Tribes Ascend: Why It’s Great

By Robert Florence on July 24th, 2012 at 8:00 pm.


I was asked to write about why Tribes: Ascend is great. I want to tell you why Tribes: Ascend is beautiful.

I don’t want any of you to underestimate how important that feel is to the sum of Tribes: Ascend’s beautiful whole. In Tribes, you don’t move – you dance. Every dash for a flag is a smooth supersonic slide, every escape from a booby trapped generator room is a ballet. There is something hypnotic about the way the characters in Tribes: Ascend interact with each other. They chase, swarm, assist and duel. It’s like watching the behaviour of animals in nature. It’s so beautiful.

From a hilltop, watching the battle taking place below, it’s like seeing birds in flight.


I said “characters” earlier, and that might have confused some of you. Tribes: Ascend is a free-to-play multiplayer FPS. But that doesn’t mean that the game doesn’t have characters. Every single match does, because the structure of Tribes: Ascend creates a narrative. Every player has a role, and every death has a story attached. Let me explain.

Unlike most multiplayer FPS games, Tribes lets you choose your function in each game. Let’s say you’re bad at one-on-one duels with opponents. Maybe you panic when you get in those kind of situations. You could decide to be the guy who hangs back at the base, building turrets and repairing stuff. If that radar goes down, you could be the guy who brings it back on-line. And that radar enables other players to see enemy invaders. Nothing you choose to do in Tribes is inconsequential. A victory is a genuine team effort. You will matter, and other players will know your name. And when you die? Every time you die in Tribes, it happened while you were doing something. Most other FPS games have you dying while you’re busy just trying not to die. Tribes has you falling while chasing a flag, or upgrading a turret, or making a suicide run on a generator room. Many little stories for many different characters, meeting many different ends.

But it’s when two of these characters meet on the battlefield that Tribes truly ascends.

There’s a wonderful Ridley Scott film called The Duellists. In that film, two characters challenge each other to a series of duels, taking place over decades. Every chance encounter results in a duel. In Tribes, you will form many relationships just like that. You will know their name. And when you see them, and they see you, you will find a place to dance.


Each Tribes map is large, with lots of space to explore. Most of that space features hills and plains, where Pathfinders can work up their speed, skiing towards the flags. There’s another reason for all that space to exist, though. It’s there so that duellists can find a little bit of privacy to do their dance. When you and your enemy meet, one of you will make a leap to the side – out towards the silence of the hills. That movement is an invitation. It’s a jump away from the rest of the narrative, a jet pack thrusting a character into a side-story.

These one-on-one duels, the pace and the beauty of them, are unique to Tribes. When two good players duel, it’s not just a test of accuracy. It’s not just about the gunplay. The fundamental basics are, of course, an understanding of the physics of the game. But after that, everything else is bluff, elegance, confidence and show. Every moment is a decision. In Tribes, you don’t shoot at where someone is. You shoot at where they will be in a moment’s time. This dance isn’t just about your own footwork – it’s about knowing every step, twirl and flourish your partner will make. It is a game within a game. If Tribes: Ascend was just a two player duel game, it would already be something special. Something deep, rich and zen. Bushido Blade with jetpacks.

But Tribes: Ascend is so much more than that.

The game offers many modes, but they are all a sideshow to the best Capture The Flag mode in gaming. The CTF match is so simple that it can end in a minute, if one team is all at sea and the other is on point from the start. If you don’t establish a defence, the Pathfinders will leave you broken and breathless. These Pathfinders, flying across the map like sentient bullets, define the entire game. Tribes is a game of speed. If you are a slow class, like the Brute, your role is as an enemy of speed. You disrupt the dance. You change the tone. You send those up-tempo Pathfinders home with the most unromantic slow dance ever performed.

Learning to hit something moving unbelievably fast is the thing that separates great Tribes players from good ones. Reading the landscape, and understanding where that living rocket might be in two seconds time, is as difficult as it sounds. When it clicks, you feel like Superman. A Superman who landed in a bastard’s farm, and grew up a murderer. Here, though, is another place where the beauty of Tribes: Ascend becomes crystal clear.

When you fail, you admire your enemy.

It’s jaw-dropping when you are standing by a heavily protected flag, and a player just rockets past, taking the flag with them. Often, you turn and they are out of sight, over a hill. Your own chasers take flight, like birds exploding into the air after a gunshot. It’s such an exhilarating thing to be a part of that it barely even feels like the defeat that it is. Tribes is a game that encourages daring acts, and encourages the players to respect them. In one game, I blasted into an enemy building, dropped grenades, fired some shots, destroyed turrets, killed about six players, and was out of the back door without once stopping. I was over the hill before the sixth man had dropped. A player who had just died in that atrocity typed one word into chat: “Beautiful”.


I haven’t really spoken about the fact that this game is free to play, or about the way experience is gained, or about buying gold to unlock stuff quickly. I feel that too much of the talk around this game has been about the way the monetized element is structured. What is being lost is that there is a game out there right now that is the very best of its type, and is a celebration of everything a PC game can be.

If you’re currently up on a hilltop looking down on all of us, trying to decode the mystical messages in our flight patterns, I beg you to ski on down that hill into the fray. Come fly with us.

It will be beautiful.

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191 Comments »

  1. ain says:

    If there weren’t artificial advantages in the game I would be less inclined to disagree.

    • shaydeeadi says:

      It’s not pay to win that much at all, I will add examples.

      1) They have removed the need to invest XP in armor packs and upgrading weapons you own, making you free to focus on getting new kit and perks.

      2) They have added low cost weapons to each class that suit differing situations; the dueling spinfusor is fantastic for the pathfinder and even without the XP boost could be bought within two hours I guess.

      3) The base weapons for each class are all very good, you will see mortar juggernauts at higher levels still getting very high scores and Pathfinders don’t really need anything to stay competitive. I bought the Thumper for the TCN with gold and although I am much more effective in the gen room and occasionally better for base defense now I know how to use it okay. The SMG for him is much better for chasing and mid field work and I occasionally go back to it still.

      4) If you like the game enough to play it for a while, dropping $10 on it for the VIP boost and picking up some items on daily deal isnt that much of an affront.

      I will say it is fairly grindy, but if you enjoy it you don’t notice too much.

      • DeVadder says:

        You should all join the RPS Tribes Ascend community at
        http://www.rockpapershotgun.com/forums/showthread.php?3338-Rock-Paper-Spinfusor-Tribes-Ascend

        We have a server, vivid discussion and general nice people. At least thats what i like to think :)

        And yes, i am only replying here to be on top.
        Sue me.

        • AuralViolations says:

          Join us! We are getting together a team for Gameshrine’s 5v5 Pathfinder tournament.

          Also there are 3+ events a week(at least one of which is either Arena or C&H, the others are CTF)

        • SandmanXC says:

          I absolutely love playing with you guys. Too bad I couldn’t get the time, lately.

        • Hvr says:

          MFW almost all (positive) Feedback and even this blog-article has been bought by Hi-Rez! Feels like RPS is acting corruptly, a bit.

          • Jim Rossignol says:

            Yes, that’s what it is. Must be. No other possible explanation.

          • Toberoth says:

            I wish people would stop spouting crap like this. If you think RPS is acting corruptly, if you genuinely don’t trust it as a source of news, reviews, opinions, etc., then stop reading it. Posting undoubtedly incorrect comments like these just annoys people.

          • Toberoth says:

            Also MFW doesn’t work unless you accompany it with a picture of a face.

          • Josh W says:

            No, he means that someone stole his face. A sad business definitely, but shouldn’t be blamed on tribes.

      • DeVadder says:

        Given i already hijacked this thread, i might as well hijack a post from the forum thread as well because it just makes too much sense and is on topic. ^^

        [QUOTE=Scumbag;166596]
        1) They play for about an hour and find the guns are not stupidly easy to use. They somehow come up against a skilled gold / silver level player and get anihilated over and over. The presumption “He is only killing me because he has paid for that gun. I find it impossible to shoot the weapons I am given at the start, yet he has no problem killing me. PAID TO WIN!” I hit a friend with a fusion mortar once and he quit because of it. Why? He refused to believe that I hit him with the same goofy crap he couldn’t fire, there-go I paid for an aimer for it.
        [/QUOTE]

      • Bloodloss says:

        It is pay to win. Make no mistake, anyone reading this hoping this guy is right. We’ll take the doombringer class as an example. Many people go as far as to say to not even play the class until you have unlocked the ‘super heavy’ perk and the mines, as without those you are significantly less effective. Both of these require a TON of time to unlock. I mean, even with a VIP boost (£8+) and an XP boost (£12+ for 30 days) it will take awhile, but without those? My God, the grind is so slow. Some people incorrectly claim that there aren’t upgrades and people who say that are just angry that they are playing against better players and finding excuses, but no, it’s quite the opposite – these people don’t like the fact that they have an advantage and are looking for an excuse to reassure themselves that it’s all down to their skill. If they were to only use stock items, they would quickly see just how wrong they were, and would never put themselves through the pain of using half the classes in the game utterly reliant on unlocks.

