As a veteran of free-to-play multiplayer FPS games like Team Fortress 2, I stepped into the Tribes world expecting nothing more than a cheap knock-off of other class-based games and a requirement to pay money to have any real fun. And within my first five minutes of joining my first game server, I knew that I was blatantly wrong.
Then again, it could have been more than five minutes. I really couldn’t tell, because time flies when you’re playing Tribes: Ascend. Whether it’s racing to capture the other team’s flag with five enemies on your tail or just wandering around in a death match bout while enjoying the fantastic (although sometimes too desolate) scenery, Tribes: Ascend will have you relishing every minute of your game play. It is very similar experience when playing poker online site games. You don’t pay attention to time at all. The game will get you focused on winning. But this only shows one thing, that these games are really amazing and interesting to play. You just have to focus and be eager to win.
I was curious to see how the game’s free-to-play system works, worried that I couldn’t enjoy the game without spending money. Based on my research, Hi-Rez makes it fair for everyone. You can have an intense and committed experience in Tribes without ever spending cash, although spending around 30 bucks will get you a complete starter pack of pretty much everything you’ll ever need, with the added bonus of a VIP account for life. That said, it is possible to gain every weapon, class unlock, and upgrade with solely experience points, and while this method takes a considerably longer time than paying money (which I recommend if you like the game), you’ll enjoy every minute gaining the experience as you fly around the vast terrain hunting for your next target.
That brings me to arguably the most distinct and important features of the series: the jetpack/ski system, which is nothing short of a masterpiece in Ascend. It takes a lot of skill to master, but being able to reach maximum levels of speed by skiing down slopes and jetpacking uphill allows you to evade and hunt down enemies while capturing flags. It helps make every single kill in the game extremely rewarding, as they are rare and require a lot of skill. Don’t expect to simply mow down players in your path.
It is no secret among Tribes fans that the best game mode has always been CTF (Capture the Flag), and that is no exception in Ascend. With the generic goal of capturing the other team’s flag while defending yours, this is where the versatility of the different classes shine. Every class, from defensive classes like engineers and juggernauts providing excellent protection to scouts and soldiers leading the offense, has a role in Capture the Flag.
In short, Hi-Rez does free-to-play right with Tribes: Ascend. Out of the hundreds of hours I’ve spent online battling it out in multiplayer games, I’ve had the most fun in this one. It could easily sell for 50 dollars and still be an excellent game, but with no price tag, there really is no reason not to download the game and give it a go yourself.