Evolve’s Bewildering Pre-Order Devolution

The Behemoth. First name 'Clive'.

As I mentioned t’other day, I’m a wee bit psyched about Left 4 Dead maker Turtle Rock’s upcoming 4v1 shooter Evolve, but an unhealthy excess of pre-orderballs is fast unpsyching me. Imagine if L4D had restricted the Boomer to a pre-order bonus, or you could only play as Zoey if you bought the Left 4 Dead: None Left Behind Deluxe Ultra Apocalypse Master Race Edition. It’s so hard to think of a game as being fully-formed and entirely honest when big features are nickel’n’dimed. Thus, I’m worried about Evolve. The power to play as some of its various characters – including its ‘biggest’ monster – has been devolved into assorted and confusing special editions.

The game’s makers and/or publishers, or at least some bright spark in the marketing department, are trying to argue that getting the Behemoth monster (the fourth in the game’s bestiary) for ‘free’ with a pre-order is basically them giving the first round of DLC out for no-pennies. Indeed, the Behemoth will be available as a $15 add-on post-release (in the Spring, apparently), but the leaves a couple of months in which the game’s community risks being split into the haves and the have-nots. The haves, of course, being those who have either the means or naivety (or both) to put down big money on a game without waiting for word on whether it’s a stonker or a stinker.

Beyond that, there are various different special editions, including a grossly-titled $100/£60 PC-only, download-only ‘PC Monster Race Edition’ mega-pack that promises access to an as-yet revealed fifth monster, in addition to a glut of Hunter characters, skins and season pass gubbins. Basically that’s the pack you need if you want to be sure you’re not missing out on any of the game’s characters, and basically that makes me pretty stroppy.

I guess a major part of big-game marketing these days is trying to round up as many guaranteed sales pre-release as possible, but this is all seems kind of off for a game that’s so much about balanced asymmetry. We’ll see how it all works in practice come February 10th, I guess. I don’t expect to be playing anything other than the core game – i.e. no Behemoth and all that jazz – at least until if and I when I decide I like it enough to invest more, so I’ll find out fast if not having access to the pre-order and special edition stuff tears a big hole in the experience or not.

Anyway, here’s the Behemoth reveal. Apparently this guy’s as big as Turtle Rock could possibly make him, and we shouldn’t expect to see anything even more humongous ever arrive in the game.

He is a big lad, isn’t he? His main shtick is that he “becomes a giant, destructive boulder and rolls through the environment for quick traversal.”

And here’s the full breakdown of the various special editions, season passes and pre-order guff. It’s not quite Assassin’s Creed headache-inducing (there are no statuettes of frowning men to factor in, for one thing), but it’s not far off.


  1. Al Bobo says:

    They really ask alot of money for those extra characters and I find it kinda disappointing. On the other hand, they will give new maps for free and it’s possible to have those new characters in your party even if you can’t play them yourself so player base won’t be split.

  2. iainl says:

    “Hey guys, I see that Hatred’s really looking popular”

    “Yeah, you’re right – there’s clearly money in White Supremacist Bollocks; see if we can get some of that”

    • Al Bobo says:

      I don’t get it.

      • iainl says:

        The whole “Master Race” thing was kind of amusing, in context, for about five minutes way back when. Now we’ve got a whole load of people using it without picking up on the Nazi source of it all, and it just looks all kinds of icky to see a multinational corporation making jokes about how we’re all for the extermination of “lesser races” here, right?

        Meanwhile, given that nobody buys Turtle Rock’s last game for more than £3.75, I can see why they’re desperate to drain as much money as possible out of the early adopters, but it doesn’t exactly encourage me to be one of those people.

        • Orija says:

          What in god’s name are you babbling about?

        • Al Bobo says:

          Now I get it :P

        • Distec says:

          I think people pick up on the source just fine. They just couldn’t give a damn because the jokey meme is so thoroughly divorced from from actual Nazism.

          The irony of these pre-order bonus developments is that I’m pretty sure a lot of people who would identify with that meme hate this kind of shit.

        • kwyjibo says:

          What in god’s name are you babbling about?

      • subedii says:

        I’m guessing it’s about this being poorly titled as the “PC Monster Race” edition.

