Oh, Tribes: Ascend
, if only you were an MMO.
Actually, wait a minute. When I think on it, if Hi-Rez Studios
' new free-to-play sci-fi shooter were an MMO, I probably wouldn't like it as much. There's something to be said for frequent updates and instant gameplay gratification, and Tribes
provides those things (and more) in spades.
has dropped off your gaming radar lately, you should know that Hi-Rez
is continuing its frequent update tradition that was established in beta. The firm is clearly bent on devoting a lot of time and energy to Tribes
, as the game just launched on April 12th and is already seeing its first content upgrade.
The patch is called Raid and Pillage
, and thank funk it has nothing to do with traditional MMO raiding. No sir, instead it focuses on the Raider class, a brutal base-destroyer who is now even more brutal thanks to the addition of a plasma gun, cluster grenades, the NJ5-B SMG, and two cosmetic skins.
Hi-Rez's Raid and Pillage video
gives you a good look at the new skins, and I defy you to tell me you don't want one of those Grievers with their gruesome tribal helmet trophies and enough attitude to make B.A. Baracus look like Mother Teresa. And yes, Tribes
vets, the plasma gun also ups Ascend's
nostalgia quotient quite a bit. I've already seen more than a few of them in random matches this week, so get ready to appreciate the familiar firing sounds and old-school-yet-updated look of the gun.
Even though Tribes: Ascend
is one of my favorite multiplayer titles, I've made no secret of the fact that I'm pretty bad at it. I don't know whether my reflexes are dimming as I get older or four to five matches per week simply isn't enough practice. Either way, I'm constantly amazed at the skill of some of the players in the game's public queues.
This week, Hi-Rez has thrown a bone to casual Tribes
fans in the form of custom server functionality. No longer must we suffer the (hilarious) indignities of the llama grab badge or a headshot from kilometers away. Now we can congregate (and hopefully practice) on private servers with our equally terrible friends. These shards should also appeal to pro Tribers and their clans, since Hi-Rez is offering a huge selection of customization options including game type, map rotation, and various player, vehicle, base, and team settings (including friendly fire functionality).
Servers are rentable in 10-, 30-, and 90- day increments. The cost is pretty reasonable too, with each option setting you back 800, 1600, and 4000 gold, respectively.
That leads to the third reason why Tribes: Ascend
is worthy of your adulation. The game's free-to-play implementation should serve as the standard for other F2P shooters going forward. This is no surprise, because Hi-Rez's Global Agenda
boasts a similar fan-friendly business model. I won't spend a lot of time on either here because they're really quite simple. Everything in the game is accessible to you for free (if you play a lot, for a long time). Elsewise, you can unlock classes, gear, and fluff items by supporting the game's cash shop.
Many MMOs have some sort of ongoing refer-a-friend initiative. Tribes: Ascend
takes the concept to another level
, though. How does the chance to name an in-game weapon or co-author a new map sound? Yeah, I thought you'd like that. Those are two of the top prizes, of course, so you'll need to refer a hefty 1,000 and 10,000 players to claim them. Some of the more manageable goals include 10 referrals (which Hi-Rez calls the Friends with Benefits tier and for which it pays out 500 in-game gold). There are also 25- and 100-player referrals, which net you 1,000 gold and a $50 premium pack, respectively.
This is the no-brainer of the bunch. If you don't know what I'm talking about because you haven't tried Tribes: Ascend
yet, well, for shame. Multiplayer shooters are a dime a dozen these days, but none of them can match Tribes
' frenetic movement and balletic aerial combat, both of which begin and end with the ability to ski at ludicrous speed across the game's expansive maps. Don't take my word for it, though. Have a look at a couple
of video tutorials
to see for yourself.
Much as I'd like The Firing Line
to be all Tribes
all the time, there were some other interesting happenings in the online shooter space this week. Chief among them were a new Wargaming.net
development blog entry
focusing on World of Warplanes
, a live IRC chat
with DUST 514
bigwigs, and a brief video teaser
for one of DUST's
gauss rifle weapons.
bit was particularly noteworthy because it featured a user-driven Q&A session. The devs claim that the game's "skill level will be higher than in World of Tanks
by all means," and the firm also details plans to overhaul some of the "rough spots" in WoT's
Until next week.
The Firing Line's Jef Reahard has a twitchy trigger finger, a love of online shooters, and an uncanny resemblance to Malcolm Reynolds. OK, maybe not, but at least if he ever kills you, you'll be awake, you'll be facing him, and you'll be armed.