If you gave everyone at the Winter Olympics rocket launchers and jetpacks you would probably see something similar to Tribes: Ascend.
Tribes: Ascend from Hi-Rez Studios brings tremendously fast paced, action packed combat to the table with a range of classes to choose from allowing you to play almost entirely how you want to. With nine classes to choose from you can play almost any way you want: skate around the map with speed as a Pathfinder, bombard enemies with artillery as a Juggernaut, place turrets and maintain base defences as a Technician. There’s almost no limit to what you can do. Only one thing is certain: quick reactions are essential.
Tribes: Ascend doesn’t add any new game types to the fps genre but what it adds to existing game types is more than enough. If the general Tribes gameplay isn’t enough to make it feel completely different to every other shooter on the market then there’s also the modifications to the tried and tested game types that makes it really stand out. There are only two game types, Team Deathmatch and Capture the Flag, but they’re both satisfyingly different to anything else out there.
In Team Deathmatch two teams go head-to-head competing for kills, once the first person is killed a flag appears that anyone may carry. The team that carries the flag gains two points per kill as opposed to the normal one point per kill. There’s no “right” way to carry a flag. While Pathfinders can argue that they are more suited to the job of skating around the map they are also easily shot down, Heavy armoured players can argue that they have more health but they also lack the speed to get away from anyone who is lighter. Once a flag carrier is killed the flag continues to move in the direction the previous carrier was going in until finally coming to a stop. Any player may capture the flag at any point, even while it is flying through the air presuming nobody else is holding it.
In Capture the Flag both teams have a base with various defences and sensors that can help in the protection of the flag. Bases also have a generator that can be taken down which, while down, will prevent any of those base defences from working. This is where classes like the Technician and Infiltrator really shine. Taking down the opposing team’s generator is often half of the battle so teams have to dedicate people to not only defend the flag but also the generator while still having people try to take the opposing teams flag and take out their generator. While Technicians specialise in repairing base defences and generators anyone else can also help as there are pickups within each base that allows anyone else to help keep the base active.
There are also two other modes that are locked until your account hits level 8 and these are Arena and Capture and Hold. Arena plays like a regular Team Deathmatch game but without the flag element, teams are typically smaller and are limited to only 25 respawns. Capture and Hold plays like the “Dominion” game type seen in many other FPS games. When a team takes a “point” they also gain any base assets that are associated with that point ie. Turrets, Radar Sensor etc. There is also a killstreak-like system in place in each game type where you get rewarded by what you do within each match: repairing defences, killing other players, holding flags etc. you may then use those credits to purchase vehicles, bombardments, supply drops etc.
The default control system is rather unintuitive compared to what most FPS players will be used to but thankfully all of that can be changed easily. A quick run through the first tutorial level will have most players up to speed without needing any more help as this goes through the standard method of moving: skating and by using your jetpack. By activating your skates you will slide down any hill you’re on and continue in that direction while still allowing you to turn around to keep an eye on your surroundings and shoot. To get to the tops of hills you can either use your momentum built up through skating down the previous hill or by using your jetpack to get to the top of the next. Mastering moving in Tribes: Ascend is half of the battle so you should be prepared to spend as much time as needed to build up a subconscious momentum so that you can concentrate on other things, like shooting down your enemies.
With the game being so fast paced people who are used to the typical “Run ‘n’ Gun” style gameplay of recent shooters will have to completely rethink their game as aiming alone is a feat that’s hard to master. While firing an Assault Rifle as a Soldier may not be that different to usual FPS gaming, learning to aim weapons like the Spinfusor is a hard mix between learning to judge distance and trajectories of moving enemies. That may sound like a huge math lesson but it all becomes surprisingly natural after a while; getting used to not shooting directly at heads(or even enemies for that matter) is something that may feel weird to the average FPS gamer but makes for a much more satisfying game.
This game is just one of many games coming out recently to enter the Free to Play market. The game has a micro-transaction system in place that allows players to buy skins for their favourite classes and even buy upgrades for their favourite classes but before you go shouting “Pay-to-Win!” it’s really not. The upgrades are extremely minor that do give a slight advantage but not so much that a skilled player couldn’t take down a slightly less skilled player who has the upgrades. The upgrades can also be unlocked with XP that you earn from playing each match and they are incredibly cheap. After just a few games you can have almost all of the upgrades unlocked for your favourite class. This means that people who pay for the upgrades are essentially just paying for something those who don’t can earn in under a few hours.
With this game costing absolutely nothing what’s stopping you from giving it a go? You can find the Hi-Rez site here where you can download Tribes: Ascend for free. So what do you think? Let us know in the comment section below.