What if I was to tell you that, early next year, you'll be able to pick up the multiplayer successor to Tribes 2 for exactly zero dollars? Now would that be something you might be interested in? I thought so. The free-to-play Tribes Ascend shooter being developed by Hi-Rez Studios has garnered a lot of attention lately, and the snippets of gameplay we've seen sure look promising.
The game was originally scheduled to be released this fall, but it looks like that's been pushed back to the first quarter of 2012. As a consolation, Rock, Paper, Shotgun reports that a closed beta will begin on November 4. You can register for the beta on this page, but if you want to guarantee entry, there's an option to cough up $30 in exchange for beta access plus VIP status, a stack of in-game currency, and something called a "30-day booster."
I can't fault Hi-Rez for trying to make money on Tribes Ascend—just as long as the final release doesn't let players buy an advantage that their freeloading counterparts can't otherwise earn in the game. With Battlefield 3 due out the week before, I wonder how many folks will actually pay their way into a job beta-testing the next chapter in the Tribes franchise.