Tribes: Ascend Review - F2P Shazbot Shooter

Updated Tue, Apr 17, 2012 by Stow

Perhaps more than anything, I am thankful to Hi-Rez Studios for making a shooter that moves faster than diseased livestock. Every other damn first person shooter on PC feels like molasses, and I hate to break it to you but there is no cover system to save you from a Fusion Mortar landing in your lap. So before I even begin my review, thank you, Hi-Rez, for making a video game that restores the glory of skill and speed, and the amazing feeling of nailing someone going 200 kilometers per hour with a disc in the face.

Former Tribes players who read the above paragraph probably jumped for joy. It’s true; I can say as an avid player of both the first and second game (the others do not exist), this is a true sequel. It’s not without flaws, but the strengths of Tribes: Ascend are wonderful, and the weaknesses fairly minor. It’s not only a worthy successor, but a great game to screw around in with friends that are new to it as well.

Cautions

Tribes: Ascend has next to no blood, but can have some dismembering when killed by a powerful explosion. It's still good fun for the whole family if they don't mind the Shazbot spam.

Gameplay

90Great

Staying true to its roots, Tribes: Ascend goes in strong with a multitude of game modes -- team deathmatch and capture and hold are both present for those used to this console generation. Of course, the classic capture the flag gameplay of bases, vehicles, and 88 mile-per-hour juggernauts screaming by you is the most popular mode. There’s far more than just the flag to defend though, with your generator, radar, and turrets being secondary objectives that will hamper your team greatly if taken out.

As a passenger, you're still at the whim of the driver.  On the Grav Bike... this can mean instant death in one solid hit you don't see coming since you're looking the other way.  If the driver ejects, you should too!

 

Note that I did leave inventory stations and other classic deployables out from the previous games. Gone is the ability to completely customize your loadout to your liking. You’ll have to choose from 9 classes, most of which have weapons unique to them. Each one is suited to a particular role, such as flag defense, bombardment, sniping, and the like. Not all of the weapons and features of each class are enabled by default though.

You’ll start with only three classes unlocked to your account: one light, one medium, and one heavy. Note that you do have access to three of the most useful classes, so you will immediately be able to fulfill most roles for your team, and those that you can't are available for purchase with experience points. Experience is earned after each match, and there is a first win of the day bonus to help those of you who enjoy the game, but don’t want to spend meaningless hours grinding to unlock the core gameplay elements. For reference, a class costs between 7000 and 14,000 experience and your first win of the day will net you at least 2,000 experience. It’s not an unreasonable grind (for once!)

Sadly that goes by the wayside as you work towards unlocking alternate weapons, which can cost from 40,000 to 100,000. None of these weapons are absolutely essential to gameplay, however, and are often just a matter of personal preference or a means of presenting alternatives. For instance, the Juggernaut’s alternate Fusion Mortar is the MIRV Launcher, which is a less accurate but more chaotic artillery weapon--not a dealbreaker if you don’t have it. Hell, I prefer most primary weapons to their alternatives anyway!

Classes and weapons aside, the name of Tribes is speed. Those coming back to the series are all too familiar with skiing, the momentum-based flight that will have you moving at 10 times your walking speed with a minimal amount effort. Skiing in Tribes: Ascend is as simple as holding spacebar now, and proper use of your jetpack to not lose momentum going up hills/landing perfectly sliding down them. Weapons will inherit your movement’s momentum though, which will take a lot of getting used to but lead to all too satisfying explosive discs launched at seemingly 45 degree angles to your target, which find their way to the target's forehead.

This hyper speed is used for both offense and defense, as a flag capper may grab the flag at the speed of light and it’s up to someone to respond. The resulting flag chases look like large wavelengths of players rising and falling, skiing and shooting, and are often really exciting because being accurate isn’t easy at 150 km/h+ speed no matter how good you are at aiming. Prediction and splash damage become the name of the game, but bullet weapons do exist although most still have some required lead time. Direct hits are rewarded with +40% damage, and bonus in-game cash if the shot kills them mid-air.

Credits are now spent on two main things--upgrading static objects, and calling in support strikes. You no longer have to purchase your loadouts since you spawn in them. Upgrading a turret increases its potency all around, whereas upgrading your radar greatly increases its durability and detection range regardless of terrain or cover. Upgrading a generator makes it take far more punishment before going offline, at which point both all pre-placed and player-placed deployables will go offline. It’s a crippling blow and defending the generator on some maps is just as important as defending the flag, for how easy the flag can be grabbed when the forcefields are offline. Support strike include an inventory station on demand, and two kinds of artillery strikes from afar.

