How to play Evolve in 2023: install Stage 2 and Legacy

Evolve goliath chases down hunters as they play evolve
(Image credit: 2K Games)

You can once again play Evolve, a game that's seen an unlikely revival after recently being given peer-to-peer-hosted servers once again last year. The minor resurgence for the 2016 asymmetric shooter is being spearheaded by an enthusiastic community, who've been keen to bring the game back with a bang. Now, you can get in on the fun, too.

The sci-fi shooter being back from the dead is a fascinating bolt from the blue that few would've had on their bingo cards last year, but it’s awesome to see regardless. Who knows, it may well be fondly remembered as the next Left 4 Dead after all.

If you want to be a part of the movement, getting into Evolve is an admittedly time consuming endeavor. That is, if you can access it at all. While it’s playable, the title is certainly not in a state of being ‘supported’ right now. Expect some jankiness and speedbumps as you ease yourself into it. If you're used to the modern controls and system support of the best PC games, you will be disappointed.

We’ve got you sorted though. There are some hoops to jump through, but if you’ve got your heart set on grabbing a copy, the process isn’t too difficult. However, how do you know if you even can play? And how do you play the original version, Legacy Evolve? Let’s get down to business. 

How to play Evolve

How to play Evolve: Installing the game

Evolve monster

(Image credit: 2K Games)

To answer 'can you play Evolve?', you have to answer 'did you play Evolve previously?'

On Steam, you should be able to check pretty quickly. If you see Evolve Stage 2 in your library, you simply have to install the game. The listing will be available to you if you played Evolve, either in its 2016 version or in the free-to-play Stage 2 iteration of the game.

However, if you missed the game when it was playable, and don’t see the listing, you might be out of luck, at least through traditional means. There are ways around this, but most we wouldn’t endorse. 

One way is to use gray market PC sellers that are selling old keys, however, the interest has spiked making the prices quite high and third-party sellers are notoriously unreliable. If you are going to go this route, make sure to do your research. 

There's also a Steam user who has written a guide about adding the Legacy version of the game to your library, but it is both complicated and involves confusing Steam and the Evolve client in dubious ways. The option we do endorse is, simply, patience. If the revival effort continues to do well, 2K Games may relist on Steam so new players can jump in.

How to play Evolve: Playing on console

Evolve monster

(Image credit: 2K Games)

Yes, you can play Evolve on PS4 and Xbox One consoles - that’s not changed. The game has actually been playable all these years with peer-to-peer matchmaking, but again, you'll need to either have the game in your library or have a physical disc. 

Finding a second-hand disk shouldn’t be too difficult online, so a go at it via sites such as eBay or Amazon. This is likely the most consistent way to gain access to the game now if you don’t have access to it on a Steam, PlayStation, or Xbox library. 

How to play Evolve: Playing Legacy Evolve

Older man with cowboy hat and hunting gear on holding his finger to his lips, next to burly bearded man with tattoo on his arm

(Image credit: Turtle Rock Studios)

So there are two versions of Evolve that are currently playable.  Stage 2 is the default, but this has different balancing that was implemented after the game went free-to-play. 

However, if you have Evolve Stage 2 on Steam, you can play the game in its original form. Just be aware that it plays a little less forgiving and has more complicated control systems, if you dare.

To access it, follow these steps:

  • Go to the Evolve Stage 2 listing on Steam and right-click it
  • Scroll down to Properties and click on the Betas tab on the left-hand list
  • In the drop-down menu, click Select the beta you would like to opt into 
  • From here, select legacyevolve - The Orginal Evolve Product
  • Now, simply install the game!

Word of warning: Legacy’s servers seem even more unstable than Stage 2, and if you connect to a player with a bad connection, it could be a rough experience. There are also generally fewer players online, so matches take a little bit longer to find matches.

Patrick Dane
Gaming Guides Editor

Patrick Dane is TechRadar Gaming's Guides Editor. With nearly a decade in the games press, he's been a consistent voice in the industry. He's written for a plethora of major publications and travelled the world doing it. He also has a deep passion for games as a service and their potential to tell evolving stories. To wit, he has over 2000 hours in Destiny 2, over 1000 in Overwatch and is now deeply into Valorant. 

With contributions from