Evolve Is Going Free To Play, Starting Today

Evolve [official site], the first-person multiplayer action game of monsters vs hunters, is now free to play. Originally launched back in February of last year, the game, from Left 4 Dead creators Turtle Rock, is an asymmetrical shooter/stalker, in which players take on the role of either members of a four-person hunter squad or one of several monsters. The switch to free-to-play comes after what the Turtle Rock co-founders describe as “the DLC shitstorm” and a mixed reception. The free-to-play version launches later today and full details of the transition are below.

The full statement from Turtle Rock is available at the Evolve website but here’s one key paragraph:

Here’s how it’s going to work: We’re going to make Evolve free on PC as a Beta starting on July 7. 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.

All of this comes with some changes to how the game plays, including reworked progression systems and tutorials, and a lighter reliance on experienced specialists for the hunters. That seems key to finding a wider audience. As Alec noted when he reviewed the game, one significant issue was the need for every hunter to understand their role thoroughly in order to not only succeed, but to have a good time.

Furthermore, to some degree playing one of the Hunter roles is like playing just a fraction of one larger character. There’s no-one who deals out big, meaty-feeling damage or can turn the tide of battle, and everyone must perform their role with rare rigour in order to succeed. You can only play a quarter-role in managing an often very slow war of attrition, and while this is infinitely and refreshingly more tactical than the online shooter norm, increasingly I struggled to find great excitement in it other than in those usually final moments where either monster or Hunters were almost intractably on the ropes. Despite each having an impressive range of distinct skills, individually each Hunter character feels a little like they’re shooting water pistols at Godzilla. I’m not at all certain whether that’s deliberate in order to emphasise the absolute requirement for teamwork, whether it’s because something’s lacking in the weapon feedback loop, or both.

Of course, moving to free-to-play might (and Turtle Rock will hope this is the case) lead to a flood of new players, all needing to learn the ropes. Those new progression systems, hopefully speeding people through the process of unlocking characters, will be essential then, as will tutorials and greater ease of use. Of course, that risks diluting the high level of skill and organisation that some long-term players undoubtedly enjoy.

And what of those players? The ones who paid for the game and have been playing it since launch?

Anyone who owns classic Evolve will be given “Founder” status in the new free version, and all the content you already own comes with you to the new version. As long as we work on Evolve, we will show our appreciation for our committed fans and early adopters with gifts, rewards, and special access. Why? Because you believed like we did, and we will never forget that.

One of the key criticisms of Evolve, across the board, was the small supply of monster types and maps. The “DLC shitstorm” Turtle Rock refer to involved the price of new additions to what was a slim launch roster of monsters and hunters. When the game relaunches around 5pm UK time today (it’s been pulled from Steam for now) it won’t have any microtransactions but Cory Lanier, Turtle Rock’s community co-ordinator, has been sharing some details of what’s to come on reddit and the new Silver Keys seem likely candidates for unlocking features. Founders will receive 3,000 to start them off and more can be earned through play, with purchase options presumably to be added at a later date.

Lanier also clarifies an important detail: “we will continue to support Founders with future cosmetics and rewards. No gameplay altering items will ever be exclusive to Founders. If anyone has anymore questions let me know!” And you can let him know right here.


  1. Capt. Bumchum McMerryweather says:

    Nice to see the devs evolving their pricing model. The DNA of the industry seems set to change at last.

  2. Kefren says:

    3,000 keys? Surely there aren’t that many chests in the game world?

    • Synesthesia says:

      Wait until they find out they need 3000 to open each chest.

      • zarthrag says:

        If you were willing to pay $100 upfront, we wouldn’t have to have chests…

        …eah, whatever. I played during the “pinnacle” of Evolve, which was, inarguably, the “big alpha/beta”. I stayed up until 3AM playing, and had decent matchmaking, and GREAT fun as the monster. Once pricing got announced, $60 minimum, $100 for the deluxe, with no promises… I got turned off. There are a lot of games competing for my dollars.

        Sure enough, I wasn’t the only one. Everyone complained, and shunned the game. I did eventually cave during a steam sale last year and picked up the $100 bundle for $30.

        … I waited several times for match-making. For more than a half-hour. I’ve yet to play a match!!! :'(

        Here we are, years later, and they are JUST NOW getting the memo to go F2P? The game is likely nearly flat-lined. I’m not hopeful.

        Big Alpha, we hardly knew ye.

  3. SMGreer says:

    As someone who bought the game a while back and thoroughly enjoyed it, this is good news to be honest. The game certainly had issues and the player base was dwindling since launch but get into a match and there’s no multiplayer game out there quite like it.

    This probably won’t help the feeling that the unlock system’s a bit grindy but at least it’s somewhat justified now instead of purely arbitrary.

  4. Mortivore says:

    Evolve.. Evolve.. let me think.
    Wasn’t that the game that had $100,- special edition preorder and was still riddled with microtransactions?
    And despite the discontent amongst the fanbase and the main consumer base (even before release), the dev’s still went full steam ahead with the same business model?

