Calling all PC gamers! Are you sick and tired of having to juggle a handful of different programs that accompany your gaming sessions? You know what I’m talking about: voice chat programs like Mumble, screencasters like Fraps, live streaming tools like OBS, and gaming VPNs like Tunngle. What if there was one program that handled ALL of the above?
It’s called Evolve and every PC gamer needs to check it out. Yes, it’s free.
Many thanks go out to one of our readers, Hekutoru, who brought Evolve to my attention several months ago. In that time, Evolve really has developed into a clean and polished gaming client with tons of features that just work. It isn’t flawless, of course, but it’s pretty darn close if you ask me. Here’s what you can expect.
I was skeptical at first.
There are too many gaming clients out there that claim to “revolutionize” the gaming experience and they claim that “you won’t be able to live without” said clients. Many all-in-one suites tend to do a poor job of implementing each individual feature, resulting in a whole that’s less than the sum of its parts. Most of the time, gaming clients are just a waste of resources.
Evolve is different. It has a wonderful interface that’s simple, intuitive, and strikes the perfect balance between minimal and pleasing to the eye. Everything makes sense in the way it’s been designed, and it’s curious that it’s taken this long for an all-in-one gaming solution to be of such high quality.
The only downside is that Evolve can be resource intensive (currently using 140MB of RAM for me) but if you’re a PC gamer that needs Evolve, there’s a good chance your computer is powerful enough to handle it. But if you can’t spare that much memory, Evolve may not be for you.
Evolve’s list of core features is nothing out of the ordinary. These are features that any PC gamer will find useful regardless of which game is being played.
- Friend List: Evolve is built on the fundamentals of social gaming. After all, that’s the point of being online, right? There isn’t much to say here since friend lists aren’t new by any stretch of the imagination. Just know that Evolve has one.
- Game Status: Similar to Steam, Evolve will automatically update your status to show which game you’re currently playing. The client supports over 3,400 games at the moment.
- Groups (chatrooms): Groups are persistent text chatrooms with Admins and Moderators. They can be public or private and they provide a great central hub in which gaming communities can congregate.
- Parties (VPN and voice chat): Parties are the advanced form of Groups. On top of the text chatroom, Parties immediately connect all members on a VPN and allow members to communicate using voice chat. Parties persist over multiple sessions, but members can only be in one party at a time.
- Notifications: Like Steam, Evolve shows you when friends sign on or off, when they join games, when IMs are sent or received, when someone begins a new broadcast, etc. If you don’t like notifications, you can disable them.
So far, Evolve probably doesn’t sound much better than most social gaming platforms. Here are the advanced features that really put Evolve on a higher tier than most other programs.
- Game Finder: For multiplayer games, Evolve provides a way for you to find other people who are interested in playing the same game as you. For example, you can set yourself as “Looking For Game” for Minecraft and Evolve will pair you with others who also want to play Minecraft. Over 1,000 games are supported.
- In-Game Overlay: When you’re in a game, you can press the Windows key to bring up an overlay screen that lets you use Evolve without having to minimize the game. This saves time, allowing you to focus on the game at hand.
- Built-In Browser: With the Evolve browser, you don’t have to minimize your game to access the web. Now you can read guides and walkthroughs, browse community forums, or share links with your friends without having to pause your game.
- Screen Capture: Evolve has built-in support for taking screen captures, both in image and video formats.
- Livestreams: Evolve can link directly to your TwitchTV account if you want to broadcast your game for others to watch. The live streamer is flexible in terms of broadcast settings (FPS, CPU, bitrate, etc.) and it can mix with your microphone and webcam.
Evolve’s name is fitting. It took all of the different components that PC gamers love (voice chat, VPN, socialization, matchmaking, etc.) and combined them into one neat little package that works right out of the box. It’s so good that I daresay it’s worth paying for – but it’s free. If you haven’t checked it out yet, you’re missing out.