Tribes’ Update Count Continues To Ascend With Tartarus

By Nathan Grayson on May 9th, 2012 at 7:30 pm.

There were deer here once. But now, well... they're our intergalactic overlords, forcing us to wage constant and meaningless wars against each other for their own personal amusement.

Hmmm. Hrrrm. Ahhhh. Mmhmm. Huh? Oh, didn’t notice you there. I was busy pondering Tribes Ascend’s new Tartarus update, you see – because it’s caused my brain to pulsate and fire lightning down my spine, as is its custom. First, though, let’s get the basics out of the way: for zero of your pitiful gravity-obeying, jetpack-less dollars, you now have access to two new maps: the hilly, heavily forested Tartarus for CTF and the flatter, more enclosed Hinterlands for arena. You can also customize up to four loadouts that you can switch between on respawn mid-match.

Quick switch, meanwhile, allows you to map classes and loadouts to your keyboard’s number pad, so choosing what you’ll spawn as is literally as easy as 1, 2, 3 – unless you’re prone to mapping things in incredibly arbitrary fashions and then immediately forgetting, like me. Oh, and there’s a trailer. I’ve mapped it to the “read the rest of this entry” link… I think. Or maybe I put it in a single pixel on the image. Or, wait. Does RPS have any sacrificial podiums that summon spectral wolves? Actually, that one sounds most likely, now that I think about it.

So then, on to the interesting bit. The update also introduces personalized deals on store items. Here’s how it works:

“Users will now be presented with a customized DEAL OF THE DAY. This is a deal tailored to the individual and presents special pricing on an item that the user does not already own. The timer for the deal of the day resets at the same time as the timer for the First Win of the Day.”

The DEAL OF THE DAY – which I will refer to as Deal of the Day, because I cherish my inside voice – is fascinating on a number of levels. For one, I love that Hi-Rez seems so willing to experiment with its business model. F2P in general still has a Wild West quality to it; no one’s pinned down a single one-size-fits-all method for surefire success.

For now, though, deals seem to only extend to gold – not XP. Players have complained about the glacial pace at which unlocks roll in for free players, so occasionally dropping XP costs could put a few morale-boosting sprints in your 40-year trudge through a seemingly endless desert of stuff you can’t have.

And, of course, the fact that it singles out items you don’t already own is huge. If I’m, say, leveling a soldier and dying to finally get my hands on a simple spinfusor, I imagine even a fairly minor price drop would be enough to push me over the edge. In that respect, it’s sort of diabolical. If Hi-Rez opts to keep these deals restricted to gold, I could see plenty of free-playing purists begin to gradually slip toward the spendier end of the spectrum because of these things. Time, the spectral wolf has helpfully pointed out, will tell. And I trust his advice. He has a kind face.

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53 Comments »

  1. Spider Jerusalem says:

    this game is a perfect example of why f2p makes me sad sometimes.

    i really like it, and i want to play all the classes, etc., but the extensive gating on unlocks is discouraging, to say the least.

    • Lemming says:

      Well what else would be the point in gaining XP? You need something to spend it on. Otherwise it’s an effective reset for every match.

      • Spider Jerusalem says:

        i’d be fine with that. give everyone all the toys and all the available routes of strategy.

        i’d much rather pay the ~$30 or so for that game than grind for ages to get the weapons i want.

        • yourgrandma says:

          This is one of the few games i didn’t mind having to unlock things… mainly because i didn’t have to pay a dime for it. For example bf3 is $60 and you still have to unlock everything.

        • innociv says:

          Then.. Pay the $30?
          For $30 you can unlock all the classes, a few weapons. And with the +300% xp for a month, you should be able to unlock most other weapons.

          I spent $30, only play it now and then, and I have $23 worth of gold left over, haven’t used my 30day XP boost(waiting for a time where I can actually play 15+ hours a week to get the most of it), and have every class unlocked and all the weapons I want except for one.

          Their prices are reasonable on 90% of items. Only the skins and a few of weapons are too expensive.

        • TotalBiscuit says:

          But you won’t buy it. You’ll just play TF2 instead. How do you propose selling a multiplayer shooter without the word Battlefield or Call of Duty in it when TF2 is sitting there being it’s monolithic loss-leading (at least it was until it went f2p) self over on Steam? Can you name one even moderately successful multiplayer competitive shooter released on PC in the past few years that cost money up-front? I can’t. Not one. I can name a great many that fell flat on their face though. It has to be f2p otherwise nobody will actually play it and the game will fail due to having too small a playerbase.

          • Bungle says:

            You are wrong, Mr. Biscuit, at least about TF2. Valve said TF2 had always made a profit, even when it was two years old and hadn’t gone F2P yet.

            Edit: I agree with everything else you said though. And it makes me sad. I’m an old FPS gamer who refuses to play CoD or Battlefield anymore due to their corporate evilness.

