Tribes! Tribes! Tribes! Earthsiege And Tribes For Free

Say, reader dear, do you like the future? Do you like jetpacks? Do you like mechs? Do you like first-person shooters? Do you like multiplayer with vehicles and bases? Do you like classic series which folks grumble go forgotten too often? Do you like skill-based movement exploiting weird physics tricks? Do you like free video games?

If you answered yes to at least three of those, hie thee to this website, where Tribes Ascend folks Hi-Rez Studios are offering (almost) the full Tribes world o’games for free, from 1994’s Earthsiege through to 2004’s Tribes Vengeance (their own Ascend, of course, being free-to-play anyway).

That’s a full decade of rompin’, stompin’, shootin’, skiin’ fun for you to blast through, and it is very exciting. Hi-Rez had stepped away from Tribes: Ascend, focusing on their MOBA Smite for a few years, but in September they came back with a surprise new update. These here freebies are a nice “Hey, Tribes!” gift.

There are a few hiccups. Starsiege Universe is supposed to contain both Starsiege and Starsiege: Tribes, but this download only has Starsiege. Presumably that’ll be fixed soon-ish. You’ll also need to get your hands dirty.

Most of the downloads are simply ISO files (a self-contained copy of a disc, an actual physical disc, like something you’d put in a DVD drive, like something you’d have to hold and touch with your actual hands – the ’90s were a wild time, let me tell you). Windows 8 and upwards come with built-in tools to load ISOs, but otherwise you’ll need to download something like… heck, I haven’t done this in years; readers, what’s good for simply loading ISOs? You’ll also need to wrestle with DOSBox for some if you don’t have a computer from 1997 at hand. There are a few other technological hurdles too, as detailed and worked around in this Reddit thread.

To give an abridged history of Tribes, Dynamix kicked the whole thing off with mech series Earthsiege, which jumped into the future with Starsiege then span off into Starsiege: Tribes, a multiplayer FPS series of huge maps, vehicles, and bases. Over the years, development duties and rights bounced between a few companies, but they ended up at Hi-Rez. If you want to be picky, this collection’s missing Earthsiege’s multiplayer sibling Metaltech: Battledrome but it does have the PlayStation 2 Tribes game and that novelty surely makes up for its absence.

I bet this Tribes 2 download doesn’t come with the Mötley Crüe theme song, though.

37 Comments

  1. Premium User Badge

    INCSlayer says:

    Ohh i do like Starsiege

  2. aircool says:

    Earthsiege was a pretty good game, but kinda tough.

  3. MiniMatt says:

    …but otherwise you’ll need to download something like… heck, I haven’t done this in years; readers, what’s good for simply loading ISOs

    Daemon Tools Lite, last time I had to fiddle with such things, was OK.

    • Troubletcat says:

      PowerISO (link to poweriso.com) also works fine and is free, if people want a different option.

      • DizzyCriminal says:

        Logged in to endorse PowerISO, its got a good suite of options and is free with a paid for option. This makes it low on bloat and high in features.

        • Flopper says:

          PowerISO is all I’d ever use when I would pirate SP games on Pirate Bay the last few years. So easy to use. Minimal BS.

    • Floflo81 says:

      It works fine, but these days, Daemon Tools is full of opt-out bloatware. Careful!

    • aziztcf says:

      The answer is clearly WinCDEmu. Open source and all that jazz.

      • epeternally says:

        WinCDEmu lacks support for some obscure formats which forces me to keep Daemon Tools on hand as well, but other than that it is by far the best piece of software to handle ISOs. Not just because it’s FOSS, it’s also wonderfully intuitive and ‘just works’ in a way I’ve never really gotten from another virtual CD solution.

    • Menthalion says:

      Elby Virtual Clonedrive, simple, no bloat, no malware or opt-out installs.

    • wyrm4701 says:

      Beware of Daemon Tools Lite – what was once the gold standard is now loaded with garbage, much of which Avast flags as infectious and viral. If you can find an older version, you’re probably okay, but the current one is terribly packaged.

    • SuicideKing says:

      I’d recommend PowerISO over DT now, simply because DT comes with really annoying adware/bloatware now. I do like it a lot as such.

  4. wcq says:

    Amusing that they also have a disk image file of the Playstation 2 entry – I don’t remember anyone ever offering a ‘legit’ ISO download of a PS2 game.

    But, but… where’s Starsiege (the mech game)? Where’s Cyberstorm?

    • wcq says:

      Just wanted to add that the single-player mode in Tribes: Vengeance is Actually Pretty Legit™, as far as FPS stories go. So, for anyone who hasn’t played it, this is a pretty good opportunity.

      • Faults says:

        Yup-yup, everybody seems to forget in amongst all the “IT’S NOT A REAL TRIBES GAME” hyperbole, that it was developed by Irrational Games, AKA Them Wot Did System Shock 2, Bioshock, Freedom Force and SWAT 4. The writing for the game was really well-done, and the campaign was surprisingly lengthy and full-featured.

