By all indications, Evolve should be great. First of all, it's from developer Turtle Rock Studios, who previously changed the face of multiplayer gaming with Left 4 Dead. Secondly, as more details emerge on Evolve's asymmetric four-on-one gameplay, it's becoming increasingly clear that gamers are in for something that's both strikingly original and extremely compelling. The game won "Best of Show" at this year's E3 and rocked Gamescom 2014 this past summer. Oh, and those monsters look absolutely stunning.
There are a couple of red flags, however, that are making it hard to get too excited. GameRant's hands-on experience with Evolve revealed an interesting premise that was marred by wildly unbalanced gameplay. The game missed its original release date, while the Alpha had to be extended due to a number of problems with the PS4 version.
There's another concern, too: even if the core game lives up to expectations, a multiplayer title lives and dies by its community. So far, while Turtle Rock's unveiled a myriad of human characters (most recently, support hunter William Cabot and medic Caira Diaz), they've only shown two monsters and a couple of game modes. If there's not enough content both before and after release, players will quickly tire of Evolve and move on. At that point, it doesn't matter how well-made the game is; if nobody's playing, then Evolve is effectively finished.
It's good news, then, that all of Evolve's DLC maps will be provided to users for free. In an interview with IGN, Creative Director Phil Robb notes the above concerns, saying that Turtle Rock's biggest priority is keeping Evolve's community strong. Free post-launch content will go a long way towards preventing burn-out, and should keep the game active for a long time.
Robb also said that, while new monsters and hunters will cost money, players who don't buy them can still play with those who do.
We'll have characters and monsters, and even if you don't buy them, if your buddy wants to buy the DLC, that's cool, and your game will be enhanced through his purchase. So, you won't be able to play as those characters, but you will certainly be able to play with those characters.
Making DLC optional and refusing to penalize those who don't purchase it is a canny move, and should buy Evolve a lot of good will with gamers. If Turtle Rock plays their cards right, Evolve is a game players could be enjoying for years. Let's hope that they avoid the launch issues currently plaguing so many multiplayer titles and deliver a game that's worthy of all the hype.
Evolve comes out February 10, 2015 for PC, PS4, and Xbox One.