Tribes: Ascend Beta Review

In a world of modern battlefield FPS games, Tribes: Ascend dares to break the mold with a sci-fi setting and unique momentum-driven gameplay. Currently in beta, this F2P multiplayer class-based game is a reboot of the Tribes franchise, most popular in the late ’90s and early 2000s, and has to live up to the high standards of its surviving cult fanbase.

With Dynamix, the original developer of Tribes, long defunct, Hi-Rez Studios has taken the franchise’s reigns. Multiple parallels can be drawn between Tribes and Global Agenda, Hi-Rez’s debut title, including a sci-fi theme, class-based gameplay, and jetpacks, so Tribes and Hi-Rez form a natural pairing.

The question is, can Hi-Rez both do the series justice and make Tribes: Ascend a success?

Diving into the beta, you’re presented with three game modes to choose from: Team Deathmatch, Capture the Flag, and the oddly-named Rabbit, a free-for-all in which players scramble to grab a single flag and hold onto it for as long as possible. While someone is the “rabbit,” he is the sole target of all other players, who are temporarily placed on the same team.

Capture the Flag follows genre conventions with the added element of base defenses that require maintenance and upgrading, as well as vehicles that must be purchased through credits earned throughout a match — a system that punishes players for trying to learn to operate vehicles when those credits could be better spent calling down an orbital strike.

Team Deathmatch, on the other hand, is more than its name would suggest. Rather than a simple “kill the red guys” game mode, an objective-based element is included in the form of a single flag that, when in a given team’s possession, doubles every point that team earns for a kill.

While this is a fun twist to traditional TDM, it simply isn’t TDM. Maintaining possession of the flag is the most important goal in T:A’s TDM, and newcomers expecting a less objective-based experience will quickly find their team losing if they focus on the kills rather than the flag. A simple renaming of this game mode may be in order, because traditional TDM may not suit T:A’s play style.

T:A’s greatest selling point is its unique movement system. By combining jetpack thrust with a frictionless “ski” mechanic, you can navigate maps at breakneck speeds, jetting up hills and skiing down slopes to build ever-increasing momentum. A speedometer keeps track of your velocity, and there’s no better feeling that seeing the speedometer maxed out and hearing the wind whistling as you zoom across the landscape.

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6 Comments on Tribes: Ascend Beta Review


On February 21, 2012 at 7:27 pm

Been playing the beta since it came out, and i honestly agree with much of this review. However, I do not agree with the part that the technitian can “slow down the gameplay.” The job of the technician is not to just place turrets around teh home base, but to also repair the base turrets as well as upgrading them to better turrets, which is done with credits earned in the match. Also, they are tasked with defending the generator, which powers all the base turrets, player turrets, doombringer walls, the radio, sentinel jammers, and the vehicle stations.
Finally, the vehicles in the game are currently very helpful to a team especially the beouwolf (heavy tank), which is effective on defence. However, the shrike (aircraft) is currently broken and impoossible to maneuver in the beta, and they mentioned it under known issues.

The variety of the weapons calls for exciting gameplay, from the infiltrators which can destroy the enemy generators by going invisible, to the juggernaughts with huge handheld fusion mortors.

One of the parts i like most about the beta so far is the fact that every class, perk, and weapon is available to free players. the option to pay only accelerates the leveling process, meaning that the game is not pay-to-win or dominated by paying players.

Overall one of the best betas I have ever been a part in, with updates coming out what feels like weekly. Looking forward to the future of this game, and hope to see many more players joining in. :)

Squire Zed

On February 21, 2012 at 8:09 pm

T:A is not a noob’s game, if you haven’t played Tribes at all, you probably will start out really lost.

Brandon J. Clark

On February 21, 2012 at 8:30 pm

Tried the beta,…. did not like…. that is all….

CJ Miozzi

On February 21, 2012 at 9:06 pm


I agree with you; the technician does have some great use with regards to repairing. It’s mostly the personal turrets that I feel slow down the gameplay. Maybe instead of turrets, they can build vehicles, or something else that is mobile.


On March 5, 2012 at 12:25 pm

If you think you need to get rid of Techs than you never played the original tribes game. building stuff is an essential part to the tribes universe


On March 10, 2012 at 12:30 pm

I just started playing it this morning, and from what I have experienced it is everything I everything i thought it was going to be. Especially being someone who use to lan all the time on tribes 1. The gameplay is difficult to get used to especially for those more adapted towards styles such as BF3 or even a slightly faster game as CODMW3, I would guess those to be more attuned would be former Quake and UT players or more formerly original tribes players. The game itself as stated is gritty and unforgiving to those who make even subtle mistakes or try to follow the way of the biggest gun wins. As fast paced as it is compared to most it does require some solid teamwork not merely with gameplay but largely with communications verbally.