Like the iterations before it, Tribes: Ascend has a fairly steep learning curve. The majority of the weapons fire projectiles of varying velocities, and very few have the instant "hitscan" effect as seen in COD, so you are required to fire ahead of your intended target to varying degrees. "Skiing" is a skill required to be effectively mobile, and traverse the maps efficiently. Both of these skills will take some time to learn, and are never fully mastered, but will set players apart quite dramatically at first. Don't be discouraged.
The free-to-play model works fairly well in Tribes: Ascend. New players may find weapon unlocks to cost quite a bit of gold(pay) or xp(play), but most of the unlockable items aren't upgrades, but side-grades, and the xp WILL add up as you play. The classes and weapons that are unlocked to begin with are great, and even though I have most of the gear unlocked, I use the original classes and equipment much of the time. The poor player with skill will win over the big spender in most cases.
In combat, hits are clearly registered with thumping audio indicators and damage numbers(can be turned off) which feel quite rewarding. The graphics are beautiful, vivid and clean, if somewhat lacking in detail. The sound is great for action, instruction, and immersion, but is lacking in 3D direction and indoor/outdoor isolation(you can hear whats happening outside as clear as if you were there). The gameplay is smooth and fast, and highly addictive. The multiplayer is great, when teamwork is, well.. working. The game can require some fairly new hardware to run smoothly(60fps) at maximum graphics, and doesn't scale very well yet to older hardware. However, this is one of the only games that has been able to keep me entertained in many years, and is probably the best multiplayer FPS released in the last few years.