Hi-Rez Does Things: SMITE Open Beta, Tribes’ XP Halving

For a company whose latest flagship game spells its name with MIGHTY MONOSYLLABIC CAPS, Hi-Rez tends to run a pretty quiet operation. Today, however, it suddenly decided to open fire on all fronts, so I had to reinforce this post’s already formidable RPS Knowledge Entrapment Box with ores from the stars just to contain the sheer magnitude of it all. Many tireless hours later, I am here, and I have so much news for you. First off, god-powered MOBA SMITE (see?) is now in open beta. You can play it, I can play it, your cat can’t play it – but theoretically could if it were physically capable. Meanwhile, Tribes Ascend has – finally kowtowing to requests hurled with blue-plate-special-level fervor – halved its XP cost for all unlocks.

ANGRY VOLCANO. Is a phrase that loses a lot of oomph when hummed by a disarmingly robotic and monotone voice. But yes, as the above video points out, the action-MOBA’s open beta has ushered in a laundry list of additions, including a better practice AI, a draft mode, clan support, some map overhauls, and tons of tiny tweaks. The holy change list bible’s hereabouts, if you’re interested in reading up.

It may very well be Tribes that’s seen the most significant change, however. Hi-Rez CEO Todd Harris explained on the high-flying shooter’s forums:

“Effective immediately, we’ve cut all the item XP prices in half.┬áNo guarantees on how long it will stick. Long enough to measure whether it positively affects the new user experience or not; and also see player feedback on forums/etc.”

Players, of course, have been demanding extra jet propulsion on Tribes’ progression for ages, as – even after updates tailored toward accelerating that process – it still ended up being quite sluggish. So now, if you want to be a completely free player, it’s actually pretty darn viable.

Much appreciated? Absolutely. But I have to wonder if – at least, for the purpose of seducing new players – it’s a matter of “too little, too late.” I mean, with shiny new (though admittedly very different) F2P shooter options like PlanetSide 2 and, soon, Firefall running around, Tribes’ futuristic sheen is looking a bit rusty by comparison. It doesn’t help that new content’s been a bit sparse lately, either. Still though, better late than never. You have my gratitude, Hi-Rez – even if it did take quite some time for you to unlock it.


  1. Syra says:

    I played closed beta of smite quite a lot in the early days and really enjoyed it, moba from 3rd person is to me atleast far more interesting, you don’t feel the disconnect of being top down clicky when you are moving with wasd, though it does feel closer to MMO combat. I actually had to uninstall it cos i got the nurdraegs from getting too competitive in a silly game >< It never happens to me I swear!

    • DeVadder says:

      If you do want to play less competitive: Play with other RPS people.
      link to rockpapershotgun.com

      We are nice. I promise.
      We try to set up a RPS Team (Teams in SMITE are somewhere between party and clan).

    • dontnormally says:

      The 3rd-person perspective seems fresh, yes, but you know what really appeals to me?


      Seriously – I understand “keeping it real” as much as the next medium-budget developer, but I was sick of the DOTA map before World of Warcraft was released and I can’t understand why it’s STILL all “they” play in LoL, HoN, DOTA2, ABCDEFG etc.

      • dontnormally says:

        New maps allow moderately-intelligent, adaptable game-players who, you know, have jobs and other things preventing them from memorizing every detail of an insanely complex system, to have an even keel discover/playing with all the dotard masses (TIL a word!).

        • MrUnimport says:

          Actually only having one map in DOTA makes it a whole lot easier to remember where everything is. People who only play DOTA will learn the ins and outs of each map eventually, do you really want to learn multiple maps with your limited time?

  2. felisc says:

    I wouldn’t say tribes is “rusty” in comparison to PS2. First of all they are very very different games obviously, and Tribes’ shooting is much much better than planetside’ (well, my opinion). It’s’just more a “cheese and cracker” game while planetside would be lasagnas. Yes.

    • mbp says:

      Very apt summing up of the difference @felisc. Of course we shouldn’t forget that BLOPS2 is the chicken fillet burger of video games while TF2 is the undoubtedly Spaghetti Bolognaise.

      • P.Funk says:

        To even put TF2 into the same sentence as BLOPS for any reason other than to cite how low our opinion of a Triple A FPS has fallen since 2007 is just… yuck.

        To include TF2 in the conversation however as a clear example of how F2P can take a superb game and bottom out the quality of the average round played globally is more apt, especially when you consider the sea change between Ascend and the previous, and utterly sublime, clearly superior Tribes incarnations.

        I can’t decide if F2P FPS is more vulgar a term to me than just BLOPS.

