tribes ascend comes to steam

There we go.

Tribes Ascend is a strange one. Sure it’s really good, but there are huge underlying problems. Basically, as we all know, Tribes 2 was the ultimate online game and it’s a shame nobody plays it anymore.

There is sort of a good game in there somewhere but it’s plagued by identity and balance issues. It’s not really a Tribes game because it adds so many lame machine gun type weapons. Clearly, this is because projectile weapons are hard, take time to learn, and a machine-gun type weapon instantly appeals to Duty Calls 23 players. But the projectile weapons are what Tribes is all about, and it’s downright cheap to be killed by some idiot spraying and praying. In many situations, you don’t really have a fair chance if you don’t use a machine gun, but if you decide to start using one, you’re missing out on the fun part of the game. Really. I can easily top the scoreboard as a doombringer/HOF with the chaingun, but it’s so boring.

Other things that don’t seem to quite work are:

  • strikes
  • shrikes (as there is no useful anti-air weapon, why is there an aircraft? In t2 every heavy was packing a missile launcher, which was far more useful than the sabre – granted a good pilot could avoid it, but he’d be out of action while he was doing so)
  • snipers – I have never seen a sniper be useful. They just finish off people who are dead anyway, but they can still rack up massive amounts of points for being useless.
  • base assets are largely unrelated to the flag, and why are there even inventory stations when everyone spawns in their loadout anyway?
  • the fact that a good capper can grab at 300+ which basically makes it impossible to chase them*,
  • Mortar physics are stupid – if the mortar is a long range weapon, why does it have a lower range than most other weapons? The parabola is broken.
  • attack/defense balance seems off.

T2 never had these strange issues; probably because it threw away most of T1 and started again with the same premise but a much more ambitious implementation, whereas TA seems to have thrown away all of T2, started again with different mechanics, then tried to shoe-horn T2 back in.

And there’s also the server/ranking system. The lack of proper dedicated servers is annoying, sure there *are* custom servers but if you try to find a game on one you’ll be waiting a long time. The way finding servers actually works is you just press ‘join’ and it tries to match-make you to a server in your chosen region, but the bigger problem is that level 7s are thrown into the same servers as level 30s and 40s. I’m level 29 with about 200 hours of playtime. I completely destroy level 7s. It is not fair on them at all, *especially* as they might not even have maxed out their armour upgrades yet so they are very definitely at a disadvantage before skill or experience even comes into it. It also means that a lot of games turn out boring to me as a higher level player, because the lower level players don’t focus on the objectives as much as I would like.

It seems strange they’ve taken so long to get it on Steam, and now they’ve pushed it on there without fixing some underlying problems. This is the only time they’ll get sudden exposure to a large number of new players and the fact is that the game is not in a good enough state to retain a lot of them.

T2 and T1 had a certain amount of transparency to them. T:A is very much a closed system and when Hi-Rez fuck it up totally and it dies, I doubt it will be mod-able enough for the community to keep it going. And it won’t be around forever because it’s not a sustainable business without a steady influx of new players – once you’ve unlocked the classes and weapons you’re interested in then there’s no incentive to pay for anything else. They haven’t quite figured out the TF2 business model.

____
* In T2 the most effect place for a chaser to be was a bit in front of your own base. In T:A the most effective way to chase a good capper is to load up a juggernaut, duel everyone at their flagstand to death and get ready to e-grab and put a mortar/mirv down when the capper approaches.

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