Tribes is a long-running series of multiplayer-focused First Person Shooters found mostly on PC, with a few exceptions. The original game bears the Starsiege title because it is in fact a sequel of sorts to that game and represents the continuation of the EarthSiege franchise as a whole.In the distant future, humanity has spread amongst the stars. Beyond the edge of space controlled by The Empire, in a region called the Wilderzone, are various tightly-knit Tribes, who live a harsh frontier existence but otherwise free of Imperial authority. The disparate tribes battle one other for control of planetary territory and resources using Powered Armor and advancedsmall arms.
Starsiege: Tribes, the first game in the series, was released in November 1998 by Dynamix, who also made Starsiege. It established itself as a unique multiplayer shooter with several key differences from its contemporaries, such as sprawling outdoor maps and movement centered around the use of a Jet Pack. Known for one of the great Good Bad Bugs of gaming, which allowed players to abuse the physics engine to "ski" down slopes, so pervasive that it was implemented as gameplay feature in every sequel to follow.
Tribes: Ascend is free to play FPS released in April 2012, created by Hi-Rez Studios (creators of Global Agenda) with microtransactioncharacter classes (Each class has some customization - like swapping out a SMG for a shotgun or a shield pack for a sensor jammer, but each class has a clearly defined role). Access is simple, all one needs to do is register an account and download the client; either through Steam or a separate program. There are several game types, all of which revolve around conflicts between the Blood Eagle and Diamond Sword tribes.
Many of the games have since had their offical master servers shut down: Starsiege: Tribes in July 2007, Aerial Assault in November 2008 and Tribes 2 in November 2009. However, Tribes 1 & 2 now have multiple community-run master servers, and continue to have strong player bases to this day. Aerial Assault, being a PS2 game, was not so lucky.GarageGames (formerly Dynamix) developed Legions: Overdrive, a Spiritual Successor to Tribes 1. Some former members of Dynamix are also helping create Fire Fall, an beta MMOFPS which bears many similarities to the Tribes series, such as the extensive use of jetpacks.Has it's own wiki
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Abnormal Ammo: Perhaps the most notable is the Spinfusor, also known as the Stormhammer, a weapon that fires glowing blueexplosivediscs. There's a ton of them in Ascend: Light, Dueling, (Pathfinder), standard, Spare(Soldier), MKD, MK-X,(Juggernaut), Heavy, Devastator, (Brute), and Stealth (Infiltrator). The stealth Spinfusor shoots red disks, while the MKD shoots green discs and has an increased splash radius relative to the Soldier's version. The Juggernaut can also unlock a Spinfusor as a type of grenade used by manually throwing the disk at people's faces.
Air Jousting: This doesn't really happen due to the imprecise nature of the flight mechanics, but two players flying head-on at each other brandishing Spinfusors comes damn close. As of Ascend, this trope can be played straighter with melee attacks.
Appropriated Title: The Starsiege in Starsiege: Tribes was dropped, with the sequels simply being Tribes: Whatever.
Arch-Enemy: The Starwolf and Blood Eagles hate each other's guts, and as of Tribes 1 have been fighting it out for a good three centuries. The Children of the Phoenix have long attempted to mediate between the two with varying degrees of success. The Diamond Sword tend to stay neutral.
Ascended Glitch: The "skiing" bug of the original Tribes was so widespread and loved that it became a game play feature in every game to follow, even when the series left Dynamix's hands. Tribes 2mentioned it in the manual and had brief a tutorial on it, while Tribes: Vengeance and Tribes: Ascend gave it a distinct bind and more unique handling, leaving the jump key to be merged with the jetpack key.
Australian Accent: The "Disker Dundee" voice pack gives your character the "Screen and Television" variety.
Barbarian Tribe: Played with. The Empire sees the Tribes as this, but to be fair the Tribals share the same level of technology but lack the resources and political clout to have their position heard. They are essentially just wayward colonists trying to eek out an existence of their own free from Imperial oversight. As time goes on, technology improves- but civility does not.
