With the release of Tribes 2 rapidly approaching, we had a chance to sit down with a founder from one of Tribes' most skilled and most respected teams in the history of the game. |5150|TheRedDread, known to many on the battlefield as one badass Heavy Defender, took time to answer a few questions about team play in Tribes 2.
To keep our readers from pissing their pants because of overwhelming anticipation about another Tribes 2 interview; I'll get this party started.
the Junkyard: Could you please introduce yourself to our visitors new to the Tribes / Tribes 2 community?
TheRedDread: Hello, my name is TheRedDread of the 5150. I was introduced to Tribes in December on 1998 after looking for a team-based online game to handle my addiction for the strategy and game style of Team Fortress. I was a founding member of Team 5150, one of the most successful Tribes CTF teams and the current operator of some of the most popular Tribes servers for skilled players. Team 5150 authored the voice software called TeamSound that is widely popular and used by thousands of online teams on the Internet. I was actively involved in the formation of the TWL Ladder and currently fund/host their operations through several ventures. What else let me see: I was actively involved throughout the entire beta/meta process for Tribes 2.
tJY: What, in your opinion, is the most useful new object in Tribes 2 that teams can utilize to compete successfully?
TheRedDread: Tribes 2 is packed with new features and capabilities for the team game player, which makes it hard just to pick one. I believe that the aerial vehicles will pack the most punch for the gamer. Particularly the bomber, which takes several players to operate effectively will be a powerful offensive weapon and will effectively replace the heavy offense since skiing has been toned down for Tribes 2.
tJY: With all of the additions and modifications (both visually and physics-related) will Tribes 2 require major re-thinking of current tactics?
TheRedDread: Absolutely. As you already know, 5150 is reorganizing to play Tribes 2. We already have determined that the majority of our practice time will be to determine new strategies and tactics for each map, position and unit on the team. While seasoned duelers will find Tribes 2 to be very similar to Tribes 1, with the introduction of land vehicles, air vehicles and extensive array of defensive deployables all manner of tactics will have to be rethought for competitive play.
tJY: Do the new vehicles, or vehicles in general, help any with the tactic planning in Tribes 2? (Vehicles were all but ignored in Tribe vs. Tribe Ladder matches)
TheRedDread: Vehicles were ignored mostly in Tribes 1 because you could travel across land just as fast as you could buy a vehicle and reach your destination. Tribes 2 changes all that. Bases are farther apart on many maps, making it virtually impossible to travel "by foot". Skiing is toned down, so it takes much longer. Vehicles will be a key tactical item in Tribes 2. A single driver on a vehicle is very capable, but when combined with several players on each vehicle, the power of the vehicle is multiplied. I can imagine different tactics, such as 3 assault vehicles (acting like tanks) raining shells down on an enemy base to clear the way for the capper. The capper grabs the flag and shoots off, jumps on a grav cycle to make his escape. As he jets away he hears a missile lock onto his cycle. Just before impact, he releases a flare to shake-off the missile and makes his escape. This is just the tip of the iceberg in ideas for strategies and tactics.
tJY: How many players will make up the ideal Tribes 2 starting line-up in a ladder match?
TheRedDread: This is a discussion that is going on right now between key members of all the major ladders, organizations and certain server operators. Most agree than 10 is too few, and 20 is too many. Not the least of problems is server horsepower and bandwidth requirements, but having a server of 40-50 people for a match in Tribes (shoutcasters plus players) would invalidate most servers that exist today due to either a lack of power or bandwidth. I personally have recommended a team of either 14 or 16 or possible a number that could vary between 14-16.
tJY: Will 5150 be offering their highly popular public servers from the original Tribes, in Tribes 2?
TheRedDread: Yes, we plan to gradually phase out our Tribes 1 servers in favor of Tribes 2. We will be adding additional Tribes 2 servers from the day of release of the game.
tJY: If so, will these be readily available to the public or more to be booked for clans, private matches, etc.?
TheRedDread: As always our servers will be available for reservation on the 5150 homepage for league matches. Under normal times, the servers will be open to the public for play and we are looking to adding dedicated dueling and rabbit servers to the list of available servers. We anticipate the community size for Tribes 2 to grow tremendously. Many of the UT, Quake players are looking for something new and Tribes 2 is the latest and most advanced FPS ever created. With that in mind, we are adding servers to meet the demand.
tJY: Do the player positions seem to take on any type of change, or are they still the basic Light Offense, Heavy Defense, Heavy on Flag etc.?
