Service Component and Bootstrapping windows.  It was not until Sunday afternoon, right after I had put some chicken in the fridge to marinate for an hour, that the game booted up and I was able to play, so let the game begin!

For my first game, I was with two other human teammates (and one computer controlled teammate) playing against a human controlled monster in "The Dam" setting which was randomly selected.  I played the Tank (TF2: The Heavy).  Prior to actually being thrust into a game, I was given a brief video only tutorial on Markov's abilities, gun options, jump/boost jump and how to work with my teammates.  This I found to be very useful considering everyone I was teamed up with was above a 1, which is the level that I was at as I had yet to play the game.  Theoretically, I was teamed up with people who were at a similar skill level, so I'm not what that said about the people I played with, but ah well.

I'm not sure what the flying guy counter in the upper left is all about.

First off, the biggest issue I had while playing was lag with two possible causes.  The first cause being that computer was not up to snuff for the minimum requirements for the game.
  • CPU
    • Intel Pentium D 3GHz or higher
    • AMD Athlon 64 x2 Dual Core 6400 2.4 GHz or higher
  • RAM: 4GB
  • GPU:
    • Nvidia GeForce GTX 560 or higher
    • AMD Radeon 5770 or higher
  • HDD: 15 GB install
  • OS: Windows 7 64 bit
I will just say that my processor is old by today's processors standards, which is probably the main reason my the game jumped/lagged/skipped very frequently.  To note a 1.7GHz processor vs. a 2.4GHz.  Apparently those .7 GHz are very important.  The other possible cause was that our internet connection was lacking for a came/build of this caliber.  

For this reason, I often felt that I was behind the other players in my team.  I did manage to catch up with everyone and helped in the loosest sense of the word to take down the Monster.  I will say though that it was very difficult to lock on a shoot at an angry moving target while playing at something like 10 frames per second, maybe less.  After the match, I was shown the amount of damage I did with each weapon as well as a comparison to the rest of the world's average for playing as Markov as well as player/weapon mastery/progression.

As you can tell, I was not a very productive member of society for this particular match.

The next game, after "helping" to take down the Monster, I spent as the monster.  

Prior to playing as Goliath, I was shown another tutorial video about how to control the Monster, their special abilities and how to generally delay death.  I started off with three skill points that I could put into any four abilities: Fire Breath, Charge, Leap Smash and Rock Throw.  I recall putting two points in Fire Breath, one in Rock Throw.

In that first battle/hunt, I was unable to use Rock Throw to deal any damage as the Hunters were too quick.  I was able to breath some firey death upon the Hunters though.  And by "death" I mean some first and maybe second degree burns.  Sadly, no one died.

Unlike playing as one of the Hunters, playing as the Monster was in 3rd person, which was fine by me, but I could understand if some people were offput by this perspective considering that the rest of the game was in first person.  Additionally, despite being so much larger than the Hunters and being able to cover more ground at a faster speed, I was still hunted down like the proverbial rabid dog the Hunters saw me as.  It probably also did not help that I was unfamiliar with the setting as this time around I was playing not in The Dam but in the Fusion Plant.

Things did not pan out for me in that round, that very short round.  I lasted less than three minutes and had nothing to do with the pictures I was trying to take.  The second game (third overall and last game before I had to go and cook the chicken for dinner) lasted just over four minutes.  That game (of which no pictures exist from) went a little bit better.  I was able to hunt down some of the smaller wildlife and consumed them to build up my defense capabilities and heal some damage caused by the Hunters.

As was the case with playing as Markov, playing as Goliath resulted in the same graphical issues that I experienced.  Granted the graphics look great in the pictures that I was able to take, even with the video settings at their lowest possible settings the game still had significant troubles on my computer.  Enough so that I would not be buying the game unless I were to play a demo and found out that I could play the game in a playable capacity.

The word from Turtle Rock Studios is that the game that was available for the Big Alpha Weekend was only a single gameplay-type compared to what will be available in the official release.  I have read a bit on the Steam forums for Evolve that some people are concerned about the amount of content with the game running around $60.  I will admit that even with promised added maps, character skills and whatnot available upon release, I would be a little leary about spending that much for a multiplayer coop game.  The impression that I got was that it was like a coop game of Left 4 Dead 2 with no associated single player campaign option.  Maybe that will be part of the official release in February (10th to be specific), but for me, it may not be enough to warrant a release day purchase; even if my computer could handle the game without skipping.

Thanks for trudging through these last two posts, regular nonsense will commence on Wednesday with another MIDI Week Singles along with whatever Dr. Potts and I decided to babble about.


In case you wanted a reason to buy Evolve, here are a lot of places/awards telling you that you should buy the game, which was a screen/advertisement of sorts after quitting the game.  So if you're one of those people who only buy popular games, I believe this one classifies.

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