Roll back a few years ago when Turtle Rock announced their new game Evolve, which pits four hunters against one monster, and people were initially intrigued by the concept. The four-versus-one dynamic was not often seen in video games and the idea of stomping up your friends as you wielded a fire-breathing behemoth sounded like every teenagers Godzilla-esque dreams.
Then came the beta that was pretty underwhelming. You searched for what seemed like an eternity for that big battle and when it did come, the monster was too huge for you to deal with or you found it so early that it was destroyed as soon as it was spotted.
Still washed with the stain of pre-order bonuses before we had seen gameplay and a release marred by micro-transactions and lack of real content, Evolve sank before it grew legs. Written off as an example of how not to do a multiplayer-only game in this generation, most expected the creators to cut their losses and move on.
However, they were not done. Out of nowhere, Turtle Rock came back with Stage Two that revamped the gameplay and added all the DLC content to the roster as unlockables through using silver that you gain from playing games.
Oh, and they made it free to play.
A bold move from a publisher that clearly loves its baby, Evolve has seen a huge surge of players during the beta test of this on PC. People that had been put off or disinterested have at least given it a go and clearly something has stuck, with the game on the top 10 of Steam’s most played list.
The core idea is still the same, which is either chase the monster or wreck everything in sight, but things have been refined for a better experience. Tighter maps make it easier to finds the monster, who starts out a little stronger than before so it can stand a chance, with all Hunters having some sort of passive ability and all of them are able to deploy the monster arena.
It’s streamlined their slightly convoluted game, trimming the fat off of what was quite a gluttonous steak to leave us with the good stuff that we always wanted. Games are more intense with more battles, playing the roles are still varied but with different options as there are six characters for each class and even the monster.
And it’s really fun. It just works that much better as an experience, you aren’t hiking through uninteresting environments like a trip to a shopping centre with your mum, instead you are rapidly hunting before some enthralling skirmishes that feel organic and fluent.
While it’s a disappointment to those who bought the game and the DLC, who haven’t had a great deal given yet as a reward, this is a positive move overall for the future. The game looks like it will be supported, giving the option for people to pay to unlock quicker and rely on skins in the future to help beef up their bank accounts as well as their popularity.
While it really shows the love the developers have for their game, this should really be an example of what teams should do in the first place. Trust your product, work on consistently improving it and most of all believe in it.
Sometimes you don’t have to charge that big entry fee. Go with what feels right to the community who will own it, what will drive them and if it is good enough, the money will roll in. Even in saying that, this is a rare case that we may not see again.
Good on you, Turtle Rock.