I’ve made the point I’m about to discuss in a couple of forum threads, but I thought that it might be a good idea to outline what I’ve been thinking into a coherent whole and put it up for discussion.
Put simply, not everyone is going to ‘get’ Evolve, at least not right away, and a lot of people - people who have already had a taste of the game in the Alpha or Beta stages - have the impression that the game is not for them. Words that come up for this are ‘boring’, ‘samey’, ‘short of content’ and the ever popular ‘10 minutes of hide-and-seek followed by a fight’.
I’ve called this people ‘bouncing off’ the game elsewhere, and I think it’s an apt term. Note that I don’t think this is a problem with Evolve. Rather, I think it’s a problem being caused by the games strengths, and what the game is aiming to be.
A lot of people who have sampled the game have come into it with a certain expectation of what an FPS is and how it is expected to work, a mindset that is informed by the current FPS landscape; one built around the ‘30 seconds of fun’ concept pioneered by Bungie and spread out among pretty much the whole FPS landscape. Most FPS’ in the market now have a smooth learning curve, a clear concept of what you have to do, and an immediate sense of reward to the player.
This is the case both in single and multiplayer games - the learning curve has very deliberately been kept manageable. Even in something like COD or Battlefield, you can expect to get out there and, if you don’t make a kill on your first run, you’re probably going to make some kind of visible progress by your second or third respawn. It gives a clear, definite hook for the player.
Evolve is different, even from a class-based shooter like Team Fortress. In Evolve, it is very possible - indeed, probable - to walk out in your first game and do everything horribly wrong. As the monster, you need to know what and how to kill and eat, how and when to stage up, and then how to utilise your skills. As the hunters, you’re worrying about tracking something that doesn’t want to be found until the odds are in it’s favour. You need to know when and how to dome. You need to know what creatures are going to want to kill you. You need to know that the Crowbill Sloth is not, in fact, the monster you’re looking for.
The learning curve is steep, not just to excel at the game, but just to have a good idea of what you’re doing and how to do it. That’d be tricky even if it were something that people are expecting, but in an environment where people are used to a simple learning experience, it’s a shock to the system.
I think that this is where a lot of the negative gameplay opinions we’ve seen from some people are coming from. (The negative DLC opinions, of course, are a whole other ballgame. ;p)
Now, this seems like a problem, and in some ways it is a problem. Evolve has enough negative word of mouth from the DLC thing, without this on top of it. But, I think in the long term, this will work in Evolve’s favour.
Evolve has a great deal of depth, a lot of strategy, and a lot of validity as a serious eSports game. It’s that complex. Some people, of course, just aren’t going to be into that, which is fine. But some people - some of the people that have rejected the experience they had in the Alpha and Beta - will genuinely be interested in the game that Evolve is, if they can be guided past the initial hurdles that the gameplay presents.
That’s where we come in - in talking to friends, in streaming gameplay and tutorials - heck, even in making ‘Evolve for Beginners’ videos if that’s what it takes. And it has to come down to us, because this kind of thing works best from us, as word of mouth, as ‘product evangelism’.
In sort- don’t hate the people that don’t get what Evolve is. Don’t get mad. Instead, try to show them the ropes. It won’t win over everyone, but it’ll definitely grab some of them.