The Ascent Release Date Announced, Previews

Curve Digital and Neon Giant will be bringing their co-op friendly cyberpunk action-RPG The Ascent to PC and Xbox on July 29, 2021. This release date announcement is accompanied by a new trailer and a series of hands-on previews/interviews highlighting the game's standout features.

So, let's start with the trailer:

And some additional info about this project:

London, United Kingdom - 18 May, 2021 – Video games publisher Curve Digital is delighted to announce that the highly anticipated debut title from Swedish indie studio Neon Giant, The Ascent will be released on 29 July 2021 on Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One and PC and be available on Xbox Game Pass.

A solo and co-op action-shooter RPG set in a sci-fi cyberpunk world, The Ascent is the first title from Neon Giant, a new 12-person studio composed of games industry veterans who were some of the minds behind iconic AAA titles such as the Gears of War, Bulletstorm and Wolfenstein franchises. The game will target 60 fps and have full 4K support on the Xbox Series X, offering amazing gameplay performance for new generation console players.

“We are super excited that people will soon be able to jump into the world of The Ascent,” said Arcade Berg, Creative Director and co-founder of Neon Giant. “We love making games and we do it because we want people to enjoy the experience and world we have created - so we’ve designed a game that lets all players have fun with the element of gameplay that interests them the most. Whether you’re someone who enjoys exploring every corner, loves exciting combat or gets invested in the story and lore, we've tried to put something in The Ascent for everyone.

”Fellow co-founder and Creative Director of the studio Tor Frick added: “A month ago we celebrated Neon Giant’s third anniversary and we’re so happy to be launching our first title just after this milestone for our young studio. We have a very passionate and dedicated team and each person in the studio has brought something new and great to the overall experience of The Ascent, so we’re really excited to share the planet of Veles with everyone and see what people think of the world our team has created.”

The Ascent will see players dive into ‘The Ascent Group’ arcology, a self-contained corporate-run metropolis, stretching high into the sky and filled with creatures from all over the galaxy. Taking on the role of an indentured worker, the world starts to go haywire when The Ascent Group shuts down for unknown reasons. Life becomes a case of survival, with rival corporations and crime syndicates looking to fill the empty space. Players will have to take up arms and hold them off. The Ascent begins here.

The Ascent will offer players the chance to step into an action-orientated sci-fi RPG powered by Unreal Engine that takes the genre to new levels, available to play in both single-player and up to four-player co-op.

  • A free-roam play style in a cyberpunk inspired dystopian world
  • Classic RPG mechanics to enable players to build up their character including cyberware, augmentations and looting
  • An unprecedented sense of verticality within its world, with different levels and platforms discernible within play
  • Double-aim mechanic enables players to utilise the full screen and choose between multiple targets anywhere in the environment
  • A narrative-led adventure playable in single and up to four-player co-op modes

Now, here's a quick excerpt from PC Gamer's preview:

When I complete my job, I return to the city above and learn that the Ascent Group has suddenly gone bankrupt, leaving the entire arcology in a state of uncertainty and confusion. The city acts as a hub where I can buy new weapons, chatter with NPCs, and pick up missions. Once again, I'm blown away by the density of the game's environments. This is one of the most convincingly crowded, messy, oppressive cyberpunk cities I've explored in a game, and I love the grimy, industrial art direction. It's very 2000 AD.

A couple of paragraphs from Eurogamer:

At first it's all a little simple, but towards the end of my session I started to dig into the combat's systems a little more, and crucially the depth is there. It's an RPG, which I've mentioned but feel bears repeating, as The Ascent doesn't really advertise itself as one. You level up, spend those skill points on passive attributes like your weapon handling or your balance, which impact things like reload speed or dodge cooldowns or, as the game unfolds itself a bit more, the interesting things like active abilities and cybernetics. My active was a strong melee smash, which was simple but satisfying, while the cybernetics I never managed to unlock.

Alongside your level of course comes money and crafting components. The crafting is mercifully simple: pick up a one-size-fits-most component, take it to a gunsmith, and they'll make your gun better. Money goes towards gear - guns, armour, cybernetics - and it's earned in all the usual ways, from popping out of chests and enemies, selling spare gear you find around the world, and completing side missions picked up from chatty townsfolk.

And a sample question from WCCFTech's Q&A:

Does the game actually scale when you're playing in co-op? Is it tougher than when you're flying solo?

Yeah, so it scales differently depending on how many players you are. But the main thing scaling is that the enemies deal more damage to you because we need to remember that in co-op you can revive each other, so we need to balance that. The enemies have more health. Again, the more players the more health. It's not one-to-one, so you don't have enemies that take four times the amount of HP when you have four players, but it's more, and we also have more as a number of enemies so everyone has stuff to shoot at. It definitely scales, even if you do drop in, so if you and I are playing together and then two friends join during the game, the game from that point adjusts again to make sure that it's always on par with us.