  5. JoeQ says:

    Well, this is nice of Hi-Rez and I urge everyone to at least give Starsiege and Tribes: Vengeance a try, buuuuuut… I’d rather have these games on GOG, even if I had to pay for them. Having them sort out the compatibility problems and include some nice extras would be worth it.

    And yeah, it’s missing Cyberstorm 1 and 2.

  6. SomeDuder says:

    Starsiege was great – basically a MechWarrior lite. All of the huge stompy, but none of the simulation nonsense. Hell, there’s even a tank that’s actually viable to use.

    • SomeDuder says:

      Also, the first Tribes was great, but the second one made me an everlasting fan, it was so fantastic. And the whole concept of infantry combat combined with ground vehicles and aircraft was lightyears ahead of its time. There was nothing quite like filling a heavy transport with heavy armors, hovering above a hostile position and lobbing mortars till they ran out and then watching them dismount and go to town on the defenders. Or setting up a FOB with the mobile base and deployable turrets. Or 3 people manning a bomber. Or… oh goddamn I love this game more than breathing

      Hell, not even Ascend does this – it’s allllll about eSports! Gotta have those clicks!

      • Faults says:

        You gotta remember though that most of the Tribes community fucking HATED vehicles, years before esports were a thing. I’m not entirely sure why, probably because they felt they ‘unbalanced’ the game because the serious competitive players sunk so much time into perfecting skiing, or whatever.

        • melancholicthug says:

          Funny how people make the same arguments over at Planetside 2. They think that only infantry combat is honoraburu and legit, and all that don’t particulary enjoy that are crappers. In a combined arms game. Makes you wonder why don’t they go play competitive CS:GO and earn millions, and leave us to play with vehicles AND infantry, as the devs intended…

        • Nogo says:

          The vehicles really were unbalanced, in the sense that they were terrible, weak, flimsy things with maneuverability and armament arguably worse than a proper load and rudimentary skiing skills.

          Then BF1942 comes along with a literal rock, paper, scissors diagram of vehicle deadliness on the box, garnering an “ooooooohhh, right” from Dynamix.

          They were ahead of their time in vision, but stuck in the present for execution.

      • Asurmen says:

        There’s few things I’ve enjoyed more than flying as escort Shrike for a bomber while flying high and behind. Wait for another Shrike to get on its tail while the fighter was being hit by missles from tail gunner then dive down to kill it in one pass.

    • EhexT says:

      Note that Starsiege is way more of a sim than the most known Mechwarrior game, MW4. Starsiege has ECM, radar signature mechanics, focusable and rotatable shields, artillery call-ins, a power mechanic, optical camo mechanics, etc.

  7. ocdmonkey says:

    For the DOS games I believe you can mount iso files in DOSBox, and then install it through there. Just takes a little Google searching for the commands.

    • Kaeoschassis says:

      I had no idea Dosbox could mount ISOs and I’ve been using it for years. This is a game-changer.

  8. Scumbag says:

    Hi-Rez are awful people. They can all go and die in a f-
    *hyperbole cools, reads article*

    Carry on.

  9. mikmanner says:

    I am SO down for more Tribes.

  10. BathroomCitizen says:

    I know, I know.

    I always jump in Tribes threads and am over-enthuastic about Tribes games, BUT: little know fact, Hi-Rez has dedicated a small team just for revamping and balancing Tribes: Ascend.

    It’s getting pretty good right now, even though it’s just on test servers (which anyone can join, btw).

  11. Crabtipus says:

    Man, I wish they had a copy of Starsiege that worked stably on modern Windows. It would be fun to be able to play multiplayer on that again.

  12. Rymosrac says:

    No mention that Tribes 2 has been freeware for most of a decade, complete with stability fixes and functional online play (unlike the version being distributed by hi-rez) via tribesnext.com?

    For shame.

  13. august says:

    Tribes 1 has also been free for quite a while, I’d recommend downloading one of these packs instead of an iso

    link to tribes0.com

  14. Kaeoschassis says:

    This is nicely timed – My Tribes:Vengeance disc is getting really worn-out and I’ve been doubting if it’ll stand up to another playthrough, despite really fancying one.

    Can I just make this clear? You should all play Tribes:Vengeance. The chances are pretty good that most of you didn’t back in the day, because nobody bloody did, and it’s criminal. It is not a particularly good Tribes game, but it is an effing amazing narrative-driven shooter with massive levels and incredibly satisfying movement.

    Rant over. Oh, and my Earthsiege 2 disc wore out YEARS ago and I never actually got to try Starsiege, so that’s cool too. Free robots!

    • Muzman says:

      It should be thickly underlined that it’s Irrational Games. That should automatically make it worth a look for ‘game art history’ people even with no interest in Tribes.

    • Premium User Badge

      heretic says:

      +1 to that, narrative was great in that game – playing through different characters and their bits of the story, have really good memories of this :)

  15. Spakkenkhrist says:

    Tribes Ascend remains one of my favourite multiplayer games, you should play it, yes YOU.