Tribes 3: Rivals hits early access next week promising ‘rebirth’ for the exquisite fusion of skiing fast with a flag and explosive frisbees

If you want to know what I think of Tribes, I reviewed the last entry in the series (2012’s free-to-play Tribes: Ascend) for Eurogamer and it’s one of the few games I’ve ever given a 10. God that game was good, though, sadly, it didn’t quite stick the landing with enough players to survive: Ascend went into that good night in 2016, since when there’s been a large Tribes-shaped gap in my collection.

Thing is, there’s nothing really like Tribes. It’s an FPS, sure, but its particular take on capture the flag (momentum and speed-based plays), unique weapons, and face-blistering pace as you ski-slash-fly through the maps doesn’t have even a close equivalent. Tribes 3: Rivals (this is not the third Tribes game: don’t ask) aims to bring it all back, and developers Prophecy Games have just announced that, following its excellent NextFest demo, the game will launch in early access on March 12. 

Prophecy is calling Tribes 3: Rivals a “rebirth” for the series, and one big decision is that it’s not free-to-play, but will go for the relatively modest price of $19.99 (there’s also a 10% discount for pre-orders, and various premium options that chuck some cosmetics in). Like past entries it will be primarily focused on the CTF mode, with 7vs7 competitive playlists and 16vs16 casual chaos, set on sprawling, gorgeous maps built for rat-runs and ludicrous sweeping loops. Rivals retains the class-based element whereby players can choose between light, medium and heavy loadouts, with deep customisation options.

As part of the announcement Prophecy’s posted a Q&A about the game. Selected highlights are that it will have “limited microtransactions for cosmetic content only” as well as earnable cosmetics, and is launching on Steam only to begin with. The developer says it may come to Epic and consoles down the line, and crossplay is a possibility but no promises. It says new players should know that the core movement “can be learned quickly” and Rivals has tutorials that should get you up and skiing.

Here’s a list of the weapons that will be in the game at the early access launch:

Spinfusors: In light, medium, and heavy formats, with several variantsLaunchers: Bolt, Fusion Mortars, Gladiator, etc.Grenades: AP, EMP, Frag, Impulse, Mine, Nitron, Sticky, SmokePacks: Blink, Turret, Phase, Regen Station, Stealth, ThrustShields: Dome, Heavy, StandardSniper Rifles: PhasePistols and Shotguns: Nova Colt, SparrowOther: Chain Gun, Shocklance, Thumper

All of these weapons are available to all players from the off. The game arrives with seven maps, support for custom matches, and accessibility options for color blind and hearing impaired players.

The minimum specs are also fairly generous. You’ll be able to run this with a GeForce 1060 or Radeon 6500XT and 8GB of RAM, while the recommended specs aren’t that much higher: a GeForce RTX 2080 or Radeon RX6700, and 12 GB RAM. It’s also nice to see that, in these days of hard drive guzzlers, the game is a mere 10 GB.

I didn’t jump on the NextFest demo, so I’ll defer to Josh who found that, while it doesn’t feel all of the way there yet, “it does feel like it has the correct foundation to build a Tribes experience that might actually last. With the devs at Prophecy acknowledging the mistakes that led Ascend to an early grave, maybe this is the Tribes revival that sticks.”

Wait, mistakes? That game was a 10!

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