I suppose it's fitting that Evolve should be the game to shed its skin and re-emerge glistening as a free-to-play game (opens in new tab). 'Stage 2' as it has been dubbed goes live in beta form today. As well as the missing price tag, returning players can expect a massive overhaul.
In a message to the community, Turtle Rock co-founders Chris Ashton and Phil Robb explained the move.
"When Evolve launched, the reception wasn’t what we expected. Sure, there were some good reviews. There were also bad reviews. Yes, there was excitement. There was also disappointment – for players and for us. The DLC shitstorm hit full force and washed away people’s enthusiasm, dragging us further and further from that first magical pick-up-and-play experience.
"We want that magic back and we aim to make it happen. We’ve made a lot of changes, improvements and additions to Evolve over the past year and we’ve got a lot more coming. In short, we’re giving this game a vigorous overhaul!"
Major changes include a renewed focus on the signature 4v1 Hunt mode, with rejigged classes to lighten the load for inexperienced Medics and Trappers:
- The MOBILE ARENA is now a shared ability that always centers on the Monster, and all four hunter classes have been redesigned to be more easily accessible and have better team synergy even when you’re not playing with friends.
- TRAPPER – With the mobile arena a shared ability, all Trapper class hunters now come equipped with a PLANET SCANNER ability that tells the hunters generally which direction the monster is located within the map. Trappers also get a speed boost when activating the ability to help them close the distance and Dome the Monster.
- MEDIC – All Hunter classes now have passive health regeneration that automatically heals players when they aren’t taking damage.
- SUPPORT – All Support class hunters now have a SHIELD BURST ability that automatically charges the shields of teammates that are close enough to the Support.
- All Assault class hunters now have a DEFENSE MATRIX ability that replaces the personal shield’s invulnerability and instead provides damage reduction to the Assault character.
- MONSTER – All Monsters now have more health and start with enough skill points to activate all four abilities at the start of a match. Alongside new found power and speed, the Monsters are back to terrorize Shear.
- VISUAL FX and UI have been redesigned to provide a cleaner, more easily understandable experience for players of all skill levels.
- MAPS have been redesigned specifically for HUNT using countless hours of gameplay data and player feedback since launch, resulting in maps that create consistently fair fights for Hunters and Monsters.
Evolve's considerable cast of characters and cosmetics will be unlockable using an in-game currency called Silver Keys, earned by playing. There's no mention yet of whether you'll be able to pay cash.
And what if you're miffed at having bought Evolve and, potentially, a load of DLC to go along with it? All your paid content will automatically unlock in Stage 2, and you'll be awarded 'Founder' status.
From the off, Founders will be given:
- 3,000 Silver Keys, all past and future Adaptations for previously owned Hunters and Monsters, dozens of Weapon Skins, and four unique, animated Founder badges.
- If you owned any Hunters, Monsters, or Skins previously, those will be carried over to Evolve Stage 2.
In future, there will be new, exclusive badges, skins and assorted cosmetics for Founders.
Evolve was full of promise (opens in new tab) when it launched, but proved unable to maintain a player base (opens in new tab). An overhaul and the alluring price tag of 'free' could well fix that problem.