Tribes: Ascend first impressions from Gamescom

Graham Smith at

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My first day of Gamescom started off very well, as I got to sit down and play Tribes: Ascend for the first time. It didn't disappoint. Ascend feels like the Tribes game you remember, and its new free-to-play mechanics might end up making the game better.

Tribes 1 and its sequel were about skiing down mountains, jetpacking across vast landscapes, and firing spinning discs at enemies. They were also deceptively complex. The ultimate goal was to capture the enemy flag and return it to base, but doing that successfully meant setting up forward bases, taking down enemy power generators to knock out their turrets and shields, and working closely with your team to get back home alive.

In Tribes 2, the game I played most, there were no fixed classes, either. You chose how you wanted to play by picking armour type, primary and secondary weapons and equipment. It could be overwhelming.

Tribes: Ascend has fixed classes, but provides the same level of choice by having lots of them. The idea is that you'll pay to unlock more, not to become more powerful than those who haven't paid, but to better tailor your class to your play style.

I started as the Soldier, an all-rounder that the developers recommend as a beginner class, before switching to the Pathfinder, a fast-moving, Spinfusor wielding support class, and finally the Juggernaut, who had a long-range missile launcher that had to lock on to an enemy before you could fire. They each reminded me of the roles I would play in Tribes 2.

Better yet, being able to assume clearly defined specific roles meant both teams - both made up of complete strangers - quickly started working together. We were only playing 5 vs 5 in a game best suited to 16 vs 16, but we had a sniper guarding the flag, a repairman fixing our turrets, and when they'd gathered the XP to create them, people rolling across grass hills in tanks and performing aerial bombing runs in Shrikes.

If that can scale up to larger maps with full teams, Tribes: Ascend could be great.