Evan Burkey

PAX 2011: Tribes Ascend

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If you owned a gaming PC in 1999, then you played Starsiege: Tribes. The fast paced aerial combat and skiing made it a hit, as well as its sequels. After 6 years, we’re finally getting a new Tribes from a new studio, and Hi-Rez has got a killer entry into the series on their hands.

The big news about Tribes: Ascend is that it is a free to play game. The business model revolves around 3 types of microtransactions: cosmetic purchases, unlocking classes quicker than playing the game, and xp boosts. There will be no “pay to win” items in the store; You can’t just buy a super gun or anything like that. Instead of doing full custom loadouts, Hi-Rez has decided to make the game class based with a leveling unlock system. As you play, you can unlock more classes, up to 15 at launch. Or, if you like, you can buy a couple classes and play them now.

The game itself plays just like Tribes should. One thing that I was worried about was the jetpack/skiing mechanic, but Hi-Rez has nailed it down. All the classic guns are in as well as some new one, and the spinfusor is back and better than ever. My only gripe is that each class can only carry 2 guns, which does limit your toolkit somewhat, especially on the faster classes that usually have one large gun and a weak pistol. Regardless, my game of CTF was fast paced and crazy. There are also 3 types of vehicles in the game, with more planned after launch.

I’ll admit, when I first saw that Tribes: Ascend was going to be a free to play game, I was apprehensive. However, my visit to Hi-Rez Studios booth has completely quelled those fears. This game is Tribes to the core, and Hi-Rez knows it. You can check out some off-cam footage of the game below, and go to the Tribes: Ascend website for more videos.

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