Updated Mon, Apr 30, 2012 by Ethec
After my sound beating (complete with 40k-esque over-the-top "Do not underestimate your enemy" voice clip), I noted that the on the leaderboard, score is kept separate from kills. "There's actually no game mode where kill/death is the ultimate marker. Even in Team Deathmatch, it's more about reducing the lives available on the other team."
I played a round of Team Deathmatch next, and enjoyed myself far less thanks to a flag that spawns after the first death. Whichever team holds the flag scores double points, which tended to magnify a slaughter. The downside of holding the flag is that the flag's location is broadcast to the entire map. It might have been fun as an alternate match type, but I was hankering for an all out brawl and, instead, got a tornado of players whirling around the map with the score-doubling flag at its center. I found trying to shoot at people in the tornado to be just as hard as it sounds.
After the match, I escaped to the relative safety of the in-game store. For the grand price of a free download, players get three of the nine classes unlocked: the rangey Pathfinder, the run-of-the-grunt Soldier, and the anti-vehicle Juggernaut. The other six classes, along with equipment upgrades and new weapons, can be unlocked with xp or RMT-purchased gold. The only thing in the store that wasn't XP-purchasable were cosmetic skins for the Infiltrator class. Mercenary and Assassin skins were just added in the recent class update, "Cloak and Dagger."
"Cloak and Dagger" represents the first of nine class updates. "That's the kind of thing we'll be doing more of," Todd explained. "We'll do class updates - kind of the way Team Fortress 2 did - with cosmetic skins, a few new weapons that players can unlock with xp or gold. We'll hit one class a month, which gives us a nice roadmap of updates through the fall." Todd was mum on the subject of the next class update, but stated we will see it in May.
Todd explained that the team will also be adding more maps along the way: "Not as fast as we did during beta, but some of those class updates (like we did with the Cloak and Dagger update) will include new maps and game modes.”
I asked Todd about a menu item labeled Custom Servers, and unwittingly provided a segue to his last PAX East 2012 talking point.- "The way it will work is this: from your in-game interface you can create and change all the settings of the custom server, the same way you'd change your graphical settings. You'll be able to set flags like if you want to play with friendly fire, if you want to ban a certain class, if you want to password protect your server, if you want faster respawns or cheaper Shrikes [one-seater flying vehicles]... those are all examples of flags we'll have in the first version. You can rent a server for as little as one day - if you wanted to run a tournament, for example."
The Capture the Flag map "Katabatic" is maybe the best example of the game's sheer verticality.
Lag compensation or prediction in Tribes: Ascend is top notch, but players will nonetheless want to minimize lag by playing on nearby servers. As for the physical location of these servers, Todd noted that Hi-Rez has that angle covered: "We'll have servers in all regions that we support."