        Riffing off of Yahtzee calling PC gamers the “PC master race”, it’s just one more piece of daft headed marketing that’s putting me off.

        What’s mainly putting me off though is the whole sales and gameplay model. This isn’t even Microtransactions anymore. It’s full release price plus what I can only call Macrotransactions that buy you additional characters.

        Ars Technica also had a decent piece about how messed up the thinking is behind the pre-order instant unlockables:

        link to arstechnica.com

        Basically: By pre-ordering you immediately “unlock” the four additional hunters without having to grind for them. Jump to the head of the line!

        Offering instant unlocks in this manner also does away with most of the gameplay-based justifications used to defend the practice of locking game content in the first place. If these characters were initially locked away to provide the player with a sense of progression and achievement or to slowly pace out the introduction of new gameplay mechanics, then this kind of “instant unlock” pre-purchase would short circuit that effect and make the game less enjoyable, right? On the other hand, if avoiding unlocking is seen as a “bonus” for pre-purchasing, it’s hard to see having things locked in the first place as anything but… the opposite of a bonus.

        The way they’ve done that with this game (not the only game to do so) basically spelling out the fact that locking away things in this manner doesn’t actually add anything to the game for its players, it’s literally locking away fun bits in order to force additional player investment (forcing more playtime).

        I’ve got about 70 hours in Left 4 Dead 2, and probably a similar amount in the first game. And I didn’t put in the play time because I needed to grind to be allowed to use a frying pan, I did it because I found the gameplay fun (helps a lot that I played with friends and competitive VS was our main mode). Conversely, I never even maxed out one character skill tree in a game like Payday 2. How many people actually manage to spec out all four? I played it plenty, but got bored simply because I was dragging down other players when I didn’t have all the “advanced” stuff on the skill trees.

        I feel like game design across a lot of games and genres has fixated on the idea that you need to earn your right to play with everything in the game you bought through working unlock curves and grinds. The most annoying thing being that this has nothing to do with “teaching” the player, it’s not even about making the player better at the game, it’s purely about making them spend a shed load more time on the game (when it’s not about making you pay to skip the grind).

        • Darkheart says:

          As a German I can live with the term Nazi as it is used in “grammarnazi” and some such. Although, I cringe at the term “PC Master Race” and funny (!?) variations thereof. I’m far too young to have experienced any of the Hitler bollocks decades ago and I don’t feel responsible for the crimes our nation did back then. Every nation on Earth has one or more dark spots in its history.

          What we mustn’t do though, is forget about it or take it too lightly. I like black humor, but when you look at the Pegida demonstrations in our country atm, you can see how easy it is to twist minds with nationalist crap. This time around the Muslims are characterized as the black sheep, when the real worries come from elsewhere (fear of old-age-poverty, where Europe goes, etc.).

          Sorry for the meandering post. It’s not that easy to write down my thoughts of this complex topic as a non-native speaker. I hope you get where I’m going with this…

          • subedii says:

            Actually your English is quite good. And I get your point, yeah.

          • Vandelay says:

            Hitler bollocks? Surely you mean bollock?

          • Geebs says:

            The Master Race schtik was in no way limited to the Nazis at that point in history though; eugenics was big throughout Europe, to the point that some people remembered as famous pioneers of family planning were actually eugenicicists who wanted to sterilise the poor to stop them from spreading their inferior genes.

            Plus, coming from an English person, there’s at least three levels of self-deprecation, sarcasm and self-loathing before you even begin to get to the historical allusions,

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          Phasma Felis says:

          Alec calls it “grossly titled” up there. I can understand not being comfortable with the whole Nazi allusion, but Alec, you did a “master race” joke yourself in the first paragraph. If it’s okay for you, it’s okay for them.

          • iainl says:

            Did he? Or did he joke about them using the phrase in the title? A joke that spelled out how unpleasant it sounds?

  3. El_MUERkO says:

    I’ve not been very excited by Evolve, I’ve watched people playing it and it looks OK, but I was kind of on-the-fence. This pre-order nonsense has me thinking “I and a group of friends will get the GoTY edition for 75% off in the Steam Christmas Sale and have a cheap week of COOP fun’.

