The Ascent - Game Discussion

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Humanity

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#1  Edited By Humanity
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Elevator Pitch: The Ascent is a twin stick shooter with some light RPG level up mechanics and a beautifully rendered cyberpunk world.

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I've been playing this for the past two days and I gotta say the one thing that sticks out is how absolutely gorgeously realized the dystopian future sprawl really is. The levels are so dense with detail and everything is oozing with cyberpunk style. It's puzzling why the game starts you off with the quintessential sewer mission complete with space rats and a boring maze-like series of tunnels. It's an incredibly poor introduction to the game that already suffers from some pretty bad UI issues and aggressive upfront tutorialization.

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Once you get past that intro and take the elevator ride to the "surface" the world opens up and you get to see the splendor of the "stacks" - future mega apartment blocks a-la Judge Dredd - in all their glory. There are certain moments where the camera changes perspective and shows off some monumental AI core or huge nuclear reactor and I'm really in awe how incredibly sharp it all looks. All the streets have tons of NPCs that just stand around but it does give the game this feeling like people are actually inhabiting these levels and it's not just a bunch of dead hallways. There is a story, but it's your very typical "there is war brewing among the corporations" type of stuff. The intro cinematic already compares "indents" as in indentured workers to slaves and you get the drift. This ain't Neuromancer, heck it ain't even Snow Crash, but it's decent enough to keep you moving from point A to point B. Surprisingly enough there is a lot of writing here and the voice acting is actually pretty good.

This is a very classic twin stick shooter with some abilities mixed in and a strange cover system that allows you to duck behind a wall and raise your gun to shoot over it. In certain situations this is a tactical requirement as you get outnumbered by gun toting punks and can't simply weave in and out of their fire. Later on though you do get certain abilities that help mitigate this issue and let you stay out in the open. Just recently I acquired the ability to summon tiny spider bots that seek out enemies and detonate which is fun. As mentioned earlier the main complaint is the UI. On a TV it is obviously scaled poorly. Everything is tiny and hard to read and while you can scale up the subtitles you can't do much about prompts and other elements of the HUD. There are several abilities that have active cooldowns and it is very unclear when they are off cooldown - one of those situations where a tiny dot around your reticle would make a night and day difference letting you know when your tactical or aug ability is ready rather than having to glance down at the extremely small icons on the lower right of the screen. On PC this is much less of an issue I noticed. Maybe a future patch will smooth this out as this game really does seem like it could use a bit more polish.

Apart from running and gunning you're also leveling and distributing skill points into several different areas. The game doesn't let you know this at first but depending what abilities you level will have an impact on the special abilities you equip later on. For instance you might have been leveling up the ability to earn tactical energy quicker which is a Cybernetic trait, but the current skill you have equipped scales with a different stat. So there actually is some thought that goes into your build which adds a fun layer on top of the already pretty fun shooter gameplay.

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Playing on Series X the framerate is nearly rocksteady even when huge explosions are taking place and it generally feels pretty good. I do think ultimately, a mouse is better for aiming than an analog stick, but my PC was having performance issues during certain segments so I went back to the console version. This is a "Play Anywhere" title meaning if you have Game Pass Ultimate you can download it to your PC and it synchs your save across all systems letting you pick right up where you left off on your console or vice versa. It's a handy way to see if you prefer to play on your computer or console. I did hear that the Game Pass PC version doesn't have DLSS working which is odd but unfortunately par for the course when it comes to PC Game Pass.

Anyone else give this game a go?

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bybeach

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I haven't yet, I'm stuck in Ion Fury purgatory. I do like Ion Fury but it seems like I have been playing it for a while. Pretty sure I am near the end...

Anyways, I saw Jeff playing Ascent, and checked it out for myself on Steam. I'm eventually am going to buy it, some word of bugs and such, but mostly for co-op. Otherwise people seem to really like it. Good to know about the entry level, that it really breaks out.

