Friday, January 27, 2012

Tribes: Ascend - The Scrambler

(NOTE: The Scrambler no longer exists as a standalone class!  It was merged with the Raider class in a February patch.  The equipment below can still be purchased and played with as described)

One of my favorite things about Tribes Ascend is the class system - and how every player can use the experience system to create a custom class that really compliments their unique play style.

So many guides already out there go over the basics.  One of the things I'll stand avidly against on this website is spoon feeding players decisions on how to play their characters.  I merely aim to provide insight and forethought through my own experience in a game.  That being said - the scrambler is by far my favorite class of the 12 currently available.  Not only for its ability to avoid radar detection and destroy fixed emplacements with ease - but because of its weaponry and purchasable (through experience) skills.

First and foremost - to pick and play a class in Tribes Ascend, you need to understand how their weaponry works.  The best way to do this is through the training mode - in which a player can play any class they desire and have targets run blindly around the field for practice. 

The scrambler's ARX Buster shoots sticky grenades out of a three round clip at a fairly rapid pace.  While the grenades themselves explode after a second, it's important to note that they stick to anything - players, vehicles, ceilings, walls, etc.  They also do explosive damage, which hurts everything in the game unlike most ballistic weapons.

Probably the most important lesson you'll learn as a scrambler is to avoid combat in the open field.  You're a base disabler and defender, not a mid-range skirmisher.  You will have an exceptionally hard time killing enemies in an open field with either the ARX Buster or the Sparrow - the worthless pistol you carry as your secondary weapon.

There are three skills related to the ARX Buster - two of them granting +9 ammo capacity for the gun each, and the third granting a +20% damage bonus against armored targets.  While one ammo expansion and the anti-armor skill are more then sufficient, the second ammo expansion skill really helps the Scrambler spend more time destroying fixed positions and less time scavenging for ammunition to blow them up with. 

Utilizing your scrambling pack to correctly is vital.  Picking up speed and turning the pack on will enable you to slip off the radar - leaving you visible only to enemies carefully looking your way.  It will also prevent any enemy turrets from detecting you and targeting you - leaving you free to destroy them with your ARX Buster.  This is a fantastic tactic early on in a match, as enemy turrets and radar can be taken out in under a minute if you can keep yourself effectively hidden.

Picking up the "Jammer Energy" skill (the top right skill in the Scrambler skill screen) is vital, as it grants you a 25% discount on jammer energy consumption.  There are actually two of these skills for purchase, for a combined 50% less energy usage.  They're unbelievably worth it, however I suggest holding off getting the second of these skills until you pick up a few others.

Intermixed with the jamming cost reduction skills are skills that extend the jamming radius by 15% each.  While one of them is necessary in order to reach the second jamming cost reduction skill, the second one really isn't worth it as it provides a marginally useful amount to an already abundant radius of jamming for teammates, as well as decloaking for any enemy infiltrators that may be in the area. 

Scramblers have, in my opinion, the second best grenades in the game - the whiteout grenades, which are identical to flashbangs from other shooters in every single way.  Picking up the whiteout ammo skill is essential, as is picking up the whiteout radius and duration skills which extend the effective area of the grenade, and the duration one faces once subjected to it.  It's also important to note that the grenades only effect people that look at them when they explode, so tossing one and turning around is a viable tactic.  Additionally - if you're close to the grenade when it goes off, you'll get the ringing-in-your-ears sensation, regardless if you were staring at the grenade when it went off or not.

If you're wondering who has the best grenades - the answer is the Brutes.  Their fractal grenades are one of the most frustrating things currently in the game, as they can clear out a room of light and even medium armored enemies with little effort.

The skill "Energy" is also a worthwhile pickup, as it expands your capacitor by about 10%, giving you that much more time to jam enemies. 

Rounding out the tree are the health skills - one which decreases the time before your health regenerates by 25% (this is standard to every class and is very worth the investment) while the other two skills provide 50 health each - which is nice, but should be left for some of the last skills you invest in.

Finally there comes the perks - both of which are 100% useless for the scrambler, and 95% useless for every other class in the game.

For 9000 experience, you can get the 'Stealthy' perk, which reduces your detection range by enemy sensors by 50%.  Scramblers don't get detected by enemy sensors at all if they're played even half-well, and the benefit provided to other classes isn't worth it in comparison to the other perks available.

For 12000 experience, you can have the 'Squirrelly' perk, which makes enemy turrets take 20% longer when locking on to you.  Again, scramblers jam turrets, so they shouldn't get fired at at all - while again, other classes can benefit from far better perks then potential turret avoidance.

I highly suggest developing your Ranger class in order to pick up the 'Survivalist' perk, which heals you 20% of your health and energy every time you pick up ammo.  This can greatly prolong your assault on an enemy base as it not only allows you to keep your jammer on (and keep you and your friends off the radar) but keeps you healed from the inevitable damage you'll take as frustrated enemies try to take you down.

Finishing off your perk selection should be the 'Explosive Looter' perk obtained from the Raider class.  This allows you to pick up one additional grenade or mine from ammo drops - which lets you dump your devastating whiteout grenades twice as often as you can keep racking up kills.

A close third in the perks race is the Pathfinder's 'Egocentric' perk, which reduces damage from your own weapons by 35%.  This lets a Scrambler be a little more reckless with their ARX Buster - sometimes, the only way to get an enemy off your back is to stand in their face and stick them a few times to ensure the job gets done.