Gundam Evolution is an upcoming free-to-play title from Bandai Namco and is billed as the “world’s first competitive online Gundam FPS” that is sure to excite both fans of the genre and of Gundam.
We were fortunate enough to take part in the network test that was scheduled to run until April 12 and by playing a number of matches with other participants, Gundam Evolution shows off fast and frantic gameplay that feels good from the get-go but also needs to tweak some things to make the experience even better.
Watch – Gundam Evolution Trailer
For the uninitiated, think of Gundam Evolution as something like Overwatch, only with Mobile Suits. Each mobile suit has different weapons and abilities that are faithful to its anime counterparts – The Barbatos excels at close-quarters combat while the Guntank can lob cannon fire from long range. Controls are standard-fare for an FPS game and players with prior experience should not feel lost at all. If you’re a newcomer, no problem! There’s a detailed tutorial mode that will get you up to speed in no time.
As of the network test, Gundam Evolution has 14 playable mobile suits (12 unlocked, 2 locked) – Pale Rider, Gundam, Zaku II (Ranged), Barbatos, Sazabi, Methuss, GM Sniper II, Asshimar, DOM Trooper, Turn A, Guntank, GM, Exia, and Masarai [UC]. The selection is rather small for now, and while some of the more iconic characters are still missing, we can only assume that more will be added to the game by the time it launches.
Most of these mobile suits control mostly the same with each other, with the main difference being move speed. Units like the Asshimar and the DOM Trooper are highly mobile and move slightly faster compared to the bigger suits like the Sazabi. Each unit also has varying levels of boosts, which allow you to zip in and out of skirmishes. It’s nice to see some semblance of balance here, like the Barbatos getting 3 boost bars for being a purely melee unit, allowing players to close the gap better than others.
Battles are fast-paced and it is unlikely that you’ll get eliminated in a few hits unless the GM Sniper II tags you with a headshot. With each character having boost gauges, things can get a bit frantic during fights, so while the game is easy to pick up and play, the skill ceiling of Gundam Evolution is high enough to make it a competitive game.
Players can also choose to customize their unlocked mobile suits with ornaments and weapon skins. The selection is quite limited at this point in time and we can only hope that this will grow in number as we get closer to launch since this will certainly be a big draw for many players looking to show off.
Surprisingly, the game runs very well even on potato setups. We tried testing the game on a low-end laptop (GTX 970m) and still got very steady 60fps gameplay even during the busiest of clashes. The 970m setup can also play the game on ultra settings, but expect some frame dips and slowdown. This is great news for most PC players since there’s a big chance that will not need to upgrade your rig to enjoy the game. The usual options are here for PC players (FOV slider, Shadows, anti-aliasing, etc) but more advanced options are currently not available.
One gripe I have for Gundam Evolution is the fact that the game feels like your typical person-to-person shooter and apart from the weapons and the skins, you wouldn’t really know that you were controlling mobile suits. The main culprit here would probably be the level design, which makes the mobile suits feel small scale-wise. While the levels are quite large and there are multiple entry points for crucial spots, the scale doesn’t do the suits justice, making them feel like normal people.
Some weapons also lack a certain impact that makes FPS games exciting. While the crash of the melee attacks from the Barbatos has a certain heft behind them, the guns from suits like the Zaku and the DOM lack a bit of force and impact from an audiovisual standpoint.
Despite this, Gundam Evolution is quite fun and I can see how the game can take off, especially for fans of the franchise. The game has a lot going on for it and leading up to release, with the addition of more mobile suits and levels, it can really gather a healthy following.
Given that this is a free-to-play title, you can expect some form of monetization from the game such as a battle pass and maybe some currency-locked mobile suits. There is a gacha element in the game that awards players with cosmetic items, along with a seasonal battle pass that players can level up to unlock gacha tickets and other cosmetics such as emotes and skins.
The network test for Gundam Evolution is a good starting point and Bandai Namco has time on its hands to make the necessary adjustments to the game before it releases. It looks to be exciting and given that it is a free-to-play game, it won’t be too hard to imagine that there will be a big following once it goes live.
We’re certainly looking forward to Gundam Evolution’s next update, hopefully when more content like suits and levels are added!
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