        This is literally all I need to say. Anyone claiming that you cannot pay for an advantage is simply wrong as long as these facts remain. Even this one example is enough to prove it. If you disagree, you are using a different definition of ‘pay to win’ than what it actually is; i.e gaining a noticeable advantage by paying money – it doesn’t mean you literally win every game after you spend money. Now, yes, eventually after an incredibly ridiculously long grind you can indeed get all of the (large amount of) straight upgrades for most classes, but it will require a ludicrous time investment without spending money. If a game was free to play but to unlock a weapon that did any damage, it took you literally a decade of playing an hour every day, would it still be free to play? Of course not, you have to draw a line at a sensible place, and Tribes Ascend is far, far over that line.

        All of that said, if you do end up paying for the game I’m sure you’ll have a good time – it’s fun if you pay, as I have. It’s not very well balanced at all in my opinion (but all class-based shooters tend to be a little off balance wise) and it isn’t as good as Tribes 2, but it’s still worth a punt.

        • hench says:

          If a multiplayer game makes a player that has played hundreds of hours objectively stronger than someone who plays his or her first game it’s not viable as a competitive title. The only thing that should affect the outscore of a game is the individual skill each player possess, not how many dollars or hours one have spent on it. There shouldn’t be any kind of “player progression” except for the players knowledge of the game and maybe some cosmetic progression.

          Any game that breaks that rule I have no interest in and as you can probably tell I barely play any newer multiplayer FPS games. Still hopeful for CS:GO but there are so many flaws in the current beta build.

          And yes, I only replied to someone near the top to get this comment more visibility

          • Brodo Swaggins says:

            You claim that “if a multiplayer game makes a player that has played hundreds of hours objectively stronger than someone who plays his or her first game it’s not viable as a competitive title.”

            I’m not sure what you’re trying to say. It’s pretty obvious that a veteran would always beat a new player in any game, not just Tribes: Ascend. Look at TF2: most competitive pros in that community have played for hundreds of hours, if not thousands. Counterstrike? I wouldn’t be surprised if the current player averages around a thousand hours played. TF2 has been out for over five years, Tribes has officially been out for less than five months (yes, beta, I know, but the point still stands). I also suspect that it would take as much time to acclimatize to the new game as it would to unlock your necessary weapons. There *are* problems with the competitive scene in T:A, but it’s really much more complicated than the F2P model. This video explains it pretty well: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8EzA8WOBmnc (skip to ~5:30)

        • Derppy says:

          While the upgrades are an advantage, they aren’t anywhere near as big issue as people claim.

          If you play a pathfinder, your role is to either grab the enemy flag and bring it home, or chase the enemy pathfinder and return your team’s flag.

          90% of it is pure skill you’ll learn over time and by the time you start to get good at it, you’ll automatically have fully upgraded armor, spinfusor, impact nitrons, energy recharge and enough XP to unlock both perks, e.g the last 10%.

          Now it only boils down to your skill. The upgrades just gave you additional sense of progression and even if you had them from the start, you would have sucked just as much.

          Even if everybody besides me would have all the upgrades in the game, I’d still say Tribes: Ascend is a great, free game, I’d play it and I’d enjoy it more than many shooters I’ve wasted 40$ on.

        • UmmonTL says:

          In my opinion it all comes down to what you consider pay-to-win. It is not like there are upgrades or advantages you can get only by paying money, everything is available through XP. I do agree that the grind can be very slow especially to make certain classes fully viable, an issue that has been partly adressed but will probably never be completely gone. The starting classes have decent equipment and are perfectly suited to fill their role in the team, the only truly necessary upgrade are some perks which aren’t that expensive. And no money you spend will help you in a duel situation if your skills don’t match. What you really end up paying for is diversity, you see the other classes doing their thing and can’t help but want to try it for yourself.

          That said, it is clearly balanced around the goal of having every long-term player spend at least 10$-20$ with constant reminders how much xp you missed because you don’t have VIP status, the more expensive upgrades taking forever to grind and the personal deals each day that reduce the gold cost even more. Personally I am okay with that, HiRez have a right to make money with their game and it is certainly good enough to warrant a budget price if not full price. They have made a few missteps but overall I’d say they have a good balance going.

          Now what I would like to see is some better team-balance, I see a lot of games where the teams are horribly stacked on one side with high ranking players. And that is precisely because the game is so team driven, you need a perfect balance of harrassing the enemy, chasing/capping the flag, defending the flag and defending the base itself. If one area is lacking the others will suffer and in a bad team you notice three things at once that need to be done and no one is doing them.

        • Lumilicious says:

          If that’s pay2win for you then any game with a progression system is kinda pay2win. Take Battlefield 3 as an example… you can even unlock everything for money in that game.

        • MasterDex says:

          It’s certainly not pay-to-win and saying so, I believe, is grievously disingenuous. From Day 1, I found myself topping scoreboards by doing the right things at the right time. Now that I’ve bought the starter pack and unlocked a handful of weapons for less than a handful of classes, I find that happening at roughly the same frequency, perhaps more often but that’s merely a result of knowing the game better.

          I wager that yourself, Bloodloss, and others like you who cry pay-to-win are of the same cut of cloth as those petulant little children that cry “RPG-Noob!” and “Noobtuber!” in games like Battlefield and Call of Duty. All I can think when I hear that kind of moaning is “Noob”, just plain, old, noob.

          But let’s define noob before I go. Many, many years ago, it meant newb/newbie/rookie but it quickly obtained a new, truer meaning – someone who doesn’t improve, regardless of experience, and seeks to lay the blame for their own inadequacies on others. Ergo, if you believe that Tribes is P2W, you are a noob, will probably always be a noob and will be called out as such so long as you continue to be one.

  2. Lagwolf says:

    Too bad it is pay to win for anyone who hasn’t got shedloads of time to dump into it. Costs of new weapons & character types are ludicrous.

    • Jim Rossignol says:

      Need to work on yer madskillz.

      • Dominic White says:

        I’d love to see what happens when a new player puts down $50 on the game, and goes up against a veteran on a completely ‘virgin’ account. I’m just about certain that the veteran would win every single round.

        • ain says:

          That’s certain. But it doesn’t matter if the advantages you can get by spending money on the game can be overcome. They shouldn’t be there in the first place in a game that tries to be competitive and has a competitive predecessor to boot.

          • Dominic White says:

            It’s not a matter of ‘advantages that are overcome’ – aside from the direct upgrades (which come after just a few matches played normally, and aren’t paid for anymore), what possible advantage do you get from paying? You get to play different roles *sooner*, but it doesn’t give you a single advantage over a skilled player.

          • Wreckdum says:

            You’re not buying better weapons. You’re buying different weapons. They sacrifice ammo for damage or accuracy for damage. It’s all opinion on which gun is better and who is behind it. People look for an excuse to cry about everything. Someone handed out a free AWESOME game and people complain that it’s not free enough… It’s called being bad at the game and making excuses. Everyone in the FPS world is the best person to ever play a game. If they lose, someone must have been hacking or paying to win. That’s all there is to it.

          • Safewood says:

            I’d actually be much more inclined to play this game if it was 50$ to 70$ as an up front payment to avoid the hassle of all the unlocks, which I personally very much dislike after two years of LoL. Sure is fortunate Dota 2 is truly free, (and yes I have spend money in Dota 2 store).

            The thing is that nowadays it seems every game expects me to play nothing else, which I did in the case of LoL, the consequence is that I have to avoid a lot of games.

            To me it seems really strange that the games become cheaper the more you play them, I’d much rather have it the other way round.

          • YogSo says:

            @ Safewood: “I’d actually be much more inclined to play this game if it was 50$ to 70$”.

            Yes, you and a dwindly community of players that would just vanish in a few months time when the next big attraction released. The only way forward for multiplayer-only games is being free to play. The market is too saturated to stay competitive any other way.

          • innociv says:

            I spent $30 on the game
            I still have $24 of the ingame cash left over, and I have half the weapons(that’s after they added twice as much extra stuff in a recent patch)

            So, yeah, you can just spend $50 on the game. Buy things from the daily sales and you can get pretty much all of it that way

          • UmmonTL says:

            I have spend 40$ on the game and it’s mostly gone now. However in hindsight this was very much a mistake. Not that I regret paying the money, just how I spent it. By now I am mostly playing two classes, thechnician and doombringer because I like playing defense. However I used my gold to unlock all sorts of neat stuff that I wanted to try instead of focussing on those classes and keeping some gold for future updates. Also I spent most of it before the daily deals came along.

            It is nice to be able to quickly switch to a brute to flush out an infiltrator with fractalspam or to play as an infiltrator as a change of pace but honestly, I’d say you can get the most out of the game with just 10$, 20$ if you want a lot of diversity. Just find out which class you like to play and buy every upgrade you need/want for it. I’d say HiRez should do class-highlight weekends where you can try out one class with all the upgrades. That would help people to avoid misspending like I did.

        • D3xter says:

          The only reason a “virgin account” wouldn’t win is because the player behind it wouldn’t have the knowledge of the game, maps and everything else behind the game.

          A Pathfinder (or similar class) in starting gear can win a match perfectly fine and competently against the most “veteran” players.

