Thursday, January 19, 2012

Lightning Warfare: A Look at Tribes: Ascend



This is my first look at the beta of the free-to-play adaption to the Tribes franchise; Tribes: Ascend. Alright, I'll admit that the only Tribes game I've played is Tribes: Vengeance and only after the multiplayer was thoroughly dead. So, don't expect a nostalgic look back. Instead, expect a look into the future of frictionless warfare!




The game focuses around the conflict between the Blood Eagles and the Diamond Swords, leaving out the Children of the Phoenix and the Star Wolves. It is always possible that the two factions may be added at a later date.

The game has twelve different classes to choose from. There are four light , five medium, and three heavy classes. Each class has its own unique gear set and purpose. Light classes are flag cappers while heavy classes are made for defense and medium classes tend to be general purpose.

There is a leveling system in T:A. Each class has an XP meter. The more you play that class, the more XP you will get for it. With the XP, you can buy upgrades for that class. The upgrades tend to be ammo, damage, speed and capacity boosts, though there are others. The XP is specific to each class and cannot be used for others. Also with the XP, you may buy perks after finishing a class's tree. Each class has two perks and the perks can be used for any class, no matter which you got them from. "Convert to Shared XP" is a feature currently in the menu of the game, though it is listed as coming soon. It is unknown when it will become functional. Shared XP may allow a central pool of XP that can be used for each class, though you will likely lose some XP in the transfer.

Along with XP as currency are tokens and gold. Tokens and gold are used to purchase classes in the game, the gold price being lower than the token price. Tokens are earned through playing while gold is bought. You may also buy boosts with real money. After your first purchase, you get VIP status that gives you a permanent 50% boost to token and XP gain. The boosts you can buy double your XP and token gain for 10 or 30 days. They cost $7.95 and $14.95 respectively. Therefore, T:A is not a pay-to-win game, it just gives you a bit of a headstart. There is nothing you can get with gold that you can't get with tokens.




Tribes: Ascend uses the same formula that previous Tribes games have used. Movement in the game consists largely of skiing and jetpacking. You ski downhill and across flat ground while you jetpack up slopes and over obstacles. Skiing is a function that lets you move without friction, basically sliding around with your only limitation and booster being gravity. When mastered, extreme speeds can be reached this way, especially in light armor.

Weapons are varied throughout the classes. There are two classes unlocked as you first begin to play: The Soldier and the Ranger. The Soldier uses the classic spinfusor and energy pistol combo while the Ranger uses an assault rifle and a thumper grenade launcher. Both wear medium armor. The rest of the medium classes tend to use grenade launchers and automatic weapons. Also, there is an engineer class that can build turrets. That's pretty cool. The heavy classes use large weapons like the Doombringer's chain gun and saber launcher while the light classes are the most varied with sniper rifles, shotguns, and SMGs. Each weight type has its own spinfusor class, which is great because the spinfusor is probably the greatest gun in history.

There are currently three gamemodes: Team Deathmatch, Capture the Flag, and Rabbit. Team Deathmatch is your standard kill-them-because-they-look-different mode with one difference. In T:A TDM, there is a flag that drops after the first death. The team that holds the flags gets more points for kills. Capture the Flag is just standard CTF except you gotta go fast. Rabbit is a mode where there is a single flag. The player that gets the flag becomes the Rabbit and is marked for death. The rest of the players then chase down the Rabbit and kill him. The flag is dropped after the Rabbit's death and the person who picks it up becomes the Rabbit, continuing the cycle. The person who has held onto the flag the longest wins.




Conclusion? What? Aren't you going to do Generic Technical Reviewing? No. This is a beta. A closed beta at that. The review will come when it's done. As for now, enjoy my phrasing. Anyway, Tribes: Ascend is great fun and is shaping up nicely. I can't wait to see all the features that will be added by release. As for now, it is only a PC game though the developers have talked about a console possibility. Not the Wii though, that would be silly. After this comes out, the developers will continue their work on Tribes Universe, the upcoming Tribes MMO. Oh the wonderment yet to be seen. Until next time folks. See you on the slopes.



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