Bribing Your Way to Victory: The biggest problem with Ascend in the eyes of many is the large amounts of expensive guns that take an extremely long amount of time to purchase via XP. Not helping this is that several are almost necessary to do well at a class, such as the Infiltrator's default primary being pretty much terrible.
To put this in perspective, most of the unlockable items that are considered to be worthwhile are upwards of 70K exp. Generally speaking, it's a rare occurrence for a player to earn 3K exp an hour. It generally takes upwards of 25 hours of play to unlock a single gun, pack item, or grenade.
And the kicker? The player's rank, which is used to determine matchmaking, is based on EXP. It's quite possible for a level 14 free player to have only unlocked new classes and a couple of perks, while a paying player the same level COMPLETELY DESTROYS THEM because they have access to a full inventory of upgraded guns.
Fortunately, a patch in January 2013 halved the XP cost of every item in the game. While the trope still applies, it is now substantially less painful for free players.
Bottomless Magazines: In the tradition of old-school shooters, no weapon need be reloaded (until Ascend), instead relying on a flat pool of ammunition. Said pool can be expanded with the Ammunition Backpack.
Character Customization: Players can customize their load-out to the nines with a choice of three armors, a variety of weapons, grenades, mines, deployable items such as turrets and sensors, and so on. Ascend replaces this with a Class and Level System, giving each class a specific armor, set of weapons and equipment, and the use of Experience Points to purchase upgrades.
Color-Coded for Your Convenience: Blood Eagles are red, Phoenix are yellow, Starwolf are blue-on-white, Diamond Sword are gold-on-grey, and the non-tribal Inferno and Storm teams are yellow and grey, respectively. Imperials are deep blue in Vengeance, the only installment in which they appear. Ascend replaced the Sworders' gray with navy blue and made the gold elements more prominent.
Cool Plane: All the games feature some type of high-speed, VTOL aircraft. The ones in Tribes 1,2, and Ascend actually look like planes, and come in one-man scout and troop transport sizes. Vengeance has a weird flying ball of doom.
Worth noting that in Tribes 1 and 2, despite looking like planes they fly like hovercraft. Sideways? No problem. Backwards? Hard to see where you're going but sure. Straight up? They can do it until the thrusters run out. In Ascend and Vengeance, the Shrikes behave more like VTOL jets than hovercraft, alas.
Crew of One: Utterly and thoroughly averted for vehicles like the hovertank (which needs a separate gunner) and bomber (which needs a bombardier who controls the underbelly turret and actually drops the bombs)...until Ascend made the hovertank's cannon driver-controlled, though it leaves the chaingun for the gunner to control.
Damn You, Muscle Memory: Tribes 2 defaults to ESDF for movement, not WASD, which Starsiege: Tribes, Tribes: Vengeance, and Tribes: Ascend default to (not to mention damn near every FPS ever). There is a bundled WASD configuration in Tribes 2 for those who can't adjust, however. In other cases, people convert to ESDF and then get pissed when games can't be remapped from WASD.
Tribes is one of those games that has so many controls the ESDF configuration is actually a decent choice, it puts 4 additional functions in range of your pinkie, where with WASD your pinky can only hit Tab and maybe Tilde. Ascend has rectified this somewhat by simplifying the controls: for example, you can no longer drop items.
Deadly Disc: The Spinfusor, a hand-held frisbee launcher. Frisbees that glow blue and explode.
Difficult, But Awesome: Sentinels in Ascend. It's easy to understand that a sniper class would have trouble frequently hitting enemies in a game where going faster than 100 miles an hour is the norm, and as a result, most Sentinels tend not to do very well. Those that DO, however, are an absolute nightmare to face. Because most of the maps are fairly open, with the only cover being the bases themselves and the occasional hill, valley, or small structure, a good Sentinel can hit anyone from just about everywhere. They're the only class that has an increased respawn time, simply to give flag carriers a chance.
