Update (Thu 29th Jul, 2021 02:00 BST): The Ascent is dropping on Xbox Game Pass later today (Thursday, June 29), and so we're re-sharing this interview in case you missed it the first time around. Enjoy!
Original story (Tue 15th Jun, 2021 19:45 BST): We've got a busy few months coming up for Xbox Game Pass, with loads of games having been announced at Xbox and Bethesda's E3 2021 Showcase. But one title that's been on our radar for some time is the The Ascent - a cyberpunk RPG built for solo and co-operative play.
It's hitting Xbox Game Pass on July 29, and players can expect some high-octane action, deep RPG mechanics, and a beautiful world to explore. To tell us more, we spoke to Arcade Berg, the co-founder and creative director at developer Neon Giant.
Pure Xbox: Hello! Could you give us a quick introduction and your role on The Ascent?
Arcade: My name is Arcade and I’m one of the founders of Neon Giant and a creative director on The
Pure Xbox: In a nutshell, what is The Ascent and what can we expect from it?
Arcade: The Ascent is an action-shooter RPG that you can play via single player or up to four players online or offline, taking you through a cyberpunk/sci-fi adventure set in a giant Arcology on a distant planet named Veles. You can expect high octane combat mixed with strategic elements such as cover mechanics working hand-in-hand with the RPG layer, letting you create your own play-style, explore the world, and drive the story forward with the help of the characters you encounter along the way.
Pure Xbox: What was the idea behind the setting of The Ascent? The cyberpunk genre is very popular right now, so what makes the game stand out from the rest?
Arcade: I think one major difference is our mix of sci-fi elements like space and alien races. You don’t only see amped up humans walking around, but the entire size chart ranging from tiny Karlans to huge, heavy Larkians living in the same cities.
The game takes place in a huge arcology, which is like a city contained in a megacorp-run building-like structure. This lets you as a player explore a much more vertical space than you.
Pure Xbox: With the game, you can obviously play both solo and co-operatively. Are there any advantages players will see on each side, and how will the gameplay change for each playstyle?
Arcade: The game will adapt on the fly to additional players joining a game. More enemies, but more importantly, boosting them a bit so they don’t go down as easily as they cause more damage to you, since we now also have to consider the fact that you can revive each other.
We’ve gone in with the mindset that the single player - and maybe two players - will play it a bit slower and allow themselves to be immersed in the world and story, while we are fully aware that if you get four players together and give everyone miniguns and rockets things will go kray kray.
And that’s fine. Go nuts, have fun!
Pure Xbox: As one of the main draws of the game is obtaining tons of loot and gear, what sort of unique equipment can players expect to find in The Ascent, and how does it all affect the player?
Arcade: There are a few different types. The obvious ones you’d expect are weapons and armour for different parts, but also what we call tactical - which are grenades, healing machines and the like. Modules gives you passive abilities, and the big ones are the augmentations that provide you with active abilities that you can then power up depending on how you allocate your skill points that affect the attributes that drives them.
Weapons range from the expected, to the excessive and exotic, and we’ve tried to cover a wide area of use for the abilities. Some work extra well when mixed with others, like if a friend puts a group of enemies into stasis and you then overcharge them so that they explode with some major damage dealing ability.
There’s no right or wrong, and I can’t say that any one in particular is the best. We want you to decide what you prefer and have fun with it.
Pure Xbox: How does the game world work? Should players expect an open-world setup, or is The Ascent more linear in its structure?
Arcade: The world is completely open in nature. You’re free to go as you please, but beware that some areas will be way too tough for you and it’s wise to come back later. The only restrictions are narrative based ones like the power outage you see in some of our released footage and things like that.
You can stick to the main campaign and you’ll see a lot of the world, but there are areas that you’ll only find by doing side missions or just going out exploring looking for treasure.
Pure Xbox: The Ascent looks absolutely gorgeous, and is obviously a game that is going to be optimised for the Xbox Series X. Can you reveal what enhancements next-gen players will find when they boot it up on next-gen consoles?
Arcade: Without going into details, you’ll see “more of everything” that doesn’t affect gameplay with the more powerful machines. For example we can have much more civilians in the world helping create that feel of a living place. We can crank everything up thanks to the new tech!
Pure Xbox: What was it like working for the Xbox Series X, and did you find the Series S to be a challenge in comparison, or was it smooth sailing?
Arcade: It’s not the most exciting answer, but it was thankfully smooth sailing. Series S is a beast and the software made works on both. With us being a tiny studio of 12 people, that’s a huge win for us!
Pure Xbox: With it entering Xbox Game Pass on day one, are you hoping friends will jump in together and experience The Ascent? Was this a conscious decision made ahead of its reveal?
Arcade: Our goal is for as many as possible to play the game so Xbox Game Pass is a perfect fit. We jumped on the opportunity to be part of it. We of course hope that both friends and enemies will get to experience and enjoy The Ascent.
Pure Xbox: Any final words for our Pure Xbox community ahead of The Ascent's launch on Xbox Game Pass?
It’s so, so close now!
We'd like to thank Arcade for taking the time to talk to us. The Ascent launches July 29 for Xbox One, Xbox Series X, Xbox Series S and PC. It will also be available day one as part of Xbox Game Pass.