Evercore Heroes is a competitive PvE game in which each match sees your squad of four participating in missions against hordes of AI-controlled enemies, but you’re doing so at the same time as three other teams all on the same map. So it’s a little PvP too in terms of each match being a race between four different teams. It’s a creative idea for Vela Games’ debut title, upping the ante of PvE scenarios with the competitive drive of PvP. This setup works–I left a preview event for Evercore Heroes wishing I could play just one more match, which is my go-to benchmark for whether a free-to-play multiplayer game has that magic touch to make it in the increasingly crowded live-service market. If you can make your players go, “Okay, one more game,” then you’ve stumbled onto something special.
In Evercore Heroes, you play as one of several Heroes–there will be 14 at the game’s launch–who fall into your traditional roles of damage, tank, or support. Your team of four then loads onto a map alongside three other teams. Each team has free reign to do what they want to prepare for the first wave of enemies coming to destroy your spawn point. You could capture an objective to secure resources to upgrade your characters, for example, or kill a miniboss to upgrade your chosen hero’s unique abilities.
As you race around the map, you can see the opposing teams completing objectives as well, represented as small glowing sprites within your world. Once a task has been completed on the map, it counts as completed for every team, so your squad has to decide whether it’s worth racing against the other teams for the bigger payoffs or completing the smaller, often-ignored objectives. You can also use special PvP items like a frost grenade that can stun all the opposing players around you, slowing them down on whatever objective you’re trying to finish first.
When time expires, enemies come for your Evercore, which is your spawn point. If your Evercore is destroyed, your team is removed from the match. If every team successfully defends their Evercore, then the team in fourth place in terms of resources collected is out. At that point, the clock resets and the process begins again with the third-place team knocked out. When only two teams remain, they both descend into a final arena where they face off in a multi-phase raid against a giant boss. The first team to beat the raid wins the whole match.
Matches in Evercore are surprisingly quick, keeping each round engaging. I got the chance to play in three matches. When our team got fourth place, we were out in about five to seven minutes. When we got third place, we had been playing for closer to 12 minutes. And in the round where we managed to do well enough to participate in the final race against the raid boss, the match concluded at around the 18-minute mark. The speed with which the matches take place encourages you to stick around as well. There was one game where one of the teams managed to pull pretty far ahead but every other match saw the four teams duke it out in surprisingly tight matches, where the difference between first and last place was only a smidge.
Evercore Heroes’ biggest detriment resides in the somewhat steep learning curve. There’s a lot of nuance to each match, and the 14 heroes all play remarkably differently, meaning that knowing how each of them works and best lifts each other up is a question of spending enough time with the game. Even with two developers from Vela Games on my squad helping out and explaining who did what and where to go and how to respond to PvP interference, I still hadn’t fully grasped how to play by the end of my three matches. Evercore Heroes is not a Rocket League or Knockout City where the controls are uniform match-to-match and the next step needed for victory is immediately apparent even in your very first match. It’s not instantly clear how much fun Evercore Heroes is and why its competitive PvE formula is so cool, and I worry that could be an issue for a new live-service game as it tries to build an audience.
The narrative could be where the game picks up that slack, incentivizing new players to try the game out and stick with it for a few matches if only to learn what’s up with the vibrant and personable cast of characters who make up Evercore Heroes’ roster. Vela Games understands the assignment when it comes to hero-based games these days–Evercore Heroes’ full roster features plenty of adorable faces, hilarious quip-loving clowns, and sexy individuals who are sure to spawn an obscene amount of fan art. All the building blocks are there to draw in the curious gamer looking for their next hero game fix. Now it just remains to be seen how much of that is simply window dressing as opposed to something narratively fleshed out and interesting. From early trailers and character descriptions, Evercore Heroes looks to have a fairly in-depth lore and history, but none of that came through during the preview. We’ll have to wait and see just how much story occurs in Evercore Heroes from match to match.
Evercore Heroes is scheduled to launch sometime this year. So far, the game has only been revealed for PC.
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