Tribes: Ascend Beta Review

As I mentioned earlier, T:A is a momentum-driven game, both on a personal scale and an objective-scale. When you’ve built up high velocity, you don’t want to stop, because you’ll be an easy target, and it’ll take a while to pick up speed again. When your team has an advantage — either by possessing the flag in TDM or disabling the enemy generator in CTF, you want to capitalize on this momentum and score as many points as possible.

Maps are built on a large scale to accommodate the great distances players can quickly travel while skiing, and hills and valleys abound to provide opportunities to build momentum. If TDM did not have a driving force to make players congregate around a flag carrier, fast-paced gameplay could devolve into long-distance camping standoffs.

Your weapon load-out, degree of maneuverability, and health are determined by your class. T:A offers multiple variants of Light, Medium, and Heavy classes, with one of each initially available to players. You can unlock and upgrade classes either by spending the XP you earn during every match, or through micro-transactions. The one class that feels out of place is the technician, a class built around the concept of placing and maintaining stationary turrets — in a game that encourages players to ski around at high velocity.

Don’t get me wrong — there’s strategic value in using turrets to deter attackers from a given location. However, CTF bases already contain defensive turrets. The technician’s turrets only serve to slow down the gameplay of an otherwise fast-paced game.

While the game’s pace is fast, matches tend to be low-scoring affairs — at least among the beta crowd. Five kills seems to be the average, with players scoring ten or more kills generally reaching the top of the scoreboard in a TDM match. This can be attributed to need to lead fast-moving targets by a considerable amount, a skill that comes with practice.

Overall, Tribes: Ascend promises to be a solid throwback to classic ’90s-era shooters with a modern twist. A modified Unreal Engine 3 is hard at work providing a visually impressive experience, both in terms of graphics quality and artistic direction, and the game’s varied environments — from green valleys to frozen slopes and tropical islands — keep the atmosphere fresh, in stark contrast to today’s shades of grey and brown. Although there are some kinks to be worked out, such as the conflicting gameplay introduced by the technician class and the inability to learn to operate vehicles in an environment that won’t make your team suffer, Tribes: Ascend has a concrete conceptual foundation and a developer intent on delivering a quality product.

Whether this sequel will be able to transcend the niche appeal of hardcore sci-fi shooters with a steep learning curve is yet to be seen. Modern battlefield FPS titles have set a low entry bar for player skill, and T:A’s deep movement system, coupled with a penchant for projectile weapons, can easily frustrate newcomers who find themselves unable to mindlessly rake in kills. Tribes: Ascend is not a newbie-friendly game, which is a great selling point for a segment of the FPS crowd, but it may cost it mass appeal.

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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.