I’ve said it elsewhere… I don’t think that XP incentives will make games shorter, it is not XP that drives people, it’s wanting to win. Hide and seek is the most optimal strategy for monsters vs hunters at a certain level.
So how do you incentivise people to not play that way, without cutting off the legitimacy of using that tactic?
- You make the game tougher for the monster at stage 3 if they’ve not attacked before.
- You make fights at stage 2 have a greater effect on any stage 3 fights
- You give the hunters more aids to find the monster if they are not finding it.
Let’s break them down…
1) Making it tougher for a sneaky stage 3.
This area of changes would encourage monsters to fight at least once before stage 3, the reason being that if they don’t there will be a much more even playing field in that first fight at stage 3.
This can be achieved by any of the following potential gameplay effects if the monster hasn’t been domed within the first two stages.
- The hunters gain an AI ebonstar soldier on a dropship at the point the monster goes stage 3. This gives the monster 2 minutes to actually take the initiative and try to finish the game, otherwise the hunters get a 5th man.
- The hunters perks gained from elite wildlife are permanent. This allows hunters to seek out good buffs for a stage 3 fight
- Remove the pause of the countdown timer for objective 3, with perhaps a little bit more length on the timer.
None of these would happen if the monster engages in a domed fight, so it’s a simple case of the monster choosing to either keep sneaking and be full health and armour against a slightly buffed hunter team with diminishing time on the clock, or to fight a bit, risk losing some health for the advantage of being the overwhelming power at stage 3 as it is currently
2) Make stage 2 fights mean more
Partly this is dealt with above, and I don’t know what else can be done on this front. The monster already gains a quicker route to evolving if they fight, and strikes and taking a hunter to the dropship are great bonuses for the next fight. For this reason monsters should already be choosing to engage at stage 2, but don’t because the stage 3 fight is still easier even without these benefits.
Potentially strikes could reduce the top HP of a hunter by more, but this won’t solve the lazarus problem which, I believe, is one of the main causes for people sneaking to stage 3.
It’s for this reason that I don’t think this avenue is really one worth exploring
3) Give more hunt aids to Hunters
This is my preferred area of encouraging earlier encounters. The game is well balanced and so you shouldn’t need to change anything with the dynamic, but in those games where the monster is a good sneak, making it slightly harder for them doesn’t affect balance, doesn’t stop the really good sneakers from continuing that tactic, and gives the hunters more of a focused objective instead of being completely blind for so much of the game
- Make wildlife/birds get startled whenever the monster evolves. Know where it evolves after it has regained control of it’s movements, restart the hunt each time.
- Make carrion birds non RNG, or rather make it run down to a certainty after a certain amount of unengaged eating.
- Introduce an automatic tagging of some form after X minutes of the monster not being engaged OR being tagged by the hunters manually.
- “soundspike” tag a monster moving within, say, 30m of a hunter if it’s not sneaking.
It’s important not to buff the hunters base stats in any way since the game really is quite balanced and any changes to hunters will negatively affect the monster game in stage 1 and 2 forms. This is why I can’t suggest things like more jetpack fuel or speed, it’s just not the right way to give the monster a reason to bring it rather than keep skulking.
Anyway, those are my thoughts, I think that the instances where these kinds of things, some combination of one or two of them most likely, are actually needed is rare. But it’s not enough to say it’s rare, because even something rare can happen a lot, and it can leave a sour taste.
The most legitimate complaints I’ve seen about Evolve so far are from people that have not faced the monster until 10-15 minutes, and have found the balance of hunting vs fighting too boring. I don’t disagree with them that it is boring when that happens. It’s not good enough to say that the monster played well and deserved it…there’s no doubt the monster did…but that doesn’t make the game fun for 4/5ths of the server’s occupants, not to mention viewers.
So let’s think seriously about introducing elements that largely don’t ever apply themselves to the average game, but will kick in if the game is turning into a hide-and-seek round, to help keep it fun for the hunters too.