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All you reluctant jetpackers no longer have an excuse to play our current favorite multiplayer FPS: Tribes: Ascend is now available on Steam as a free-to-play game. Offered with the release is the Steam Starter Pack, a $10 DLC package (on sale from $20 until July 4) that includes a lifetime 50% XP Boost (VIP status, in other words), four bonus Weapons for base classes, two class unlocks, four Perks, and 800 Tribes Gold (about $8 worth of in-game currency).
Hello? Oh, hello The Past. How are you? What’s that, all of your games would like to come back, with reboots or sequels, only free? Alrighty then. The Tribes series has had a ridiculously checkered history, but its best incarnation – as a fast, team-based multiplayer shooter – all but ended with Tribes 2 and the dissolution of its creators, Dynamix. So to play Tribes: Ascend is to take a wild ride back in time to 2001, shortly after Tribes 2 was released, to relive the game’s skiing, jetpacks, spinfusors, flags and huge battlefields. Only better, and with a free-to-play payment model.
Hi-Rez Studios seem to develop only games with jetpacks in, and I’m OK with that. I like to imagine they jetpack around the office while they’re working. I picture them having jetpacked their way through jetpack MMO Global Agenda first, before jetpacking over to acquire the venerable Tribes licence and jetpacking home, before starting work on a sequel to the grandfather of jetpack shooters.
Wonderful, breath-clutching games of chicken happen along the z-axis in Tribes: Ascend. You’re hovering, the guy you want to kill is hovering, and you each have a few sips of battery juice left in your jetpack. Gravity is death: drop first, and you become an instant candidate for one of Tribes’ splash-damage weapons: a grenade, Spinfusor disc, or gamma-ray-green mortar shell. In these shared seconds of airtime, your brain crunches weapon trajectory paths, shot velocity, topography and damage radii—and there’s a layer of deception happening atop that. Maybe I’ll feint a fall, then right-click to lift at the last second. Maybe he’ll whip out his secondary weapon to harass me out of the air with pistol shots. Maybe I’ll put a grenade under him to force him to spend all his flight energy.
Directly improving our Monday, Tribes: Ascend's Facebook page just revealed the game's first-ever screenshots. Judging by the ammo count and the rounded, blue ordinance loaded into the gun in the second screenshot (within), I'm pretty sure we're looking at the new Spinfusor.
How things change. A few years ago the words "free to play" used to strike fear in my naive mind. I'd think of exploits, affluent winners and infinite credit card debt. No more. Now I associate free to play with a game I can play... for free. It's a payment model that Hi Rez studios controversially adopted for Tribes: Ascend, the competitive team-based shooter that's just gone into open beta. Executive Producer Todd Harris has the payment model to thank for the boost in the player base of their previous MMO-shooter, Global Agenda: "Just before going free-to-play, we had a very generous free trial, but by changing it from a free trial to free-to-play, we increased the number of people who download and play dramatically. That was a good learning for us... we thought we did an effective job making the game free-to-play, but not pay-to-win and the community tended to agree with us."
Hi-Rez Studios has announced that free-to-play shooter Tribes: Ascend will be playable at this year's QuakeCon. Attendees will be able to get some hands-on time with the sci-fi FPS, and register for a closed beta key. Read on for details.
There's a strange fear that comes with picking up a flag in CTF. One moment you're the hero, you've broken through enemy lines and snatched the one thing they were supposed to protect, then as a reward all your guns are taken away and every member of the enemy team wants you dead. Tribes Ascend's jetpacks and speedy skiing techniques will let you get away from the enemy base faster, but if you find yourself in the sights of one of the assassins in the trailer above, there's no escape. It's going to be a great year for free to play shooters, with Firefall and Planetside 2 on the horizon, but Tribes Ascend is a real contender. From what we've played of the beta so far, it already feels smooth, fast, and satisfying. You can register for the ongoing Tribes Ascend beta on the Tribes Ascend page.
Tribes: Ascend will be well and truly, properly out on April 12. The free to play game that calls itself "world's fastest shooter" has been in open beta for a short while, and has been regularly updated with new maps, game modes and extra gadgets for its high speed-classes. The splendid Dead Island parody trailer above show what happens when one of those classes snatches the flag when he's not going fast enough, an act known among Tribes players as the Llama grab. "This video demonstrates the perils of trying to caputre a flag while going too slow," explains Hi-Rez chief technical officer, Todd Harris. "The outcome is predictable but no less tragic." Tribes: Ascend feels very polished for a game that's still not officially out. You can try it for yourself by downloading the client from the Tribes: Ascend site, and signing up for an account. It's free!
