I don’t know much about the Gundam franchise beyond a few memories of the older shows when they aired on Toonami back in the day. Young Zack liked the big mech battles. And in 2022, I still like big mechs. I also like team-based shooters. So lucky me, Gundam Evolution mashes together the famous mechs from the Gundam franchise with gameplay very similar to Blizzard’s popular hero shooter, Overwatch. The end result is a lot of fun, but also a bit unbalanced.
Released last week on Steam, Gundam Evolution is a new free-to-play first-person shooter set in the popular anime universe featuring a large selection of iconic mechs from the shows. Each of these mechs has its own weapons, abilities, and supers. These powerful super attacks are unlocked during the match as you kill enemies and complete objectives. If this sounds a lot like Overwatch, wait until you see the in-game HUD and visuals. But hey, if you’re gonna copy another game, Overwatch ain’t a bad choice. And Gundam Evolution is more than just an anime reskin of Blizzard’s team shooter.
One of the biggest differences is that Gundam Evolution features a “Down But Not Out” system ala Gears of War or Battlefield. So when you go down, you can request for someone to revive you, and anybody on your team can bring you back to life. However, anyone on the other team can (and likely will) blast you open with a laser rifle and force you to respawn. This wrinkle makes large team fights feel different than in Overwatch, as a single player running away and looping back around to revive a few people real fast can turn a successful rush into a horrible failure.
While the revival system does change things up a bit, anyone who has played a lot of Overwatch will likely feel comfortable hopping into this Evolution. Many of the controls and even the in-game UI feel directly ripped out of Overwatch. What is missing, though, is Overwatch’s balance and polish.
Gundam Evolution isn’t broken or anything. In my few hours with the game, it ran fine and I was able to find matches quickly with little to no lag. But matchmaking isn’t very balanced. Nearly every match I played was a complete blowout. Either our team would stomp the other team in minutes, or the opposite would happen. And this would lead to players getting frustrated and leaving, making things worse. It’s a shame because the few matches I played with balanced teams were really fun. There’s a snappiness to the combat in Evolution that I enjoy a lot. You both feel like a big, powerful mech but also feel fast and precise. It’s nice. But it’s hard to enjoy that when the game keeps tossing me and others into one-sided slaughter-fests.
If some of the matchmaking issues can be solved and some of the more powerful mechs nerfed a tad to stop them from controlling matches as much, Gundam Evolution could end up being something special. As someone with basically zero interest in or knowledge of the franchise, I still had a blast playing Evolution. And I imagine megafans of the series will enjoy this new shooter just as much as I did if not more, thanks to their history with Gundam. But until things are a bit more balanced and consistently fun, it’s tough to recommend folks check out this Evolution unless they don’t mind some mild frustration and awful matches.
Gundam Evolution is out now on Steam. It’s planned to release later this year on consoles.