Tribes: Ascend Review

Speaking of unlocks, you may have noticed I mentioned Tribes: Ascend being free-to-play earlier. While the phrase, “free-to-play, not pay-to-win,” has been overused of late, at this point it certainly seems that’s the model that Hi-Rez has in mind. The pricing model is split into tiers. As with many games of this type, spending more gets you a better ratio of gold (points) to dollars. Here’s a look at what the pricing looks like:

  • $10 – 800 Gold
  • $20 – 1800 Gold
  • $30 – 3000 Gold (includes 30 day double XP booster)
  • $50 – 5500 Gold (includes 60 day double XP booster)

Once you’ve got some gold, you can unlock weapon upgrades like larger clips and faster reloads. You can also unlock the classes we mentioned above. Of course, the thing that makes the game free-to-play is that all of these things can be unlocked using XP gained in-game. Sure, it might take a little longer, but the XP gain seems fairly generous. Of course, until you learn the ropes, you’ll gain less than you might hope. My suggestion is to toy around with the three core classes, see what you like, and then delve more deeply into that class or similar ones.

The beauty of a game like Tribes: Ascend using a free-to-play model is that no matter how much money players spend, they still need to be able to put shots on target if they want to win. Having every upgrade and weapon isn’t much help if you can’t hit what you’re shooting at, and that’s a good thing. Unlike MMOs, where stats determine success, here’s it’s all about player skill.

As much fun as I am having with Tribes: Ascend, there are still some problematic areas. First off, it’s hard to coordinate teamwork in this day and age without voice communication. There’s no VoiP system at all in Tribes. Instead, there’s a hotkey system that allows you to broadcast common commands. Hitting VAB will tell your teammates to attack the enemy base, but that’s no substitute for being able to actually articulate some strategy.

On a more obvious level, the Tribes: Ascend UI is a bit clunky, especially the menu system. Managing unlocks and loadouts is cumbersome, and a more efficient UI would greatly improve that part of the game.

Overall, Tribes: Ascend is a triumphant return for the series. Hi-Rez has captured the look and feel of a classic, updated it to modern day, and managed to make it free-to-play without removing the inherent challenge it presents. Despite some issues, it’s a quality game that’s captured a far larger segment of my gaming time than I ever anticipated. As long Hi-Rez can structure the microtransactions to keep the game balanced, I think Tribes: Ascend will be around a long, long while. If you’re a fan of the series, or shooters in general, there’s absolutely no reason you shouldn’t be giving this one a try.


  • No barrier to entry – completely free-to-play
  • Captures the feel of the original Tribes games – super fast paced
  • No matter how much money you spend, you still need to actually be good at the game to win
  • It’s just fun


  • Somewhat steep learning curve
  • UI, especially menus, are clunky
  • No VoiP
  • Sparse rewards for teamwork

Final Score: 90/100

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1 Comment on Tribes: Ascend Review


On April 21, 2012 at 1:30 pm

so is this only a PC game???