Stonehenge was initially released to Tribes Ascend players on July 22nd, but only on testing servers, it’s been over a month but it’s finally been put into the public rotation and I’ve managed to thoroughly test it, in public games and official matches.
The latest patch tweaked the map slightly, with the largest change being the out of bounds grid being reduced, so you now can’t do 5 second cap routes straight from back to front. This was the biggest issue with the map and it’s now gone, which is great.
Stonehenge was initially a Tribes 1 map that was remade for Tribes 2 (and now Tribes Ascend), and it’s makeover has been exemplary. It genuinely feels like the older versions of the map but now with hi-resolution textures and more detailed structures. It exudes a murky almost underwater atmosphere with huge spotlights illuminating all the structures.
It’s dark but feels open and solid, a lot less brooding than Raindance, another dark rain-swept map.
The map layout is fairly straightforward, 2 flags stand on tall podiums at the back of the 2 bases (containing the generators and inventories), with a huge archway structure in the centre of the map (great for long range mortar spam). Also of note is there is no vehicle inventory, so no shrikes or tanks on this map.
With the removal of fast back-caps, the game mechanics of the map have changed considerably as now cappers need to take large circular routes, leading to more chances to chase them down. The current spawn routes are all located outdoors near the flag stand, so it’s very hard to clear the flag stand with so much spawning defense. But despite this, it’s surprisingly easy to cap… as once you get away with the flag, the steep, tall hills make it fairly easy to ski into to dodge snipers and Spinfusor discs.
The generators are well protected in a square room with 2 entrances, which is actually quite bad as 2 talented enemy juggernauts can ski in and control the generators for the duration of the map.
The map is small, which is a big plus but is also a little spammy (meaning lots of random explosions, lucky kills), leading to a bit of confusion by the competitive community on whether to add the map to the rotation for clan games. I’m guessing it will eventually be added to all the main community (US, Euro, Oceania) leagues but will take another month of practice first.
The big question, is it fun? The answer… yes! It’s different to every map so far, it’s really damn pretty and skiing is fairly easy with all the big, steep hills. It also manages to make great players shine, as they have more chances to make clutch retrievals and duel, due to the map size. It does feel small, but not confining which is the most important bit.
I wouldn’t say it’s my favorite map, but I’m really enjoying it’s new map smell and feel like it will require different tactics to the normal, boring ones (such as 3 raider, 1 capper offense) to win clan matches.