Rarely does a free game get micro transactions right. The only two I can think of off the top of my head are League of Legends and Team Fortress 2. There may be more, but I have yet to play them. You can add Tribes: Ascend to that list; while it isn’t as perfect as the other games, it is still very well done and doesn’t let its gimmicks get in the way of gameplay. At the end of the day, though, there is only one reason to play a free game: because it’s fun. Tribes: Ascend is fun as hell.
Tribes is a super fast-paced non-stop action FPS where you rely on skiing to generate speed and a rocket pack to move you vertically in place of jumping. If you thought you could get some height with a rocket jump, try Tribes; the heights you can reach are insane in this game. There are four game modes in Tribes: Ascend:
- Team Deathmatch – Not your classic TDM. There is a flag that spawns after the first kill of the game. Both teams fight over control of this flag. While the flag is in your team’s hands, you continue to lower the remaining lives of the other team. Not only are you fighting to slay the other team as much as possible, you are fighting to keep control of the flags.
- Capture the Flag – Your classic CTF, made insane by the increased speed of the game. You can pick up a flag going over 200MPH and use your speed to get away. There is actually some planning into who gets the flag. If you are first to the flag but your teammate is approaching with significantly greater speed, you want to let them get the flag so they might escape faster. This is a critical mistake that could cost you the game.
- Capture and Hold – The slowest of the game styles in Tribes: Ascend, if you ask me. It revolves around holding anywhere from three to five locations to earn points toward victory. The mode’s confined area plus a ton of weapon splash damage leads to non-stop action at the capture points. This mode is not as wide open as the others, though.
- Arena – 5-on-5 classic team deathmath. Your team has a number of lives; each time your team dies you lose a life, until you can no longer respawn any team members. I didn’t play this for all that long. The maps tend to be smaller, and I did not like the pace of the game.
As I noted before, the game is completely free to play. It does have a similar system to League of Legends when it comes to unlockables. Each game you play earns you XP. You use the XP to level up, but you can also use the XP to unlock upgrades for your weapons, new weapons, new armor, or other bonuses. You can also purchase gold with real world money and use it to unlock all of the same things. If you purchase any gold, you gain VIP status forever, which grants you an additional 50% XP. If you spend 30 dollars or more, you get Bonus XP, which gives another 100% XP for 30 days.
Despite the paid options, Tribes let’s the player unlock weapon upgrades very quickly, and you can get the three free classes upgraded with default weapons in a short time. I find that the XP numbers for new weapons and classes to are a bit steep; it will take a lot of gameplay to unlock most of them. While it’s not a huge deal because the game is fun, it will take a long, long time to unlock everything.
At the end of the day, you should play Tribes: Ascend. It’s the best free game that you aren’t playing. You will get hours of fast-paced action, with or without spending a dime, and you can still perform very well without spending one cent on the game.