          • DK says:

            Can you name a PC (and actually made for PC, not multiplatform) multiplayer shooter in recent times at all though? Of course stuff like Section 8 and that Batman Imposters game failed horribly – they diluted the concept of skill based multiplayer FPS down till there was nothing left in order to be playable with gamepads.

            Tribes Ascend on the other hand, despite the devs best attempts at screwing it up (it took ages to get them to switch away from hitscan weaponry everywhere), is a throwback to better times. And would do very well indeed if it wasn’t F2P.

    • Vagrant says:

      If you want to unlock the classes, they are very obtainable with XP; I gained enough XP in a week of playing. Alternately, you can buy them all for less than the price of a PC game. That’s an inefficient use of GP though.

      But, It’s the alternate weapons where they get you. 720 GP / 100,000 XP for the Bolt Launcher? SIGH.

      • Spider Jerusalem says:

        yeah, the weapons are covered in the “etc.” it’s a bit ridiculous.

        for example, i want to play the juggernaut, but the secondary spinfuser pisses me off and i’d much rather have the lmg. 100k is a huge obstacle (especially when i have 18k a pop perks to unlock).

        • Lemming says:

          Would it be so wrong to buy the minimum amount of gold just to get the XP boost? I mean £6.99 for a game you plan on continuing to play is still good value isn’t it?

      • sneetch says:

        The weapon costs are insane! 720 gp is about €7. Packs are a better option though, the all weapons pack for the Raider update gave you three weapons (plasma gun, assault rifle and grenades) for 800 gp. Much more reasonable.

    • Mistabashi says:

      Agreed, there’s something a bit wrong when it costs more to unlock all the toys for a couple of classes than most games cost in full. This is always the problem with F2P, the stuff is just so damn expensive you can’t even call them “microtransactions”.

      • 7hink says:

        That’s one of the problems I have with the game as well. Since I like it I spend about 60 euro on it which is what I would spend on any other triple A title anyway. That does not allow you to unlock everything though which seems somewhat strange to me.

    • derbefrier says:

      yeah it sucks and a big reason i stopped playing. the game is fun but this whole unlock everything in FPS games is something i am tired of. I just wanna pick my class and my weapons and go kill stuff i dont need a carrot on a stick to keep me playing. but limiting my options is enough to make me quit

    • therighttoarmbears says:

      Agreed. As soon as I spend the gold I’ve already bought and have a bit of fun, I’m gonna kiss this thing goodbye. Except that I’m not even sure it’s all that fun. It is sooooooooo grindy.

    • tangoliber says:

      First, look at the advantages of F2P.. Mainly, the fact that people are actually playing the game, and it isn’t struggling to keep 1 server full like most buy-to-play games on PC do. For me, having a community is worth the negatives of F2P.
      The other advantage is that the game gets more than the 6 months of patches that most buy-to-play games are limited to.

      The grind doesn’t really matter, in my opinion, because the skill ceiling is so high. Grind is a problem in a game where you have maxed out the learning/skill ceiling and are just going through the motions. In T:A, you can have 1000 hours in the game and still benefit from more practice.

    • yhalothar says:

      I stopped playing after the raider update. I put $50 in this game and it was fun, but I don’t want to keep chasing the bunny by continously grinding / spending cash on unlocks. Went back to Quake Live, where I can pay a subscription fee and get everything up front, fight on equal ground, with no bullshit in between.

  2. Vagrant says:

    Played the update last night, and I love most of it.
    EXCEPT! They lowered the cost of the shrike. Really?! The skies were alive all night. Bad day to be a capper. At least I snagged a satisfying sniper kill on one.

    • whatisvalis says:

      Yea Crossfire was even more bananas last night with the increased vehicle usage.

      • Crimsoneer says:

        And sadly, the vehicles still feel rubbish. The hoverbike in Tribes 2 felt amazingly fast, feeps positively sluggish now.

        • caddyB says:

          Just had a guy kill 35 people. With a shrike. Well several shrikes, but you can jump out before the missiles get you, and 4000 is so cheap you can get a new one if you do reasonably well.

        • Lemming says:

          I agree the bike feels cheap and nasty, but then I guess that’s its role,. However, when I’ve been a passenger on it, and been the extra gunner on the tank it feels amazing. I’d discourage anyone from just grabbing a vehicle and dicking around in it. Grab one, park it near your team mates and one will get the message. Then go for a death-dealing joyride. The gunner role is much more fun than the driving, I’ve found.

  3. deanimate says:

    Never played any tribes games before but have just started this one and I think I’m enjoying it. It’s a very different mindset to get into from that of TF2 but I think it’s differences are going to stay quite appealing.

