The Ascent guide to things you should know

The Ascent has been out for a few days now and it’s become apparent in my conversations with friends that they need a guide to things you should know. The game makes some attempt to on-board you onto some ideas such as shopping for gear, using abilities and taking cover but it’s not super good at elucidating on some of its finer points.

As a result, some players find themselves in a jam whether it comes to their own skill level with the gameplay, maintaining a steady flow of cash to spend or dealing sub-optimal amounts of damage. Here’s the Ascent guide to things you should know.

Xbox players get cross-play, Steam players don’t.

As an Xbox site, we’re not really preoccupied with what people’s experiences are on Steam or other platforms, but this is worth noting as I’ve encountered people who intended to do online co-op with their friends but are unaware that cross-play is only available for the Windows Store / UWP version of The Ascent.

That means if you want to party between your friends on PC and on console, don’t buy the Steam version which does not interact with players on Xbox Live, unlike other Xbox Live games such as Gears 5 or Sea of Thieves, which are fine letting you play with anyone on any platform.

Don’t be shy about aim assist

The Ascent has some pretty tight mechanics, which is great as it allows you a lot of fine control over moving and shooting but it also means that combat can be a bit demanding especially when you’re getting rushed. If your having trouble getting the firing arc to land exactly where you want it to be, I recommend aim assist. There’s no shame in it, the game was designed to still be challenging with it in mind, and its been recommended by the devs at Neon Giant as well.

Almost anything can be cover

No one should mistake The Ascent for Gears of War, but cover should never be forgotten. Almost anything will suffice as cover — concrete garden lots, outdoor benches, shop counters, even piles of garbage — so huddle up wherever you can and hold down the aim button to shoot over cover. You can pick quite a few foes trying to rush you before they close in and make life easier.

Spamming the dodge button can hurt

Unlike a lot of other action games, the dodge button has not been idiot proofed in The Ascent. It does not grant any i-frames, or invincibility frames, when you use it which means you can’t just roll inside an explosive radius or while a bullet strikes you and hope to get away unscathed. Time your dodge properly and be mindful of the brief but significant cooldown between uses.

The game adapts to you, vary your tactics

I learned the hard way that The Ascent adapts to you. While the enemies have a set of predefined behaviors in such a way that they’re easy to master and run circles around, the overall game itself will attempt to punish you for relying on the same tactics over and over.

Cover shooting heavily will lead to a melee rush. Sniping at long range means more enemies spawning from the other side of the neighborhood. Some foes will even try to force you to adapt to them, by say, oh, taking cover too? Mix it up and bring the fight to them, don’t let them punch you into a corner.

The Ascent guide to things you should know

Your backup weapon should be a different damage type

Once you’ve made some progress into The Ascent you might begin to notice your trusty SMG or shotgun is beginning to fall behind in damage output. If that happens to you, then that means you’re not mixing up damage types enough. At this point, you’re facing enemies with armor and other means of damage reduction against your typical ballistic weapons.

Break out a fire weapon like the HCF Heat or an energy rifle like the EBR Enforcer to start tearing through more advanced foes and, in the case of the HCF Heat, apply a little damage over time to boot.

When leveling up, Aiming beats Critical Hit rate

I’ve been testing different character builds just to be sure I haven’t missed anything and one of the first things I learned is how much more gains are to be had from putting points into Aiming instead of Critical Hit. The points you put in the latter max out at +20 percent, which isn’t great considering that a similar investment in the former will really help tighten your firing arc.

Sell all your duplicates

Just sell em. There’s no such thing as a unique weapon in The Ascent, so there’s nothing to be lost in getting rid of all your duplicates. As I’ve written in my guide to the best weapons in The Ascent: “every version of a gun you find is identical. They don’t get randomly generated variations in effects and stats. A Habdefender PPW will always be a Habdefender PPW, it won’t be “Mighty” or “deal Vicious damage.”

When you pick up a gun you’ve never picked up before, you simply unlock it. If you upgrade a gun, all versions of that gun have the new Mark 2, 5, or 9 designation. So you wanna go crazy selling them guns for more creds? Then go crazy!

And that has been our Ascent guide to things you should know. If you’re having trouble with one of the game’s earliest quests, Double Charge, we’ve got you covered here. If you’d like some help deciding which of the game’s best weapons you should take with you, try reading this guide.

The Ascent is currently available at the Xbox Store for Windows 10 PC, Xbox One and Xbox Series X|S. It also launched day one on Xbox Game Pass so you can play it now if you have a subscription.