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Friday
Mar302012

Tribes: Ascend open beta

Once upon a time, internet access moved at a stately 5KB/s if you were lucky.  In that age, a game was made.  That game was Tribes.

Tribes was a futuristic multiplayer first-person-shooter (FPS) featuring enormous and varied maps, lots of different weapons, different classes of armour, special "packs" such as cloaking and energy regeneration, jetpacks and skiing.  Its main game mode was Capture The Flag (CTF)

Skiing might sound out-of-place in a FPS.  In Tribes it's a word used to desrcibe how you hold a key down to activate your fancy boots' friction reduction system, allowing you to slide along the ground with little to no loss of speed.  Using this, your jetpack, and any convenient hill you can reach very high speeds both horizontally and vertically - in point of fact, maintaining and redirecting your momentum using the terrain is the art of tribal skiing in a nutshell.  To this day it remains the defining feature of the Tribes franchise, creating a unique FPS experience.

Though Tribes and its sequels never "went mainstream" they generated a very loyal fanbase and can be considered cult classics.  Even though I wasn't interested in online FPS gaming at the time I still heard about Tribes, as some rumour of far-off gaming perfection.

Last but not least, Tribes is one of the few games considered to be an e-sport - that is, a game that can be played at a competitive and even professional level where successful teams can earn a living through sponsorship and prize money.

Some time ago, the rights to Tribes franchise were purchased by a small development firm call Hi-Rez studios, known before only for their previous FPS title Global Agenda (sort of a futuristic Team Fortress 2 - with jetpacks! also free-to-play).  The modern-day successor, Tribes: Ascend, is currently in open beta and will be free-to-play on release.

I've been in the beta program since late 2011 and have seen a great deal of progress.  I have high hopes for this game.  It will feature both public and private servers so we can expect some modding and custom rulesets.  The importance of these is often underestimated.

 

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