Bases that are floating battleships? Par for the course.

 

Many of the maps are taken directly from the old games with only slight modifications. Figuring out how to put up a decent defense, or build insane speed on a particular map can take some practice. Fortunately there’s a variety of practice modes including a sandbox mode where you are free to ski as you see fit and practice your routes. There’s a huge difference between grabbing a flag going 50 km/h and going 250!

All of this glory is marred by a few problems though--like some minor class imbalance. The jack of all trades classes in Soldier and Brute feel a little out of place--the Doombringer desperately needs a secondary weapon worth a damn, and the Technician goes from being unable to defend a generator to save his life or the gen, to being a monster at short/mid range when you unlock the Thumper to replace the default SMG. Some base layouts are a little strange as well. Fortunately, the flaws in gameplay are things you can get used to and not flaws that will permanently mar your playing experience.

Graphics

82GoodProbably the weak point of the game lies in the visuals. While weapon models and player models look great, skiing almost looks static in motion, and the textures of the open world are a little lacking. Admittedly, you don’t usually have time to admire the scenery in a Tribes game, but this F2P isn’t going to shock and awe you visually. While I appreciate the blue disc explosions and massive green bursts of mortars from a nostalgia perspective, they feel like a static visual effect and not dynamic like an explosion should be.

Sound

87Very GoodFrom the sound of a disc coming out of the spinfusor, to the locking on of a missile on some schmuck in a Shrike, to people mashing Shazbot globally, each individual effect is great. The music from menu to stage intro is actually pretty good, and sets the tone of the conflicts to come. I wish there was some more variety to the in-game shouts (I think there are two variations of each). After all, the previous games had tons of sound sets both male and female. Hearing 5 people say the exact same tone of shazbot just isn’t the same.

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When I heard there was a new Tribes coming out, I downloaded it as fast as I could. I used to play Starsiege Tribes with my dad when I was 6. It was my first FPS, and first video game really. Now, 12 years later, I can relive all of that. I've introduced friends to the game, I've gotten nostalgic about spinfusor kills and capping, I've got the "Gotta Go Fast" pin at least 200 times. Thank you, Hi-Rez, for making this game.

Now please, PLEASE add "Another One Bites The Dust" to the VGS.

Hi Stow, great Tribes: Ascend review. Im a fan of this game and i play it everyday. I learn a lot from your review!

You all are idiots. The guy did not say he got owned in a few rounds and ragequit. In fact NONE OF YOU have disproved that the matches are all just composed of two classes due to the game fail design. You just troll him. This game is garbage for the guys that kicked from BF2 for bunny hopping

Ok has this guy even play the game? the first thing you notice is at least 90% (if not everyone)of the players in a match are either pathfinder or soldiers, with both using the same type of weapon that explodes on contact, playing anything else requires you to be a real nerd with no social life and so have the skill of a cyber Chuck Norris, if you're not that then you are gonna find yourself slaughtered over and over by those 2 classes.

The pathfinder is just too OP is the fastest class and has one of the stronger weapons, the soldier follows closely with extra energy than other medium classes making him faster, his main weapon is a machine gun thing but their second is pretty much the same than the pathfinder's main.

So why are these 2 classes better than the other? the whole game is based on jumping and sliding if you're a slow medium or heavy class then you just find yourself surrounded by those 2 jumping over and over on top of ya and making you explode while you try to hit em the split second they touch ground or try to pull a miracle and hit em in the air. And trust me everyone knows this and the second they see a heavy around they go like flies to S#%@ to destroy it.

I made the big mistake of spending the gold I got from FB like into a doombringer, heavy class that has a minigun kinda main weapon and a lock-on missile launcher as second, the first weapon is kinda good but hitting air targets is really hard and since you're a heavy class, trying to stay off the ground while shooting it is incredibly annoying and difficult, and the second weapon lock on is super long and it can only target airborne enemies or vehicles, so unless you're playing capture flag and enemy gets vehicles you hardly ever get to shoot it, since players almost never stay on air too long for it to lock or anything gets in the middle and you lost it, including another enemy. And dont get me started on the sniper..., well you can imagine how hard is to play a sniper when every thing is moving super fast on huge maps and jumping all over, then the tactician with his turrets, you can probably do something in capture the flag but when everyone has weapons that can 1 or 2 shot your turrets whats the point?, the infiltrator is a stealth class with the weakest weapons ever, everywhere they put him doing melee weapons, but same as sniper, try hitting someone with melee when everyone moves super fast and jumps non stop, its a miracle if you make one after trying the whole match.

