Evolve Goes Free To Play
Evolve (now Evolve Stage 2) has been out for some time now. This past weekend it became the most recent game to transition to a Free-To-Play model. I downloaded it on Steam after one of my viewers recommended it, and was pleasantly surprised. It offers something new in the realm of video games, even though it is clearly built on the MOBA platform. Traditionally you want balance in a game, but in Evolve, it’s four hunters versus one gigantic monster! It’s unbalanced for a reason! I have four hours invested so far, and wish I could be playing now instead of writing this.
What you are doing depends on which side of the equation you are. For the Hunters, your objective is to track down and kill the monster before the monster gets loose. As the Monster, you want to kill and eat the local wildlife to evolve through two stages, then take out the generator that stands between you and your freedom! The Hunters follow your standard MOBA archetypes: Assault, Healer, Support, and a new one Tracker. Each archetype has several different characters, all with varying abilities. This allows for some really specialized teams and strategies. There are also several different types of monsters, although I only got to play one. I got trashed every time I played it, but it was still surprisingly fun.
Worth mentioning is that there are only four abilities. Whether you play the Hunter or the Monster, you only have four abilities to memorize. I like this streamlined approach. It makes Evolve a very easy game to jump into. This is a great selling point when trying to convince wary friends to try a new game. Additionally, both Hunters and Monsters have talent trees that you can use to further customize the gameplay of your chosen class. Extra movement speed and reduced damage are examples of what can be improved.
One small note about the map. There appears to be more than one map layout. While I have only played on one to date, there is an Vote to Skip option at the start of each game. I never clicked it because honestly, I am happy to learn one layout before I try and memorize multiple maps.
Happy Little Surprises
There were a lot of pleasant little features I enjoyed in this game. First, you can prioritize what role you want to play through a simple drag and drop menu. This allows for faster matchmaking, and allows us, the players, to be flexible. Another feature is the splash screens that highlight your recent successes. You can see how successful your teammates, or opponents, have been lately. It’s just a nice little bit of flourish I haven’t seen in a game before. The thing I liked most was how active you are as a player. The game mechanics keep you busy. Even when you’re down waiting to be revived, you get a pistol to keep shooting. While you’re tracking the monster, you general have a speed boost or tracking ability or SOMETHING to activate and keep you occupied during the otherwise dull moments.
Finally, I like the reward system as well. You get rewarded for ranking up, you get rewarded for completing daily challenges, you get rewarded for logging in! While none of that is revolutionary, you also get rewarded for secret achievements! For example, I went to change my profile picture to an AWESOME TRICERATOPS, and when I hit save I found that it was a secret achievement. In case i’m not clear, by rewarded I mean you get Silver Keys which is the game’s currency. These are just the highlights. There is plenty more to like about Evolve.
I really like the graphics in this game. There are a lot of light affects, mostly from the weapons, and they look especially nice. They stand out especially well against the drab environment backdrop. I was able to slap the settings to Ultra, and haven’t looked back. There were comments in my stream about how nice the game looked. The combat effects never slowed my machine down. My hardware is listed in the video at bottom if you’re interested.
I want to reiterate again that Free To Play games aren’t really free. For this reason, I like to consider the developer’s monetization strategy before I partake of any F2P game. Evolve is currently in beta right now, but their in-game store looks to have what I would consider a good setup. EVERYTHING is bought with Silver Keys. There is no special currency to buy, and no way possible to spend real money! I imagine it will eventually follow League of Legend’s model where you can buy all the heroes, but have to pay up for skins and customization. Let’s just hope they don’t make the same mistake as the Dreadnought developers when making future changes to monetization.
Good Starting Point
There were a few bugs, as to be expected with a beta. I had a couple server hiccups, my option to skip talent selection during character select has gone missing, and things like the tutorials could be better placed for new players such as myself. It’s all really small stuff, and at this point I just breeze right through it. I’d consider it a successful and smooth launch overall. I never played it during the initial launch, but while I streamed it several of my viewers commented that the game had become bloated with too much DLC before. All of them had stopped playing. Now, however, some of them signaled that they might be interested in picking it up again. I’d say that’s a pretty good sign the core game is a proven model. I’ve made a quick video series of Hunter gameplay, Monster gameplay, the in-game store, as well as a very tight match that highlights just how much fun this game can be. If you have any questions, as always, leave ’em in the comments!