Evolve preview: Monster Xbox One action with one of E3's hottest games

There are plenty of top top games at this year's E3 trade show in Los Angeles, but few have engaged us as much as Evolve. That's partly because it is an unexpected hit, perhaps. Not to those in the know, but certainly to the rest of us.

Its premise is simple enough. Like Left 4 Dead and its sequel – the former games from developer Turtle Rock Studios – four team mates must band together to defeat a dangerous menace. That time it was a zombie threat on a massive scale and this time the players must vanquish evolving space monsters. All of whom want to eat their faces off.

The twist this time is that a fifth player can also join the fun... as the monster.

This was the position we found ourselves in on the 2K Games booth at the show. And we have the wristband to prove it.

While the other players are thrust into a first person shooter, with simply awesome graphics and guns and all the normal staples for the genre. Like in Left 4 Deads one and two, each player has a specific skill set that helps the team track, hunt and kill the huge beast, but the monster does have one advantage other than size. It, as suggested by the game's title, can evolve.

By eating creatures scattered around the map, the monster grows stronger each time, eventually getting to a stage where it can effectively level up. This gives the player more points to spend on aggressive actions, thereby making the challenge far greater for the hunters.

Another big difference is that the monster gameplay is seen in third person – it is, after all, a massive character on screen.

We played as the Kraken, which has range based attacks and is best served by hovering over the players when caught and raining down death from the skies. The hunters do have abilities to counter this strategy though, which makes for frenetic, hardcore battles.

They can harpoon the creature and set up a dome shield which stops it fleeing in any direction, including up. Still, the monster, especially when powered up is a fearsome foe.

We didn't manage to win our battle, which took around 15 – 20 minutes to complete, but we did manage to evolve twice – the maximum allowed for that level. Unfortunately, we ran out of critters to consume, which also add armour to the monster, so the last battle broke through our defences and the hunters won. Just.

The game looks fantastic and plays like a dream. Like all of these multiplayer only games, the experience will entirely depend on the people you play it with – especially when playing as a hunter – but we suspect that there will be enough depth to sate any gamer's appetite. Possibly even more so than Titanfall, and that's high praise indeed.

Evolve is coming out for Xbox One, PS4 and PC on 21 October in the UK.