Just to mention the game Jeff mentioned, Brigador, is on sale and I did get that one.

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seveword

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Bless PC gamepass for this one. I played through the (aggressively mundane) sewer intro. After getting some worldbuilding and accepting some sidequests, I wandered back into the sewers. No enemies spawned, and when I tried to quit, the menu command stopped working? Some kind of weird bug. Alt F4ed and uninstalled.

To be fair, twin stick shooters are the lowest on my preferred list of game mechanics, so I wasn't going to play it long anyways, but those bugs were puzzling. Had some npc's spawn in odd spots in the environment too. The voice acting and especially atmosphere are top notch, though, even in my limited time with it, like you mentioned. Anyone who has a slightly smoother experience than I and can hang with the gameplay will likely get a lot more out of it.

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Humanity

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@seveword: I've encountered that quit bug on both PC and Series X. Quit back to Main Menu did nothing and on PC I have to Alt F4 as well. On Series X I had this one whole section where no enemies spawned. I thought the game was building to something but it was just a bug and it let me go from one objective to the other in a completely empty level. Then I got to a boss fight, the cinematic played showing a big baddie drop down and act all menacing, cut back to gameplay and there is nothing there. Reloaded the game and it worked fine. So yah, game definitely has some weird bugs. I've heard it's a small studio, but as you said, thank goodness for Game Pass cause at the end of the day you can just call it quits guilt free.

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Intradictus

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@seveword: oof, I have it installed from gamepass but I think I will wait for a patch or two before playing it, too many other games in my backlog to get through at the moment

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FacelessVixen

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#6 FacelessVixen  Online

...Can I change my hair after the initial character creation segment?

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Efesell

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@facelessvixen: Yeah you can change everything about your character at a grafter.

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FacelessVixen

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#8 FacelessVixen  Online

@efesell: Cyberpunk 2077: Almost nine months later, and you still can't change your hair without using a mod.

The Ascent: You can change your hair style, since day one.

Thanks for the info.

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BladeOfCreation

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Agreed with everything so far. I'm a few hours in. The game looks great, both aesthestically and technically, the UI is tiny and bad, and there are long stretches of running to objectives (a fast travel back to the hub would be appeciated). I've had one hard freeze so far. Unless I've missed it, there is no way to rotate the camera angle, which is frustrating. So far, I've only picked up pistols and SMGs.

This is the perfect Game Pass game, and I'm enjoying it so far.

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Efesell

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I think with a couple of patches this could easily be one of my favorites of the year. On PC though it's just a little bit unstable and wonky but nothing that can't be ironed out.

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physicalscience

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I played Co-op with my buddy last night, and his game crashed twice on us (he is on a Xbox One S, vs me on a Series X). He uninstalled it, but I think there is something there if they clean it up?

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jacksmedulla

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@bladeofcreation: there is a fast travel taxi option that unlocks a couple of hours in. My biggest wish is just to have a sprint button, though.

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Humanity

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@jacksmedulla: another weird design choice is that taxis and the subway work differently. Taxis seem to transport you to different areas of the level you’re on while the subway takes you to different levels - which makes figuring out where you have to go twice as confusing.

I found a mod that turns your roll into a very flashy forward teleport move and if you max out the evade stat that could potentially act as a way to sprint around but obviously it’s not a realistic workaround.

I’m curious how much work will go into this game post-launch because there are plenty of small quality of life fixes that could really make the experience a lot smoother.

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BladeOfCreation

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@jacksmedulla: Awesome, thanks for the heads-up! Agreed about a sprint button.

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tartyron

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#15  Edited By tartyron

I played it, I enjoyed it, I uninstalled it the next day. It’s is totally fine, but not anything mind-blowing and not interesting enough to invest more time into. I will echo what most reviews say, though: it is gorgeous to look at.