    Yea, I can’t think of any reason why the game would hardly have any playerbase left.

    It might be a good idea for a company to not screw over gamers with over the top pre-order prices/content and microtransactions. It almost seems like the dev’s were trying to see how far they could go with this bullshit.

    Well, good luck to those who paid a 100 bucks for a Founder status, you guys must be thrilled.

    • Al Bobo says:

      Actually, I am pretty thrilled. I played Evolve 160 hours, excluding beta. It was good fun until I got bored and left. When I came back, most of the playerbase was gone. Now I get to play it again and I can try those classes and monsters that were behind a paywall. Happy times.

    • Calculon says:

      This. You summed up my thought process well.

      Tried to be greedy and go for the big grab and they got burned. Now they want to try to suck up to the lost fan base to try to resurrect their game.

      Luckily for that fan base – there are a lot of other titles coming out fairly regularly – and I’m personally invested in other titles at this point and dont want to invest my limited time budget going back to a game that pretty much gave most players the big middle finger and tried to shove their hand deeeeeep into their pockets.

    • Asurmen says:

      I think you exaggerate just how many people were put off from the game because of a special edition.

      I simply think it’s because the game had no long term appeal. I quickly found that once you’ve played a few rounds, you’ve seen all there is to offer.

  5. deanimate says:

    Evolve is such a brilliant game. Its main issue was that you can’t just jump in like with CoD. You do need to play as a team at least a bit and understand the game mechanics. Once over that initial hump it shines so very bright. I have 2.9k hours in it, mostly just play Goliath and I’m not bored :D

    It’s becoming a lot more player friendly so there isn’t that emphasis on the trapper getting the dome, monsters will not be able to just mitigate the whole dome because it now lasts 5 minutes, monsters will not get destroyed in one dome because the dome timer decreases based on the monster getting strikes and the monster losing health. Monsters will no longer be able to kill the medic and then have over 2 minutes of freedom to do what they want as without a medic the other hunters are typically pretty screwed. Awesome way to force the main fun part of the game but do it in such a way that you don’t think it’s unfair.

    DLC was never an issue with this game. There were loads of skins but that can be safely ignored as they’re cosmetic. I love the game but never cared for skins so never bought any and I still have a ton due to all the weekly challenges they did where skins were routinely given away for free.
    The two hunting seasons only added to the game which is a good thing. Never saw the issue with that all.

    Give it a go, use a mic if you can, and enjoy the new polished Evolve

    • best_jeppe says:

      ^So much this. I totally agree with all you said and I am currently loving Evolve even more with Evolve Stage 2.

  6. Cerulean Shaman says:

    Meh, the only surprise here is that it’s still around to go free to play. No one talks about it and no one I know that does ever says anything good about it.

    Me and my buds played it heavily during beta and are an open minded lot that managed to somehow get some sober giggles out of a game as terrible as Cel Damage back in the day. Just couldn’t get into it though and the game never really stuck.

    Going free to play will open it to a lot of people who never played it and those who want to see if anything’s changed, but I have a feeling the only that they’ll find is nauseating flashbacks to the past before the nails are finally slammed into that coffin.

    Yes, I understand there are some (in this very comments section, even!) that somehow liked the game. That’s fine, there’s always that handful few. There are people still vehenmently defending Umbra Corps despite its terrible reception, lackluster ratings, and laughably small launch community (PC version, anyways), so I know you’ll never 100% anything but the game did poorly for a reason.

    If they don’t realize that and try to fix it then I guess they deserve whatever comes of it.

  7. Stardog says:

    It had to go F2P. Steamcharts says it gets 100-200 daily average players.

    That’s less than Natural Selection 2 (250-300), a 2012 ex-mod-team game, and currently the best multiplayer FPS ahead of Overwatch.

    What Evolve really needs is a 1-5GB install size, instead of 50GB. It’s not something I’d “just try out” because of that.

    • WhiteHawke says:

      The install size has gone down. I believe it’s around 18 gigs now.

  8. Freud says:

    It’s healthy that it didn’t work out. It was one of the most cynical attempts to milk their player base I have seen.

    The game launched February. Full price and with a season pass costing $25 that gave you extra hunters and monsters. Then four months later they announce the second season pass.

    They deserved everything that happened to them. It’s good for gamers and the industry that it didn’t work.

  9. Bobtree says:

    I loved Evolve, as it was competitive and thrilling and suitably monstrous, and played more than 100 hours. It’s great to see it getting continued support, but I don’t know how I feel about the balance going out the window, and the stealth/evasion/tracking part of the game seemingly going away. On the other hand, Evolve had a long steep learning curve, so lowering the barrier to entry should be positive for the game as a whole. The patch notes suggest that this is a pretty huge overhaul of the game.

    I hate the editing in the new Stage 2 launch trailer though.

    From the FAQ (link to talk.turtlerockstudios.com):

    Q: What can I purchase with real money?

    A: Currently, nothing. There is no monetization in the game. The only thing we care about right now is making the best game we can make so we can grow the healthiest playerbase possible.