        • mbp says:

          So what you are really saying is that BLOPS is some unmentionable central Asian dish involving yak intestines while TF2 used to be creme caramel but has since degenerated into curdled custard. On the other hand I am pretty sure you feel that F2P FPS games in general are supermarket own brand tinned brussel’s sprouts.

          • felisc says:

            I’m left wondering what kind of dish would be Dwarf Fortress ?
            A carrot cake with an icing made of concrete ?

          • caddyB says:

            Masterwork Plump Helmet Roast

          • dontnormally says:

            And many chuckles were had from this thread.

          • bjohndooh says:

            Dwarf Fortress would be an actual cow. Then it’s your job to figure out how to eat it.

  3. misterT0AST says:

    Alas when I have an hour or two to spare I usally desperately try to convince my friends to play Dota 2, or resort to good old LoL, but this game is very very good for what it is nonetheless. Maybe I will log in again one of these days. I think I have saved enough points to buy me a new God, and never even used them.

    Although I’m very angry at them for considering Hercules part of the Roman pantheon rather than the Greek one, and forsaking the cooler, less used deities for the more famous and boring ones.
    The Gods are too full of pop culture and too devoided of real mythology.

    • Hobz says:

      Well, isn’t hercules the roman version of heracles ?

      • f1x says:

        You are right

        • misterT0AST says:

          Then macaroni are an American dish, because the Italian version is maccheroni.

          • MrLebanon says:

            when will they be adding macaroni to the SMITE list of Gods?

          • Serpok says:

            I, too, can’t wait to fight as flying spaghetti monster.

            I wonder if they can include Xenu in their lineup or is he trademarked and copyrighted by Hubbard?

  4. Hobz says:

    SMITE is a great game that I’d recommend for anyone who enjoyed pvp in any MMO at some point. It’s fun, most abilities are skillshots and the community is not toxic (yet ?)

  5. killmachine says:

    sry, have to jump in here. firefall is far far away from beeing competetive with any of the current free2play shooters. it has one thing and that’s potential. but i said this 2 years ago already.

    tribes is the better game, period. i’m not even a fanboy, i’m active in both communities but tribes is just so much more of a shooter than firefall. i’m almost insulted by comparing both titles.

    if any, plz compare planetside 2 and firefall. tribes is just your usual “small” arena’ish shooter and NOT a MMO.

    smite is nice as well but it didn’t grab me. but it’s very good and hi-rez makes a lot of money off of it. congratz!

  6. dodgepong says:

    HiRez has really turned around for Tribes. In the last month they’ve become a lot more transparent and open to feedback, starting a dev blog and launching a Public Test Server for players to playtest 4 new maps and several other gameplay changes. If you’re hankering for new Tribes content, it’s worth checking out for sure.

    • MrLebanon says:

      that’s good to hear.. End of 2012 it felt like they left it for dead

  7. Greggh says:

    As a free player myself I have to say its not too little, but it’s too late :|

    And I love Tribes since Tribes n# 2

  8. TwwIX says:

    Too little, too late as far as Tribes Ascend is concerned. They should have listened to their community right away. This won’t beckon anybody back apart from a few hardcore fans. I have VIP status but i just don’t care anymore. They’re still going to continue to fuck balancing up with their shitty grindfest of an unlock/class system.

  9. UrLossMyGain says:

    Anyone here still wish Global Agenda still had support? In my opinion, Planetside 2 is what GA should (and could) have been…

    Oh well, guess all’s well that ends well.

  10. Josh W says:

    What a good change! I’m a great believer in the idea that the correct free to play annoyance curve is to be basically zero for easy going people with a lot of time, because these are the people who will build your user base. Then you should make it so that the people who are trying to rush through because they know their time is limited (cause they’ve got proper paying jobs) can naturally shortcut that process and fill gaps that people are asking for.

    To put that in clearer terms, the unlock curve should match people’s slow branching out and understanding of the dynamics of the game, so that people start off by unlocking classes, then get into unlocking the different weapon types and specific details of those classes as time goes on.

    Whereas buying should allow you to buy builds, specific packages of unlocks based on what players tend to chose, that allow you to play with your friends who have a lot more experience of the game, and just hop in there with the sort of character they need. Then if you find you like it, branch out into other things as time goes on.

    Edit – I just realised something, if you continue to follow that logic “free to play players explore, time poor players buy specific things”, then you can come to the conclusion that you should actually randomise unlocks for free to play players, so that instead of working towards something they really want in fractions of it (xp), they work towards it in probability of getting it. At the same time you are still encouraging them to experiment and get into the game in depth.

    Whereas players who want specific things will still buy them.

    You may recognise this as the exact way that tf2 works! Man I love that game.