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jacksmedulla

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@humanity: Yeah, even with the metro and taxi, map navigation can be a complete cluster fuck. I'm really enjoying my time with the game, but as you said, there are a lot of little things that could take this up to the next level in quality. In particular, a sprint option, a better UI experience, better information on objective locations, and just getting rid of hold <button>. The gunplay, rpg elements, and world building are top tier, though.

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Efesell

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Hold Button to dismiss menus almost made me quit the game early I won't lie.

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Skyrider

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I've been enjoying the game quite a bit. First experience was playing couch coop on Xbox One, and it held up surprisingly well on the old console, aside from a couple of crashes where it apparently ran out of video memory. I've got gamepass ultimate, so I was super excited to see that saves carried over between PC and Xbox. Unfortunately, the Gamepass PC version is currently not great. I couldn't even get through the tutorial as trying to talk to the first NPC you come across was not just crashing my game, but my PC as well. I actually ended up buying the steam version, which has been a much better experience, beyond not crashing my PC.

But yeah, really digging it so far. Coop is definitely my preferred way to play, but I still enjoy it solo, which I typically don't with ARPG's (if that's even what this is?).

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csl316

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It's been fun but it's full of design decisions that are making me just plow through it. The navigation, the tiny text, the gameplay feel. I'm not sure why so many reviewers hyped it up so much. The world's really cool and I'm digging its vibe.

I'll play it and move onto something else without regrets.

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ThePanzini

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I'm only going to echo what others have said, the environments are truly spectacular really dense full of detail reminds me of the Division and early Final Fantasy PSX backgrounds, but my god is it buggy and littered with odd design choices.

After Returnal which has one of the best maps I've every seen The Ascent is by far the worst not being able to judged height in a multi level environment is incredibly frustrating, getting side missions for areas you don't have access to is another.

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jacksmedulla

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@thepanzini: Yeah, I've tried to use the map, but it's honestly useless.

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Humanity

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#22  Edited By Humanity

@jacksmedulla: if you zoom in real close you can kind of make out where the path is. I used to also think the map is completely incomprehensible but have since learned how to read it - mostly.

Still useless in terms of quest markers though.

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ALLTheDinos

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I’ve also tried it out on both a Series X and PC using Ultimate Game Pass. I’ll echo everything in the OP, and I had to reduce graphics on PC to Medium settings to keep the framerate in a spot I liked. Because the game has such a great look and style, I’m preferring this on console by a good margin.

One thing I’ll add is that I’ve found the respawns fairly generous in positioning, progress kept, and loading speed. Even on PC I barely had to wait to get back in the action. That goes a long way to keeping my interest up because it’s super easy to wander into a group that can shred you in seconds.

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miserywizard

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This game is amazing to me.

It's designed so perfectly cyberpunk. The music is stellar, the gameplay is fun and rewarding, the characters are weird and well voice-acted, there's a ton of guns, there's hidden collectibles all over.

Overall, it really nailed the aesthetic and feel of a cyberpunk world without feeling try hard.

It had some annoying bugs and design choices (or lack of choices), and the difficulty spikes are all over the place, but nothing too major that kept me from ultimately enjoying the hell out of it.

Hopefully with the success of this one, they can improve and expand on everything for whatever game they make next.

Two thumbs up!

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deckard

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I agree with all of the points made in here - looks great but the UI/ QOL issues keep me from really looking forward to returning for significant periods of time.

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Lucifunk

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For the people enjoying it, and are playing via GamePass on PC, I found dropping down to DX11 gave me a pretty good performance boost. I'm using a 5700xt at 1440p on a freesync monitor and it went from occasionally chugging with settings on high, to running smooth at everything on Ultra. I was able to squeeze out a few more fps with the rez scaling, and didn't notice any real visual difference there as well.

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Humanity

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#27  Edited By Humanity

Now that I've gotten some abilities that cause massive explosions with a ton of particles unfortunately the framerate is starting to chug a bit on the Series X when I pop off all my stuff at once. Was super smooth for the longest time but when I spawn like 10 robots that all explode, causing enemies marked with another ability to also explode on death, and then all environmental stuff that goes flying.. well there are a solid few moments there where it's clearly not keeping up.

