Tribes Ascend is broken

Published October 25, 2012

Okay, most people know that. It's evident from the vanishing playerbase (the Steam graph is grim). I had a break for a month or so and then came back to it. Unfortunately, when I returned, I was greeted by some pretty great and intense games. I say unfortunately because in reality most games are frustrating at best and usually just boring, and the initial slew of good games set my expectations unrealistically.

The game is such a mess it beggars belief. There are a lot of 'player' issues which will be present in any game: clan stacking, defense stacking, etc. Fair enough, I guess Hi-Rez can't be blamed entirely for that.

But they certainly can be blamed for the broken mechanics.

  • Why is it that going fast is essentially a get out of jail free card for cappers?
  • Why are medium armour soldiers able to go fast enough to get this too?
  • Why are there so many autos?

At higher levels this is a real problem because the disparity between skill and success in the most influential roles grows far too big.

The prevalence of autos often means that if you want to play heavy offence, you often spend the whole game trundling across the map while getting pinged to death by several streams of machine gun fire plus a few snipers. Not exactly the recipe for an engaging game. It wouldn't be so bad were it not for the fact that being hit upsets your vision enough that you are severely disadvantaged in trying to land a useful disc shot, which is hard enough at the best of times. Against an auto user, if he misses his shot, no matter, he has 29 more. But as a disc user, if you miss your shot, you have to survive a 2 second reload period before you can try again. This is broken. The mid-field is even more ridiculous now that soldiers have a spinfusor and the assault rifle. That's almost as stupid as giving a sniper a powerful close range SMG. Oh wait.

So eventually, you get fed up and play defence, and suddenly a capper comes through at a ridiculous speed, whom you've got no realistic chance of stopping. Not because he's awesome, not because you're terrible, but just because the game mechanics give him an unjustified advantage.

I don't really understand why a company would inherit a game with such sublime and rich gameplay as Tribes 2 and then say "you know what, let's take out all the good bits and add in these ideas I just came up with". It seems incredible that they've vastly reduced the complexity of the gameplay yet greatly increased the complexity of the ruleset, and in doing so introduced such game breaking issues.

Back to TF2, I guess. At least my mouse moves properly there.