It was not so long ago that the Gundam fandom were correcting the G: Universe timeline using cute chibi-like Mobile Suits in SD Gundam Battle Alliance, but now there’s another way to get their mech battling fix. That’s right, Bandai Namco’s free-to-play team-based shooter Gundam Evolution has arrived on console to deliver some strategic PvP action.
Should Gundam fans be rushing to give Gundam Evolution a whirl, or is it just a shallow, microtransaction filled cash grab?
Gundam Evolution is a free-to-play strategic shooter in which you can pilot units from the Gundam Universe. Every tool in your arsenal is explained via a fairly decent tutorial to ease you in from the off. It includes pulling off evasive movements, using the main weapon, unleashing skills and activating the often devastating G-Maneuver. Nothing can really prepare you for a real battle, but at least you’ll be familiar with the controls and what you’re going to be doing henceforth.
Beyond the solo tutorial section, it’s a purely team-based affair, where you’ll be partaking in 6v6 matches through either the casual or ranked matchmaking. Casual is going to be the mainstay for newcomers as the Ranked offerings are held back until a player is level 20 – a good idea to prepare them for the more competitive encounters. The Ranked matches enable you to be placed in ranks and tiers according to your ability, similar to Rocket League’s system, to allow teams to be better balanced than the often lob-sided Casual matchups.
Regardless of the matchmaking mode though, you’ll be randomly thrown into one of three game types: Destruction, Domination, and Point Capture. In Destruction, teams have to take it in turns to attack and defend over two rounds, with the attackers aiming to arm and detonate Megacharges while the defenders try to prevent it happening. Point Capture also features multiple rounds to allow each team the opportunity to capture or defend a specific area on the map. Meanwhile, Domination has three areas to control, but only one is active at any particular moment and changes to another regularly. Whoever holds them the longest, wins.
Personally, I think a Team Deathmatch or Kill the Leader style mode wouldn’t go amiss here, otherwise the concepts present do fit well. As you can tell, everything in Gundam Evolution is very much objective-based with a keen emphasis on teamwork required to get the job done, which most teammates seem to be on board with. It’s all very enjoyable due to the fast-pace in which the action plays out and the way a match can be quite unpredictable until the last moments. Swift respawning with the option to switch Mobile Suits upon death is also a real positive; especially given the selection that has been made available.
There are twelve free units ready to use, ranging from the Zaku II (Ranged) and the Pale Rider, to the Gundam Barbatos and the Asshimar. Indeed, you’re going to be in full control of all kinds of memorable Mobile Suits, even if you don’t splash the cash. A further six units are accessible through microtransactions, but truthfully you won’t ever feel pressured to acquire them unless you’re just a big fan of them.
You see, those accessible for free will fulfil your battling needs whether you prefer close-quarters combat or picking off opponents from a distance. Different Mobile Suits are easier to master than others too, with the Guntank being an excellent entry-level unit due to locking on mechanics, fast repairs and higher than normal health bar total. It’s great to try them all though, witnessing each of the super cool G-Maneuvers. Even the rookie magnet Guntank has an epic G-Maneuver, which lets you fly a detachable unit towards the enemies that can be detonated at will.
The maps, which are designed with specific game types in mind, are an essential piece of the overall package too. That’s because of the layouts providing verticality alongside the tight spaces and wide-open sections where vulnerability is a given. It feels like there are multiple points of entry to the objective locations, which means neither team has an unfair advantage. The only slight downside is how industrial and bland the maps are, with none standing out from a visual aspect.
Longevity is the main worry however, especially with so few match types and their similarities. Even factoring in the Season Pass, which provides various free customisation items, currency for skins, emblems, and such, I don’t think it’s enough to keep anyone hooked long-term. There’s a greater threat to Gundam Evolution though, and that’s a waning player base.
Since launch, it’s become tougher and tougher to find a game via matchmaking. Outside of peak times, you’re looking at lengthy waits and almost certain failure to get in a match. Should you be lucky during the busiest periods, expect to face off against the same people for following encounters within a session – showing just how few players remain.
It’s safe to say, Gundam Evolution is an FPS worthy of attention from anyone interested in mech battles, let alone fans of the franchise. The selection of Mobile Suits on hand is great, enabling excellent choice for the fast-paced but strategic action ahead. While the match types are tactically sound, a few additional ones wouldn’t go amiss. Whether there’s much longevity in this free-to-play offering as a whole is up for debate however.
Still, you can help make up the numbers and, for free, there’s a lot of fun to be had in Gundam Evolution.
Gundam Evolution is available on the Xbox Store
- Fast-paced mech battling
- Strategic match types are well suited
- Excellent range of free Mobile Suits
- Needs more match types
- Waning player base is concerning
- Massive thanks for the free copy of the game go to - Free-to-play
- Formats - Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, PS5, PS4, PC
- Version Reviewed - Xbox Series X
- Release date - 1st December 2022
- Launch price from - £Free