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Tribes 3: Rivals

Platform(s): PC
Genre: First-Person Shooter
Publisher: Prophecy Games
Developer: Prophecy Games
Release Date: 2024

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PC Preview - 'Tribes 3: Rivals'

by Cody Medellin on Feb. 7, 2024 @ 1:00 a.m. PST

Tribes 3: Rivals is a team-based, first-person shooter that elevates the genre with jetpacks, skiing, and class-based warfare.

It's been over a decade since the last Tribes game. While many people loved Tribes: Ascend, it can no longer be found through a normal Steam search, and all of the servers are now private, so it isn't easy to find a match. Fast-forward to today, and Tribes 3: Rivals is out in demo form via Steam Next Fest, so we took it for a spin.

If you're unfamiliar with a Tribes game, you might initially think of it as a multiplayer-focused boomer shooter based on the age of the franchise. It is a team-focused game where Capture the Flag is the star of the show. It plays by traditional rules in that you need to have your own flag at the base to properly capture and score with the enemy flag. Getting kills is good for slowing down enemy forces, but it is never the focus, especially since there are infinite respawns and no tickets to deplete.


Tribes has always been considered a distinctive shooter. Most of the guns are explosive. You may see a chain gun or a sniper rifle, but the default guns are more akin to grenade launchers with infinite ammo and lots of splash damage. The game has classes, but they're simplified, so you get attackers and defenders in light, medium, and heavy varieties, each with their own stats in speed and health. Perhaps the real signature trait of the game is movement. You don't run in the game as much as you ski down slopes, and you also have a jetpack to propel you into the air, where you can hover for a short while. The movement can feel very slippery in the beginning, but with a little practice, you can use the game's physics to see yourself sliding down hills and using the momentum to thrust high into the air, making this a very vertical shooter.

The demo is more of a public alpha build, and it comes with two modes, excluding the tutorial and training stuff. The first mode is a bomb run, where a bomb spawns in the middle of the map and players need to take it to the opposing building to score a point. Seven points are needed to win the match, but there are a few interesting elements. First, the levels are enclosed in arenas much like Rocket League, so while you aren't going to climb up walls, you don't have as much space as you think, so the action is never too spread out. Bomb carriers aren't as defenseless as in other games because you can also attack while holding the bomb. You'll want to have a team member covering your back, but a solo run is feasible.

The mode is fine but not necessarily something that players will return to often. The two battlefields have some aesthetic differences, but they essentially have the same layout. You'd want to use the extra space to perform some cunning moves, but most of the time, simply making a beeline for the opposing base and chucking the bomb is a solid enough strategy that tactics don't feel worthwhile. Most of the matches felt lopsided — but people on our side could've bailed early; it's difficult to tell because there's no way to access the scoreboard until the very end of the match. Five matches must be completed in bomb run mode before everything else becomes available.


The second mode is the classic Capture the Flag, and this mode is where players will likely spend most of their time. Like the previous games, the skiing, jetpack jumping and explosive weapons are put to good use. The battlefields are large but can also feel a bit similar, as there's no shortage of hills to move through. Bases play a big role, as they all have turrets to blow up people and generators that need constant repairs. The combination makes for frantic firefights because everyone is flying around — and so are their shots. It has a neat side effect of no shots being wasted, since you can land a few lucky hits even if you're poor at mouse aiming.

There is one thing that might give fans some pause, and that's player counts per match. The first few matches will be 4v4 affairs, and while the demo has 7v7 grayed out, 12v12 matches are playable. That sounds decent until you return to the older games and realize that the series has always had big, sprawling battles featuring 32v32 fights and all-out 128v128 team wars. By comparison, this feels tiny. While the action remains frantic enough, some will lament that the new game can't match the older games.

Tribes 3: Rivals shows a lot of promise. The sliding and high-jumping gameplay has rarely been emulated, and the explosive ordnance adds to the title feeling distinct in the multiplayer space. The small match sizes can pose an issue for those hoping for the big battles of yesteryear, but the online performance appears to be solid. Tribes 3 is scheduled to hit in Q1 2024, so we are looking forward to seeing the final product.



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