Juggernauts fall under this as well, due to the nature of their primary weapon. Mortars are incredibly difficult to aim, especially under fire, and the obvious projectiles that they launch means that an enemy will inevitably locate you within mere moments. The Mortar also requires a certain amount of air time before it will detonate on impact, making it nearly useless at anything but long range. While they do have a Spinfusor, they also have amid the lowest speeds in the game, and since Mortars require being stationary to provide any real accuracy, they're easily outmaneuvered by just about any class in a firefight. However, a skilled Juggernaut can utterly waste the enemy team's base structures with impunity, flatten land-based vehicles with little difficulty, break up a turtling team in just a few shots, or bounce Mortar shells off of walls at close-range to annihilate anyone who tries to take advantage of the class's supposed weakness at close range. It's even entirely possible to shell flag carriers and Shrikes from across the map with a bit of foresight and a healthy bit of luck.* Doomsday Device: In 3610, either the Starwolf or Blood Eagles (they continue to argue which) deployed an "ecocidal" weapon on the planet Ganges III, turning it into a Death World. Such weapons are later banned by a joint Tribal treaty in 3641.
Everything Sensor: Large sensors found in bases as well as small deployable ones. They reveal all enemies, vehicles and structures in their radii on your minimap. Ascend retains only the large base sensors, but has deployable motion trackers, available to the Technician class.
Executive Meddling: Suit-wearing types don't seem to like this series much, between shutting down official servers, terminating official support for the games (right before a patch was set to release, in Vengeance's case) and generally being dicks. The Big Bad is of course Vivendi SA and their then-Mooks at Sierra Entertainment, both of whom the average Troper may remember from their dealings with Valve prior to the later going solo a few years back.
The Faceless: Everybody, at least in multiplayer. Some of the lighter armors have a RoboCop-esque appearance with a visor over the eyes and exposed lower face, but that's about it. The Diamond Sword don't get that much.
Game Mod: Tribes 1 and 2 were built from the ground up with the Torque engine and designed to be extremely moddable. Sure enough, a staggering array of mods have sprung up over the years, some of which change the games so completely that they cease to be recognizable.
Gatling Good: The chaingun, though it's compact, about the size of a sub-machine gun. It has a generous ammo supply and is often used as a backup weapon by damn near everybody. Replaced in Ascend by a more mundane assault rifle.
Grenade Launcher: Present in every iteration up to and including Ascend. Big splash, spammy, grenades bounce everywhere when firing at close range.
Heal Thyself: You always have a stash of health kits on hand, usable with the press of a button, and you can loot more from fallen players, or you can don a repair pack to heal yourself at any time as long as you have energy; the repair pack had almost zero energy drain, so players could ski away from danger while constantly repairing themselves. Tribes: Ascend did away with health packs in exchange for Regenerating Health but since it's very delayed, there's a perk which enables you to gain health from ammo packs.)
In addition, if you have the repair pack, you can heal yourself with it if there is nothing else repairable in its range.
Hyperspace Arsenal: Each player can carry a lot of stuff. At the bare minimum, you can have three weapons, a backpack, a supply of grenades, mines, and health packs, and a deployable item such as a turret or inventory station. Ascend cuts this back a bit.
In Name Only: Of sorts, to Starsiege. The main thing connecting the two series is the plot (which is very lacking in the multiplayer oriented Tribes series) and the ELF gun.
Jet Pack: A core gameplay mechanic. It operates via a short but fast-recharging Mana Meter.
Land Mine Goes Click: You can carry a bunch of these and deploy them anywhere, most often near objectives.
Magic Tool: The Repair Pack. Fixes everything, even players! These can often be found in bases, so players can quickly grab one and make repairs. This is vital in Ascend, as most of the classes don't spawn with one.
Mighty Glacier: Heavy armor. In the old games, it was the only armor that could equip the deadly fusion mortar cannon. Ascend's "Juggernaut", "Doombringer" and "Brute" classes use it, with the Juggernaut retaining the mortar and exemplifying the trope.
Missile Lock On: Happens when using the missile launcher against a vehicle or a player with too much heat from jetpack overuse (Ascends Saber launcher merely requires that the target player be airborne). It will not fire without a lock, making it primarily an anti-vehicle weapon.
Ominous Floating Castle: Nearly every map features floating stuff, from simple platforms all the way up to this trope, with both teams' entire bases being in the air. Good thing you've got a Jet Pack.
