Tribes: Ascend review — free online fps

Tribes: Ascend is the lat­est offer­ing from Hi-​​Rez stu­dios, the game is still in beta at time of writ­ing – so any­thing might change; and this is really more of a pre­view than a review.  Tribes: Ascend is a much-​​anticipated revival of the Tribes fran­chise.  The game will be free to play, Hi-​​Rez Stu­dios will be mak­ing their money on the game with micro-​​transactions; as we’ve come to expect from free to play games these days.  Cur­rently you start with only two playable classes – both are medium armor.  The Sol­dier sports a basic, but com­pe­tent load­out; an energy pack, grenades, spin­fu­sor (Tribes’ sig­na­ture weapon), and a pis­tol.  The other playable class, the ranger, starts with an equally ver­sa­tile load­out; the same energy pack, very sim­i­lar grenades, a “thumper” (sin­gle shot grenade launcher, grenades are timed but also explode on con­tact), and an Assault Rifle.

Tribes vet­er­ans will be quick to point out the Assault Rifle, and the Pis­tol are out of place in the Tribes uni­verse.  While no Tribes games have had any­thing sim­i­lar in the past, in this reviewer’s opin­ion they do not detract from the game.  The ranger’s thumper has a lim­ited range due to the timed explo­sive charge; so he really needs the assault rifle as his long-​​range option.  The soldier’s pis­tol is a very weak, short-​​range weapon, it’s only really use­ful for fin­ish­ing oppo­nents off who prove too squir­relly for that last spin­fu­sor disc.  There are quite a few bullet-​​type weapons in the game, but sim­i­lar to the old Tribes chain­gun almost all of them fire very fast mov­ing pro­jec­tiles, rather than the hit-​​scan weapons most gamers are used to.  The result is that, in typ­i­cal Tribes fash­ion, you need to lead your tar­get if you intend to hit him.  There are a cou­ple excep­tions to this.  The pis­tol, sniper rifle, and the shotgun-​​type weapons.  It’s a non-​​issue for those weapons though, the pis­tol and the shot­guns are really only use­ful at short range, and the sniper-​​rifle was always like that in Tribes/wouldn’t be very use­ful if it wasn’t.

Older Tribes games had very few rules about what weapons could be equipped.  With a few excep­tions – such as the mis­sile launcher and fusion mor­tar – you could equip any weapon on any type of armor in any com­bi­na­tion.  Medium and larger armors could swap out base tur­rets, and place deploy­ables.  This sys­tem is very appeal­ing to the player because of the flex­i­bil­ity it offers, but in real­ity a few “best” load­outs become most com­mon.  Tribes: Ascend has cho­sen to use classes instead of the ear­lier flex­i­ble load­out sys­tem.  This is part of their mon­e­ti­za­tion strat­egy as you have to pur­chase most classes either with tokens earned through game­play, or gold pur­chased with real money – but it also serves as a bal­anc­ing sys­tem, some com­bi­na­tions of weapons might be too pow­er­ful, and as such become com­mon­place.  The obvi­ous con­cern here is “pay2win”, but I am (very) happy to report that it doesn’t seem to be an issue, as the two classes you start off with can hold their own quite well against any other class.

There are a few classes that have very unique abil­i­ties though, such as becom­ing invis­i­ble with a cloak­ing pack, snip­ing, mis­sile launch­ers (the best anti-​​vehicle weaponry).  So it’s more pay to be more ver­sa­tile.  There are two classes that can be earned through tokens very quickly, as they have a deeply dis­counted price, the pathfinder, which has light armor (reduced health, increased speed), a light spin­fu­sor (slightly less dam­age than the soldier’s), and a shot­gun (use­ful for fin­ish­ing off oppo­nents), and a spe­cial type of grenade tha­t­ex­plodes on con­tact but does less dam­age, has more knock­back and the abil­ity to instantly remove the flag (in cap­ture the flag and rab­bit game modes) from the hands of the enemy – mak­ing the pathfinder ideal for a role known as flag chasing.

The Jug­ger­naut is the sec­ond deeply-​​discounted class, the Jug­ger­naut spe­cial­izes in long-​​range artillery with his mor­tar, wears heavy armor (reduced speed, increased health), has a slightly beefed up grenade, regen pack (faster health regen), and a higher dam­age spin­fu­sor.  The Juggernaut’s weapons and skills are some­what bal­anced for attack and defense, but his low speed makes him less desir­able for attack.  This means that while you only start with medium armor, you should have light and heavy armor avail­able to you very quickly.


Tribes: Ascend has the core ele­ments of Tribes in tact, the var­i­ous armors, spin­fu­sor, mor­tars, and the sig­na­ture vehi­cles (Shrike, and Grav-​​Cycle) are all present.  Over­all, despite some jar­ring inclu­sions (mul­ti­ple bul­let weapons), the game is faith­ful to the Tribes fran­chise, requir­ing play­ers to learn to lead a tar­get based not only on the target’s move­ment, but their own as well.  All of the skills acquired in pre­vi­ous titles are instantly trans­ferrable here.  There are some nag­ging bugs (mostly ter­rain glitches) that should be worked out soon.  The game can eas­ily com­pete in the free online FPS genre, and should be on your watch list for games to play.  You can get into the beta now by lik­ing Hi-​​Rez Stu­dios’ face­book page.

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One thought on “Tribes: Ascend review — free online fps

  1. Since time of writ­ing the game has been altered. You now start with three classes, Sol­dier (which is now more sim­i­lar to the ranger, but you can unlock soldier’s old weapons), pathfinder, and juggernaut.

    So you now start with all three armor classes, giv­ing newer play­ers a much wider array of choices they can make, and alle­vi­at­ing the very small pay to win bias men­tioned in the review. I say it was very small because every­thing can still be unlocked with expe­ri­ence points (which are free from play­ing), it’s just faster if you pay. The new sys­tem has a lot more to unlock, but in a good way. Again, even a new player can eas­ily com­pete with a player who’s unlocked every­thing in the game, every­thing is very well designed, and the truly game­play alter­ing aspects such as armor and weapon upgrades have very low exp costs. (You can fully upgrade at least one of the classes you start with on the first day)

    Also worth not­ing that all of the class costs have been sharply reduced, in favor of unlock­able weapons.

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