Midair soars out of early access, becoming F2P

The high-flying first-person shooter action of the Tribes games had returned in a roundabout way with the full launch of Midair, a game oh so very heavily inspired by the classics. Strap on a jetpack, skim across big rolling levels, raid the enemy base while defending your own, shoot baddies, and generally Tribes it right up. Sure, it doesn’t have the Tribes name but mate come on. Crowdfunded in 2016 and launched into early access in 2017, as of yesterday it’s properly super really out. Midair cost money during early access but, as was always the plan, it’s now free-to-play.

See? Jetpacking, that Tribes-y ‘skiing’ movement, grabbing flags, busting up turrets, shooting people out of mid-air while mid-air yourself… Tribes stuff. But developers Archetype Studios have never pretended they’re not massively riffing on it. They want to make a classic-style “z-shooter”, which this seems broadly to be.

The latest official Tribes game is the free-to-play Tribes: Ascend, which stopped updating years ago. This, here, is shiny and new and still updating.

Monetisation-wise, Archetype sell cosmetic skins for players and weapons, voice packs, as you’d expect. The biggest–and most desirable–purchase on offer is the Manaborn Game Pass, which for £15 permanently unlocks all present and future weapons, vehicles, armour types, perks, and all that – skipping the progression grind. I’d half-see the free version as a demo for a £15 game.

Midair is out for Windows through Steam.


  1. Menthalion says:

    Yup, completely free and only 15 pop for supporting the devs, and people trash it on Steam reviews for being pay to win.

    I’ve effectively given up on humanity now..

    • TheOx129 says:

      The negative reviews currently on the front page of Steam all seem to focus on pretty legitimate issues – movement, draw distance, etc. – with only one calling the game pay to win.

      My main concern is that I frequently heard on forums and such that Archetype was focusing on pleasing the hardcore Tribes crowd a bit too much, so it doesn’t seem like the game is going to be very accessible to new players. I can’t help but feel that it’s going to turn out like Natural Selection 2 did, where too much focus on a small number of die-hards causes the game’s community to ossify and slowly die off.

      • sosolidshoe says:

        If the entire point is to cater to the niche community of die hards – so what?

        Look, I say this as someone who actually enjoyed the much maligned(by hardcore Tribes fans at least) Tribes: Vengeance, but people need to stop with this “accessible!” garbo. Not every game has to be made for everybody; targeting a specific niche and catering to their needs and wants over those of the general average gamer is an entirely valid way to make games, and it’s depressing to see actual normal gamers deploying that kind of AAAaaaaaaaay publisher money-hoover sentiment whenever niche products do come along.

        Maybe it will be wildly profitable, maybe it won’t, maybe it’ll just tick along quietly with a modest playerbase for a few years and then fizzle out like Ascend did – regardless, it will give the fans who’re clearly its target market what they want and that will make it a success.

      • edibleoffalofafowl says:

        There’s really only one design decision, made very early on in the process, which you could argue as catering to the hardcore crowd. One of Ascend’s big efforts was to make the somewhat esoteric experience of Tribes skiing accessible, as if you go back and actually play the old games it’s quite difficult and niche. To streamline that, Hi-Rez invented a really convoluted and inconsistent set of physics that actually did a pretty great job of delivering the skiing experience to the masses. But it broke competitive play in a lot of ways that in the entire lifetime of the game were never fixed, especially when you combined those physics with mechanics like health-regen and the potential it offered to build up speed without consequence by allowing for health regeneration in the middle of a route. So the one thing Midair did was to try to stake out a middle ground between Ascend’s gamebreaking physics and the cleaner but more difficult classic T1/T2 physics. After those early decisions, most of the efforts seem to have been towards the direction of accessibility. They have smooth skiing rather than the previous very bumpy versions of jump skiing; directional jetting is more powerful compared to the old games, to the extent that competitive players sometimes complain; there is a more intricate packs and augments system to entertain new players; engineers and baseplay are encouraged to an even greater extent than Ascend; and early experiments in naked spawn were abandoned in favor of spawn-in-kit with an emergency spawn option; other decisions and just the way they talk about the game suggest they want this to go mainstream. Maybe it won’t, but it wouldn’t be for lack of trying.

      • Spakkenkhrist says:

        I’m pretty certain that this was made by the hardcore Tribes fans from what I’ve seen on the Tribes subreddit.

  2. LearningToSmile says:

    I put hundreds of hours into T:A, I backed Midair on kickstarter, and I’m pretty sure I’ll put hundreds of hours into it as well.

    That said, the game has some rather disappointing omissions, and some aspects are very low quality(which is understandable given the budget). The worst part is probably the UI, it’s not only ugly, it’s very frustrating to use, and I can see a lot of people getting turned off the game because of it. I hope that the free to play launch generates enough revenue that they can go back and rework the parts that are lagging.

  3. Rindan says:

    I’ll probably give it a shot because I was an old Tribes fan and it is free to try. I’d have hated this trend of putting grind into FPSs, so seeing a $15 unlock everything is perfect. It’s basically “pay $15, and the game is yours”.

    I gotta say though, the weapons in that video look anemic. In fact, all of the effects look pretty weak. I’ll still give it a shot. Maybe Tribes-like gameplay has held up. It’s just a shame they don’t have any sort of weight to make it feel like armored, flying, ski humans were murdering each other proper.