Tribes: Ascend recently arrived, so it’s no surprise that everyone and their brother is running around with Pathfinders, Juggernauts and Soldiers exclusively since they're the free classes. Many people are just trying to get a feel for the game, but some of us want to get a feel for what’s worth investing our hard-earned XP in. With the cost of some items and classes ranging from 15k to 100k experience, you certainly don’t have the income to spend frivolously. So let’s break down the must-haves to help each class to play a particular role to its maximum potential.
Three upgrades are essential to making the most out of your little pain in the ass.
#1 – Maxing the Armor Suit for -10% mass
It sounds like nothing, but when you’re hit by explosions such as your own grenade or disc jumps, you’ll see the difference on the speedometer and feel it in the physics. It’s almost necessary for those who want those GOTTA GO FAST accolades.
#2 – Thrust Pack
Critical for getting you to a respectable speed in a hurry, and can also be used to change your skiing route in an instant… the Thrust Pack is not essential for any offensive route, but it is essential for the Chaser PTH. Enemy cappers will come screaming in at 150-325 speed, and if you’re in a defensive role, you don’t have time to find the perfect route. You need to get that speed right NOW, and that’s where the thrust pack comes in.
#3 – Upgrade your Belt
The PTH grenades are amazing for both offense and defense. Catching someone with a disc or rifle might be a pain in the ass at high speed, but aiming a grenade takes a lot less skill and will cause an instant flag drop. Offensively, a grenade hurts less than a disc jump and still gets you respectable speed and lift, and you’ll want to carry more than one if you want to try and challenge any heavy defenders standing atop the flag. Even with super heavy, you can push them off with perfect timing and aim…. Which at 200+ speed, takes some serious practice.
The resident sniper doesn’t need a whole lot to click offensively, but he brings one critical thing to a team that most people forget about.
#1 – Max your Jammer Pack
Sniping isn’t easy in any Tribes game, and being able to support your team with your deployable jammers is critical to your defense of both the flag and generator rooms. They detect and remove stealth, they hide your teammates from sensors, and they generally make life a whole lot easier on defense. Place and replace them and your team will thank you.
Your actual rifle choice is personal preference really--whichever one you feel more accurate with should be your choice. A sniper that can't hit his target is worthless!
Being a huge pain in the ass is the name of the game, on offense or on defense—yes, a defensive infiltrator can work against a generator-happy offense that will keep you busy, especially indoors against heavy classes. You want to buy what will make you that much more threatening.
#1 – Upgrade your grenades!
Sticky grenades deal huge amounts of damage, and can level a generator or player alike. You’ll need a few to destroy upgraded generators or turrets unless you want to stick around—usually not in your best interest.
#2 – The Jackal (if you have Gold)
While a SMG will deal more damage over time with consistent aim, the 1-2 punch of a sticky grenade landing with 3 Jackal hits will instagib all but the toughest of targets. Until your aim picks up to that level—and even at that level, the Jackal will have a place in your arsenal as a base destroying tool.
The repairman is a jack-of-all-trades just like the Soldier, and while he can defend and should be repairing when things are down, he’s more than capable of bringing the pain.
#1 – The Thumper (if you have Gold)
Most of the time, the TCN will be fighting indoors. SMGs and other instant/rapid fire weapons are unwieldy in close combat, and being surrounded by walls makes it all the better for the huge splash damage of this weapon. It doubles as a great way to propel you in a pinch.
#2 – Max out your Turrets
While a rather inefficient set of killers compared to previous Tribes games, Turrets in this game function as a deterrent and detection system here. Having two of them that are better at actually getting a few shots off as compared to one worthless one makes the turrets far more effective as a pack item—which you better be happy with since you don’t have any other options. Most generator rooms only have two ways in, which you can cover with two turrets. One goes down or you start seeing damage numbers and you know company has arrived!
As a class capable of anything from flag running to flag chasing, with a side of midfield fighting in-between, the Soldier has a lot of good options available to him in the Utility Pack and Proximity Grenades. But since all of his good upgrades are prohibitively expensive, it all comes down to what is the most important—
I'm still amazed this wasn't the default weapon.
