The World is in the Details

Multiplayer video games have been around for a long while and have become one of the most popular types of game out there.  There’s something about competition and being able to play with or against other people instead of just against a computer.  While some games throw the player into a free-for-all competition of every man to himself, many more place players onto teams.

In team multiplayer games, players are most often separated into two sides.  In order to distinguish enemy from foe, the two sides need to look different.  In many games, even popular ones such as Halo, the two sides are differentiated by color.  These color differences are enough to serve their function of team identification, but when developers pay closer attention to team details, a whole new layer can be added to the game.

In the Tribes game series, which is exclusively multiplayer, the developers made the effort to have each side look completely different.  Player armor isn’t just a new paint job with a different color slapped on.  Each team’s armor not only has its own color scheme, they also have their own insignias and even the models are different, giving each team a unique look rarely found in other games.

The Diamond Sword (left) and Blood Eagle (right) pathfinder armor.

In the latest incarnation of Tribes, Tribes: Ascend, they take these differences much farther.  While in past games there were minor differences in armor models, in Tribes: Ascend each team’s models are completely different.  They have even made each class have different armor, though all armor on a team keeps the same style across all classes.

Even the flags are completely different.  The Diamond Sword flag has a stylized metal sword running through it.  Its colors are almost metallic with a hint of blue.  In contrast, the Blood Eagle flag is adorned with an eagle crest on the top of it and its coloring is very, very red.  Even the flag stands themselves are different, leaving nothing but their general flag shape the same between them.

The Diamond Sword (left) and Blood Eagle (right) flags.

To cement these differences between the teams even more, the announcer for each team is voiced by a different actor.  The Diamond Sword team’s announcer is a strong woman who calls the Blood Eagles “butchers”.  As a strong opposite, the Blood Eagles announcer is voiced by a man who speaks of the Diamond Swords as “sand rakers”.

What’s even more exciting to me is that Tribes: Ascend doesn’t yet include the tribes of Starwolf or Children of the Phoenix.  Hopefully Hi-Rez adds these other Tribes to the game and makes them just as different and diverse as Blood Eagle and Diamond Sword.

All of this detail and team diversity builds a world in which the Tribes universe can firmly exist.  It brings everything beyond just a multiplayer game and gives the players subtle hints as to the nature of the conflict between the two fighting sides.  The backstory, if you give it a little thought and pay attention to the clues, starts to build itself without any in your-face-lore, thus making it all the more intriguing, pulling you deeper into the game.