          This game isn’t in any way or form “Pay 2 Win”, it just sports and Unlock system for weapons to be used in different situations.
          Unlocking weapons isn’t exactly new in the genre (e.g. Battlefield 2, BC2, 3, Call of Doody) and it resembles this very much.

          In fact I liked the game so much that I bought the Starter Pack a few days later just to support the devs, since it feels like a REAL PC Shooter (no mangy hiding behind chest-high walls) after ALL THESE years.
          You people whining about “Pay 2 Win” need to actually try out the games before, I haven’t had a problem with that in most F2P games I played e.g. League of Legends, Tribes: Ascend, DC Universe Online, Team Fortress 2 (although I hate how the community for that one has shifted from playing the game to “hat collection”) and the majority of “Free2Play” games I tried seem perfectly fine without paying a dime.

          • Mattressi says:

            This.

            I tend to have…”issues”…when it comes to spending money (or, in this case, experience points): I don’t. I’m not exactly sure why, but I just don’t like spending my hard-earned experience points (though, IRL it’s simply because I have no money). I think it might be that I worry I’ll buy something with them and then hate it and then hate myself for wasting my time. Whatever it is, I play with mostly just the basic starter gear and have no problem playing competitively. Hell, some classes, like the soldier, I reckon their best loadout is the starter gear. I got 250 gold from some facebook thing and spent it on the raider’s grenade launcher. I fully levelled it up and still don’t like it – I prefer the default weapon (Arx Buster).

            About the only disadvantage that I can see is the “perks”. There are two perk slots and while one starter perk (+10 energy) is very useful, the other (get extra max health if you repeatedly die without getting any kills – that is, only benefit from it if you suck) is terrible and completely useless for most classes. But even then, perks only cost 18000 credits (quite low, really) and I just bought the potential energy perk and use that for every class now. One day I might spend my points, but I don’t really see much of a need. It’s a really fun game and is quite well balanced in terms of starter gear vs other gear.

          • RiptoR says:

            @mattressi: you can try out all weapons in Training, even if you haven’t unlocked them yet. Just start training, choose a class, open up the customize menu, and click on the locked weapon you want to try.

            I tested 3 weapons this way before unlocking them with my starterpack gold.

          • Mattressi says:

            Yeah, that’s helped me a bit, but it’s just not the same as using them against real opponents. I tried out the grenade launcher before I bought it and thought it seemed great, but trying to either direct hit someone or bounce the projectile at someone and hope you’ve timed it perfectly, it just isn’t the same when people are flying all around the gen room in Temple Ruins (for example).

    • tyrsius says:

      I’ve had no problem with the starter weapons. The skills are very different than many FPSs though, and if you try to play this game like BattleField, TF2, or COD you will fail.

      Learning how to ski, and lead your shots is critical. And also unique. Payment is not required. Practice is.

    • ThatGuy says:

      Really not true. I’ve got a fair amount of the unlockable weapons through XP purchases but keep going back to the vanilla default because, much like TF2, pretty much everything you start with is considered best. Everything else is just sidegrades.

      • AngoraFish says:

        I’m up to level 10 and I’m struggling to justify buying gold because I can’t find anything that I actually have any interest in unlocking.

        • mouton says:

          Then hold onto it. Play some more, wait for some daily deal that interests you and watch other people until you find something that you fancy. No hurry.

    • mouton says:

      If you know how to play, you can easily murder anyone with starter weapons.

      Hence, skill2win

    • Fincher says:

      Pay to win = Using money to gain an ingame advantage completely unavailable to those who choose not to pay.

      Pay to win (in the eyes of awful people) = “H-hey, he paid money to skip the inanity of playing the game for a few days, NO FAIR!”

      We’re at risk of losing sight of the REAL problem with most free to play games, guys.

    • Skylead says:

      As someone who used to play the comp scene in Tribes, I can assure you you are wrong. There are only a few classes you need to get alternate weapons on to change the base load out. It’s all about getting your movement down and mastering your chaining (good disc/thumper skills is a given) You would be surprised how well you start performing if you just get dueling down pat.

  3. Phantoon says:

    New to the game, huh?

    • Mattressi says:

      Doesn’t sound like it. Perhaps you’ve forgotten your time on Llama Island, but newbie matches tend not to have HoFs, chasers nor even high speed flag grabs.

    • SketchyGalore says:

      Why are all the comments on page one whiny, sarcastic, or argumentative without provocation. This is a good article about why this game is great. And it’s all true. I know EXACTLY how the writer feels.

      And to quote the article “I feel that too much of the talk around this game has been about the way the monetized element is structured.” And then beneath the article? A bunch of talk around this games monetized element and how it’s structured.

      Some of us are gamers who play games for the game part. Not bloody coupon-clipping penny pinchers who want to cry foul at a game that’s still a better deal than most full-retail games, still 100% playable and balanced without a dime (you just don’t get the fancy toys, boo-hoo) and, more importantly, a MUCH better deal than other F2P games. Seriously, go play something like AVA and tell me how fun it is to spend $7 on a grenade you get to keep for a week and a half.

      …Okay, rant… released…

      • Phantoon says:

        You totally misread my comment. Which was expected, because it was pretty vague. I’m actually gold rank in Tribes, and love the game.

        It’s just his words come across as star struck at how great the game is.

  4. Brun says:

    Unlike most multiplayer FPS games, Tribes lets you choose your function in each game.

    Pretty sure most modern multiplayer shooter games let you choose a kit or class to play in each match.

    • Jengaman says:

      Yeah but all those kits just turn into ‘shoot at guy’ role.

      • Doesn'tmeananything says:

        Same goes for this game. It’s a shooter after all.

        • Zanpa says:

          Uh, no? The goal of the game is capturing a flag. There are many things you can do to help acomplis this objective, and many of them do not include the shooting of guys.

          • Phantoon says:

            Uh, no. The point of the game is going fast and getting flags are a secondary objective.

        • ThatGuy says:

          Except it really doesn’t. I’ve been Pathfinder plenty of times and come in the top 3 by killing about 2 people just because I stopped others from taking the flag with well time shock grenades and captured their flag repeatedly.

          Tech doesn’t need to shoot anything to kill people. It just depends what class you are and what you plan on doing with that class.

        • AlwaysRight says:

          ‘Same goes for this game. It’s a shooter after all’

          Utter, utter Shazbot! This is a sport that just happens to have guns in it.

      • phelix says:

        Team Fortress 2 is living proof that that’s not true.

        • Jengaman says:

          True, But TF2 isn’t like most multi-player shooters. In fact i usually tell my friends this is the closest to tf2 fun I’ve gotten in a long time.
          I do think that tribes has more variety in play style than Tf2, but that’s just based on how i play it maybe. ( i dont want to argue about it)

  5. Syra says:

    It’s not *that* great though.

    • Euphoric says:

      I would have to agree. I found it in fact rather boring – I found myself uninstalling it rather quickly because the 6 or 7 times I played it just seemed pretty *yawn*.
      There was nothing innovative about it that made me think “Oh hey, I feel like playing that instead of X, Y, or Z.”

      • Tams80 says:

        I didn’t like it much either. Sure, I’m not used to that type of gameplay, but even after trying it, I still didn’t like it.

        I can’t properly uninstall it either, which is really annoying!

      • AlwaysRight says:

        6 – 7 games is not enough to get a firm understanding of what this game actually is. Its a deep multi-player sport that requires alot of practice before it feels fluent.

        I was like you, “hey Ive heard this fps shooter is good, ill give it a crack” after a couple of games I was “Really? this is what people are banging on about, I’m not too sure its any good but ill stick at it”.

        So I watched some tutorials and played it a bit more.

        THEN…

        …Then I did my first perfect 250+ KM/h (Sanic) Flag Grab…

        …I was hooked, there was no going back.

        (It also helped that on the Steam sale the Starter pack was only £3.50 and it is all I will ever spend on this game)

      • Phantoon says:

        That is your opinion. Your opinion is wrong.

    • Contrafibularity says:

      I found the maps weren’t really up to snuff, like they were all extremely simplistic versions of old Tribes maps, but with most strategic/tactical elements dumbed down or removed completely. That said I played it a while ago and the radical difference between the old Tribes mechanic of “choose/make your role” and Ascend’s grindy element where I have to play for hundreds of hours (even with the xp boost) before getting access to all the cool Tribes stuff in the first two titles didn’t sit well.

      I really couldn’t find myself agreeing with this article, and I don’t see myself ever having any of the intense enjoyment I got out of playing Tribes 1/2. It wasn’t JUST about the jetpacks and skiing (however brilliant those elements are) whereas Ascend completely is. Which is fine, but my initial impressions remain, that it’s become much more similar to a hectic Quake 3 Arena DM map with jump-pads than it is to Tribes, and a lot of the diversity of the gameplay has been lost, and that even goes for jetting.

      I’ll definitely return to it someday to see if it’s grown into something else, if only because the TribesNext servers seem to be empty most of the time leaving only Ascend to turn to for some Tribes fix.

