Are Evolve's New DLC Characters Worth Buying?

by Jeff Marchiafava on Apr 02, 2015 at 01:03 PM

Turtle Rock has unleashed a new monster on its asymmetrical 4v1 shooter, along with a new squad of hunters to deal with him. Despite our confusion yesterday, we've finally got hands-on time with all five characters on the chaotic battlefields of planet Shear. Read on to find out how the new monster and hunters fit into the existing rosters, and to get a sense of whether the DLC is worth your time and money.

Hunter Name: Torvald
Class: Assault
Impressions: Evolve's assault characters are designed to be damage dealers, and Torvald is no exception. The half-cyborg soldier has three powerful weapons at his disposal. Torvald's shrapnel grenades pepper the monster in weak points that allow the entire crew to deal out extra damage. This pairs nicely with his autofire shotgun, which spams out an entire magazine of shots with a single pull of the trigger. However, the autofire shotgun isn't a spray-and-pray weapon; if you try to fire on a fast-moving target or don't take care in lining up your shot, you'll be lucky if half your shots land. If that's not enough, Torvald's mortar cannons act like a weaker version of Hank's orbital barrage, only they deploy faster and have a much shorter cooldown time, allowing you to devastate stationary opponents with multiple hits. The mortar cannons also combo well with the shrapnel grenades, giving Torvald a holy trinity of offensive options.

Balance: Torvald is capable of dealing massive damage, and as such I had a blast playing as him. The player community is already complaining that he's overpowered, which is a legitimate concern. However, even if he gets nerfed in the future, his arsenal is a lot of fun to use.

Hunter Name: Crow
Class: Trapper
Impressions: Crow offers players an aerial variation on the pet theme that fellow trapper Maggie introduced with her lovable (albeit sometimes absent-minded) trapjaw Daisy. Crow's batray Gobi can be sent out to scout an area, which highlights all living creatures he comes across. Gobi doesn't stay out for long, but is spammable thanks to a short cooldown timer. I didn't use Gobi much when I played as Crow, however, because I was distracted by his other two abilities. Crow's stasis gun slows down the monster similar to Abe's stasis grenades, but as you might imagine, it's way easier to land shots with a lightning-fast gun. The weapon has two firing modes, allowing you to constantly plug your opponent with short-duration shots, or charge up a longer shot that will leave the monster crawling for a few seconds. Crow's kinetic long rifle is also a coveted item – it has a high rate of fire when shooting like a normal sniper rifle, but charged shots will completely bypass the monster's armor and instead deal health damage.

Balance: Despite the awesome advantage of bypassing a monster's armor, Crow's kinetic long rifle doesn't deal that much damage on its own – though it has the potential to be a serious threat when paired with class abilities that create weak points, like Torvald's shrapnel grenades or Val's armor-piercing sniper rifle. I didn't find Crow to be overpowered, but he can be a major boon to a team when properly spotting and slowing down the enemy.

Hunter Name: Slim
Class: Medic
Impressions: Slim represents the biggest lore departure for Evolve hunters – gene splicing has turned him into a human/insect hybrid. The bug theme extends to his abilities, including his beetle-like healing drone, which automatically tops off the health of the target player, but disappears if it gets attacked. Slim's leech gun reduces the cooldown on his medic-class healing burst – it seems Slim is built around dealing damage and spamming this ability. However, his biggest contribution is the spore cloud launcher, which blankets an area in a green haze that disables the monster's sniff mode. This can make it extremely difficult for the monster to locate and attack hunters.  
Balance: I had a harder time playing effectively as Slim compared to my go-to medics, Val and Caira. Slim's leech gun demands that he stays on the offensive in order to replenish his healing burst, but the burst is rather ineffective unless you are constantly using it. The healing drone is also far from a fire-and-forget ability, as one swipe from the monster deactivates it, requiring you to keep tabs on whether it's deployed or not. Ultimately, I think I underestimated the importance of the spore cloud launcher during my time with Slim – the community reaction is pretty mixed on his balancing, but many are pointing to this diversionary weapon as being too effective against the monster.

