Just over a month since we donned the monster hunting boots of Evolve, we're now greeted with the anticipated Hunting Season Pass and, for those of you who pre-ordered, the Monster Expansion pack. The core release was received in a rather mixed fashion by most – gleaning a solid if unspectacular 6/10 in our review – but with these new additions, is it worth opening your wallet and chartering a return trip to this hostile world? Probably not, no.
The Hunting Season Pass will set you back a crisp $24.99/£19.99 and yields four new hunters, representing each class; they can also be bought separately for $7.49/£6.19 if you're a specific class purist or on a strict budget. Each individual hunter is admirably well fleshed out, bringing new abilities and weaponry to the hunt – but for nearly half the price of the game, what are you actually getting?
Starting with Assault, meet Torvald, the cybernetic macho man that looks suspiciously like a Terminator version of The Mountain from Game of Thrones. Complete with tribal tattoos, a bare chest, and a goddamn mortar backpack, this guy at least looks like he means business. His auto-fire shotgun is ideal for pest-control, while the mortar certainly packs a punch and chews apart the monster but is balanced with a tricky aiming system. With practice Torvlad possesses the potential to be a real force, but off the bat he looks far better than he plays.
We really liked the idea of the Trapper possessing a pet companion like Daisy, so it's great to see a return of that with Crow. Designed to be a little more mysterious than the other team members, Crow spews generic creepiness at every opportune moment, while his pet Batray sniffs down the monster. The pet-tracking is an invaluable perk, but Crow also possesses a powerful sniper rifle which has a charge attack that rips through the monster's armour and into its permanent health. Much like the other Trappers and their harpoon weapons, Crow's stasis gun is utilised to slow or completely stop the Monster, depending how long you're willing to charge it for. Trappers are a key addition to the four-versus-one model, and Crow's tools make him possibly the best addition out of the four new hunters.
The new Medic available with the pass is Slim, a bug-eyed genetic experiment that's as witty as he is odd-looking. Loaded with similar healing tools as other Medics, Slim is set apart by range and his healing drone. The drone can be attached to a team member or used to remotely revive downed allies, so, although weak, it's a nifty little perk. Slim is essentially an all-round better Medic but brings little by way of new ground; all the same he'll certainly become the standard Medic choice for future quick matches.
Last but not least is Sunny, the new Support class member. Support always felt like a dull class – a jack-of-all-trades kind of soldier that didn't make much difference. Because she seems to lift abilities from other previous characters, you can't help but feel the same about Sunny. Although mostly true, a few of her tweaked abilities are certainly handy like her shield generation, which now comes from a drone, leaving more time for grenade throwing – always a plus. Her Jetpack charge beam is another playful addition, as we always felt that the jetpacks' fuel was a real annoyance, especially when chasing down the Monster, but now Sunny can supply a much needed boost and really make a contribution to the fray.
This leaves the new Monster, Behemoth. An eye-watering $14.99/£11.99 (although free if you pre-ordered) will unlock this Hulk-cum-The Thing crossover Monster, and although locked behind a steep pay wall, he's probably the most fun that we've had with Turtle Rock's title. Behemoth is, as you'd expect, big, bulky, and slow – not too dissimilar to Goliath – but tweaked with several genius abilities. Due to his weight he's unable to jump and instead rolls into a lumpy lava ball and lumbers across the map, covering far more distance than his Goliath cousin and his leap.
His overall lack of mobility is directly supplemented with our favourite of his abilities, the Rock Wall. Behemoth slams both fists on the ground and generates a large wall of debris in front of him for a short space of time. The genius of this ability is that it can be used to block choke points, allowing a swift exit, or alternatively it can be used to single out Hunters, allowing them to be beaten to a pulp without interruption.
His Lava Bombs and Fissure attacks are designed for area damage and are ideal at splitting the Hunters up and slowing them down, once again directly balancing Behemoth's slow mobility. His final ability is the Left 4 Dead 2 reminiscent tongue-grab, which can snatch prey at a sizeable range, bringing them closer for a good clobberin'. This ability is particularly handy when feeding from a hidden location or when a Hunter is attempting to retreat.
His abilities are definitely well crafted for the two new maps, ideally pairing with caves and narrow passages – but Behemoth suffers with his own setbacks, including a rather troublesome health bug. For one so large and formidable, we noticed that his health would trickle down at an alarming rate. Initially, we assumed that this was down to a poor balancing effort to make up for his powerful move set, but we later became aware that this is in fact a bug that Turtle Rock is working to fix – a little tongue-in-cheek considering he's priced at nearly a quarter of the retail price of the actual game.
Although the entirety of this DLC drop is super pricey, this update does come with a handful of freebies, too, including the long talked about Observer Mode that allows players to simply spectate matches like the good old days of Quake III Arena. It's actually a fun addition, and we can definitely see groups of friends or professional streamers making great use of this solid tool. The two new maps, meanwhile, although free, are part of an exclusivity deal with Microsoft, meaning that we'll have to wait until 30th April to let you know how they fare; we'll drop an update as soon as they launch.
Ultimately, though, there's nothing here that should attract new players or even bring back hunters that have lapsed. Undeniably fun, this DLC drop certainly adds to the overall game, but does nothing to fix the problems that hindered it in the first place. Behemoth is potentially the best Monster available (at least he will be post-patch), but we can't see the gameplay gains matching up to the price. In truth, the cost-to-value ratio is disappointing – and, to be honest, a little bit insulting.
Have you stumped up for any of Evolve's expansions yet? Did you give up on Turtle Rock's competitive title a long time ago? Walk all over us in the comments section below.