Evolve is 2K’s big entry for early 2015, and boy has it gotten a lot of hype. But sometimes all that excitement can lead to bitter disappointment when you get the game in your hands, especially if you pre-ordered. With Evolve, 2K is making that bet even riskier.
Evolve retails at $60, the standard for a premium title. But if you tack on the DLC, be prepared to spend $100-$120 on the 4 vs. 1 shooter. That dwarfs most AAA titles, which tend to stick to closer to $80 for a full game with a season pass, including one of last years shooters that tried something new, Titanfall.
There have been a lot of comparisons made between Titanfall and Evolve, and for good reason. They’re both taking the first-person shooter genre and trying to shake it up. Titanfall did well in sales, and brought in good reviews, but players quickly lost interest, a fate Evolve’s publisher is hoping to avoid.
Evolve does some good things, and some questionable, regarding its DLC and pre-order bonuses. First, the good news. All future maps will be free. This is an all-important decision in a multiplayer game, as paid DLC fragments the player base. If only a few people purchase the DLC matchmaking suffers, and sometimes entire game modes are rendered unplayable. This is a big problem that even Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare is grappling with, never mind a game that faded from the limelight quickly, like Titanfall.
Evolve is positioned to avoid this, and even publicly defended keeping its player base on the same page in an interview with Destructoid:
“Our plan is one we pushed for as consumers. Never split the community, no pay to win, all that kind of bullshit that are hallmarks of DLC plans specifically made to leech money out of people.”
Now, the bad news. Characters from this point on will be purchasable, not included in the base game. While they aren’t necessary to play with other players, they’ll likely make you feel like you’re still only getting a portion of the experience that you paid for. This is a common practice in “free-to-play” games, like League of Legends, but in those games if you spend enough time playing you can unlock characters without spending any real money. Not so with Evolve. To get other monsters or hunters to play as you’ll have to shell out cash.
Even worse, pre-orders for Evolve received a “free” monster. Developers and publishers need to keep the lights on, and paid DLC in some fashion may be necessary, but that situation is a lot more tenable if you’re investing in a game or franchise you already know you like to play.
That’s the crux of the issue here. For the average person, $60 is a big wager to bet on whether or not they’ll want to stick with a game. Those folks who went big on the season pass with Titanfall got burned, even if they liked the game, because finding a someone to play with has become a chore. With Evolve, 2K is raising the stakes, and pushing beyond that $60 threshold even more aggressively, and adding even more weight to the pre-order perks. Other publishers are bound to be watching the results very closely. If they follow suit, it might make gaming more expensive for all of us.
Evolve was released February 10, on PC, Xbox One and PS4.