Sweden-based developer Neon Giant will be making its debut with The Ascent but has previously helped out with notable triple-a games such as Wolfenstein and Gears of War. The surprising bit being that those first-person elements actually influenced the combat of the top-down world of The Ascent.
Speaking with SegmentNext in a recent interview, creative director Tor Frick explained that Neon Giant has “experience with making intense and solid feeling combat mechanics” and hence wanted to “apply that in a different genre.”
“There are many lessons learned that we could take with us straight into The Ascent even though on paper it is a very different kind of game,” he reasoned. “It is also the quality bar and mindset that we bring with us, we are used to a certain level of production quality and craftsmanship, and we are always, even if subconsciously, comparing our work to previous projects.”
The destructible environments and covering mechanics go hand in hand and are some combat elements which Neon Giant carried over to The Ascent from its past games. According to game director Arcade Berg, players should be wary of rushing into every battle with guns blazing.
“The biggest one to always keep in the back of your head is to use cover,” advised Berg. “If you are getting shot from every direction, find cover and hunker down! You can still shoot over the cover and as long as the enemies start lobbing explosives at you (which they will…) or start flanking you (which they also will…) you are perfectly safe (you are not…).”
Berg furthermore noted how players can gear themselves up based on preferences such as close-quarter combat or synergize their gear with their abilities and augmentations.
“You can gear up for getting more close and personal with both weapons and augmentations and complement that with a tactical Rejuv Field which restores all within reach’s health.
“You can also start playing with some synergy by combining attributes, abilities and gear. Mix that some high damage and you’ll have a beautiful series of explosions and gibs ahead of you. And make sure to keep an eye on what damage type works best for the different types of enemies.”
As for augmentations, Berg explained just how important they are in building up characters. Each augmentation introduces a unique special ability which can be anything from a new move to summoning a robot helper to boosting weapon stats.
“Each augmentation is connected to one of the four main attributes of the character and draws its power from that. An easy to understand example I like to use is: Do you want to fire one homing missile or a whole slew of them at once? I think ultimately, it’s down to your playstyle to combine these as it feels authentic and complementary to you.”
Remember that The Ascent features four-player co-op and hence, all four players can gear themselves up based on individual roles. The game features drop-in drop-out multiplayer as well and so friends can join for a specific mission or boss fight. When playing solo though, players still have the choice of adding AI-controlled companions. “Does having a short robot with a giant wrench follow you around smacking thugs in the face count?” teased Berg in that vein.
On the subject of boss fights, Berg refrained from mentioning just how many of them there will be in the game. “But I can confirm that there are several and the difficulty level really depends on you, your gear (remember what I said about damage types for example) and your level,” he said. With the right gear, players can even “destroy a siege mech as a level 1 indent with a pistol.”
The Ascent will be officially releasing on Xbox platforms and PC on July 29, 2021. Neon Giant is not willing to confirm a PlayStation release at the time of writing.