'Evil Dead the Game' Beta Retrospective and Impressions
A quick look at the Evil Dead the Game beta.
And thus ends the second Evil Dead the Game beta. We laughed. We cried. We sawed some limbs off Kandarian Demons. Well, I didn’t. For the purposes of the beta, I decided I would main Ed Getley and see just how much I could improve my Hunter skills in my short time with the online component. Maybe it started as a joke, figuring absolutely no one would willingly choose Ed of all characters, especially when Kelly and Ash help round out the Hunter category. And yet, by the close of the weekend, I found myself being far more productive of a team member than expected, proving that everyone on the Evil Dead the Game cast list serves a purpose.
Coming off of the beta, that may be the most impressive thing about the game thus far. I may not have gotten my hands on any of the other human characters, but I did witness their unique worth shining through when used properly. Sure, an Ash alone will die alone, but when the Ash vs. Evil Dead version of Ashley Williams or Lord Arthur take their role as Leaders, they inspire confidence and boost stats. Support characters like Cheryl are invaluable, especially since Ash’s sister can drop an AOE health pack that heals everyone in range. Ed and other Hunters may not directly benefit other players, but their usefulness with a ranged weapon in hand is unmatched.
I had a lot of fun getting familiar with playing as Ed, learning his weaknesses and strengths. While he’s a master with a crossbow, he’s not one to run into battle with as his melee damage and resilience are pretty abysmal. After two or three playthroughs, though, I started to understand when to join the fray and when to stand back and burn through the (very) limited ammo. By the time the beta ended, I boosted Ed to level 14, which is done through XP earned during matches or by sinking in-game currency into each character’s experience pool. You earn a skill point for every level and use them to unlock or upgrade an attribute on the surprisingly large, character-specific skill tree. As you work through the tree, you’ll boost stats, improve the character’s efficacy in battle, and enhance abilities. It was surprising just how much the characters become more useful with each level, as I expected this mechanic to be one of the game’s weakest features. Alas, the choices made do noticeably reflect on how much you bring to the fight, so it’s something worth paying attention to.
Much like with the survivors, each Kandarian Demon has its own perks and pitfalls. Henrietta may be perfect for taking on the heroes head-on, but it’s Eligos that will annoy players with AOE stun attacks and teleportation. As for Evil Ash? That’s your necromancer, providing Deadite underlings with damage boosts that will make quick work of careless humans. I tried my hand at each of them, finding that there is so much more to manage when trying to stop Ash and company in their tracks. I succeeded twice in five games as the demon, both times as Henrietta, as her grotesque grab attack and hilarious belly flop are just as devastating as they seem.
Saber Interactive really pulled from the Evil Dead universe to create an authentic experience. One of the best parts of being a demon is flying through the world in an ethereal form, crashing through fences and other objects in search of souls to collect, traps to set, chests to sabotage, and trees to possess. Every action requires “Infernal Energy” scattered around the map, and that was maybe the aspect I had the most trouble with. The devilish energy comes in short supply, and you’re going to need a lot of it to take down the quartet of survivors. Whether you’re summoning Deadites to do your bidding, possessing them to control the fight yourself, or using any of the demon’s abilities, you’re constantly burning through energy. To a degree, there’s a bit of resource management as you don’t want to waste energy on the wrong thing - something I did quite a bit.
There are a few things that aid both sides in their goals, such as the abundance of weapons for the humans and pre-spawned Deadites for the demon. Both can also upgrade certain attributes throughout the match, depending on either on their scavenging skills or performance. For the human squad, finding bottles of Pink F allows you to increase overall health, melee damage, stamina, and more. Demons progress in level when they start to get truly problematic for the heroes, and each level can be spent on improving energy usage, boosting Deadite strength, and unlocking summoning abilities.
No matter the side you’re fighting for, these real-time upgrades are crucial to succeeding, which means doing a lot of exploring for the humans. Unfortunately, the longer they take to explore, gather weapons, and seek out Pink F, the more time the demon has to gain strength. And with how big the map is, it’s sometimes worth sacrificing these upgrades to push on and seek out the map pieces needed to locate the tools needed to vanquish the Dark Ones once and for all.
As much as I was excited for Evil Dead the Game, I fully expected to have ample criticisms. However, after a weekend with the Xbox Insider beta, I’m really coming up much shorter than anticipated. Sure, some of the animations are a little clunky, lag was a true nuisance, the action can get a little too chaotic, and if you’re not paired with the right players, you’re sure to lose. But most of that is true with all multiplayer titles, and I’ve come to terms with that long ago. Evil Dead the Game is shaping up to be an incredibly competent multiplayer that does the source material justice, and there’s definitely ample opportunity for Saber to expand the experience with DLC.
When the full game launches on May 13, it will also feature single player missions and the ability to battle a bot-controlled Kandarian demon with friends. How those will pan out remains a mystery, but as someone that doesn’t mind going up against bots, the variety is very appreciated.
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