  6. madmatt213 says:

    People who cry about TRIBES: ASCEND being pay-to-win obviously only played one match and gave up (or didn’t play it at all). You can still do great, and more importantly, contribute to your team while using the first three classes. Play enough and you’ll get addicted. In no time you can unlock all the classes with XP, and then decide what you’d like to work on unlocking after you try each class. It’s not a grind to unlock stuff in Tribes, because the game is simply so fucking fun to play.

    • ain says:

      “Play enough and you’ll get addicted”

      Now that’s what I call good game design.

    • Mollusc Infestation says:

      I rather agree. I played for months before i decided to pay any money and it was still heaps of fun. New weapons were generally out of my price range, but even with the slow acquisition of XP i found myself able to flesh out a couple of classes fairly easily. Admittedly it took me as many months to feel like i was actually good enough to attribute anything i did to skill rather than pot luck, but i suppose it’s just that sort of game sometimes.

    • Tiax says:

      Damn right, anyone complaining about Tribes Ascend being pay2win simply suck at the game, just like everyone else once did when they started playing.

      The only difference is that some people keep going and get better and some simply give up but acknowledge that it’s simply because they don’t want to invest that much time in this game.

      The last category are people crying about the game being pay2win because they can’t do shit in the game and somehow can’t even phatom that the issue is on their side.

    • theallmightybob says:

      i compleatly agree, i have unlocked everyhting with XP (i play to much) and i still find my self gravitating to the original pathfinder load out. speed and skill are still king in this game, and if you cant dance you cant win. simple as that.

    • Snidesworth says:

      “It’s not a grind to unlock stuff in Tribes, because the game is simply so fucking fun to play.”

      This, absolutely. I may be speaking from a position of privilege (my friends and I all bought 1 week boosters and reap the +50% XP lifetime bonus) but I’ve never, ever found myself playing Tribes because I wanted to grind XP. It’s a glorious, magnificent game where the XP and unlocks are just a bonus.

      I’ve never had to play Soldier without a spinfusor though. That such a thing is even possible is inhumanly cruel.

    • Lagwolf says:

      Sorry your assumption is wrong and patronizing but sadly typical of a fan-boy.

      Not only that but I have re-visited it a few times to see if it had changed/things had got more reasonably priced. The three base classes are rubbish with their original load-out. None of which suit my play-style. Having to pay to access the class that suits your play-style is ludicrous. The makers of the game continue to gouge their players as much as they can.

      Simply put pay-to-win is a game which allows you to buy better & more powerful kit with real money instead of grinding for it. The things that you can buy are not cosmetic or just a slight power boost, they are flat out better than anything you get for free unless you grind for a very long time. T:A is exactly that.

      Like it all you want but TA is one of the best examples of pay to win there is.

      • theallmightybob says:

        pay to win you say? care to provide examples? pretty much every weapon relases (barring the plasma gun that caused alot of whine) i havent run into any weapons i would call over powered. i still regularaly top the board as a normal pathfinder, no special weapons just ass kicking and out playing.

      • Famout says:

        So because you disliked the first load-outs (which is fair mind you) and you where unskilled with them that means others are better? I will admit some load-outs feel easier to use, but in the end they balance out nearly all the time. A tech with a thumper might fight better in the gen room, but now is much worse at defending a flag. A pathfinder with a bolt launcher may clear the flag stand better, but has far more troubles at ranged shots and so on.

      • Snidesworth says:

        “The three base classes are rubbish with their original load-out.”

        Are you serious? While I massively prefer the Spinfusor the AR is a pretty potent weapon for the Soldier. Pathfinders are perfectly equipped to do what they do best and Juggernauts get to be fat and use the mortar from the off. Some of the unlocks are definitely desirable, but calling the starting loadouts rubbish is the act of a fool or a liar.

      • dongsweep says:

        I hate to tell people their opinions are wrong but your opinion is wrong. If locked classes are better than the original three then everyone who played the game more than an hour would use one of their recently acquired unlocked classes. However, this is not the case. Many people (myself included have unlocked all or most of the classes through playing or buying them yet they still continue to play the original three classes.

        If the locked classes were better, why would people play the original three after unlocking other classes? Riddle me that!

      • Dark Nexus says:

        You can earn enough XP to unlock all of the classes while just getting a feel for the basics…

        And frankly, I won for MONTHS before spending a dime on the game. And I always just played, never grinding.

        And 2 of my 3 most played classes are base classes. With base load out!

      • mrjackspade says:

        “Sorry your assumption is wrong and patronizing but sadly typical of a fan-boy.”

        Wowzers…especially since everything you’ve written after that statement is totally rubbish. Tribes is as balanced as as far from ‘pay to win’ as a f2p game gets. I spent 6.99 at the start on the basic gold pack so I could unlock the sentinel straight away, but apart from that I haven’t used any of the other gold I bought. XP unlocks are sufficient, and the original weapons on the classes happen to be my favourites.

      • Delusibeta says:

        No, “pay-to-win” is when it’s possible to buy upgrades that’s completely unavailable to people who don’t want to pay cash. People who are deluded into thinking that “pay-to-win” means “skipping grind” should probably give up free to play games and subsequently multiplayer gaming outside of Battlefield and Call of Duty.

    • pkt-zer0 says:

      Spent 20 bucks on the game, played 80ish hours or whatever. Quit because I’d rather play something that’s not pay-or-grind-to-get-an-advantage-with-more-stuff-to-buy-each-friggin-month.
      Spent a 10 day booster with the express purpose of grinding, playing 4-5 hours each day. Still didn’t have enough to unlock the weapons I wanted. “XP unlocks are sufficient”, my arse.

      • Noodlestein says:

        You must have been god fricken awful at the game then.
        One 10 day boost got me way over 300k xp minimum as it was when I bought my jackel, stealth spinfusor, and MIRV with plenty left over to throw into random shit.
        If you’re actually useful in the game and don’t just run in and die you’ll get 4-7k+ at the end of each match with a boost. Even without the damn thing I had nearly unlocked everything I wanted to begin with and the only reason I got the boost was because I payed 10$ just to get the VIP boost.

        This game is EASILY played without having to ever pay and unlock shit, and boosting makes it even more ridiculously easy.

        • kaiserbob says:

          Or you just started playing and are acting like a little bitch not knowing what you are talking about. When I quit (around the time the jackal was released), exp gain for a ctf game was about 1500 xp for a middle of the pack finish and about 2k for a top two.

          The *spinfusor* alone cost something like 70k to unlock. That the shit he was complaining about so fuck off calling someone bad because you have no idea what this game used to play like.

  7. UsF says:

    I pumped the price of a full game into Tribes Ascend and feel I got barely anything out of it. What I would really like to see is a map focussed on the skiing mechanic, maybe something sports related or racing related, because that mechanic is really fun. The shooting is very skill based and as a beginner or normal player, you can feel really out of place when they wipe the floor with you.

    • Tacroy says:

      You would have loved Tean Rabbit in Tribes 2 – it was basically football in power armor and spinfusors.

  8. Mercykiller101 says:

    The game isn’t pay-to-win, but 10 Dollars of gold can buy stuff you can easily take 20 hours grinding for. and when that stuff means weapons that deal more damage, shoot faster, etc, it can be easily seen as a Pay-to-win system. I don’t mind supporting the Devs, I’ve spent well over 100 euros on League of Legends, but being forced to pay just because I don’t want to grind 20 hours to unlock a weapon I might not even like is a major turn off for me. If they lower the amount of grind and increase the amount of customization options I might consider supporting it.

    Also no mention of the horrendous Menu? I’ve seen console ports with a better UI.

    • Tiax says:

      “…and when that stuff means weapons that deal more damage, shoot faster, etc, it can be easily seen as a Pay-to-win system”

      Sorry but that’s just plain wrong, the weapons you can unlock are NEVER upgrades (or simply more powerful) of the ones you start with, they’re simply sidegrades.

      • Mercykiller101 says:

        I never said they were upgrades. Doing more damage or firing faster isn’t necessarily an upgrade, however you’ll need both weapons if you want to adapt to any situation. And to unlock one of those weapons you either pay 200-500 gold, which is what, 5-10 dollars? Or pay around 88,000 XP, which is what, 20-40 Hours of game time?

        Just because they aren’t upgrades doesn’t mean they aren’t necessarily more fun to play with, and by the time you unlock them you’ll more than likely end up getting burnt out, and at the end of the day there’s no guarantee that you’ll actually enjoy what you’ve just spent weeks grinding for.

        And fair warning to everyone looking forward to Smite, it has the same issues which Tribes has.

    • Vorphalack says:

      > ”10 Dollars of gold can buy stuff you can easily take 20 hours grinding for”

      If you view playing the game as grinding, you probably shouldn’t be playing the game. The objective is to have fun, not unlock ALL the things.

      • Mercykiller101 says:

        Right, obviously I can’t enjoy the game AND be frustrated with how long it takes to unlock something.

        • Vorphalack says:

          As I said, if you view playing the game as a grind, find a game you actually like.

          • Mercykiller101 says:

            I’m not sure I understand what you’re trying to say. Are you saying something can’t be enjoyable AND a grind?

            Or are you saying I can’t point out a game’s flaws because I should be playing something else?

            Or is it both?