TheRedDread: Well as you know Tribes 1 evolved to have 5 core roles played by team units. [Those being] heavy offense, light offense, heavy defense and light defense. The farmer was considered a special role as well. I believe that heavy offense will be replaced with an assault offense. Their job will be to use vehicles to assault a base, knock down generators and clear any heavy defenders and deployed defenses. I am not sure how capping will evolve, but there will be many advantages to capping with various armors because of the need to use a vehicle to escape. Farming will likely become much more critical because of the assault offense will be so powerful. Light defenders will not be able to chase a capper in a vehicle on escape using skiing. That means that light defense will likely have to learn new skills as the mine/disc is not an option and skiing isn't as effective as a vehicle. Heavy defender, my personal favorite packs a punch in Tribes 2. Not only does the mortar shoot farther, but they can carry a missile launcher at the same time. An incoming capper hardly has time to avoid a missile to the face when he approaches at high speed to the heavy defender.
tJY: Which weapons do you predict will be the most popular in Tribes 2?
TheRedDread: There are so many cool weapons in Tribes 2 it's hard to pick a favorite. The disc launcher still allows the mid-air shot, and the chaingun is still a whore's favorite tool. The blaster is plain annoying, since it can bounce and reflect off walls and could be a Heavy on Flag's favorite weapon. The missile will become ineffective against assault forces, because of the flare but will be a nice weapon for heavy defenders and assault offense forces. The shocklance is plain evil for those players who combine it with a cloak pack. Nothing in the meta was more disturbing than being a heavy defender protecting my generator and suddenly die from behind with a guy in a cloak pack and using a shocklance. My favorite weapon has to be the mortar as it packs the most punch and there is no effective counter measure.
tJY: Have any new Community slang words, or changes in geek spelling (i.e. r33t, q0wn, etc.) come about in the beta, or "meta" of Tribes 2?
TheRedDread: I am sure the community will develop quite a bit of slang to describe the new tactics and strategies as they did with Tribes 1. The community is always developing slang or descriptions for ideas that come along. Heavy Offense wasn't really popular until Z2 showed the power of an effective heavy offense skiing across the map and overtaking an enemy base. The only term I can claim credit for is cluster, which is short for cluster f**k. It was a description given to the chaos strategy popularized by teams like NuTz.
tJY: Which map will become Tribes 2's Raindance equivalent (continuously played, yet never gotten bored of)?
TheRedDread: That is really hard to decide as of yet. What made Tribes maps never boring is the human element. You would rarely see the same thing twice. Tribes 2 extends this even further by providing more elements that add to tactics and strategies to make each and every game unique. As with Tribes 1, I really don't think maps where the flag is buried in the base will be popular on public servers. Maps with vehicles and the flag exposed will be the most popular. I haven't decided yet which map is the best.
tJY: What map, so far, seems to be Tribes 2's Broadside (map which is loved by players new to the game, but loathed by veterans)?
TheRedDread: Those maps are fun at first with new players because most people are clueless as to what is going on when they are a new Tribes player. Seasoned players are familiar with defense and penetrating a base like Broadside against a fairly astute defense is nearly impossible. This is especially true since it's hard to get offense players to work together in a public server, which is necessary to penetrate a fortified base. It is too early in the game for me to offer an opinion on any specific map.
tJY: What is the biggest annoyance in Tribes 2? Can / is it going to be fixed or are we going to have to live with it?
TheRedDread: The biggest annoyance is the missile launcher. The launcher is an extremely cool and effective weapon, but its so dead-on target that all players will end up carrying flares exclusively to avoid the missiles and thus invalidating all the other grenades. In my opinion it would be better if the missile launcher were a skill-based weapon, like other weapons in the game. For instance, instead of locking on to heat it would be guided by a target or by the person who fired it by constantly painting the target. If the painting were ever lost, then the weapon would lose its lock. I am sure as players we will discover new things that were never intended, that grow to the top of most annoying list.
The game is the most impressive game I gave ever seen or played. I don't hesitate to buy a new game if it sounds good, but most get quickly shelved due to boredom. Tribes 2 will be played for a long time to come and will raise the bar for FPS players and games.
Once again, on behalf of the Junkyard, and the Tribes 2 Community, I'd like to thank Team 5150 and TheRedDread for taking the time to answer my prodding questions.