    • Generico says:

      What he said. But also; why in hell would I spend $60 on a game, then another $60 on DLC crap when for the same money I could get 3 $40 games, or 6 $20 games from steam or GoG and have way more fun for my money.

      In fact, I’m more and more reluctant to spend $60 on one game – a price point that only exists because some guy in a suit pulled it out of his butt back in 1989 – when there seems to be no correlation whatsoever between the price of a game and the amount of fun I get out of it.

      In my opinion, pre-ordering is one of the worst things to ever happen to the game industry. It’s only purpose is to shift the sales revenue of a game from something based on the quality of the game to something based on the hype of the game. It enables bad games. And on top of that, nothing ruins a game faster than a heavily involved marketing team.

      • bjohndooh says:

        Yeah. I find $60 a hard price to swallow – if the game is actually worth it, it’ll be worth picking up a year later at a more reasonable price.

  4. Walsh says:

    This is a total wait for reviews before purchasing game. My guess is the multiplayer scene will burn out like as it did with Titanfall.

    • briktal says:

      One of my biggest concerns with Evolve is that, from my experience, the game is not at all fun if you are bad at it.

      • ThinkMcFlyThink says:

        It also seems like the the best players will continue to be better due to the unlock system, while bad/new players will have to soldier on with worse gear/characters.

      • DonkeyCity says:

        That sums up my experience with precisely. I’m an average player and all that did was annoy and disappoint everyone I was playing with.

      • MojaveMusic says:

        This is a problem with a lot of games like this.

        And the stock response ofc is always just “well then get better you fucking noob”.

        Games like this are automatic outs for me like 99% of the time. I -rented- Titanfall and had an alright time with it, but not nearly enough of an all right time to want to drop upwards of $100 on something vaguely similar.

    • subedii says:

      Yeah I’m also getting a distinctly “Titanfall” vibe here. Most of the of the major games websites gushed about it endlessly, and then the game basically dropped like a freaking rock once it had been released. How many publications even remembered it come the end of year?

  5. frymaster says:

    I’d be OK with Zoe being DLC, because she plays identically to the other survivors. Presumably there’d have been another, original, survivor, who Zoe replaces.

    Actually, I think slot-in replacement survivors would be interesting DLC for L4D, since they’d be purely cosmetic.

    The boomer, though – well, that’s gameplay-affecting. That would annoy me

  6. DonkeyCity says:

    I just wanted to point out that it doesn’t split the community in terms of being able to play with players who have content you don’t, though, which is a pretty important distinction. You can play against the DLC monster, just not as it.

    • iainl says:

      So what you’re saying is that all of the content is in the download, it’s just that you have to pay to unlock it from behind their little gate?

      Oh, goody.

      • ThinkMcFlyThink says:

        They have three options here: 1) release new characters as DLC and split community but keep those precious bits off other’s machines, 2) release them as DLC, don’t split community, but put bits on machines of those who’ve chosen not to pay for the content those bits represent, or 3) don’t sell characters as DLC. Based on your comment I’m sure #3 is the only option you support, but since that’s just not going to happen absent another monetization scheme (like ME3’s microtransactions) then I find option #2 vastly superior to option #3.

        • Flavour Beans says:

          Absent another monetization scheme? Many would argue that the $60 purchase price is monetizing things quite well already.

          • Asurmen says:

            And those people don’t have investors and other stakeholders to pay. Admittedly additional monetisation is a symptom of modern AAA and commercial workings, but still…

        • iainl says:

          Day one DLC is a bad thing, yes. Free updates to the base game that allow those who buy after-the-fact DLC to still play together is a good thing, though, so it’s really just this “Oh, the full-price game isn’t all of it, you’ve got to pay extra if you want to have the best toys” nonsense that grates.

    • Vandelay says:

      Which is why I don’t consider this a massive issue, as long as the base game has enough content. However, with only 3 monsters available to those that don’t pony up for the pre-order or the DLC, it seems incredibly limited (I say without any experience of actually playing the game.)

      Replayability is likely going to be a bit of an issue with this game, so this looks to be a massive mistake if they were looking to give this a long life.