          • Vorphalack says:

            > ”Are you saying something can’t be enjoyable AND a grind?”

            A grind is by definition an unenjoyable process, so that one. It comes from the phrase ”putting your nose to the grindstone”, which roughly means wearing yourself down by performing a mundane and repetitive menial task. If you enjoy Tribes, but call it a grind, then you are using grind in the wrong context.

          • Mercykiller101 says:

            I didn’t call the game a grind. I said unlocking stuff is a grind. And a large one at that.

          • Vorphalack says:

            Calling unlocks a grind implies it is your purpose for playing, especially when you follow up with a sentence like:

            ”being forced to pay just because I don’t want to grind 20 hours to unlock a weapon I might not even like is a major turn off for me”

          • Mercykiller101 says:

            Yes, unlocking stuff is a tedious grind, no you don’t NEED to unlock that stuff. Not any more than you need to unlock any other class than the 3 default classes.

            The game can be just as enjoyable with the content you get ‘out of the box’. Unlocking stuff extends how enjoyable/fresh the game is after playing it for a set amount of time. Sometimes you find a weapon that is so enjoyable to use that you’ll spend a 100 hours just playing with it. Sometimes you’ll get bored after a few hours. Which is not where you want to be with this game, seeing as a weapon unlock takes at least a week to afford.

            So, to clarify my stance, my ‘purpose’ in playing this game is not to unlock stuff, it is to play as much of the game as I find enjoyable, however the vast majority of that game I do not have access to, unless I whip out my paypal account or dedicate an obscene amount of time to. Frankly, I am not willing to do either to unlock something which I may or may not enjoy using.

            Does that mean I don’t put in a couple of hours into the game every couple of days? Of course not. But it still irks me that an otherwise enjoyable game has such stupid flaws.

            And fix the goddamn menu layout, Hi-Rez.

          • egg651 says:

            Small thing you may not have known: You can try out all the weapons for free in the practice mode (might have a slightly different name but it’s something like that).

      • derbefrier says:

        your wrong in your assumption. I agree with him completely. I am not playing the game to grind i am playing to have fun. Hes trying to say he would enjoy the game a lot more if all options were available up front, because more options means more fun less option are not as fun. I don’t want to play for 100s of hours or have to spend money to have more fun. every single FPS that has used an unlock system F2P or not suffers from this. having to unlock weapons in competitive shooters is not fun even if they technically give no advantage as people claim, which is a laughable statement how can having more options not give an advantage to someone with less? the player still feels locked out of tons of strategic options limiting his playstyle therefore limiting his fun. This system is horrible, I despise it and most shooters that use it because its simply not a fun mechanic. Your right we shouldnt play games to grind but the very existence of the grind forces you to do so.

    • YogSo says:

      Nice twisting of the facts there, Mercykiller101.

      “(…) that stuff means weapons that deal more damage on direct hits but have smaller AOD radius, shoot faster but deal less damage, etc.”

      There, fixed it for you.

    • AuralViolations says:

      This game is amazing – especially with the new matchmaking.

      Join the RPS group. Play on the RPS server(Rock, Paper, Shazbot!). Meet people. Have fun.

      Even if you are new, we’ll help you start off, just go over to the forums:
      http://www.rockpapershotgun.com/forums/showthread.php?3338-Rock-Paper-Spinfusor-Tribes-Ascend/page50

  9. Arglebargle says:

    That’s some inspired writing there. And you had me at ‘Bushido Blade with jetpacks.’

  10. Jengaman says:

    This game is the best. Every kill in this game is so satisfying in a way I never got that from a game before.

    My favorite part is when a ctf match starts and everyone just rushes to their respected roles immediately.
    Then you start racing towards the enemy base ,flying by another pathie and for the hell of it just launching a shot at him. If you’re lucky you hit him,’First Blood’ and “Air mail/ Blue plate special” flash up. Then you get a huge grin on your face after you type VGS . so great….

  11. Metonymy says:

    You mean the game where the pay2win players are using a rotary gun, and you’re using a slingshot?

    The game still using ~2000 visuals? The game that hasn’t really added anything to the game design, positive or negative? A game with far more randomness and guesswork than any of the deluded pros will ever admit?

    Who made the decision to start posting so many advert-articles? How big is his nose?

    • ain says:

      The advert-articles do get annoying.

    • theallmightybob says:

      i take it you hate the doom bringer? try dodging, i can weave thoughs bullets they are so slow. but yeah i guess it might seem that way if you havent played much. keep calling the pros duleded while they hit you with thier sling shots as you rocket at 100 km an hour predictably over a hill.

    • tossrStu says:

      “How big is his nose?”

      What do you even mean by this? I think I have an inkling, but it would be nice to have it confirmed at least.

    • mouton says:

      You know nothing about the game. You yourself can play Doombringer after a few games. And he is hardly “better” than others – Pathfinders can murder him with basic light spinfusor and shotgun, if they know what they are doing.

    • Rab says:

      This is a very offensive comment, but the game is too beautiful to allow me to be angry about it.

      • Kefren says:

        It’s bizarre how showing enthusiasm for anything can lead you to be accused of either madness, selling out, or bumfluffery. Yet if you rain down censure on something and accuse it of being piles-in-a-tin you get accused of being biased, unworthy of gaming, and uber-bumfluffery. Can’t win, so just ignore those kind of comments. BTW Rab, a parcel of 7 boardgames came for me today, all ones from Cardboard Children. Yes, I did read the last post. In my defence all my existing games were 20 year old Games Workshop ones no-one would play with me. Now I have games that I am pretty sure my friends will like.

        • Jesus H. Christ says:

          It’s not bizarre at all. gaming journalism is seen as money driven PR by most so whether or not this guy is Mr. Integrity or not, it doesn’t matter. It’s like being a politician or an injury lawyer. And until there is a game site that doesnt accept ad money from producers of the products they are reviewing, this will always be the case. Free advice: don’t trust the magazine/newspaper./site with car ads when researching what new car to buy.

          • Lilliput King says:

            Fine, but I think we can trust Robert Fucking Florence.

            Also I find it’s best to ignore everything Metonymy writes. I have him ignored since the whole misogyny episode.

    • Juanvi says:

      …where the pay2win players are using a rotary gun, and you’re using a slingshot?
      And those same players with the rotary gun must stay close to the flag, where they are being raped by Raiders, Juggernauts bombing the stand and suicide Brutes with fractals.
      I main DMB, believe me, their work is not bubblegum and honey.

      • UmmonTL says:

        I totally agree, ever since the titan launcher was introduced the DMB has become my favourite. Nothing feels better than accurately blasting a Pathfinder off his path as he tries for his high speed grab or wiping his blood off your armor after a nice bodyblock. But if the gen is down, two Juggernauts keep shelling the flagstand and you’ve got enemies all over the base keeping that flag safe is hard work. And you’ll curse that super heavy perk each time you need to fly back up after returning the flag.
        Oh and the chaingun? Really not that great if the target is actually trying to evade.

  12. Odin86 says:

    We live in the era of Call of Duty and many gamers can’t play a game where they aren’t unlocking something new every 33 seconds.

    In Tribes: Ascend you don’t buy another weapon and have the advantage, just like in Team Fortess 2 there is no best weapon, rather than an upgrade you purchase a sidegrade.

    A lot of the best players in Team Fortress 2 use stock weapons in a “strange” guise and they dominate everybody regardless of what weapon they have because they are simply more skilled.

    Similarly in Tribes: Ascend buying a new weapon doesn’t make you a better player, you will still get destroyed by a better player. You can’t just unlock a few things by grinding and then feel great beating the crap out of everybody with better stuff, it all comes down to skill. A great player could beat you regardless of what he was armed with and what you were armed with, because he’s better than you.

    The weapons are sidegrades and you should NOT be grinding to get them because the simply will not make you a better player. In fact the weapons will likely make you a worse player because you will have to learn to use them.

    Stick with the stock weapons, learn to use them and upgrade them. If you find yourself grinding for new weapons then stop playing because those new weapons will not make you superpowered or give you an advantage, it’ll be you getting your ass kicked with a new weapon is all.

    • Dark Nexus says:

      I somewhat agree, but not completely.

      Empirically, the weapons are sidegrades. But some of them can, depending on your playstyle, make you play better. Especially the perks. Good pilot? Wheel deal will get you into one sooner, and Pilot will keep you in one longer. Reach and lightweight can make for better flag runners. On the weapons front, MIRVs and Mortars can perform notably different roles. You can do things with a Jackal you just couldn’t do with a Rhino SMG, but I’d take the Rhino in tight quarters for sure.

      So yeah, unlocking weapons can improve player performance. But it depends entirely on their playstyle.

      • UmmonTL says:

        I agree, the perks are the most immediately obvious upgrade you can buy. The starting perks are pretty useless for most purposes, okay but not great and for any given role/style/tactic you can do better. But they are also comparatively cheap at 18k XP.
        On the weapon side there are definetly some that feel like big upgrades compared to the base weapon. Especially if like me you are bad with the projectile weapons getting the explosive alternatives for certain classes is huge. But still, every weapon has its drawbacks, the plasmagun is great in duels but a good shot will outdamage you with a spinfusor or SMG and against base targets it’s pretty weak. Like Dark Nexus says, it all comes down to playstyle which weapons feel like upgrades instead of sidegrades.