I actually wouldn't mind if it did some sort of dynamic scaling in those moments cause in a game like this a steady framerate is super important.

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Efesell

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#28  Edited By Efesell

Hm, yeah this game is great when its working but I'm startin to get hit with just a lot of really annoying bugs. Enemies not spawning at all that I need for quest, can't quit to the menu because the quit to menu button doesn't work. Some real small things adding up to be very annoying.

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poobumbutt

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As many others have said, I ran into a bug - if a quick Google search is any indication, a common one - on the main mission Mutual Dependencies. First, the game doesn't change objectives when you arrive at the location specified. Second, even though I know that my mission is to kill 4 "Full Chrome" enemies, only 3 spawn. I've done it multiple times to double and triple-check, there's no 4th one anywhere. Furthermore, some people claim to have killed 4 of them, but presumably because the game is still stuck on the "travel to x location" objective, it doesn't recognize that you've completed the next one. I deleted my save file and am currently waiting for a patch or two to hopefully solve these issues. I've done this part so many times, I'd be overlevelled for almost all future sidequests for the next few hours. No thanks, I'll bite the bullet and start over. If nothing else, I'm glad this pretty significant bug happened so early; allowed me to eject without feeling like I lost too much, but also not SO early that I didn't get a good taste of the game. Still, a shame.

But other than that progress-halting super annoyance, I like the game quite a lot.

A genuine sense that someone thought out this world and how it functions, and how the people within it function in turn? Check.

Optional dialogue to flesh out the lore and characters? Yes, please.

Actual reasons/mini-stories from NPCs to carry out their sidequests, not just "go get 5 lizard tails" with no explanation? Mm-hmm.

Brutal combat that feels like some combination of Hotline Miami and Smash T.V.? Pass the salt.

About the only thing I don't think is there that I'd like in a cyber-esque game is a "hacker space", or some sort of mini-game when you need to crack a lock or attack an enemy with something other than brute force. It's just "need to hack a door or an enemy? Get the right deck level and boom, door's open/enemy's weakened." Also, in a cyberpunk game where plenty of enemies rush you with melee weapons, it's weird that you don't get a katana to attack them in kind, with perhaps an ability to block bullets for a second or two. I was super early when I stalled out, so *maybe* these are still deeper in the game, but I'm not holding my breath; your upgrade skills do not mention anything about melee combat, so... :(

I really want to get back to this game, it's kind of all anyone's talking about - that or Death's Door, which I don't fancy very much - and I'd like to get into the real meat of it soon.

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jacksmedulla

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@lucifunk: DX12 was known to be borked on release, and I’m not sure if they’ve patched it yet. So unless someone is desperate for some Raytracing, DX11 is definitely the way to go.

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NickMitch

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I have played perhaps 4 hours or so. It feels somewhat rushed, but still polished. The character designs are both good and bad. The sound and music are good but too low key or muted.

This kind of good and/or less good seems to be a theme for me and this game. I like it, but there is not much pulling me in. So far the story does nothing for me.

The whole game seems to be in need of more "weight". The player character is a bit too floaty. More heft to the step would have come a long way, certainlty so in combination with a more bombastic soundscape.

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Humanity

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From what I read the dev team behind this is made up of 11 people so all in all pretty impressive game for such a small group.

I do hope they’ll support it long term because once they iron out the bugs and tweak the UI I could see them making cool DLC in the form of additional districts with unique end bosses and such.

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Brakara

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This game slaps. The world building and combat are top notch, and the audio-visual onslaught is a delight.

I think my only gripe is that the side missions are not working properly, in that it says for example that it's a "level 7" mission, but then you encounter level 14 enemies on your way there. So I'm sticking on the main storyline for now.

