If you’re like me, you love a great multiplayer experience—but so many experiences are just the same modes reworked over and over again, to the point where you just end up playing Team Deathmatch because it’s so familiar, and it’s the one mode that developers can’t seem to screw up, no matter how hard they try. The folks at Turtle Rock—the developers who brought us the original Left 4 Dead—are trying something a little different with their next gaming foray, though. Evolve is introducing asymmetrical multiplayer via a 4-on-1 concept, where the four are hunters and the one is their prey. That prey, however, is a monstrous behemoth of unbelievable size and strength.

The potential for mayhem should be obvious, since you and your crew can mix and match among the game’s four classes, or you can decide to ruin someone’s night by being a particularly brutal and unforgiving creature. A multiplayer-only game can sometimes get tiresome quickly, however, especially if there isn’t an offline mode to balance things out.

Multiplayer-focused games also often live or die depending upon who you’ll have at your side (or facing off against you across the battlefield). If you play with your friends, not everyone will be available every time you get a hankering to go online, and sometimes some of the people you have to deal with while playing can make it more exhausting than fun, even if you’re the lone monster in this case.

So, I was particularly intrigued when I had the chance to go hands-on for the first time with Evolve, offline and solo. If you don’t have a group of friends to team up with (or against, in the case of the monster), you can still jump into one of the game’s maps and get your hunting fix.

In order to see the full potential benefits of playing Evolve alone, I jumped into the recently announced Evacuation campaign mode (a series of five random games that determine the fate of the game’s planet, Shear). Playing this mode offline allowed me to test out strategies with unfamiliar characters and maps, as well as get a taste of some of the 800,000 supposed variations in which Evacuation could play out. I switched characters between each chapter, and playing against the computer allowed me to level up different loadouts for different situations, a particularly useful ability considering that each stage of Evacuation’s campaign changes objectives. One stage could be the straightforward Hunt—the long-publicized standard 4-versus-1 deathmatch—while the next could be Nest—where the monster’s trying to protect six eggs scattered around the field from the hunters—or any of the other modes in the game.

Despite the addition of being able to go solo, Evolve is still heavily multiplayer focused. Evacuation, along with the game’s other modes, is still more enjoyable when playing with or against friends—after a few rounds, the enemy AI definitely seems to lack the tenacity, randomness, or organization you can get from a seasoned team of humans. Allowing people who might not run with a dedicated multiplayer crew to still experience the world is a nice option, though, whether you’re the monster picking off AI hunters or a hunter working with an AI team against an AI monster.

My introduction to playing Evolve alone served a second purpose beyond its reveal, however. I also got to go hands-on for the first time with a third monster: the Wraith. If Goliath is the “fighter” archetype of monsters and takes elements from Godzilla, and Kraken is the “wizard” inspired by Cthulhu, then Wraith is described as the “rogue/assassin,” taking its visual inspiration from mermaids and harpies. Wraith doesn’t have a lot of health or armor, but it’s easily the fastest and stealthiest of the monsters.

Taking advantage of these attributes, to a degree, are the monster’s four powers. Its Decoy maneuver does exactly as it says, dropping a clone of Wraith onto the battlefield. This turns the player invisible, perfect for making a quick escape when overwhelmed or great for prepping an ambush from behind as hunters unknowingly unload into your doppelganger. The decoy can also dish out damage on its own—making it all the more believable—but the second you attack as the real Wraith, the decoy dissipates, preventing any unfair double-monster scenarios.

Another of Wraith’s powers is Supernova, which triples its attack speed and strength as long as you remain in an area-of-effect circle that appears during the buff. Supernova is great for when you finally want to go on the offensive or focus on picking off lone hunters.

What I worry about when it comes to Wraith, however, are its other two abilities. I played probably a dozen games as this newest monster in my hands-on time, and I found myself relying a lot on Supernova and Decoy to perform hit-and-run-style tactics that just decimated my enemies (both human and AI). Throughout all of my domination, however, I struggled to find use for Wraith’s two additional powers: Warp Blast and Abduction.

Warp Blast sends Wraith shooting forward a short distance, culminating in a contained explosion (though the creature is literally blowing up part of itself to accomplish this, it doesn’t actually get hurt). The explosion, if it hits, does a good amount of damage—but considering that speed is Wraith’s strength, Warp Blast seemed to leave me vulnerable for longer than I’d like as I waited for the move to finish.

Its final power, Abduction, sounds cool and might work better in tandem with other powers than by itself, but I never really found a time to use it to my full advantage. Abduction has Wraith fly forward a great distance, and if it bumps into a hunter, it teleports the both of them back to the spot where the ability was activated. While it can help break up tight packs of hunters, given Wraith’s poor attack power, it might really only be effective after having already activated Supernova.

Wraith does provide a nice change of pace from Kraken and Goliath. I just wonder if she won’t end up getting a bit of a balance update down the line—and if I’ll find more usefulness in her full array of abilities once other players have shown off how to better use them.

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