    • dE says:

      Main issue is rather that most of the classes are (were?) locked away behind a pay-wall. Accepted currencies: Bucks or large time investment. Turned me right away from the game when I found out I couldn’t fill a roll desperately needed by the team because I hadn’t paid up yet.

      • Dark Nexus says:

        Define “large time investment”, please. I had them all unlocked within a few hours of play. The bonus XP from the early, easy Badges can have you unlocking a class within 2 matches with a bit of luck – long before you could have a true feel for even one class.

        • dE says:

          They must have changed it then.

          • Dark Nexus says:

            Honestly, with a bit of luck, you might be able to unlock a class after your first match. Sentinel and Technician are only 7200XP to unlock. With a team win and a few of the badges (use an inventory station! Ski fast! Ski far! Regenerate health!) it would definitely be possible.

  13. Valkyr says:

    That article was beautiful.

  14. subedii says:

    Tried Tribes: Ascend for the first time recently because I saw the starter pack going cheap in the Steam sales. Seemed like a good opportunity to take the plunge and see what everyone was talking about.

    Didn’t really *click* with me at first. Then I switched to the Spinfusor and soon after got my first blue-plate special.

    Right now I’m still really new to the game, but I’m having a tonne of fun just “GOING FAST!” and dueling with people. So far I can’t say I’ve seen anything that I’d call “Pay 2 win” either, but then I’ve only played a short time. Which makes it all the more bizarre to me when people keep trying to declare outright the this is the case on the space of a few hours play.

    Even managed to cap the flag a few times now, once you get a rough idea of how the momentum works it can be awesome.

  15. dongsweep says:

    Am I the only one who misses the larger maps from the original tribes? Have they ever said anything about adding larger maps that really benefit from transports and the like? Also, with much larger ships that allow players to hide and run around in without being cornered in ten seconds?

    I love this game but I wish it had borrowed more from Tribes 1 in addition to what they already have.

    • beetle says:

      this

    • dongsweep says:

      Also, perhaps I am remembering it wrong and perhaps I was playing in custom servers but I remember maps with 64+ players on them and this was back when 56k was considered a luxury.

      I also remember custom maps that were pretty awesome, people would make great maps that everyone would download quickly and be playing as if it came with the game.

      I would love to see them support a map maker toolset.

    • Skabooga says:

      I can fully accept that Tribes: Ascend is a different sort of beast from its predecessors; it does what it does very well. What I cannot accept is that nobody is taking the design of those predecessors and making new games in the same vein. Then again, what I’ve seen of Planetside 2 is reminding me a lot of Tribes 2, so perhaps patience is required.

  16. mouton says:

    “When you fail, you admire your enemy.”

    Or ragequit.

    • Dominic White says:

      Or accuse him of having paid for that kill, and then ragequit. That seems to be pretty common round these parts.

    • Jesus H. Christ says:

      yup. problem with most of these games is not long after release, a core develops and it becomes increasingly masochistic for new people to join. TF2 handles that very well by making people part of a team, even the new guy who is nothing but a meat shield.

  17. jonfitt says:

    Gotta go fast!

  18. Merkaba311 says:

    The biggest problem with Tribes Ascend is that it is free to play and therefore does not require skill. People can buy weapons that give them scores they would have if they had skill. I played it from about December ’11 to March ’12 and every update the game just got worse.

    I have an idea in mind that when I fire up a game, people are going to be playing to play the game. In Tribes Ascend it’s so easy to use the “unfair” weapons that a good percentage of people play simply to flex their e-peens with bought weapons. It was fun for about a week but now it’s just a piece of shit floating down the street with every other f2p shooter that isn’t TF2.

    • Rab says:

      Don’t sully a beautiful thing with such nonsense.

    • dE says:

      The biggest problem with Tribes Ascend is that it is free to play and therefore does not require skill.

      I just had to immortalize that for generations to come. This has to be the most… I’m sorry, I can’t find a non hostile word to describe it, argument I’ve ever seen. Congratulations.

      • Merkaba311 says:

        I’m only 27, but back in the good ole’ days, scores were determined by skill, not by the size of your wallet.

        • Tiax says:

          You have no idea about what you’re talking about.

        • dE says:

          Back in the old days? Scores were determined by the speed of your internet connection. Unless you mean the not that old days.

    • theallmightybob says:

      sir, it sounds like you just hit your skill celing or are refusing to change your play style to adapt to the weapons that are comming out and filling diffrent player roles. try maybe playing the game before assuming that the wepaon someone has killed you with is over powered. maybe learn engaement ranges and dodging, try to you know… dance a little. pretty much every weapon in the game has travle time (there are a few exceptions but they are woefully underpowered comepared to the ones with travle time)

      basicly you just sound angery at the game without really learning to play it. sorry to say sir, but L 2 P.

    • Dark Nexus says:

      What “unfair” weapons would those be?

    • Azradesh says:

      This really is giving me another good chance to block all the pants on head morons. Good grief you talk such complete, total and utter tripe.

  19. deadly.by.design says:

    Pay2Win is when paying money lets you do things that normal players can never do. In Ikariam, for example, which is a web-based civilization sim. If you buy the in-game currency, you can do crap like instantly transfer entire cities across the game world. There is absolutely zero way to do this for a f2p player.

    Tribes: Ascend, however, offers mostly* side-grade/variant weapons to unlock, and paying to get things is essentially just saving you time. (*most, not all, since a few items like mines are really important for the DMB’s class role and should probably be easier to get, Falcon is pretty essential for SEN survivability, etc)

  20. YogSo says:

    “Every time you die in Tribes, it happened while you were doing something.”

    Except when you’ve just respawn at your base and are hit by a tactical/orbital strike two seconds later. Grrrr, I hate that, it happens to me from time to time, especially in Crossfire…

    • Dominic White says:

      That stuff only happens very rarely, thankfully. Far better than Tribes 2, where you’d often spawn only to be instantly vaporized by a dozen mortar shells.

      • Dark Nexus says:

        …except in some late-game Capture & Hold matches. Then it can become 24×7 disco parties.

        • YogSo says:

          Ugh, my life expectancy in a Capture & Hold match is about a minute. That’s why I don’t play that mode much. :P

          Or maybe I just suck, dunno. :-P But contrary to all those ‘P2W naysayers’, I’m still having fun seven months in, playing with the soldier, so I think I’m just going to log into the game and play a few more CTF matches. Just for fun. 725,000+ XP accumulated so far, and I’m still unsure of what non-starter class should I unlock next. :-D While I think about it, I’ll play with the soldier a bit more. :-D

  21. Thoric says:

    My weekly T:A play time has been steadily decreasing ever since automatics became dominant, and now stands at zero.

    I would’ve agreed with this article back in beta when the majority of players actually used projectile weapons, but nowadays? No, there’s nothing beautiful about a flag carrier going down in a cone of three different types of SMG spray.

    • Jim9137 says:

      Except the projectile weapons don’t inherit speed (so you just have to adjust to the enemy’s speed) and the automatic weapons are not hitscan like they were in the beginning.

      But sure, pathfinders die a lot to SMG fire. Then again, they probably lack the “WHEEEEEEEEEEE” and are stumbling on the way out. Got to have the whee.

  22. NightShift says:

    Eh, I liked it, but I loved Tribes 2 more. Too bad all the servers I find there are full of bots.
    My biggest gripes is how butt the new shrike is, how one good player can win a game and how it feels like it favors kills over playing the objective.

  23. MOKKA says:

    Quote from the original Post:

    “I feel that too much of the talk around this game has been about the way the monetized element is structured. What is being lost is that there is a game out there right now that is the very best of its type, and is a celebration of everything a PC game can be.”

    And what do we witness in the comments below? People only talking about the businessmodel.

    I like the game, it got me back into multiplayer FPS since a hiatus which lasted over 10 years. It made me appreciate player-skill and higher difficulty levels. It made me realise what I often miss in games today: The feeling that if something goes wrong, it’s entirely my fault and on the other hand, if I’ve done something right it’s as rewarding as a game can get.
    But maybe I’m just to self-centered to realise that all of my numerous deaths were because of some overpowered shmug who bought himself to the top of the leaderboard (as if this thing would even matter in CTF) prevented me from showing my true skills?

  24. D3AD1TE says:

    There is always going to be some imbecile who thinks Tribes Ascend is PAY2WIN.

    Just ignore them. Spinfusor is the best damn weapon in the game.

    • Lemming says:

      Anyone, and I do mean anyone who claims this game is ‘pay 2 win’ can be safely ignored as having never played the game, because they are lying their arse off.

      • Jesus H. Christ says:

        or their definition differs than yours and dont go into conniptions because of it?

        • Lemming says:

          Nope, you cant have different definitions of an absolute truth. Unlucky.