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haneybd87

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I’m getting so tired of early access games, especially when they’re not labeled as such. I think I might just stop playing new games and wait a year for every title. It’s getting really old.

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#35 noboners  Online

@haneybd87: I don't really understand why you think this game should still be considered an "early access" game. It seems to be completed but just has some questionable early game design choices and bugs. It's not like there is guaranteed added content coming. This just seems like a statement of "this game isn't for me but I want to complain until it's something I like."

As for my impression of The Ascent, my only complaint is that a lot of the preview coverage I saw on Eurogamer and IGN compared it to Diablo.... And it's not that. But I'm enjoying my time with it. I am gonna take a break from it though until some buds pick it up because I think I'd prefer it in co op.

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haneybd87

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@noboners: @noboners: I think this game is very much for me but it’s missing features like DLSS and Ray Tracing on the PC game pass version (not on Steam) and it’s chock full of bugs ranging from annoying to completely game breaking. Sounds like it’s missing co-op on Steam and co-op is completely broken where it is available. It’s not about complaining until it’s something I like, the game is simply incomplete and they released it in an incomplete state which I take issue with. Kind of exactly like another recent Cyberpunk game.

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noboners

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#37 noboners  Online

@haneybd87: ah ok. All valid complaints. My bad for assuming.

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Ben_H

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I thought this seemed interesting after I watched the Nextlander people play it so I downloaded it. I've only played it on an original Xbox One so far but it seems to run fine? The load times are brutal though. The initial load was a couple minutes, and loads between areas are at least a minute or so. I compared the same area in my game to Vinny's running on a Series X and they definitely had to turn down the lighting and effects a lot for Xbox One but it still looks pretty good. So far it's run at a good frame rate and I haven't noticed any dips, though I'm quite early into the game. I downloaded it on my admitted kinda ancient PC so I'll give it a go on there as well. I certainly won't be running it at max settings given their requirements.

I like the shooting a lot. Now that I'm getting used to the combat I'm finding it fun.The UI is a huge bummer. There's also no overscan options so a bit of the UI is cut off on my small TV and I can't fix it.

The tutorial was definitely bad, as has been mentioned. I missed reading the hacking button prompt so I ended up spending like 15 minutes looking around and wondering what to do before looking it up and finding that this is a common thing people are running into.

It's fun and I'll definitely keep playing it. The downsides to it are frustrating but I'm having enough fun so far that I'll keep going.

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Brakara

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#39  Edited By Brakara
@haneybd87 said:

Kind of exactly like another recent Cyberpunk game.

This is crazy talk. The game is no where near being in a bad state as CP2077. There are some bugs, sure, but saying that co-op is completely broken is just false. If it was true then Vinny and Alex wouldn't have been able to stream it playing co-op for two hours the other day.

This game is not in a Early Access state, not even close. And it's pretty much feature complete.

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Humanity

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@ben_h: Yah I saw the Digital Foundry video on it and the elevator load times seemed as you say brutal. I think they clocked them in at nearly 2 minutes? If its any comfort then from my experience playing the game for a while now you don't change floors that often, typically once for each story mission. On my Series X that load is like 10 seconds or so and I was recently thinking how that seemed kind of long compared to some other games I've played on that console lately which all load extremely fast.

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haneybd87

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#41  Edited By haneybd87

@brakara: @brakara: People are having their co-op saves erased. I certainly wouldn’t want to start a co-op game at this point. That is completely broken.

What’s the deal with everyone feeling the need to defend a broken game released in an incomplete state? It’s no wonder this keeps happening because for every one of these that’s released you have the internet defense force coming to defend it.

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Efesell

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#42  Edited By Efesell
@brakara said:
@haneybd87 said:

Kind of exactly like another recent Cyberpunk game.

This is crazy talk. The game is no where near being in a bad state as CP2077. There are some bugs, sure, but saying that co-op is completely broken is just false. If it was true then Vinny and Alex wouldn't have been able to stream it playing co-op for two hours the other day.

