By Mohammad Abubakr
Evolve is not a new game and has been around for more than a year now. However, it has recently evolved into its second stage. Stage 2 introduces some improvements, balance changes, and most importantly: a new pricing model. You will not have to pull out your wallet and throw down the hefty price of AAA games (which has gotten quite high nowadays in Canada…) in order to play this game. Simply login to Steam, download the game, and hop right into the action for free! Read on for my thoughts on Evolve Stage 2.
To begin, it is important to note that the game classifies itself as being in beta. However, the base game has been around for long enough to mature. With this in mind, I only see the monetization model being in beta. The base gameplay should not change much over time but we may see big changes in the monetization strategies. For this reason, I will be treating this game the same as any other fully released game and rather than give my first impressions on the beta, I will present my full review. The game is at a point where it is mature enough for a full review.
The tutorials make it quick and easy to get into the game
I have not touched this game since it was in beta early last year. However, I was still able to quickly pick up the game and play. It still plays and feels like Evolve but the user interface has changed since. The new interface looks very clean and is very functional. It was very easy for me to change my settings, customize my character, inspect my profile, and even browse through the shop. It is great to see the developers focusing on an aspect of the game which is often forgotten by others. A well done user interface lets players focus on the gameplay and not have to worry about anything else. It also gives a great first impression when booting up the game for the first time.
As mentioned above, since the base game has not changed too much, I won’t spend too much time going over the gameplay (see my first impressions from last year if you are looking for more information). Evolve’s gameplay revolves around a team of four hunters working together to eliminate one monster. This class based first person shooter allows players to play as Assault, Support, Trapper, Medic, and Monster roles. All of these roles consist of a multitude of characters with unique playstyles, weapons, and abilities. Having so much choice can be overwhelming but also adds a lot of depth to the game. Depending on the map and team composition, both the Hunters and Monster will have to change their approach towards victory.
There are a lot of characters for each role
The class system is further complicated by the addition of perks. There are three levels of perks available for all characters enhancing specific characteristics. For example, a minor perk for Gorgon may improve the speed at which she can feast on wildlife while a major perk improves her damage output. These perks allow you to change every character to suit your playstyle. I personally go for a more passive style on my monsters where I work to feast on wildlife, get stronger, and then focus on battle. My approach towards Hunters is also similar where I focus on mobility in order to stay away from danger and slowly chip away at the Monster.
Once your perfect team (or Monster) has been created, it’s time to jump right into the action. As soon as the Hunters hit the ground, the hunt is on. There is no time to sit around in this fast paced game. If you are a monster, you must decide whether you would like to run away and work towards evolution or try and catch Hunters off guard. Hunters must track down the monster as soon as possible and not give it any time to evolve. The game is won by the last side left standing or if the Monster was able to destroy the power source after reaching stage 3 evolution.
The lasers look so cool!
Being a free to play game, it is not surprising to see many progression based systems in play. Evolve Stage 2 adds in levels for both the player and each Hunter/Monster. These levels grant Silver Keys (game currency), badges and unlock perks. All characters and perks must be unlocked using Silver Keys. As I am sure you all know by now, I am not a fan of having to unlock perks and characters in competitive player versus player games. It always sucks knowing that you may already be at a disadvantage before the match even begins. Fortunately, daily login rewards and level ups can make it quite easy to unlock the essentials. However, gaining only 200-300 Silver Keys per game can make unlocking a 5000-9000 character take some time. You won’t really be able to grind for hours on end in order to unlock what you need; the daily bonuses will play a big part in your Silver Key income.
Currently these Silver Keys are only available by playing the game. You must play the game to unlock the characters and perks you like and cannot simply pull out your wallet and pay (a weekly free character rotation system is present though, allowing you to try new characters for free). As of now it is not clear how the game will be monetized but my guess is that a premium currency similar to the Silver Keys (Gold Keys?) will allow players to pay with their money rather than their time. It would be nice if this premium currency only unlocked cosmetic items such as skins but we’ll see what happens. For now though the only monetization is essentially buying the entire game for a flat rate.
Gorgon is a ton of fun to play
Will F2P breathe new life into the game?
Evolve was one of the most hyped games of 2015 before its release. After release (and during the beta), it had a good number of people playing the game and the future looked bright. However, over time (admittedly quite quickly), the game just seemed to die off. You would never hear of or see someone playing Evolve.
Even before stage 2, the game was a lot of fun to play. However, at that time I, and my friends, did not see it justifying a $70 price tag. Now that the game is free, a lot of friends and other gamers showed interest in giving the game another chance. There is a lot of fun to be had playing Evolve and with the price being $0, there is no reason to not give it a shot. If you’re a fan of team oriented first person shooters, Evolve is not a game to pass on. I would recommend getting a couple friends on board and giving this game a shot. I don’t see myself spending my entire day playing Evolve but it can fill the dead time when there is nothing else to play.
The approach towards monetizing the game will be the key (Silver Key?) for this game’s success. F2P helps to brings players in but an imbalance between free and paying players can be a huge turn off. It is essential that Evolve maintains a balance between the free and paying players.
Evolution allows the Monster to improve its abilities
The game looks great and runs smoothly. The VSync issues I had from the original beta are no longer present, and I can enjoy smooth animations without any troubles. ‘Progressive loading’ is quite annoying though as it slowly loads in higher quality textures on demand.
The controls feel very intuitive. Even before playing through the nicely designed tutorials I was able to quickly pick up on how all the characters played.
The game gets repetitive quite fast. Many game modes found in the original Evolve have now been removed (available as ‘Legacy Evolve’ for owners of the old game) and you are just left with either normal or ranked play. While there is a lot of choice in team composition, the base gameplay is always the same.
There is a lot of customization for both Monsters and Hunters. The array of available characters can result in many team compositions and the perk system allows you to create a character resonating with your unique play style. A skin system also allows visual customization.
A lot of coordination and teamwork is required to kill a good Monster. Unfortunately, all of my games have been silent and as a result I have opted to favour playing a Monster. Games I have played solo (offline) with bots feel the same as online games. I am hoping ‘Ranked’ play changes this as more competitive players are more likely to communicate as it is essential towards attaining victory.