#1 – The Spinfusor
Absolutely critical to your ability to duel, the Spinfusor is the classic weapon that dwarfs the Thumper DX the Soldier starts with in his sub-slot. It hits harder, flies faster, and is just way damn cooler. You can still keep the DX around for when you need to boost your speed with a couple explosions, but when it comes to killing, lose the grenades and load the discs.
The Raider is a deceptively strong class, and its power comes from its ridiculously good packs. Pick your favored role and max it out asap!
#1 – Shield or Jammer Pack
If you don’t have a SEN on your team, the Raider can take the role of defensive jammer with his powerhouse explosive arsenal. If you do, or just don’t care, the Shield pack is arguably the strongest 1v1 item in the game. Toggling it on and off as you get hit by incoming fire will make you as durable, if not more so, than most heavy classes. It will pin you to the ground for the most part, but who cares when you’re soaking up two to three times the punishment?
Specializing in Bombardment, the Juggernaut is a terror to all flag-stands. Note that this class, while capable of bringing down a generator in a couple shots, does not belong in the enemy generator room; your goal is to bring down defenses and sensors first, the flag stand defense second, and then go for the generator defenders when the coast is clear.
#1 – Fusion Mortar
Mastering this is really all that matters about playing a JUG. It doesn’t matter how good you are at defending yourself with an LMG or Discs—anyone can swat flies—but if you can’t blow defenses to smithereens, you’re playing the wrong class. The fusion mortar is cheap, adds 10 ammo, and increases your point blank damage to structures to 3120. Hell yeah!
#2 – Discs (Belt) or LMG
The second step to being a good Juggernaut is to figure out how to defend yourself—and the base spinfusor isn’t enough when out in the open. The LMG enables you to drop pesky PTHs and TCNs that engage you in the air, and the thrown discs still give you a huge punch when an enemy is about to land. Once you get one or both and get a feel for them, you’ll be circling the enemy base until you’re out of mortar ammo and then some after picking it up from the fools trying to kill you.
To be a giant wall is where it’s at. Three main items are critical to playing the meathead on the flag.
#1 – Max your Forcefield and Chaingun
Having two forcefields that can take an extra 2 discs before falling to gnats from afar is critical. One forcefield cannot stop a good pathfinder—there are always multiple approach routes. Two will give you a fair chance of forcing him to cooperate/destroy from afar/take out your generator before he has a shot at it. The Chaingun has a nasty spin up time and needs all of the ammo it can get, so your XP should be dumped into that immediately after.
#2 – Mines, mines, mines
With a deceptively large trigger radius, mines will ruin the day of anyone who doesn’t see them coming, and often times their approach will only have them disc 1 of the 2 and be crippled with the flag—easy prey for a couple chain gun bullets. It’s a huge defensive upgrade, and no good DMB should be without it for long.
#3 – Super Heavy Perk
Let’s face it, they don’t like it when we stand on the flag. While the super heavy perk is expensive, it’s critical to ensure you don’t get thrown around by random crap flying your way and aimed at your forcefields. Maxed out, enemies will pancake on you if they fly into you at high speed. To maximize this, fly AT enemies charging the flag rather than wait for them. They still have a shot at dislodging you with a well placed disc or grenade if you stand still. Take the fight to them, well, as much as your brick wall skill can at least.
Brute is in a strange place. It has an amazingly good grenade and pack option, but its primary weapons are a bit lacking.
#1 – Fractal Grenades
Hilariously strong, the Fractals will clear a room and then some and will net you a silly number of Aftermath kills. Throw a few near the enemy flag stand and signal your PTH buddies to come on in.
#2 – Heavy Shield Pack
A BRT actually makes for a really solid gen defender, due to this pack and the indoors nature lending very well to the Brute’s loadout. Why not just become the toughest threat around and laugh off those silly Infiltrators? Also works on offense, but the BRT is very slow at taking down the generator itself, even if he devastates everyone around it in short order.