One Bullet Clips: The Spinfusor plays this literally, only holding one disc at a time.
Painfully Slow Projectile: The plasma gun's blasts don't go anywhere fast, so it's best used at medium-to-close range. Careful though, as they cause splash damage.
Path of Inspiration: The Diamond Sword tribe appeared from nowhere in 3630, claiming to follow one of these under "The Enlightened Master" — according to the fluff, they're big into ancient East Asian philosophy and their derogatory nickname of "Sandrakers" refers to the Zen practice of meditating by raking a plot of sand.
Pinball Projectile: The Blaster in every game fires ricocheting plasma bolts from the suit's energy supply. In Tribes 2, it's a rapid-fire, fairly long ranged, penetrates shield packs, and has infinite ammo, but its slow projectile speed cements it as a Joke Weapon, though "bastards" love it for its ability to plink at defenders to piss them off. Vengeance turns it into a pump-action plasma shotgun with ricocheting buckshot. Ascend turns the Blaster into a laser-revolver for the Sentinel, which does significantly more damage than its Tribes 2 incarnation.
Power-Up Letdown: The Shrike in Ascend. Despite being the most expensive vehicle (and being tied with the Tactical Strike for the second most expensive call-in in the game), and being unavailable to heavy-armoured units, the Shrike's cannons are virtually impossible to aim while flying (as it flies towards what it's aiming at), not particularly powerful, and have a ridiculously small clip and reload speed (one burst of four shots with roughly six seconds of reload in between). The Shrike itself is fast, but is cannon fodder for a Doombringer's anti-air homing rockets (or a well-placed grenade), difficult to control, and will explode if it so much as brushes against the environment, killing the pilot if they're still inside. It also has less health than the less expensive, land-based Beowulf tank.
As a result of this, there are a surprising number of fairly popular modded servers within the community which decrease the price of the Shrike (in some cases, making them absolutely free), which actually causes them to avert this, but not in the way you might expect. While the Shrikes are still deemed to be garbage for actual combat in most cases, a fairly common tactic on these servers is to buy a Shrike, fly around the enemy base, and then bail out as they reach around the flag, giving the attacker incredible speed as they grab the flag, allowing the momentum to carry them across most of the map. In the core game, this is Awesome but Impractical as a result of the prohibitively high cost of the Shrike especially considering that the Shrike will NOT survive the attack, but when these mods are in play it quickly becomes Awesome But Practical.
Likewise, the airstrikes are not particularly useful for their cost. Unlike in the Call of Duty series, the player calling in a strike must aim at the target uninterrupted for a few seconds with an INCREDIBLY obvious laser pointer. The area of effect is not particularly large, and unless the prohibitively expensive Orbital Strike is used, the timing has to be absolutely perfect in order to take out enemy units or buildings (the Orbital Strike lasts a few seconds longer). The airstrikes have one saving grace, in that a successful hit is an instant kill (and as such can be used as an effective, if not incredibly expensive, way to disable a Base Turret), but considering that there are ways to take them out that do not cost several thousands of credits a pop (such as the Juggernaut's Mortars and the Infiltrator's Sticky Grenades), it's simply not practical.
Real Time Strategy: There are the faintest hints of this in the form of a "command map" that allows players to get an overview of the entire battlefield and issue orders, and there's more to manage then just killing the enemy, such as base defense and recon. In practice, a lot of this stuff gets ignored.
The original game had the "Command Map", teams could be set to have limited resources (better plan-out who's buying a vehicle, so you don't run out!), and there were "beacon" deployables you could use to mark targets for teammates. Generally, servers were set to infinite resources, the command map was only used to remote-control turrets (and only then by noobs), and beacons were wholly unused except for certain mods that appropriated them for some other use.
Rocket Jump: There are several weapons which give a speed boost with explosions. Since there are jetpacks and skiing, rocket jump is more useful to gain horizontal speed.
Sentry Gun: Big ones found in bases that can be repaired if destroyed, and smaller deployable ones.