Hunter Name: Sunny
Class: Support
Impressions: I love Evolve's support class characters – Hank, Bucket, and Cabot all have some cool options for helping out their teammates, but still pack some decent firepower as well. Sunny fits right in with her brethren in this regard. Her shield drone works in the same way as Hank's shield projector, only it does the job automatically, allowing Sunny to focus on her other abilities. Her jetpack boost is pretty useless when playing with A.I. characters (who typically lack direction), but it can make it nearly impossible for a monster to outrun a buffed human trapper, guaranteeing more mobile arena captures. Finally her mininuke grenade launcher deals as much damage as you would expect from the mushroom cloud it sends up – it's reportedly the most powerful single-projectile weapon currently in the game, making Sunny an easy selection in modes that require dishing out a lot of pain.
Balance: Based on community feedback, Sunny is second in line for a future nerf, and I'm inclined to agree – the damage from her mininuke could be taken down a notch, and the nearly nonexistent cooldown on her shield drone could probably use an increase. However, like Torvold, she'll be a fun and welcome addition to the roster regardless of what balance tweaks her abilities get.

Coming Up Next: Our impressions of the hulking Behemoth and a final verdict on whether the DLC is worth your time and money...

Monster: Behemoth
Impressions: Evolve's monsters have all embraced unique gameplay styles, and the same is true for Behemoth. The lumbering beast's movement ability allows him to curl up into a boulder and roll through the environment at a decent speed. However, this handy ability comes in lieu of a traditional jump – aside from climbing, Behemoth is completely grounded. It's not as big of a limitation as it might sound, but it does feel a bit weird, and I felt a greater sense of pressure and confinement when getting into throwdowns with the opposing team. Thankfully, Behemoth's main attack packs a serious punch, partially making up for his lack of agility.

In terms of abilities, Behemoth is a mix of close- and long-range attacks. Lava bomb allows him to lob an explosive rock that acts like a cluster grenade and burns anything in its range, while his fissure attack stuns and damages nearby opponents by smashing a giant hole in the ground. Tongue grab can latch onto and pull an unsuspecting hunter away from their teammates, which combos nicely with what is easily Behemoth's most interesting move: rock wall. As you might guess, this diversionary ability allows the hulking beast to summon a giant wall out of the ground. These barricades can be used to cut off pursuing hunters at choke points, or to isolate single opponents. In truth, I had more fun playing against Behemoth than playing as him; he's definitely a new and interesting foe for the hunters to tackle.  
Balance: Despite his tank-like appearance, Behemoth isn't currently much of a tank. Sure, he has massive health and armor pools, but they also deplete faster than other monsters; his durability is largely an illusion. Compounding this problem is his slow attack speed, and the gaping weak spot on his torso, which is exposed when he performs most of his abilities. Behemoth could use a little more padding, especially as more hunter combos emerge thanks to the new tier of characters.

Are The New DLC Characters Worth Buying?
Personally, I'm sold on the new hunters – especially Torvald and Sunny, who I can see becoming my new go-to assault and support characters. Because I don't play as the monster as often, I would probably pass on buying Behemoth.

However, your enjoyment of Evolve's underlying gameplay will be the biggest factor in whether the new DLC characters are worth it for you. If you're still playing and enjoying the game regularly, then you'll get your money's worth out of the new content: All four hunters and Behemoth are solid additions to their respective rosters, even if they need some balancing tweaks in the future. If, however, you quickly grew tired of Evolve's 4v1 matches – or are one of those people who complain on every single Evolve article about how the game doesn't have enough content – then the DLC characters probably won't change your mind.

Also, don't forget that even if you don't buy the new hunters and/or monster, you can still fight against and alongside them for free. As such, the best recommendation I can offer is to simply play some more of the game and see if any of the new characters grab your attention.

For more on Evolve, check out our review and beginner's guide. For tips on playing as the monster, read our recent Gamer interview with pro player Zaq "Maddcow" Hildreth. To read our hands-on impressions of the coolest Evolve characters you'll never get to play as, click here.