Tribes Acend: Tartatus Update, And Potential Impact on F2P Games Everywhere

Tribes released update version 1.0.961.0 earlier today, also known as the Tartarus patch for the new map it contains. After putting in some time with it, I think it is very impressive from both a player and from a game design standpoint. Tribes Ascend is a F2P model that continues to excel.

The video will do a much better job at explaining the new elements than I could, but what really got my interest is how Hi-Rez Studios is setting the bar for all F2P games and not just shooters.

For example, the part of the video that explains loadouts is extremely interesting to me. It is no secret that I’m enthusiastic about Guild Wars 2 and the ground it is breaking for the Free-To-Play MMO market. The Loadout model of Tribes Ascend, where you purchase new custom setups slots for gold and experience, could work just as easily in Guild Wars 2 when it came to multiple specs across a single profession. Instead of gold and experience, in GW2 you could unlock multiple specs with either gold or gems. Where in Tribes you save loadouts for weapons and perks, in Guild Wars 2 you could save loadouts for weapons, traits and utility skills. Giving players the choice to do this with currency from both in game and out of game would be a great way to boost the cash shop without it being unbalancing or “Pay To Win”.

I don’t think it would be too terribly difficult to add this kind of feature to Guild Wars 2. So long as spec swapping can only occur out of combat, I believe it would be an excellent convenience feature that many players would be willing to pay for. I know I certainly would.

Only time will tell what ArenaNet has in mind. Moving foward as the game gets further into development, I find it refreshing that we may see more and more comparisons of GW2 to other highly successful F2P games and less and less comparisons with older, last-gen MMOs.

In the meantime, I’ll be enjoying Tribes and trying not to get my ass shot off! Thanks to High-Rez for this quality update!

Oh, and someone needs to swap Katelyn Pitstick’s coffee to decaf. She’s flashing those wide Redbull eyes at the camera, and it’s kind of creepy. RELAX KATELYN!

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Review: Tribes Ascend

Most of the time, I consider shooters to be B Tier entertainment. I respect the skill that goes into mastering them, especially since I lack most of it, but they’re not my first stop for my gaming fix. On a whim, I decided to give Tribes: Ascend a shot since it was totally free-to-play without any up front cost at all, and because I had read more than a few complimentary remarks concerning the game’s beta test. The game officially launched last week, and I’ve already sunk a fair bit of time into playing it. It is a fantastic game!

For anyone unfamiliar with Tribes and what sets it apart from other shooter titles, I have two words for you: jetpacks and skiing.

Tribes is about movement and speed. It takes time to adjust and much longer to excel at it, but it is an incredible amount of fun. And when that time comes when you finally pull off that amazing shot against a mid-air player while screaming along at 100mph, it will be worth all of the deaths you’ve suffered up to that point.

What really impresses me about this title is the incorporation of “skiiing” as a full feature. From my understanding, this high speed frictionless skimming of the ground was a bug/exploit in previous Tribes titles. Players figured out a way to get around faster, and it became another skill to master. In Tribes: Ascend, the developer decided to incorporate it intentionally, and it still has quite a learning curve.

Classes are split up into Light, Medium and Heavy weight classes, each of which has a different level of mobility and health. These classes divide up further into specializations. You start the game with access to three unlocked classes, one for each weight class: the Pathfinder, Soldier, and Juggernaut. You can unlock more classes and upgrades for every class through either experience gained through playing or through microtransactions via cash for gold. You can also purchase xp boosters with gold as well, and if you make even a single gold purchase, you are upgraded to a VIP account which nets you a permanent 50% xp increase.

I like this setup because it allows impatient players, or players who don’t have a ton of free time on their hands (like me) to experiment with the different classes to find one they enjoy right from the start. The unlockable classes aren’t more powerful than the free ones you start with either; rather they just fill a different niche. I played a Soldier for an afternoon to get the feel for the game. I realized that this was a wonderful game, that I was having fun, and that the developer should be rewarded with my hard earned money for creating it. I happily paid a small amount of money in order to unlock the Technician class much faster than I would have just through xp alone, and it just kicked up the whole experience another notch.

Say hello to my little friend!

While I’m certain each and every class is fun to play, the Technician allows me to focus on defense. I don’t have to cap flags. I don’t really have to chase other players around very much, because the action always comes to me. This means my basic skiing skills won’t be too much of a weakness. I usually find a nice, enclosed area where those Light classes can’t hop around too much. I grab my Thumper (imagine a cross between a shotgun and a grenade launcher), drop some light turrets to protect our team’s generator, and get to work repairing our defenses and guarding our flag. I scatter in some motion sensors that warn me of opposition and that drain some of their energy as they pass by, which reduces their mobility. For my skill level and play style, its perfect!

Thus far, I have only tried out the Capture The Flag game mode, but there are others:

  • Team Deathmatch – With a unique twist.
  • Rabbit – Score points when you have the flag. Everyone else tries to kill you for it.
  • Capture And Hold – Reminds me of Keep assaults from MMOs like Warhammer Online.

If you enjoy shooters at all, you’ll enjoy Tribes: Ascend. It’s lacking in any sort of single player or co-op mode, but that’s almost a relief seeing how most shooters don’t possess much of what I’d call a story anyway *cough* Call of Duty *cough*. The real meat of almost any shooter experience is always the multiplayer, and in Tribes you get to have a free experience that easily rivals and surpasses most games you’d pay for up front.

My advice is try it for free, and see what you think! You have nothing to lose.

Oh, and if you want an easy kill, look me up! I play under the name Evidicus. You’ll find me guarding a base somewhere.

Don’t mind the turrets. They’re really quite friendly once you get to know them.