  7. jezcentral says:

    So, can you choose the monster you want to hunt? How is the AI holding up? (Please god, let there be decent AI. I don’t want to spend ages queuing while we get the 80%/20% split fully populated.)

    • Asurmen says:

      You can’t because they choose which Monster they want to be at the same time as Hunters choose their character.

      No idea about AI. Don’t remember seeing it for all that long what with it being drop in/out multiplayer.

  8. kool says:

    Aaand that’s when i lost ALL interest for buying the game. This could have been one of those games i wait to buy until the “complete edition” comes on sale for at least 70% off, but since it’s mainly or completely a multiplayer game, i won’t do that. By the time i’d buy it the game will be dead and forgotten.

    • kevinspell says:

      Same here, I do not care enough to make an effort and try to understand all this preorder/season pass/DLC bollocks. Will this unbalance the game, will it divide the community…

      And on top of all that I generally refuse to grind for equipment/powers to unlock the fun I paid for. Especially in MP versus games like this. Because I know somewhere down the line a bunch of people will buy the game on a sale and will be useless and ruin my fun until they get all the equipment relevant in the current meta.

  9. Synesthesia says:

    BLands 2 did exactly the same with Gaige.

    • boundless08 says:

      That’s true but borderlands isn’t a PvP game. It ranks 9 nano-wotsits higher on the scale we are measuring this on than borderlands characters.

  10. rcguitarist says:

    There is one sure way to send the message to companies not to do this “main features will cost you extra” BS. Don’t buy the game and email the publisher telling them why you are not buying it. They only do this kind of BS because people gobble it up. Tons of people will pre-order the game then shell out $60 for DLC. If just one AAA game flopped because of this, it would send a shockwave through the whole industry.

    • Rublore says:

      No, it wouldn’t. Publishers would just declare that games with monsters in them are dead, and never fund anything monster related again. They would also blame piracy, because they always do.

      • The First Door says:

        Sorry, but I just don’t agree. While they might indeed try to claim that, if you look at things like the recent SimCity and AC: Unity it is clear that people kicking up a fuss about a game does at least slightly work. The problem is that people are fickle and despite all the complains about these games they still buy them and play them. Or worse, pirate them in some sort of misguided attempt to prove a point, while providing a perfect get out for the publishers.

        In short, not buying/using/playing something to make a point, while not perfect, is still a damn sight better than the alternative.

  11. fdisk says:

    I was really looking forward to this game and I was extremely disappointed with its Beta. I played with both great players and terrible players and frankly, after the novelty wore off (Which for me was after about 1-2 hours)I was left very disappointed. It’s actually…kind of a boring experience.

    If you want a great Arena Multiplayer Team-Based shooter look at Nosgoth; it captures the whole L4D feel a lot better than Evolve does and after months I find myself going back to it.

    • Al Bobo says:

      I can’t say anything about Evolve, but I got bored of Nosgoth after 16 hours.

    • Asurmen says:

      Evolve isn’t trying to capture the feel of L4D tbh. Personally I bored of L4D very quickly.

  12. Chuckleluck says:

    It appears Valve was the only thing holding back Turtle Rock from showing their true evilness.

    • welverin says:

      Alternatively, their new publisher is forcing them into this foolishness, and it was Valve who allowed them to do things the right way.

      You’ll note that you’ll be able to play with people who own the dlc even if you do not, and you can even play against the dlc characters and monsters in SP mode if you don’t own them. The only thing you won’t be able to do if you don’t buy them is use them yourself. That’s not something you can do in most anything else, say CoD or BF.

  13. cyrenic says:

    Always a shame when an interesting game gets hosed by a terrible business model.

    I thought this game was Free to Play, actually. I don’t see it retaining players otherwise. If they’re charging $60 up front and then $15 for each new character I think it’s going to fail hard.

  14. zind says:

    I don’t see how getting the first DLC for free leaves a few months of the community being split. Correct me if I’m wrong, but to my understanding NOBODY gets Behemoth until the DLC including him is ready to ship – people that preorder just don’t have to pay for it at that point. The only timed exclusives I’m aware of are some skins from the monster edition, and of course the whole game on the Xbone.

