If you're planning on grabbing Evolve when it launches tomorrow, you'll pretty much be getting a multiplayer experience similar in concept to Left 4 Dead where you can take on one of three monsters as one of 12 hunters (or vice versa). But it's a bit more complicated than that.

Single Versus Multiplayer

Evolve is mostly a multiplayer experience. AI enemies and companions exist, but only if there aren't enough human players to fill their roles. But for those more solitary players, you can actually play those same multiplayer maps and modes in a single-player experience, with no one to call a friend IRL.

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When you load up Evolve's menu screen, you'll notice an option for 'Multiplayer.' You can play simple rounds of Skirmish, which are one-round Hunt-the-monster challenges on cycling maps. Or you can play Evacuation mode, which stands in as the campaign, taking you through 5 missions on different modes where the environment of each new map is affected by the wins and losses of each previous round. You can choose to play PvP—humans against a human-controlled monster—or co-op—humans against an AI-controlled monster.

But you can play most of these experiences in Solo play, too. There's Quick Play, which is essentially Skirmish with either 3 AI hunters at your side against one AI monster or you against four AI hunters. And then there's Evacuation, which lets you play through a combination of 5 missions, under different modes, but your opposing team or teammates, should you choose to be a hunter, are all AI players.

Launch Versus Pre-Purchase Versus DLC

As interested gamers have learned over the last the last month, though, DLC seems to be a big contributing factor to the entire scope of the game. What I've so far played through, and shared my experiences on, is the base $60 game: four hunter classes, three options per class, and three monster options. The first tier of each class—including the monster—is unlocked and ready to play but, for myself and for all other players who have not 'pre-purchased' the game, I have had to unlock the other tiers of each class by playing through. I happen to have the 'Digital Deluxe Edition,' which means that, once spring hits, I'll have access to a set of four new hunters and I currently, at launch, have access to three exclusive monster skins, all for free. Now, if I pre-purchased the Digital Deluxe Edition, which I did not, I'd also get a new monster type—the Behemoth—and another skin for the Goliath, also in the spring.

Confused yet? Well, I hope not, because there's more to this.

Here are your options as a potential Evolve player. You can…

  1. Buy the $60 game, on the day it launches, for access to 12 hunters and three monsters.
  2. Buy the $80 Digital Deluxe Edition, on the day the game launches, for access to 12 hunters, three monsters, three exclusive monster skins, and four extra hunters in the spring. Total of 16 hunters, three monsters, three monster skins.
  3. Buy the $60 game at launch for access to 12 hunters and three monsters and, later in the spring, buy the Hunting Season Pass in the spring for $25 to get four new hunters and three exclusive monster skins for a total of $85. Total of 16 hunters, three monsters, three monster skins.
  4. Buy the $60 game at launch for access to 12 hunters and three monsters and, later in the spring, buy new hunters individually for $7.50 each, up to $30 total for a grand total of $90. Total of 16 hunters, three monsters.
  5. Pre-purchase the $60 game for access to 12 hunters and three monsters—all unlocked instantly instead of through play—and, later in the spring, the fourth Behemoth monster and a Goliath skin. Total of 12 hunters, four monsters and one extra skin.
  6. Pre-purchase the $80 Digital Deluxe Edition for access to 12 hunters, three monsters, four exclusive monster skins, and four extra hunters and one extra monster in the spring. Total of 16 hunters, four monsters, four extra skins.
  7. Buy the $100 PC Monster Race Edition for access to 18 hunters, four monsters, four monster skins. The extra PC content will be available to console players for purchase after 30 days.
  8. Pre-purchase the $100 PC Monster Race Edition for access to 18 hunters, five monsters, four monster skins. The extra PC content will be available to console players for purchase after 30 days.

Phew! That's a lot of buying options to wrap your head around. So far I've been playing with the standard, base game of 12 hunters and three monsters and feel like there's been enough to play while still retaining some variety in the match-ups and giving me room to try different approaches to each round. But this should give you a good idea of what you're buying, and what you'll have access to, based on when and how much you pay.

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To contact the author of this post, write to tina@kotaku.com or find her on Twitter at @tinaamini.