When I first heard that an updated version of Tribes was in the works, I was a little skeptical. Hearing that none other than Hi-Rez Studios were undertaking the project didn’t settle me. Firstly, I was terrible at the original Tribes. Granted, I didn’t own the game or a PC with a strong enough internet connection to handle multiplayer games back then. I still knew whether I was playing Tribes at a LAN party hosted by the nearby arcade or at a friends house, it would not end well.
Hi-Rez Studios is best known for Global Agenda, another sci-fi shooter. The game had some promise when I first caught wind of it, and had some merits, but could not hold my interest for longer than a few hours. By the time I got around to playing it for the first time, I was already aware of Firefall being in development, which looks to be everything I’d wanted from Global Agenda.
Despite all that, I’m hear to say my skepticism was completely misplaced. Here are a few reasons why that is, and why you should be excited about Tribes: Ascend.
Utilizing the Unreal Engine, Tribes looks absolutely beautiful even when you’re zipping around at 200 mph. Each map has serious personality and a backdrop to match. Blasting an opponent in mid-air with any gun, and watching their extremities rain from the sky is just something you have to witness for yourself.
I can’t really hold it back any longer. I love the shooter genre with jetpacks! It’s the future, dammit. Why are there so few games outside the historical or contemporary military combat shooters without this feature? I almost feel like it’s a requirement. It’s just plain fun and adds plenty of tension when you’ve blown through your energy supply too quickly as you’re being chased down by the enemy team.
I purposefully kept this separate from number two, even though it’s a big contribution. Skiing in Tribes: Ascend is as simple as holding down the spacebar. Picking up momentum and hauling ass through a map is quite a thrill. What I love even more about this feature is the ability to turn on your own axis as you glide in the direction you were originally traveling in. Skiing adds this extra level of difficulty to combat as a player who’s being chased can continue to travel at high speeds, but fire behind them at the same time.
Yes, this game is satisfying. I’m not talking about the drawn out, manufactured satisfaction from watching your experience bar grow over dozens of matches. This type of fulfillment happens in every match, and it happens often. Hitting another player with a shot is harder than it looks. Bringing them down completely is a whole other story. Shooting with guns that don’t auto aim, continue in an indefinite straight line or kill their target with a single hit is a much different experience than what I’m used to. The learning curve is steep, but there really isn’t any feeling like picking a full throttle flag carrier out of the sky with a well placed Spinfuzer shot. When you try it, you’ll know what I mean.
The Free to Play:
That term is completely true with this game. Tribes: Ascend will not have a monthly subscription or up-front software fee when it launches this year. There will be micro-transactions, but you can play and upgrade any character load-out with just experience earned from playing matches. You can also chosoe to purchase in-game currency from the developers and upgrade your characters that way.
The Proactive Developer:
I think it’s safe to say the free-to-play model has succeeded as an overall experiment. The real plan for Hi-Rez to follow is to update often and be active with the community. So far they’re right on track. Over the time I’ve spent playing in beta, the game has changed (and will continue to) enough that I had to avoid writing a proper preview.
There’s not much left to be said. Tribes: Ascend is fast, furious and fulfilling. The franchise has a passionate and extremely vocal following with high expectations. Hi-Rez has their work cut out of them. From all I’ve seen, they’re on the right track.
I highly suggest you give the game a try for yourself. Head over to Hi-Rez's website to download the beta for free right now.