Hot off the heels of Battleborn's launch was Overwatch, which soon decimated any chance of success for Gearbox's then newest IP. Let's hope history doesn't repeat itself, because Gundam Evolution, which launched in September, will have to contend with the return of the hero shooter juggernaut: Overwatch 2. In truth, it would be a crying shame if Gundam Evolution were to fall under player's radars, since it turns out to be one of the more competent hero shooters to release in the past few years.
Gundam Evolution takes place within the deep, decades-old Gundam franchise from Japan. In this hero shooter, you can pick from a variety of mechanized, robotic suits to fight in battles with differing objectives. Objectives range from capturing points to defending a single spot for as long as you can. You don't even have to be a Gundam fan to enjoy this game's offerings, though you may end up becoming one in the process.
Gundam Evolution Brings Heat to the Hero Shooter Genre
I'm not a Gundam fan either, at least not when I began this game, but I took a quick liking to these slick robots duking it out over control points. It's not hard to get invested in the gameplay, as hero shooters are relatively simple, but have large skill curves. With both casual and competitive matches for players to choose from, the potential for Gundam Evolution is definitely present.
Although roles aren't explicitly stated as "DPS," "tanks," and "support" like in Overwatch, there's a decent variety in what purpose these mech's skills serve. The Gundam Unicorn -- one of the suits you can choose -- has both an active and passive healing ability, for example. The GM, on the other hand, is tankier and uses a shield that can soak up damage, not unlike Reinhardt from Overwatch. Whatever the case may be, each suit stands on their own and you're not at a disadvantage to any other suit -- in theory, at least.
There's definitely a lot of balancing that needs to be done in Gundam Evolution, with certain suits like the Gundam Barbatos and Gundam Exia leading the pack. In the case of the former, the Barbatos is notorious for being able to destroy most suits in the span of a second or two. Their toolkit allows them to stun a player and use a powerful melee bash to end the conflict extremely quickly. They can be defeated quite easily at range, but if you're clustered together with teammates, there's potential for the Barbatos to take out a whole team in mere seconds.
It's hard to lambast the balance in a budding hero shooter too much since it's an inevitable issue. Overwatch and Team Fortress 2 are no strangers to balancing, either. Still, I can't help but think the more difficult-to-obtain suits are way ahead of the pack in terms of power. The Gundam Exia plays a lot like Genji from Overwatch -- it's highly mobile and uses a mix of melee and ranged attacks. The toolkit of this suit feels more robust than options given to players right from the start. The Gundam Unicorn is no stranger to player ire either. We know the Unicorn has outstanding healing capabilities, but on top of this it dishes out a ludicrous amount of damage with its main weapon.
While you start out with a generous amount of suits to begin with, the pace at which you unlock currency to unlock other suits is glacial. It will likely take players over a year to unlock all the locked suits. With more on the way, who knows how long it could take? There are ways to fast-track your way to these suits, but most players will obtain currency through daily and weekly challenges. These challenges are limited, so you can only obtain so much currency per day and some challenges require a certain suit to complete. It's not fun being forced to play a suit you don't like. On top of that, you do not obtain currency per match, which makes defeats even more demoralizing, and wins just about meaningless.
While there are plenty of underlying issues with progression in Gundam Evolution, it's still a fun game with or without the slow process of accumulating new suits to play. I do prefer some suits over others, but none are boring to play. The gunplay is punchy and weapons and abilities feel powerful, whether you're using the Pale Rider's grenade throw or turning into some jet with the Methuss like you're some sort of transformer. Besides guns, some units are strictly melee, although these suits are few and far between compared to those with guns.
Like other hero shooters, Gundam Evolution has different game modes. Right now, the maps -- though well-done and distinguishable from one another -- leave a lot to be desired, and the same can be said for modes. The three game modes simply involve some sort of point capture. It's a staple of the genre, sure, but Gundam Evolution has so much more potential with other objectives like escorting payloads or even team death matches. Gundam Evolution will definitely receive more content in the future, but it's going to live or die by how steady the stream of content is; in fact, if I were Bandai Namco, I would prioritize more maps and modes over suits.
Gundam Evolution | Final Thoughts
Gundam Evolution is not a game without flaws, but what hero shooter isn't? Growing pains are sure to affect the longevity of this game's lifespan, but I'm a proponent of it receiving more content. It's best to approach Gundam Evolution in short bursts, playing a match or two every day so you're not soon exhausted by the lack of content or slow progression. The rewards for Gundam Evolution's Season Pass are nothing crazy and cosmetic in nature but add just a little bit more incentive for players looking to binge. If Bandai Namco listens to fan feedback and adds more ways to progress and doesn't introduce any game-breaking suits, Gundam Evolution may very well stand on its own in the hero shooter genre. If anything, we know Gundam fans are a dedicated bunch, and I can now count myself among their ranks.
TechRaptor reviewed Gundam Evolution on PC via Steam and received premium currency from the publisher. It is available for free on PC, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, PlayStation 4, and PlayStation 5.
- Simple and Rock Solid Gameplay
- Decent Variety in Suits' Abilities
- Great Fun in Short Bursts
- Very Slow Progression
- Balance Issues for Various Suits
- Map and Mode Variety is Sparse