Short Title: Long, Elaborate Subtitle: Technically, the first game of the entire series dates back to Metaltech: Earthsiege, which was developed as a competitor product cum precursor(using some of the same development team) to Battletech: Mechwarrior. Starsiege was originally titled "Earthsiege 3: Starsiege." This naming convention, if properly recorded, would bring us to "Metaltech: Earthsiege 3: Starsiege: Tribes: Vengeance."
Sniper Rifle: The Laser Rifle, featured in every game until Tribes Ascend. It's capable of killing enemies from across the map with a few well placed shots, but leaves a bright red trail that easily reveals the shooter's location. In addition, it drains the user's energy entirely per shot, with more damage at full energy. Tribes: Vengeance adds an additional limitation in requiring limited ammo in addition to energy for extra damage.
We Will All Fly in the Future: Everyone flies due to ubiquitous nature of jet packs. These are built into every single suit of Powered Armor ever produced, effectively giving every notable character flight capabilities.
Wide Open Sandbox: The various Construction mods for Starsiege: Tribes and Tribes 2. Combat is (usually) gone, and players instead will build objects out of variable-length beams and walls. Some of the mods, like Combat Construction, allow players to build a base, then go to battle, or fight off zombies.
Artificial Brilliance: The bots in Tribes 2 will usually pay attention to the player if you use a voice menu command while looking at them. For example, if you look at a friendly bot and say "[VDM] Cover me!", the bot will usually follow you around, attacking anything that attacks you. Or they'll just tell you "No." if they're busying doing something else, like staring at a wall.
Artificial Stupidity: The bots in Tribes 2 do not understand how to ski, and they tend to be extremely oblivious to what is going on around them.
Backpack Cannon: Usually present in ''Tribes 2' mods. Taking one will allow you to press your pack button to fire, allowing you to use essentially two weapons at once (Backpack + hand weapon).
Zombie Apocalypse: The Combat Construction mod for Tribes 2 has a gamemode for fighting off a zombie invasion. You first build your base, then swarms of zombies attack. The "zombies" have several variants designed to bypass your defenses, like phasing through thin walls, flying, or just tearing the walls down with acid attacks.
In a late Beta patch of Ascend, a Secret Code function was added to the menu. The most popular cheatcode, by far, is GOTTAGOFAST. What does it do? It replaces kilometers per hour for SANICS in the speed measurements.
The video for the Brute update is called "Staying Alive", in reference to the Fractal Grenade's Fan Nickname "disco grenade".
Arch-Enemy: Diamond Sword and Blood Eagle seem to hate each other in Ascend.
Also, a couple lines from the Blood Eagle Announcer mentions a treacherous act committed by the Sandrakers.
The backstory of Ascend seemingly had a truce mediated out between the Blood Eagle and Diamond Sword tribes, but Diamond Sword broke the agreement and declared war after some unknown event. The Blood Eagle announcer refers to Diamond Sword as "The betrayers."
Awesome but Impractical: The Juggernaut in Ascend has a Spinfusor disc as a grenade. He'll hurtle the disc at an enemy like a discus, where it'll explode on contact. It's inaccurate, not particularly strong, but very badass.
BFS: Diamond Sword soldiers in Ascend all have large swords on their back, which they use in melee combat. Their Heavy armor has a what looks like a claymore on their back, with a blade that's longer than their upper body.
Canon Discontinuity: Vengeance has been deliberately ignored by Ascend. The e in Ascend's title also resembles a backwards 3, indicating that HiRez at least considers Ascend to be Tribes 3.
Cool Star Ship: The "Crossfire" map in Ascend features low-flying ships hovering in place, as opposed to a static or floating base.. The "Drydock" map has ships flying around in the background, blasting at each other and the ground - sometimes one will slowly hover by the battlefield and block out the sun.
Difficult, But Awesome: Sentinels (snipers) in Ascend. Extremely difficult to use at any distance due to the low zoom, low damage, and the fact that players are zipping around at 200+ SANICS, but it is unmatched at killing flag carriers and lights.