This game is not in a Early Access state, not even close. And it's pretty much feature complete.

I mean.. by sheer overwhelming volume Cyberpunk 2077 is a much larger game and had many more things broken about it. So there's some truth to that.

But I didn't have to stop playing that game because enemies didn't spawn for a main story quest. When I thought "Well maybe If I reload it'll fix it" and tried to quit to the main menu to find that a bug prevented the quit button from working I thought... well I guess I'm good for now.

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noboners

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#43 noboners  Online

@haneybd87: I'm gonna jump back in because I spoke up earlier. I was more trying to say that just because it's buggy and broken doesn't mean it's still an Early Access game. The bugs are an issue for sure, but I'd rather discuss it as a complete game being shipped broken than an unfinished game.

Which I understand is me splitting hairs or semantics or something. Obviously the bugs suck and my friends are waiting for patches before we jump in for co op for the exact reasons you mentioned.

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haneybd87

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@noboners: @noboners: Semantics for sure, I don’t really see any meaningful distinction between the two. In both cases more work needs to be done before they’re released.

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Humanity

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The final mission in the game is sorta fucked in the difficulty curve I’m not even sure how you are supposed to beat it correctly or if there is some sort of trick cause it was super rough for me.

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TheManiacsGnome

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@humanity said:

The final mission in the game is sorta fucked in the difficulty curve I’m not even sure how you are supposed to beat it correctly or if there is some sort of trick cause it was super rough for me.

I'm at a point that involves interacting with four consoles, and I want to start pulling my hair out. Why don't the Ferals also attack the Ascenders? Why do they keep spawning? Why is the room bathed in a red light, when the indicators for explosions are the same shade of red? Why doesn't the auto turret work? Why does the Pocket Mech just fire over the heads of the Ferals? I wasn't having a great time before this encounter and now I'm just having a flat out bad time, and I don't like to have bad times.

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Humanity

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@themaniacsgnome: I saw a guy on Twitch use the pocket mech on that fight and it seemed to have broken the encounter or something because barely any ferals spawned when he was in the mech and he could hack the terminal from inside the suit which shields you from taking damage.

He beat it first try without breaking a sweat. I thought maybe they had patched it but if you’re having the same hair-pulling time that I did with this fight then try the mech again? I used frag grenades, the overwhelmer gun, health steal and the exploder one - took like 15 attempts.

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ThePanzini

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#48  Edited By ThePanzini

I used auto-turret and spider bots for the entire game, I never found any of the grenades particularly useful especially when the action kicks off.

The turret with its large pool of health is really good at taking aggro and can easily kill the spam ferals.

The spider bots are pretty much op too not only do they have a pretty short cool down but their numbers scale too, you can throw down a dozen block of the enemy and clear the entire room.

The last encounter was a breeze for me in the end I did it on my second try, after dying the first time not knowing what was going on.

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morningstar

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I did it on my fifth try, but damn was it chaotic. Had to change around some augments to get it done.

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#50  Edited By ThePanzini

Thinking about the game some more overall I enjoyed my time with The Ascent and I would definitely take another.

However two aspects I did not like.

First was the crouch mechanic while not bad per se it never felt good doing especially when things kick off as they do in a twin stick shooter, when the environment is really noisy having to judge weather I'm crounching or not and if i'm hitting that one guy through the crowd is pain. Having crouch on the left trigger as a hold would have been better.

Second I really dislike the weapon upgrade system having a finite amount of resources which to upgrade with is going to disincentivize people trying out all the weapons, cause your always going to horde resources forever waiting for a better option and reinvest in what your using.

I went through the entire game using 3-4 weapons and probably by the end after maxing out two guns could have done maybe 1-2 more after doing all the side missions and collecting all the chests, why the game was so stingy on upgrade components is beyond me they should have been farmable or cash upgrades.

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