Evolve's marketing has always been focused on the Xbox One, and publisher 2K Games' arrangement with Microsoft got another boost today with the announcement of key exclusives for digital pre-purchase customers on the platform.
2K announced Evolve's open beta last month and said that the recently revealed Wraith monster (screenshot above) wouldn't be playable during it on any platform. Today, 2K said that Wraith will be playable in the beta for Xbox One owners who pre-purchase Evolve from the Xbox Games Store before or during the open beta. Those individuals will get "exclusive instant access" to Wraith and the third tier of hunters (Parnell, Abe, Caira and Cabot). That applies for the duration of the Xbox One beta, which runs Jan. 15-19, and for the final game.
The first two tiers of hunters and the first two monsters, Goliath and Kraken, will be playable in the open beta for everyone. Evolve's progression system places different characters into tiers for each class. During the final game, players have to unlock characters by reaching a certain level of "mastery" with the weapons from the previous tier's character — for each of the four hunter classes and the monsters. (Only Goliath and the four first-tier hunters are available at the start.)
Many Polygon staffers have played Evolve in its various alpha and beta forms, and we estimate that unlocking the third tier of characters could take 10-15 hours or more. That means that people who pre-order Evolve on Xbox One are saving themselves a whole lot of grinding through the first and second tiers of characters.
As previously announced, pre-order customers on all platforms will receive the Monster Expansion Pack, which will add a fourth playable monster to Evolve after launch, and the Savage Goliath skin. 2K said today that the Monster Expansion Pack will cost $14.99 if purchased separately.
Evolve's open beta will also be available on PlayStation 4 and Windows PC in some form. The game itself launches Feb. 10. For more on Evolve, check out the game's opening cinematic below.
Correction: A 2K Games representative reached out to Polygon to clarify that the offer regarding Wraith and the third tier of hunters applies only to Xbox One owners who pre-purchase a digital version of Evolve, not to retail pre-orders.
"Pre-purchasing" refers to pre-ordering games from Microsoft's Xbox Games Store, which charges customers at the time of placing the order. (Pre-purchase customers can get a refund if they cancel their order prior to the release of the game.) 2K Games said today that it expects to release details soon regarding the availability of a pre-purchase for Evolve. We've edited the article to reflect this.