  4. sasayan says:

    One update I’m really glad to see is rewards for upgrading base assets. Every 2 minutes a gen or sensor you upgraded stays online or every time a turret you upgraded gets a kill you get some extra points. Encourages people to upgrade things a bit more and provides a little more reward for tech players.

  5. Jnx says:

    2:10 on the video. There’s some staring eyes tag for you. Yeah, I’m this interested in Tribes.

  6. Vorphalack says:

    The new map looks great, but they need to move or cover the flag stand. Right now it plays out like Sunstar before they added the force field over the flag base. Defending the generator is easier but protecting the flag stand is more or less imposable.

    One game I had earlier today was a turtlefest in the gen room. Both flags were being held behind mines, turrets, FFs, etc. while both teams hurled fractal spamming Brutes into the enemy base. Both teams just gave up on trying to actually defend the flag stand and just gambled on being able to return their flag first.

    Apart from that, the new load out options are a good addition and the new arena map is a nice move away from the platform levels we got at launch. The vehicle price change is an odd one, I want to see them buffed and be made much more expensive, not cheaper.

  7. Danny252 says:

    Mandatory plug for the RPS Tribes group, with our own server and much exclaiming of “Shazbot!” as DeVadder caps another flag: http://www.rockpapershotgun.com/forums/showthread.php?3338-Rock-Paper-Spinfusor-Tribes-Ascend

  8. Eukatheude says:

    You know you can get 200 free gold by liking their page on facebook? A spinfusor is 180 gold.

  9. Sami H says:

    Didn’t even know the game was out of beta…

  10. evenflowjimbo says:

    Until they get rid of that crappy hipatchservice.exe that keeps running after I am done playing the game, I won’t play it.

    • ThTa says:

      Unless you’ve got it set to auto-patching, it’s not actually doing anything, it’s just cached so integrity checks at launch won’t take as long. It’ll get paged the second you run out of memory otherwise.
      Aside from that, the only thing it (can) check(s) is the game itself and how much storage space you’ve left on the disk in question (which makes sense, considering it’d be downloading stuff to that very disk when there’s a new patch).

      The only annoying bit is that it’s made a startup program. (So your “not playing” deal isn’t particularly effective if you’ve still got the game installed.) But again, it’s not really doing anything harmful.

      What did you think it does to warrant such a response?

  11. evilbobthebob says:

    Needs the Staring Eyes tag for HiRezKate (watch the trailer, you’ll see what I mean)

  12. Zankmam says:

    I agree, they need to put in XP sales and add more bonuses.

  13. JackDandy says:

    Tartarus is a very fun map.

    They need to put in a way to see the playercount for matches your friends are in, though..

  14. shaydeeadi says:

    The other day the deal on the infiltrator mines had the deal in XP and GP.

  15. Pointless Puppies says:

    Didn’t know this update was coming, so I imagine my surprise when I boot up the game and after 2 rounds of CTF the loading screen gives me a map name I never saw before, followed by a lovely view of a bigass forest and a new, sweet music track. I love the aesthetic style of the dense forest with lots and lots of green, since it goes a long way to establish variety in the game. I also really like the enormous hill in the midfield that has both teams fighting for with its magnificent view of the enemy base, the ridiculously open flag stand with a bunch of little hiding places to stick mines/turrets in, making defending it something more interesting than the generic Heavy on Flag route.

    I think it’s a great addition to the repertoire myself.

  16. yhalothar says:

    I stopped playing after the raider update. I put $50 in this game and it was fun, but I don’t want to keep chasing the bunny by continously grinding / spending cash on unlocks. Went back to Quake Live, where I can pay a subscription fee and get everything up front, fight on equal ground, with no bullshit in between.

  17. Jackablade says:

    You’d think with a name like Tartarus, it might be a little more, you know, hellish.

  18. Suits says:

    Funny how people play games for their unlocks.

  19. oceanclub says:

    Have to say it’s my favourite online shooter for a long long time. Plonked down $9 to buy a few things, but haven’t felt the need to buy any more gold; am just playing it organic. Why do people feel they need to unlock everything at once? Why not, for free, get good at a heavy/medium/light class before buying a more nuanced one? Calm down and smell the rose-covered sentries.

  20. MeestaNob says:

    GOD. DAMMIT. Developer videos are terrible.

    I mean, REALLY terrible.

  21. BarneyL says:

    The tailored deal doesn’t appear to be all that tailored so far.
    All I’ve been offered is equipment for classes I ever don’t play.

  22. jrod says:

    LOVE this game… best FPS in a long long time

  23. Day3reak says:

    Loving the look of the new map. But Tribes Ascend’s biggest issues right now are that it fails to match the “epic-ness” of Tribes 2. The servers are too small, as are the maps, and vehicles are an afterthought in the grand scheme of things. This video illustrates why, even to this day, Tribes 2 has no equal in speed, mayhem, and variety:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AB-mEvbj404

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