The Dueling, and MK-X Spinfusor sidegrades deal more damage then their counterparts on a direct hit, but have a smaller blast radius. The Devastator sidegrade has a larger blast radius, but less actual splash damage. It does however, deal the most damage in a direct hit out of any Spinfusor.
Energy Weapon: Largely averted with Tribes: Ascend, which mostly opts for ballistic weapons. Even the melee weapons have gone from short-ranged lightning rods like the Shock Lance (which was added in a patch) to mundane swords - the only energy weapons at first were Plasma Turrets, possibly the Shrike's blaster, the Wildcat hovercycle main weapon, and the Sniper's Nova Colt pistol (which resembles the Blaster from Tribes 2, though it now has a revolver magazine and must be reloaded). Updates added the Phase Rifle, which draws power from the Sentinel's energy pool, as well as the original Plasma Gun for Raiders and a larger Plasma Cannon for Brutes.
Enemy Civil War: The stress of the war with the Blood Eagle tribe combined with internal struggles within the Children of the Phoenix resulted in the birth of the Starwolf tribe.
The Faceless: All the base skins. One of the Infiltrator skins, the "Assassin", has a visible face, though he wears a Vader-style rebreather. The faces of the Pathfinder's "Freerunner", Brute's "Crusher" and Raider's "Griever" skins are visible, while the Sentinel's "Specter" has most of his face visible save a pair of goggles.
Flechette Storm: The "Cloak and Dagger" update added throwing knives as a secondary for the Infiltrator. Exploding throwing knives.
Gatling Good: The chaingun, though it's compact, about the size of a sub-machine gun. It has a generous ammo supply and is often used as a backup weapon by damn near everybody. Its role in Ascend is occupied by a more mundane assault rifle, while its been upgraded to BFG status and used by the "Doombringer" class.
The basic Grenade Launcher, present in every iteration up to and including Ascend. Big splash, spammy, grenades bounce everywhere when firing at close range. Ascend's is an unlockable Raider primary.
The Thumper, which looks like a M79 grenade launcher with an ammo readout on it. Detonates on contact with anything, but explodes in air after a certain distance. Available as a Soldier secondary and a Technician primary.
The Bolt Launchers, which are crossbows that shoot grenades. Available as primaries for the Pathfinder and Doombringer.
The ARX Buster, the Raider's default weapon. Uses three-shot magazines of grenades that stick to any surface and detonate after a short delay.
The Jackal, a new primary for the Infiltrator. It functions like the ARX Buster except that it's grenades are detonated manually.
The Gladiator, a new primary for the Brute. Projectiles stick to objects and release a series of shockwaves, or detonate instantly if they hit the enemy.
High Altitude Battle: Made official, you receive a Blue Plate Special reward for a direct-hit Spinfusor kill. Also applies to more mundane explosives, granting the "Air Mail" bonus, and to plasma weapons with the "Hot Air" bonus.
Hitbox Dissonance: The Raider's Plasma Rifle, before the bullet hitbox got reduced by 40% to the size of the actual shot. Shooting under someone jumping and still hitting them was really, really common.
Hit Scan: The Sparrow pistol, Eagle pistol, and the Sniper Rifle in Ascend. All the other weapons are projectile based. Tribes 2's only hitscan weapons are the Laser Rifle and the Shocklance.
Hyperspace Arsenal: 'Ascend'' cuts this back a bit, giving it's pre-configured classes two weapons, a backpack, and some form of explosive like grenades or mines.
Jack of All Stats: Medium armor. The "Soldier", "Raider" and "Technician" classes in Ascend use it, but the "Soldier" exemplifies the trope - good speed, armor, and firepower, but not excelling at any particular task. He retains the Ranger's Assault Rifle and Thumper loadout from Beta, with the basic Spinfusor and Eagle Pistol buyable with Experience Points or Gold.
Joke Weapon: The Sparrow pistol in Ascend. Pathetic damage and a semi-automatic. Its entire purpose seems to revolve around slowly trying to plink an enemy to death - its only useful function is stopping health regeneration, but you'd be better off just spraying wildly in the enemy's direction with an automatic weapon.
