After two years in which Hi-Rez’s once-soaring FPS assumed something of a downward trajectory, this month saw the arrival of a surprise Tribes: Ascend patch. The update made bold changes to the way players assemble builds and was embraced by the Tribes community - who’d felt neglected after a six month development break had turned into a year long holiday and then, seemingly, premature retirement. Hi-Rez had turned their attention instead to Smite.
“None of us felt good about the state it was left in,” Hi-Rez president Stewart Chisam says now.
Speaking at TwitchCon, Chisam told PC Gamer that the studio had “finally got the chance” to return to Tribes - now that Smite can be safely categorised as a success.
Hi-Rez don’t expect to make any more money from Tribes - instead, it’s a “passion project” maintained by a full-time team of four or five. The plan is to continue updating and balancing Ascend, which Chisam reckons is “starting to feel more like the old Tribes games”.
When we last talked to Hi-Rez’s Todd Harris, he seemed almost wistful about the expectations attached to Ascend. It couldn’t match the cadence or longevity of updates for other, better-funded free-to-play games like League of Legends and TF2.
“If [Tribes began as] a $30 game, if people got what they got at release and in ten months we doubled the content - we added twice as many maps, we added close to fifty extra items - then I think people would have had a different expectation,” he said.
Have you tried Tribes again since the Out of the Blue patch landed?