    While I do think that this latest round of preorder shenanigans with the digital deluxe and monster race and all that is pretty silly, thus far I think TRS has had one of the most sane and unobtrusive approaches to DLC in modern days. Not unlike the Borderlandses, really.

  15. Freud says:

    I rarely pre-order because companies are so good at marketing and the game media is too uncritical so even games that look good may turn out to be terrible. I need opinions from people without financial incentives before purchasing.

    In this case I won’t buy at all, even if the game get good reviews. This ridiculous trend of keeping content from paying customers is annoying and when they go this far? No way they’ll ever get my money.

  16. Beelzebud says:

    I was considering buying this game up until I saw the ridiculous pre-order and DLC nonsense for it. Now I will definitely NOT be getting it. I hope someone from their publisher reads these threads. In their zeal for greed, they’re going to lose money.

  17. ye-ole-PK says:

    count me out of this one. I have been enjoying the Grimoire arena game immensely.

  18. JohnH says:

    I was interested in testing this game out with some mates, but not enough to put up with this stupidity. This DLC/preorder madness have to stop at some point!

  19. Steed says:

    I wonder if this will lead to a situation, in public MM, where the survivors all quit as soon as the game loads and they see they’re against a behemoth?

    Similar to in L4D, where a team would rage quit if the opposing Tank player was too good, it’s an instant quit and relobby when you’re facing the OP pay-to-win monster?


    I was considering buying this for price, but I suppose I’ll wait for the 75% off GOTY edition. At least small five-person teams will be easier to come along even if the community dwindles.

  21. sharkh20 says:

    Prepare for very low metacritic user rating

  22. OctoStepdad says:

    “are trying to argue that getting the Behemoth monster (the fourth in the game’s bestiary) for ‘free’ with a pre-order is basically them giving the first round of DLC out for no-pennies.”

    Free DLC for a game I might not like but spent $60 in a blind preorder-buy. Sounds like a real deal to me.

    But seriously, I will wait for the beta coming this weekend to play some more and see what reviews and the steam forums have to say about the game.

  23. Spinkick says:

    In this day in age, there is no reason to pre-order. Are they going to run out of license keys to hand out? Its bad enough buying day 1. I’ve started letting games “rest” for a few months until they go on sale or everyone else tests them for me. There are too many games in my backlog anyway, so I’m fine with it.

    TLDR: Why in gods name would you contribute to this pre-order madness?

    • Asurmen says:

      Because it’s a game you know you’re going to like and play the game regardless, why wouldn’t you pre order except if you agree with the ‘moral’ stance of not pre ordering?

  24. ffordesoon says:

    I’m interested in Evolve, but everything about the business plan strikes me as a terrible fit for this sort of game. I feel like the marketing has also been pretty shit, in that I still don’t quite know what the game is meant to be. Like, “a 4v1 Monster In The House FPS from the Left 4 Dead guys” is a terrific elevator pitch, but everything I’ve learned about the game since has made it seem like it’s… not that? Or rather, it is, but done in a really counterintuitive and overcomplicated way the premise doesn’t seem to invite or support.

    This pre-order weirdness doesn’t make it any easier to grasp.

  25. Raztaman says:

    Well I’m convinced to give Evolve a pass, they can’t afford to put such downers on the game when it’s not like it’s the AAA game of the year to be released.

  26. RayEllis says:

    It is at times like these that I give thanks to the Great God Bioware, who cured me of such derangements as “pre-ordering” and “Day 1 DLC” being acceptable. Mass Effect 3’s day 1 DLC, clearly cut from main game, made me frown, and the half-assed ending (prior to the fixing), which was just pitiful, put the final nails in those particular coffins.

    But, until more people stop pre-ordering games, or falling prey to the simple psychology of “Buy this or you’ll be missing out” DLC, then I fear developers and publishers will continue to pull shit like this.

  27. SomeDuder says:

    Looks like a load of pre-launch hype to me. They are asking way too much money in today’s market. Would you pay $100,- for L4D? I mean, L4Ds great and all, but its just a short MP shooter, supported by (what used to be) a great developer.

    Who are these new guys with a gimmicky game, no history and a marketing budget that outlives their main product?

    Hype, just hype. (Buy the GotY edition come November)