Much like the Soldier's Eagle Pistol, it's a hitscan weapon, meaning it can instantly damage enemies at longer ranges, making it very useful for finishing off targets at a distance.
Lethal Joke Character: Infiltrators, once you unlock the Stealth Spinfusor. They are entirely worthless at actually infiltrating because everything counters them (1 point of damage will always reveal them, and 3 classes have area-of-effect packs or abilities that allow them to reveal Infiltrators without warning), but they make for amazing cappers, as the Spinfusor basically turns you into a Pathfinder that can turn invisible, allowing you to stealth-grab the enemy flag, or fade out from combat if you're damaged.
INF standard gameplay doesn't typically constitute joke character status since their class roles can still be accomplished regardless of its counters. However, outside it's typical roles, infiltrators make for hilarious Light on Flag defenders with the use of its Stealth and the Super Heavy perk.
Money Grinding: In Tribes Ascend, hoo boy. When you play, you get XP added to the weapons your current class has equipped and a pool to spend on unlocking new weapons or fully upgrading an already unlocked weapon. At base ratenote Without the bonuses from winning a match, ranking high on the scoreboard, or having ever paid for anything. you earn 2100 XP per hour of play.
Equipment upgrades level ranges from 1,200 to 4,000 to 6,200. Fully upgrading at once with pooled XP usually takes 15,000.
If you want to unlock another class, the prices range from 7,200 to 14,000 to 18,000, and there are six classes to unlock.
Let's say you do not like the default weapon(s) of a class. You probably will, since some of the weapons are downright useless. The most common price for an alternate firearm (as opposed to grenades and perks) is 100,000 exp.
Recursive Ammo: The MIRV Launcher in Ascend, a variant of the classic Fusion Mortar. Instead of one green football of doom, it launched a smaller, weaker mortar which will explode into multiple small mortars after about a second in the air. It's extremely effective at shelling groups of players, bases, and tanks, but cannot deal any real damage to enemies close to the firer.
Regenerating Health: In Tribes Ascend, to compensate for the loss of health packs. However, the delay before it kicks in is much longer than most other modern FPSs, especially without perks to reduce the delay, thus it cannot be relied on in combat. Taking any damage will reset the regeneration timer, and holding the flag will stop all health regeneration. The inventory station technically don't even heal you directly, they just make your regeneration start immediately.
Samus Is a Girl: There are two available female voice packs, "Femme Fatale" and "Ms. Wilderzone", though they don't change the player models.
Sawed-Off Shotgun: One of the weapons available to the Technician in Ascend. Pathetic range, but very powerful up close.
Sniper Rifle: A more traditional sniper rifle with a Team Fortress 2-style "charge while scoped" mechanic, though you can unlock an energy-based sniper rifle which doesn't require you to zoom in to deal max damage, but requires a full store of jet energy to deal max damage, like the Tribes 2 Laser Rifle.
Unstable Equilibrium: Brought in on Ascend, thanks to the free-2-play model. Only a handful of classes are available at the start, unlocking extra classes costs EXP gained in combat, and after unlocking the classes, there is a further skill tree for each class that provides straight upgrades for more EXP. The alternate weapons and perks are ludicrously expensive, but they play a significant part in the gameplay by opening up many tactical choices. In a nutshell, new players must try to scrounge all the EXP they can while older players beat on them mercilessly on their way to the next unlock... unless you blow your hard-earned money in perks and weapons.
Very much balanced out as of the February 2, 2012 patch - three classes (Ranger, Jumper and Scrambler) have been nixed and their weapons and gear integrated into other classes' loadout selections (which have returned); Soldier, Pathfinder and Juggernaut are available to new players from the start, with many other classes becoming inexpensive to unlock; and class-specific experience and Tokens are gone, making everything available using either a single Experience pool or Gold (the currency you buy with real money), with the straight upgrades of weapons only available via EXP unlocking - Perks are now universal, and the various classes' talent tree upgrades are now attached to upgrading weapons, armor and gear. It still costs large amounts of Experience to unlock some weapons and Perks, but giving players more experience per match to compensate helps a lot.