Turtle Rock's 2015 shooter Evolve has received a new and unexpected burst of life, as the game's online servers for peer-to-peer matchmaking have been restored. NME discovered that publisher 2K reinstated peer-to-peer functionality and matchmaking for Evolve: Stage 2, the game's free-to-play version.
While it's common to hear about publishers and developers taking multiplayer games offline, it's certainly rare to hear of one coming back online years after it originally went dark. In this case, Evolve's semi-revival is made even more curious by the fact that the game remains delisted on Steam, even after the servers came back online.
Evolve is an asymmetrical multiplayer game where four players play as hunters fighting against a player-controlled monster on the planet Shear. It received positive reviews when it launched back in 2015 for PS4, Xbox One, and PC, but its player count gradually dwindled. Following its aforementioned transition to free-to-play, 2K shut down the game's dedicated servers in 2018.
Shortly before Evolve's shut down, designer Matt Colville expressed his thoughts about the game's struggles. "We never really solved 4v1, it causes more problems than we ever imagined," admitted Colville. "We didn't really have a team to make a competitive shooter. We had a team to build a world[...]Neither Heroes nor Monsters used any of the same mechanics! Made it very very hard to balance new heroes and monsters."
Following the server shut down in 2018, the game remained functional via Evolve Legacy's peer-to-peer connection. That functionality was lost months ago, and players made that known to 2K. Not only did 2K restore that functionality, it also brought back the online functions for Evolve: Stage 2 in its entirety.
With the servers restored, Evolve's player count on Steam has jumped from 18 on July 20 to 713 players at time of writing. Players of Stage 2 have also reported functioning drop crates, which contain character skins. Drop crate functionality was previously a casualty of the servers shutting down back in 2018.
Though the game's servers have been restored, Evolve: Stage 2 remains delisted on Steam. It's unknown if 2K will relist the store, but regardless the game is picking up traction as it is currently being streamed on Twitch.
In the years since Evolve, Turtle Rock went on to release the online shooter Back 4 Blood in 2021, published by Warner Bros. Interactive. That same year, Turtle Rock was acquired by Tencent, though it still maintains its independence.
Maybe this can evolve into something better
The topic of game preservation has become more common as older games, and their online functionality, have become more phased out over time. Just a day ago, 2K abruptly delisted several of its more recent WWE 2K titles.
In April, PlayStation formed its own preservation team that will ensure its franchises wouldn't be lost to history. PlayStation's recent changes to PlayStation Plus' subscription plans offer its own (albeit limiting) form of preservation by allowing players to play older classic games.
Last year, the US Copyright Office recommended that older software can be granted archival exemption, but not older games, on the basis that game companies may still turn a profit from legacy titles. However, the Office did say it would revisit its ruling on the archiving games during its next ruling in 2024.