Tribes: Ascend enters open beta

I logged a lot of hours playing the original Starsiege: Tribes. It offered fantastic multiplayer gameplay on what was at the time a pretty grand scale. Developer Hi-Rez Studios is trying to recreate that magic with Tribes: Ascend, a free-to-play title that enters an open beta right about now, at noon EST. You can set up a beta account for the game here. In only a few minutes, you should have access to the game.

Over 300,000 players took part in the closed beta, Hi-Rez says, and "the game has improved greatly based on community feedback." There's a new version to go along with the open beta, as well. Hi-Rez notes a number of changes, including the addition of an Arena Deathmatch mode and a handful of new maps. The balancing continues to be tweaked, of course, and the full list of changes can be viewed in these patch notes.

Tribes: Ascend faces two challenges. The first is winning over fans of the original games, which shouldn't be hard to do if Hi-Rez listens to player feedback. The second is keeping the game's paid content from giving players with deeper wallets an unfair advantage over those who are playing for free. That may prove difficult, but given the popularity of purely cosmetic accessories in Team Fortress 2, it seems there's money to be made without tipping the gameplay balance in favor of paying players.

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