Just to clarify I really like shooters and play lots of them, I'm not a super player but consider myself pretty good, in other games like Halo, CoD or TF2 I always end up on the first places and in this game too if I play pathfinder or soldier, but If i try anything else most times I just get terribly frustrated and owned.

You will not do well with a high skill game like this without putting in your time as many Tribes players have done over the years. Either put in your time and learn how to play the game or find something your skill set can handle. Everything you cry about is something any Tribes player worth a damn knows is a noob mistake.

It's quite obvious that you have no idea of what you're talking about, and you show that.

You most probably played the game for a couple of hours, got butthurt because you kept dying even if you're "good" at CoD and TF2, and ragequitted.

Let me get this straight: your experience in other FPS is worth JACK in Tribes. Being a CoD player hurts you more than helping you, and usually makes Tribes players laugh their head off while they look at you running around instead of skiing, before blowing you up.

Throw your ego out of the window. Your skill is worth less than zero in Tribes.
If anyone thinks of playing Tribes for the first time and start "owning" people with their "l33t skillz" from Call of Duty, prepare to get your ass handed to you on a silver platter. If you have no experience with Tribes games, consider yourself a Noob.
Accept that, prepare yourself to get killed. Then you'll be able to improve.

Every class has a role, and is extremely good at what it does.
A Doombringer isn't supposed to go around trying to kill people. A Doombringer is a defensive class, that stays at a distance usually defending the base, blowing vehicles up and shooting people out of the sky.
That's your role. Play it in another way, and you're playing it wrong.
A Technician role is to repair the base and defend the generator. Alone in the field it's cannon fodder. Your turrets are EXTREMELY useful, if you don't place them outside in plain view. The Technician works indoors for the most part, that is your place.
The Infiltrator is a class made to destroy enemy bases. In normal combat you're less than exceptional. Your job is to infilitrate the enemy base, blow up their defenses, and kill any Technician that tries to defend and repair them.
A Sentinel's job is to kill light classes from far away thanks to their Sniper Rifle. As with almost every weapon in Tribes, the Sniper rifle isn't hitscan, so you have to practice and shoot where your target will be when your shot lands. Also you can't "quickscope" with it, you need to stay in zoom for a while for your shots to do maximum damage. Using the Sniper takes some ACTUAL skill. Throw your CoD experiences with it out of the window.

And so on. Every class has its role in each mode and every class is absolutely necessary to win a game.
Learn the classes, learn their roles, learn how to play them.
Then you'll be good at Tribes, and you'll get more enjoyment out of it than with any other game.

But most importantly, when playing Tribes you have to learn some bloody teamplay. Again, this isn't CoD. And Thank God for that.

So, you're basically complaining that you weren't instantly good at Tribes? The franchise always had a learning curve. I find that aspect way more enjoyable than the "become instantly good because this game is so similar to every other title" gameplay you see way too often these days. You have to appreciate the challenge inherent in learning Tribes.

I honestly don't see how it's more difficult to play Infiltrator or Technician properly than Pathfinder properly (and that means grabbing the flag at 200+ km/h). Personally, the only class that (to me) has a steeper learning curve is Raider: playing Doombringer Heavy on Flag is quite easy. Remember all classes are balanced for CTF play, which is the REAL Tribes gamemode (and to a smaller extent, Capture and Hold and Siege if they ever get to implement that).

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Hi-Rez Studios looking into ways to provide the community with options to further support Tribes: Ascend.

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Resumption of halted development for Tribes: Ascend unlikely to resume as studio shifts focus to Global Agenda 2 and SMITE MOBA.

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Hi-Rez Studios serves up new update and a one-time buy option to unlock all weapons, perks, and classes for Tribes: Ascend.

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Unlock all of Tribes: Ascend’s classes, weapons, and perks by purchasing one neat little package.

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