Evolution is the digital version of the popular strategy card game of the same name. Developed and published by North Star Digital Studios, Evolution challenges players with adapting their species to an ever-changing food supply and the pressures of surrounding species. As a strategy game dedicated to adapting to an ever-changing ecosystem, the game’s first expansion comes in the form of Evolution: Climate.
As the name implies, “Climate” adds one more aspect of survival for players to worry about, the climate. The expansion does not add much to the game in the way of new standalone content but instead adds a new layer of complexity to online matches or offline games against AI opponents. The expansion also updates the AI across the game, making them play more intelligently in standard Evolution games and ones with “Climate” enabled.
Most of the new content in “Climate” revolves around the new Climate Track mechanic. A quick tutorial with Professor Darwin gets players caught up on how it works, and that is really all that “Climate” offers in the way of explanation. From there, players are on their own to play matches with the expansion enabled and figure it out independently.
However, this works rather well because of how naturally the Climate Track fits into the standard Evolution formula. The Climate Track is active during matches and keeps track of the watering hole’s climate during a match. The climate starts at the neutral Temperate rating but can swing four levels down to Ice Age or four levels up to Scorching. The Climate Tracking swinging too far in either direction removes up to 15 food from the watering hole and will start lowering the population of species within a widening range of body sizes.
The Climate Tracker can also contain natural disasters that are randomly assigned along its track. These can range from meteor strikes or heat waves to wildfires and a full ice age. Each one has a punishing effect for players to try and plan for. The Climate Tracker is moved in either direction by the cards that each player submits to fill up the watering hole. Cards can now have certain values, such as two cold or one heat, and when the cards are all revealed, the Climate Tracker moves accordingly.
To help species survive, “Climate” also includes various new cards that counteract some of the Climate Tracker’s adverse effects. One card, Hibernation, prevents 1 Population loss from cold while also preventing 2 Population loss due to starvation. Another card, Cooling Frills, prevents 3 Population loss from heat while also increasing a species’ Body Size by 2 when defending from an attack. There are not many cards added to the mix in “Climate,” but the added cards all serve a very definitive purpose that either play into new strategies built around the Climate Tracker or help familiar strategies adapt to the new mechanic.
The new cards are very much needed, as the Climate Tracker proves to be a very influential new mechanic to Evolution games. Once players get used to its influences, it becomes a valuable tool if they get the right cards. For example, natural disasters or more extreme climate levels can easily turn the tide of a game and help a losing species climb to the top of the food chain or help a leading species solidify its position.
The utility of the Climate Tracker in matches is really the biggest benefit of picking up “Climate.” Evolution games without the expansion could be very punishing, with one mistake making it difficult for a player to recover and catch up to their opponents. “Climate” helps fix this for players who can take full advantage of its new mechanic. However, it can also help more advanced players decimate players who do not know how to manipulate or prepare for the Climate Tracker. Overall, it is nice that the Climate Tracker gives these benefits to the players with the skill to utilize it rather than giving them purely by random chance.
However, the weakest aspect of “Climate” is that there is little else to the expansion. Playing with the Climate Tracker feels like a natural extension of the Evolution experience. Still, it cannot be used in the base game’s campaign and only has anything to offer players interested in either playing a lot of online matches or matches against AI components. It would have been nice if it had some more to it, such as its own smaller campaign or more customization options to unlock or earn. However, for players who enjoy playing Evolution repeatedly and just want a new mechanic to throw into the mix, Climate is an easy recommendation for its reasonable price point.
Evolution‘s “Climate” expansion releases on PC and Switch on July 14.
- Rating - 7/107/10
Playing with the Climate Tracker feels like a natural extension of the Evolution experience, but it cannot be used in the base game’s campaign and only has anything to offer players that are interested in either playing a lot of online matches or matches against AI components. However, for players who enjoy playing Evolution repeatedly and just want a new mechanic to throw into the mix, Climate is an easy recommendation for its reasonable price point.