          I’m really average at shooters. Really average. Yet I’ve been having a blast, getting kills and see no reason to use any of the weapons above the basic loadout of the soldier. It’s just too versatile and too much fun, occasionally swapping via the in-game terminals to the fixing gear to heal up the base defences and spending my in-game credits on base upgrades. I’m enjoying being a base-defending soldier. I’ve capped the flag a couple of times and felt like a god (even though to have managed it, it must have been a combination of luck and a terrible opponent), and there is nothing more fun than manning the gun on a tank that someone else is driving.

  25. JonClaw says:

    Played the closed beta. Loved it. Then forgot about it.

    Played it recently, queue was dead and there were very few good servers to play on…

    • mouton says:

      Say what? I can join a game any day, any time of the day.

      Custom servers are mostly dead – it is hirez’s fault

    • killmachine says:

      in what region are you playing? london and amsterdam queues pop up almost immidiately. costum servers are dead though.

      hi-rez just needs to introduce a proper way for players to join and filter games. not just a “play now” button and selectio for game type.

  26. bear912 says:

    Movement really is incredibly important in a multiplayer shooter. The tight “micro” precision of Quake and Warsow has always been more to my taste than the “macro” scale and speed of Tribes, but Tribes certainly does movement well. It’s a bit like ice skating versus skiing, really, and I guess happen to prefer ice skating.

  27. Hug_dealer says:

    i used to enjoy games like this, but they just dont entertain me like they used to, quake, tribes, unreal, team fortress 2 etc etc. I’ll play AA2, battlefield, red orchestra, and others like it to death.

    I used to enjoy those kinds of games though.

  28. killmachine says:

    beautiful writeup. :D i just fell in love with that first paragraph. if i could just see every tribes game like that… :)

  29. Dr.Nick says:

    Tribes Ascend sucks. It’s a deeply flawed game that stops being fun after the first dozen matches. If you want a true amazing Tribes experience go play the first 2 games.

    • theallmightybob says:

      care to explain why you think its flawed? i personaly havent player the previous ones and want to know why you think that.

  30. Bobtree says:

    I really like the game and I’m playing it daily, but pay to unlock/upgrade/configure/etc absolutely does confer an advantage and hurts it as a competitive game.

    I’m getting plain sick and tired of this kind of incrementalism that has so widely and deeply infected the game industry at large.

  31. presheaf says:

    What really saddens me is how disgustingly close this game comes to being great, in my eyes.

    The developers are clearly well-meaning and trying to nurture the e-sport community, but I think they completely misunderstand how best to do that.
    Instead of concentrating on making the mechanics natural and letting things emerge from that, they seem to insist on making up rules and patching in unnatural behaviours to make the game like they see fit; the whole thing ends up just feeling excessively weird.
    For instance, there is:
    - weird projectile inheritance (I’d argue only none or full inheritance bear intuitive similitude to real experience)
    - weird flag throwing momentum and inheritance
    - silly jetpack physics: once you start going past 72 km/h, they become ineffective… you cannot pull yourself back out of a fall past that speed (especially unnerving when falling in generator rooms or off high flag stands)
    - tentative map-making (I see enormous potential in this game with cave systems and the like, but that’s not really happening): the past attempts on Bella Omega were quite indicative of the general attitude, constantly trying to needlessly change things to accommodate weird requests
    - infiltrator stealth that stops working at 172km/h (real intuitive cutoff there, but I’d argue the mechanic is bad anyway)

    The whole thing seems like a wrong approach to the making of a competitive FPS game. Maybe I’m too firm a believer in the likes of Quake, but I don’t believe that constant, weird, unintuitive band-aid fixes really does much to help the depth of the game, or help it feel more satisfying and playable. Even when something emergent does occur (for instance rock bouncing), they start messing with it and introducing issues.

    I was hoping a lot of these core mechanics would get fixed to be sensible (and not rely on obscure random cutoffs) before the game went out of alpha. Thank god they fixed the fish-patch mind-boggling angle-dependent projectile inheritance, but the rest of the core mechanics did not get the much-needed makeover. Now it all seems too late. What a shame.

  32. MDefender says:

    Pay to win or not, the xp/gp and unlocking mechanic is as spurious and arbitrary as it is in every modern multiplayer shooter and when/if it ceases to be a trend I won’t miss it. Decide whether you want to make a game or some glorified graphical content-distribution platform and stick with that.

  33. thinbourne says:

    *sniff* That was beautiful.

  34. Rattleshirt says:

    I honestly think TA might have the highest skill-cap of any FPS on the market right now. Maybe the payment system is the trees in front of the proverbial forest. Idk if that makes sense, been drinking all day . :P

    • Shooop says:

      You type very well for someone drinking that much. Be careful when the room starts spinning though. Damn thing does that at the worst times.

  35. Shooop says:

    I loved the movement (skiing and jetpacks), but everyone seemed to have no problem at all compensating for distance and enemy players changing direction with their spinfusors.

    Except me.

    Uninstalled after a day of head-meet-desk frustration.

  36. Kageru says:

    If I wanted to role-play as some sort of armed human missile this would probably be my game of choice.

    In practice though zipping all over the landscape made the maps feel less tactical, the shooting less satisfying and I doubt I have the reflexes to be competitive. Didn’t take too long before I happily uninstalled it.

  37. asshibbitty says:

    Im sorry I called you names before angry tribs developers. Im back to the game and having fun. The xp seems to come easier now and halved prices on regional Steam are also nice.

  38. Land says:

    Is it just me or are those screenshots really horrible? Never played the game, but the article is great and might tempt me to play it had I more time. But those screenshots are not compelling or interesting at all.

  39. zaik says:

    This is an awfully idealized view of it.

    Must be this guy’s first Tribes.

    Had you played either of the others, you’d probably think it was a so so remake at best. Apparently slower moving projectile weapons + 3 dimensional movement is too hard for people these days though, so they threw in tons of pinpoint accurate automatic bullet weapons that do 170%-190% of the explosive weapons’ DPS while suffering none of the drawbacks.(apparently that’s a little out of date these days, doubt it’s actually changed at all though).

  40. Dariush says:

    Tribes is not pay to win?

    Plasma gun.
    Plasma cannon.
    Jackal.
    (arguably) Thumper.

    It gets annoying when a puny infiltrator can deal as much damage from stealth as a perfectly aimed mortar shot that you can dodge. And plasma gun is just bullshit. About half the rate of fire of Raider’s new SMG, damage that is mere 100 lower than stealthfusor, crazy huge projectile size and accolades for midairs. I can bet 20 bucks that when they release twinfusors, they’ll again be insanely OP, then get nerfed a few days in to merely highly OP. Yes, Tribes was a good game. Right up to somewhere in February. Then they removed the slight outline of enemy infiltrators and it all went downhill from there.

    • Dark Nexus says:

      All 4 of those weapons are easily outranged.

      Sure, I got absolutely shredded by the plasmas when they launched. Then I adapted, and they were nerfed a bit. They’re no more dangerous than the other explosive projectiles.

      I barely see the Jackal used anymore. It’s a good ambush weapon, but in any other situation the SMG or the Stealth Spinfusor are better.

      Thumper is a big upgrade for the stay-inside TCN. It’s also a big downgrade for the outdoorsy-TCN.

  41. miri says:

    I came across this article via the Tribes Reddit page and was pleased to see the game getting more positive publicity, but alarmed by the pages of comments with people complaining the game is ‘pay to win’. Let me try and explain why, as someone who has played Tribes games since 2001, my fears of that being the case were alleviated.

    First of all the original iterations of the class system and then weapon unlocks were, undoubtedly, more geared towards pay to win. At the beginning you could only play classes you unlocked via XP or gold, which is obviously completely flawed. Then you could play any class, but you had to unlock anything beyond the baselines weapons. Now you can play any class and use any weapon, but you need XP or gold to ‘level up’ the weapons and gain upgrades to bring them up to their ‘intended’ state of use.

    I can understand why it may feel this is still ‘pay to win’, but the honest truth is that Tribes is a game about movement and whether someone has slightly faster reload time than you or more bullets per round, you can still win by being *better* at the different facets of combat. The appeal of Tribes to me has always been that it is a game about more than simply aim, it rewards playing smart, it encourages thinking about the game on many levels. So with all these different tools for you to play with (movement, aim, dodging, terrain, etc etc) you can easily bridge the perceived ‘gap’ between players who have everything unlocked and completely new accounts by playing smart.

    With all that said, it would be trite of me to suggest that unlocks and so forth do not give you some kind of advantage, but I think it is far too easy when you’re new to a game that is very hard to master to blame the unlock system when what really exists is a skill gap. Like any game, time and effort brings the reward of improving as a player.

    The Tribes franchise is, to me, the most unique and compelling game experience I’ve ever been lucky enough to engage with. I worried when T:A was announced that the free to play model would alienate comp players and pub players alike for various reasons, and it saddens me that in a lot of cases this has turned out to be true. But in a game that can give you so many exciting moments and where so much stuff can happen that just makes you go ‘holy shit’, I honestly think it’s worth persevering with the initial frustrations of the unlock system.

    As an aside, I implore anyone who even has the remotest interest in this game from a competitive standpoint to start playing pickups and making teams. The game always needs more teams, and the competitions, tournaments and LANs we’ve had/will have will only improve with more teams joining. For new teams there are going to be ‘Newbloods’ ladders/tournaments in EU and US to help teams of a similar level get some experience before ‘jumping in at the deep end’.

