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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. No 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.

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