Evolve‘s unique take on asymmetrical multiplayer might be looking to develop an esports community, with the introduction of a new feature called Observer Mode.
Observer Mode will be included in the game’s next free update, and it seems like it’s designed with a competitive community in mind. It’s meant to make it easier for players to broadcast and spectate matches, and it’s very similar to the tools that Turtle Rock itself uses during its weekly Evolve livestreams.
How does it work?
Basically, Observer Mode will feature a sixth player who doesn’t participate in the action itself. Instead, that player will direct what spectators are watching, choosing to switch between and focus in on specific players or areas. Players can even be marked and highlighted so they can be seen across the map (to spectators that is).
The sixth player will also use a custom heads-up display that show the vital information of the other five players, without obstructing the on-screen gameplay. Pieces of this HUD, or even the entire thing, can be disabled at will.
Does Evolve seem like a good esports game?
The community so far has turned out to be a little smaller than expected, but the game does feel like it’s growing, so that’s a good first step.
In terms of actual gameplay, it’s a little harder to say. Historically, first person shooters have always struggled as spectator sports, at least compared to RTS and MOBA games. One of the big reasons why is because the action can be pretty difficult to comprehend on the fly, especially since the bird’s-eye view that we see in other games doesn’t usually work very well for shooters.
However, the way Evolve‘s 4v1 action is structured might actually help to minimize this problem. Having all of the players centered around one player, the Monster, helps to create a focus for all of the action, and it’s always really clear what each team is trying to do.
How this asymmetrical format could make the jump to a competitive tournament structure is another question entirely. My guess would be that teams field five players each, four hunters and a monster, and switch off between playing each side. That’s up to Turtle Rock and the playerbase though, but I’m intrigued to see if there is an esports future for the game. It’d certainly be a fresh change of pace next to all of the MOBAs.
When is it coming out?
Observer Mode will launch on March 31, alongside a bigger update that will include both fee and paid DLC content.
What else is in the update?
In addition to Observer Mode, the game will be getting a fourth playable monster, four new hunters, and two maps:
- A fourth Monster: Behemoth. It will cost $15, and is available for free to anyone who pre-ordered the game.
- Four new Hunters for $7.50 each (included in the Hunting Season Pass):
- Torvald – A Cyborg Assault character
- Crow – A Trapper with a pet Batray
- Slim – A genetically modified combat Medic
- Sunny – A Support character with a mini-nuke launcher
- Two new maps: The Broken Hill Mine and the Broken Hill Foundry. These will be free, and will be available first on the Xbox One on April 30.