    I’ve been making some montages of competitive play, with the hope they inspire more people to try out comp T:A – which is where I feel the game truly shines: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Oy-p7tR2j6k&hd=1

  42. Kromaxx says:

    I’ve had incredibly mixed feeling about this game. For one, it’s not Tribes enough for me. They took something that I had been playing for years and stripped it down into this mutant mess of a shooter.
    This 20 different classes + different weapons thing is a really moronic idea.

    WTF IS WITH 2 WEAPON SLOTS! WHY THE FUCK WHY!

    1. Light 3, Medium 4, Heavy 5…. That simple… That’s how it’s supposed to be. I always always find myself in a situation where I go “Smg smg smg in the air, alright he’s gonna hit the ground, go for my spinfusor and … WTF i don’t have one. Or, this hallway would be perfect for a plasma gun right now… wait, this class can’t get equip it. Everywhere I go, i feel super limited in my ability to deal with the situations at hand because i’m limited to only 2 weapons. It really chaps my ass and it makes the NOT FUN.

    2. I get punished for helping the team out. I leveled the engineer class first, as i noticed nobody repairing fucking anything… whats the point anyway, the generator is destroyed instantly by invisible ghosts that shoot three fucking grenades at you while you repair it. The delay is sooooo short on the fuses that by the time you hear the first shot, and try to move, the’ve gone off. The repair distance is so short that you need to hump the fucking generator and unless I want to pay 10$ to unlock a motion censor i’m going to keep getting punished for trying to help my team out.

    3. Where are the base defenses from T1, T2?????… Solar panels to keep generator forcefields up? The indoor fast firing turrets near doors and hallways(not the huge cannons outside). Base mortar launcher!!!
    I used to keep the base up and running, then jump into the mortar or the base turret from my map, why can’t i do that anymore!

    No starting Spinfusor for Medium…. WHY THE FUCK WHY!

    I just seems sooooo meh… punishing players for trying to do their jobs, gimmicky weapons (And upgrades… wtf). Not enough weapons slots to get a job done (Repair tool as a weapon slot?)….

    They have a great IP but poor execution.

    • Mabans says:

      HALO has been doing the 2 weapon slot thing for YEARS so has Call of Duty, from the 1st iteration.. What are you even babbling about? The moment you make statements not based in reality your opinion is immediately invalid..

  43. Ovno says:

    To all the ‘Its Pay2Win’ whiners I started playing last week have spent no money yet and have been loving it, every kill of mine has been skill (or luck) and every time I have died its felt like it was my killers skill or luck.

    But then I never was one to claim hacks or aim bots back in my CS days either, when I die it is normally my own stupid fault or just that someone is better than me.

    And as far as the unlockable guns go, most of the unlocks I’ve seen so far have been to increase damage at the cost of area of effect, a choice I haven’t wanted to make at the mo cus I’m not accurate enough yet.

    So two weeks in, loving it, coming top 1/4 of scoreboard a hell of a lot and not a penny spent, till pay day when I might unlock a class or two….

    My advice PLAY THE GAME!!!!! its really quite good.

  44. The_Great_Skratsby says:

    I still absolutely love the Tribes games. Ascend isn’t perfect, but this is a great piece that articulates the highs. However I would like to see the larger bases, player counts and troop transports of the first two Tribes.

    It’s just missing that extra something like having those actual fort like flying monolith bases, and sieging one with transports filled with heavies lobbing mortars.

    But damn it’s good that Tribes is back in some shape and form.

  45. RegisteredUser says:

    “When you fail, you admire your enemy.”
    No, you realize that you are being pinballed in between players who have perfected this shit in their sleep while you thought you could still manage to compete as a casual player and get so frustrated that that is a nigh impossible option that the game sours for you and, dance or not, you leave.

    That’s Tribes after level 6.

    • miri says:

      Or you could just put in the time to improve like they do and stop whining. The entitlement of modern gamers baffles me, why do you expect to be good straight away? Gaming, like anything else, takes time and dedication to be good at. And before you start wheeling out the ‘I have to work I don’t have time to play 24/7 like those damn pesky kids’ excuses, I work, I’m 25, I have a life, and yet I still compete in Tribes and other games because I dedicated myself to getting better instead of blaming outside influences for my own deficiencies.

      • asshibbitty says:

        Hello reddit

      • RegisteredUser says:

        I’ve played FPS & stuff like RTCW:ET(with some clanners no less), L4D2 and Counterstrike: Source all my life.

        Still I’m pretty sucky at T:A and it seems this particular game attracts “high-enders” far more than most.
        I’ve put in enough time to unlock 2 classes, 2-3 items of gear and > 12000 leftover XP if I remember correctly. I was somewhere around level 8-14. I really don’t remember exactly, and I can’t check, because after a last week of trying to be able to “just hop in for a quick hour of fun” I realized I wasn’t having any anymore.

        You can blame it on me being too shitty at it or whatever, but my point remains that unless you’re competitive enough, you will be severely dominated by the top 1-4 players on each team. Or, put differently, if you can’t merge with the new axis mechanics well enough, the game is probably going to be less dancing and more “Socially Awkward Penguin – the FPS game”.

        If you can be that happy go lucky kind of guy that enjoys stuff even when that’s the case, good on you.

        I’ve tried and found that I much, much rather be doing something else. Both with the 4gb of space and my time.

        Also: Modern Gamers?
        Bitch please. I First-Person-Shot ducks before the kind of people thinking Halo is the shizzle were even born. :p
        And in the game.

        • Mabans says:

          So pay the full price of the game, $60, and get all the items and your worries are over, Thing is you would rather bitch about a free game than complain about how CS & CS.S is littered with AWPers.. Good try you liar. You can tell the yougens real easily. “CS.S all my life.” RFOL

          • RegisteredUser says:

            When I said first person shot ducks, I meant Duck Hunt. On the NES. When it came out.

            You’re being an obtuse dick and intentionally misunderstanding what I wrote.
            I played myself through a good chunk of NES, the majority of SNES games, through a REALLY big chunk of C64 games, and a really huge chunk of PC games.
            I played Wolfenstein and DOOM when they both came out and every BUILD shooter you can think of, and a probably too large amount of bad FPS clones etc.

            In short, think what you want, but be aware that you just were being an idiot in your comment. Or maybe just professional trolling, dunno.
            Missing my point as well with the “buy stuff then?” just topped it off. The complaint wasn’t that I couldn’t unlock what I wanted. At all.

  46. giraffupus says:

    To all those who are saying it’s pay to win…

    https://www.facebook.com/tribesascend/app_143129555807414

    I did this. Go do it. It works. It’s 250 free gold, and your first gold purchase is what gets you vip status. You will be vip for free. Crazy how the devs for this “pay to win” game give you this option. Stop whining. In about 10 hours gameplay I unlocked the thumper for the tech. that’s 88,000 exp. That could have been (and probably should have been) 5 perk or class unlocks (at 18,000 each, some 14,000) Unlocking 5 classes or perks in 10 hours is hardly pay to win.

    • Mabans says:

      People are morons, that’s how you know people who are bitching about how it’s “pay to win” don’t play. They are just lying.. Period..

  47. MasterDex says:

    Great read and it echoes my own thoughts on the game.

    You’ve also got to give credit to the communication system. This is what Battlefield’s comm system should have been. The fact that I can call out enemies, throw orders out to defend the flag I’ve been knocked from and repair the sensors that just got taken out, all the while firing, skiing and jet-packing is fantastic evidence of its brilliance. It’s also great that the commands for the different dialogue are included in the corresponding text pop-up.

    To Tribes, I give a hearty VGW and to HiRez, I say VGCY.

  48. Mabans says:

    People who say the game is play to win are the following:

    1. Don’t play the game
    2. Don’t take time to learn the game
    3. Don’t realize if you pay $60, you get all the items, the price of a full game. You pay that much in CoD and you STILL have to grind to get items.

    The game has done a GREAT job of keeping the balance between paying for cool and marginal better items and keeping those who don’t want to pay interested in playing a fun game. I have paid ZERO for the game and enjoy it very much. Biggest issues I’ve seen with the game have been weapon balance issues, NOT this perceived notion of paying to win. Anyone who says that is a cheapskate that feels that everything in it should be free and Hi-Rez should do this simply out of love.

    “Hello landlord? I was wondering if I could pay this month’s rent in Love? No? What do you mean you don’t expect LOVE as payment?”

    This is the best thing that has happened to FPS on PC in nearly a decade and the most people can complain about is spending money on it. It’s like it’s terrible for a developer to run a business now. Stop being such spoiled children..

  49. ImOnTheRadio says:

    Astonishingly beautifully written article. I hope this helps me to see Tribes in a whole new way.
    This is why I shouldn’t just skim all the articles.

  50. jgthespy says:

    I can’t believe I hadn’t played this game before reading this article. It’s insanely fun. I have no trouble killing people without having spent money either, although I’m enjoying it so much that I’ll probably end up spending some money anyway.