Hi-Rez studios are set to start a Tribes Ascend closed beta testing in a couple of weeks, and they need testers. Head over to the Tribes Ascend site to toss your name into the hat. The beta will include all 12 classes, and testers will be able to battle their way across four maps in two game modes, with three vehicles available. The beta test will keep growing as the year continues ahead of the final launch in early 2012. Hi-Rez have also released two new screenshots of the free to play sequel, showing more of the sunny alpine environments, a shotgun, and a gun that looks as though it fires glowing blue disks of burning energy. From the looks of the motion blur in the first shot, the player looks as though he's skiing, a technique used by seasoned Tribes players to glide at high speeds across terrain. See the new shots below.
Experience gained from Tribes: Ascend matches in public and custom servers will be doubled starting tomorrow and lasting until Tuesday, a perfect excuse for some Labor Day CTF and a string of Shazbots directed at the nefarious moving flag in the recently added Blitz mode.
Revealing the first in-game footage of Tribes: Ascend, developer Hi-Rez Studios has also announced that the multiplayer shooter will be free to play. IGN has the gameplay teaser. Global Agenda, Hi-Rez's massively-multiplayer shooter, re-released on Steam earlier this month as a free-to-play game. I got to touch Tribes two weeks ago when I traveled to Hi-Rez--look for a preview in our next issue, and impressions on my time with Tribes on this Thursday's podcast.
http://youtu.be/iBKUFIqNAOk Do not adjust your monitor; it's perfectly normal for complex calculus to flash before your eyes when waging war in Tribes' high-speed battlefield. Today Hi-Rez publishes a video that expresses the unique, blackboard-like brains of skilled players in Tribes: Ascend. The game is due next year, though it's sort of soft-launched already—you can access the beta immediately by pre-ordering or by finding yourself a key. See some of our own skill shots in Gavin's Juggernaut video from last Friday.
Update: It's over! Thanks for playing with us! PC Gamer now has its very own Tribes: Ascend server -- [VGW]! You can find it in Play Now > Custom Servers in the North America - West region. If you like to go fast, join us -- we're playing from 4:00 pm PST (6 pm CST, 7 pm EST, 12 am GMT) until we're going slow. Watch our livestream inside or at twitch.tv/pcgamer -- we'll be giving out codes for free Tribes Gold in the chat!
Last night, two top Tribes: Ascend teams, VeX and 5150, faced off in a best of five to determine the best team in North America. This grand final was a culmination of the second season of the North American Tribes League, which began back in February. We won't spoil anything, as you can watch the entire 2-hour-plus VOD on the Tribes Twitch channel for free. [VGW]!
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.
Just as we're all getting used to free-to-play as a payment model, Hi-Rez announce that they're using Tribes: Ascend to trial an entirely new way of purchasing digital entertainment. It's called "buying a game with some money". It'll never catch on. Hi-Rez's Todd Harris made the announcement on their forum. From February 15, players will be able to buy a Single Purchase Edition of the high-speed online FPS. "This package will unlock all classes, all weapons, and all perks in the current game; everything except the non gameplay affecting items like cosmetics."
Update: We ran out, but then the lovely guys at Hi-Rez gave us 1000 more! They won't last long. Tribes: Ascend is now in open beta (so go play, seriously), and in celebration of the wide release, Hi-Rez has graciously provided us with 1000 codes redeemable for the new Soldier Utility Pack (worth 240 GP), which can be upgraded to grant Soldiers an additional grenade slot, increased health, and faster running.
We just gave away 100 golden tickets into the Tribes: Ascend to a randomly-selected set of buyers of PC Gamer Digital Episode 5. Here're our winners.
Tribes: Ascend has put on a very active beta. Since it began on November 4—and really, we don't toss this kind of praise around thoughtlessly—Hi-Rez has held its ear to its community as well as any developer we've seen. They've steadily iterated on the game, updating and adding content what seems like every week. Here's the scoop on a the next patch, as well as a few of the new weapons being added.