In a new blog post on the Evolve official site, both 2K and Turtle Rock Studios sit down and share the lessons learned from the recent open beta.
You can check out the full interview below (and there’s tons to read). Also, be sure to check out the handy infographic, which contains plenty of interesting facts and statistics about the beta:
EVOLVE: What would you say was the biggest surprise to come out of the Evolve Open Beta?
CHRIS ASHTON: How quickly the number of rounds started pouring in. The average game length wound up being almost 10 minutes. So, during the Beta, I was refreshing the telemetry and seeing the number jump by ten thousand rounds at a time. The thought of two million rounds by the end of the Beta is just staggering to me.
EVOLVE: During the Evolve Open Beta, matchmaking was definitely a topic of conversation. Can you talk about the difference between Big Alpha and Open Beta and what people can expect for the final game?
CA: We made matchmaking changes from the Big Alpha to the Beta and we were able to get confirmation that those were working well. No more level 20 players versus level 1 players and as a result, the stats were staggeringly balanced. But we still had matchmaking rough edges. In some situations we were trying to match people into full games, or parties into games that didn’t have enough open slots, so that should be sorted for launch.
EVOLVE: Talking about balance, we were seeing people complaining that Monsters were too overpowered while others were claiming that Hunters were to unbalanced. What did you wind up finding?
CA: We expected the balance to be good, but the numbers were closer than we thought. Hunters won the majority of rounds by a 1.5% margin – 51.5% of the time versus Monsters winning 48.5% of the time. That’s crazy-talk in any multiplayer game, much less one that is completely asymmetrical. That validates our process and the team. We couldn’t be happier with those numbers.
EVOLVE: That’s a great sign moving from the Big Alpha where Hunters won almost 57% of the time. So balancing continues to be a big part of Evolve?
CA: To be honest, when we started making the game, we never really thought about – or worried about – the balance. That’s just part of the job. We’ve had to work through that with every game we’ve ever made. Our primary concern was always the fun factor. Making sure that the game was incredibly fun for both sides. But I am proud of the balance work we’ve done. Just take a look at what happened with Kraken. We were really pleased to see Kraken fall into place this time. During the Big Alpha he was too strong so we made adjustments and the Beta confirmed we were spot on. He had a 52% win ratio.
EVOLVE: And going into the Open Beta last week, people were getting their first taste of Wraith and the tier 3 Hunters. Obviously, that gives you a lot of great feedback for the final game.
CA: We were nervous about how the tier 3 characters would be balanced since they had never gone through a large scale test, but generally everything was good. Wraith was a little too strong, but we have so much data that it was easy to figure out where adjustments needed to be made and we’re confident about the Wraith balance on release.
EVOLVE: Let’s go through some of the things that you’re changing for the final game. Just as an example, walk us through what’s in store for Wraith.
CA: I’m going to back up for a second here. In the Big Alpha, the Kraken had a 70% win ratio. We made a few key adjustments and during the Beta he was at 52%, which we are perfectly happy with. So we know we can make the right changes according to the data we get from these tests.
We introduced the Wraith in the Beta and saw that she needed similar adjustments. This was her first big playtest and she had a 71.1% win ratio. We made adjustments and now expect to launch the game with all three monsters very near the 50% mark. We couldn’t have done this without the communities help!!!
Coming out of the Open Beta, here are our goals:
- Make the Wraith easier to track. Even good Hunters have a hard time keeping tabs on Wraith because she can move so far while cloaked.
- Make the Decoy less spammy. It doesn’t take any skill to keep punching that ability button and let the AI Decoy go to work. We want to increase the “cost” of using it so that people use it more sparingly/strategically.
- Bring Supernova down a notch. It is okay if it’s her primary damage dealer, but it felt a little on the buff side for a while internally and we saw it prove true during the Beta.
- Make Abduction a little easier to land. It’s a really fun ability to use and it was underutilized during the beta.
- Make Warp Blast a threat. This should be a straight forward damage dealer that also has some nice mobility utility.
And here’s what is changing for Wraith:
- Wraith can no longer warp while cloaked. If she does, the cloak wears off and the Decoy vanishes (just like when you melee attack). This means that when she cloaks, she normally won’t get far and it opens the door for skilled players to do smart things like break line of sight before warping away.
- Decoy takes 30% longer to cool down. This immediately makes it 30% less spammy and hopefully results in players saving it for the more opportune moments.
- Supernova damage reduced by 10%. Not a huge change, but it will make a measurable difference.
- Abduction radius increased by .5 meters (now 3.5). This will make it a little more forgiving.
- Warp Blast radius increased by .5 meters (now 8.5). Increasing the radius here has proven a great way to increase the damage output in the past as players are able to hit their targets more often.
EVOLVE: Those are some pretty significant things getting worked into the final game. I guess it’s safe to say that you’re going to be keeping an eye on balance well past launch.
CA: For Turtle Rock, these changes are part of the normal process. We continually make adjustments to the game and have done so for nearly four years. The thing to keep in mind is that these tuning changes are incredibly simple to make. Ninety percent of the time the change involves opening a file, changing a number value and saving it, so don’t panic if you see something here you don’t like! We can always go back if something doesn’t work out.
And, yes, we’ll revisit everything again shortly after release.