'Evolve' Evolves Into A Free To Play Title With Major Gameplay Changes

Evolve received tons of hype when it first debuted, but also tons of backlash once the DLC model was revealed. The backlash combined with mixed reviews resulted in poor sales and a small player base on the PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC. Developer Turtle Rock Studio and publisher 2K Games has the solution by turning the 4v1 shooter into a free-to-play title nearly a year and five months after release.

Turtle Rock Co-Founders Chris Ashton and Phil Robb announced Evolve's move to free-to-play via an open letter to the game's community posted in the developer's forums. The pair admitted the "DLC s***storm hit full force and washed away people's enthusiasm," which led to major disappointment from the fan's perspective and their own. The studio has elected to give the game a complete overhaul with the launch of the Evolve Stage 2 beta launch on Steam today.

"We're going to make Evolve free on PC as a Beta starting on July 7," Turtle Rock Studios explained. "This is going to allow us to hit our new server infrastructure really hard and we need your help testing. Stuff could break, and that's our hope, because that will give us time to improve things as we go. We'll parse out major Beta revisions, updates and features over a period of weeks and months -- a plan we're going to continually communicate here. This allows us to test new features and major changes to make our game more accessible and ever closer to the joy we saw when we first showed our baby to the world. Just as importantly, this Beta plan gives us the flexibility and time we need to keep fixing bugs and making Evolve more stable."

Evolve Stage 2 (PC)
[Image via 2K Games]Once Turtle Rock is happy with the development of Evolve Stage 2 and fan feedback, the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One will also receive the game as a free-to-play addition. Unfortunately, there is no timeline on when this might take place at the moment.

Those that already own Evolve will be upgraded to "Founder" status within the new version. This unlock all the game's monsters and hunters that are being transferred from the existing game to the new Stage 2 version. Otherwise, the content will have to be unlocked through the use of in-game currency.

Evolve Stage 2 is not just a port of the game to free-to-play with a microtransaction model thrown on top. The developer has taken the time to address player feedback with a massive amount of changes. Seriously, the patch notes shared on the game's website are 18 pages long.

Evolve Stage 2 (PC)
[Image via 2K Games]The major changes shared on the Evolve website include the Mobile Arena moving from a Trapper only ability to a shared ability for all four Hunters in a match. This allows the Hunters to be less dependent on having a skilled player in the Trapper role to trap the Monster in the dome.

As a result of losing the Mobile Arena ability, Trappers gain a Planet Scanner ability to provide the general direction of the Monster. The character class also gets a speed boost while the ability is active.

All Hunter classes will receive a passive health regeneration to recover health when they are not taking damage. This will help when a player does not have a Medic nearby or has to deal with an incompetent teammate.

Evolve Stage 2 (PC)
[Image via 2K Games]Meanwhile, the Support class adds a Shield Burst ability to charge the shields of teammates and the Assault classes loses the invulnerable shield in favor of a Defense Matrix ability. This provides damage reduction instead.

Finally, Monsters will have a better start to matches. They receive extra health plus enough skill points to unlock all four base abilities at the start of a match. This should help their survivability and competitiveness during matches.

All 24 Hunters released so far for Evolve will be available in the Stage 2 beta, along with seven monsters. It will also feature four redesigned maps with the Hunt, Ranked, Customs, Arena, and Spectator modes available. The primary focus at the launch of the beta will be on the Hunt mode.

What do you think of Evolve re-launching as a free-to-play game? Sound off in the comments below.

[Image via 2K Games]