Hi-Rez Studios’ free-to-play, lightning fast reflex shooter Tribes: Ascend has had a turbulent history. The Alpharetta, Georgia-based studio first acquired the Tribes license from InstantAction in 2010 and launched Ascend in early 2012. One year later, Hi-Rez halted further development on the game in 2013 because they foresaw that the game would not be profitable for them in the long run. A small but dedicated community of Tribes players carried on the Ascend torch over the next two years by playing on the official servers every day. Fast forward to September of this year, when Hi-Rez announced that a small internal team would resume work on the game. Hi-Rez soon followed this announcement by launching public test servers for the reboot, and made another stride in September by releasing every single game in the Tribes series’ 21 year-long history. And now, the patch announced in September finally released today, much to the elation of fans.
The “Out of the Blue” patch introduces significant overhauls to Ascend’s gear loadout system. In the original version of Tribes: Ascend, players could swap between one of nine classes, each with their own unique selection of weapons and perks. Players had to unlock these weapons and perks by either using in-game experienced earned through playing matches, or by buying them with Gold, which was acquired through real-money purchases. Hi-Rez completely scrapped the old progression system with today’s update and replaced it with a much more streamlined and flexible loadout architecture. Players can mix and match their arsenal to their liking.
For example, the Fusion Mortar was restricted to the Juggernaut class in Ascend, and the Chaingun was restricted to the Doombringer. Now, a player can use both the Fusion Mortar and the Chaingun at the same time, though restrictions on weapon classes do exist to prevent players from stacking the strengths of a particular weapon class (the player cannot equip two automatic rifles or two Spinfusors, which launch exploding discs and are the Tribes series’ trademark weapon). The old classes have been tossed as well; players now choose from Light, Medium, and Heavy armor classes, all of which possess their own unique attributes.
The update also introduces a slew of UI tweaks, weapon rebalances, and bug fixes, as well as three new Capture The Flag maps: Ice Coaster, Perdition, and Terminus. The full patch notes can be found here.
Fans will be happy to hear that all Gold and experienced points spent in the old system will be refunded with the patch. Moreover, any players who have purchased Gold or the Game of the Year edition at any point will be awarded with the UItimate Weapons Pack, which includes every weapon in the game.
Hi-Rez president Stewart Chiasm told PC Gamer back in September that “None of us [Hi-Rez] felt good about the state it [Ascend] was left in” when they abandoned the project. He followed up his statement by describing Ascend as a “passion project,” rather than one off of which they will ever make money. In any case, Ascend sounds like it’s here to stay. Here’s to another generation of frags, blue plates, and shazbots.