The Firing Line: PlanetSide 2, Tribes, and Heroes & Generals updates

The Firing Line PlanetSide 2, Tribes, and Heroes & Generals updates

Not a bad week for shooter news, wouldn't you agree? Let's see, we had PlanetSide 2's heart-pounding Death is No Excuse CG trailer. We also had a huge Tribes: Ascend update. While those two juggernauts get plenty of press coverage, one shooter that's still operating relatively under the radar is Heroes & Generals.

If you've read The Firing Line before, though, you know I'm a big fan of Reto-Moto's browser-based World War II title. Follow me past the break for the latest updates on that and more.

Heroes & Generals - team and ranking screen
Heroes & Generals

It's been about a month since we've talked Heroes & Generals, and the lull coincides with what Reto-Moto calls a summer vacation slowdown. Devs need downtime too, it seems, but the good news for fans is that "bugs are still being fixed and new stuff is being worked on and implemented."

The latest beta build is code-named Crace and features a couple of additions that are worth highlighting. First up is a new mission lobby. My previous beta experience included some imbalanced mission teams (1v12 and the like). The new lobby system is the answer, as it provides a more even player distribution while also giving gamers a chance to see whom they will be fighting with (and against).

As H&G is still very much in beta, Reto-Moto is quick to point out that "this is not the final design." The dev team wants your feedback to help fine-tune things, so check out the official forums and make your voice heard.

The Crace build also features the first version of Heroes & Generals' character rank system. As with the lobby system, the current design isn't final. Reto-Moto calls it "the first step towards a deeper rank system, which will also affect the gameplay."

PlanetSide 2

This week's big PlanetSide 2 news wasn't beta-related, but it was nonetheless pretty cool. Sony Online Entertainment turned to Blur Studio to create an extravagant CG trailer for the forthcoming MMOFPS.

I know -- it's a CG trailer, and it doesn't have a whole heckuva lot to do with gameplay. That said, it's a really good CG trailer, on par with the crazy-awesome shorts Blur produced for both DC Universe Online and Star Wars: The Old Republic. This time around, we're treated to a three-minute slice of life on Auraxis, which is a hellish infinite loop of conflict from which there is no escape.

"There's no death to free you from this war," says a grim New Conglomerate narrator as he charges forward and cliff-dives into a maelstrom of bloody sci-fi combat. That's not an exaggeration, either; the trailer features a fair bit of graphic violence. Blood spatters on the camera lens, our NC protagonist makes mincemeat out of some Terran Republic soldiers crammed into a Galaxy drop-ship deathtrap, and some stealthy Vanu operatives show up to remind everyone of how dangerous they are in spite of their pansy purple jumpsuits.

"This core of gameplay is what really inspired us to craft the cinematic trailer in one continuous unrelenting ride through the chaos, explains Blur's Dave Wilson. "We wanted the journey to be exhausting, overwhelming and on a scale not familiar with traditional first-person shooters. We wanted gamers to get the feeling that out there, on Auraxis, on that battlefield if you let your guard down, for even a moment, you are screwed."

Well, mission accomplished.

Tribes: Ascend

I haven't had as much time as I'd like to play Tribes: Ascend lately (damn you Funcom and your crazily addictive new MMO). It's tempting, though, as Hi-Rez's super shooter is constantly serenading me with its siren song of speed and sexy visuals.

The devs pumped out another update this week, too, so that's even more of an incentive for a return engagement. The Twinfusor patch (or version 1.0.1055 if you're counting at home) features three versions of the Twinfusor weapon: light for the Pathfinders, a medium variant for Soldiers, and heavy for you Juggernauts. As the name suggests, the Twinfusor features two discs instead of the standard single disc on the regular Spinfusor. Damage output is a little less, as is the impulse output for disc jumping, but the dual disc setup means you've got twice as many opportunies per reload.

The new patch also introduces two brand-new maps. Permafrost is a capture-the-flag map with a moving flag stand, while Dangerous Crossing is a CTF map that Tribes vets will probably recall from the original game.

Also new this month is the long-awaited party system. You can now group with your friends prior to entering a quick match queue. There are also new skins, voice packs, and loadout slots available in the store, as well as new clan tag functionality for your player name.

Finally, there are a ton of tweaks and bug fixes when it comes to Tribes gameplay. For the full list, check out the extensive patch notes.

The Firing Line's Jef Reahard has a twitchy trigger finger, a love of online shooters, and an uncanny resemblance to Malcolm Reynolds. OK, maybe not, but at least if he ever kills you, you'll be awake, you'll be facing him, and you'll be armed.