First Playthrough Observations


#1

I finished my first playthrough of Ascendant over the weekend and I wanted to lay out my current thoughts before moving into a second run. This way I can look back after the next run to compare it, as well as hopefully get some feedback from other players. I will separate my comments under these categories: Successful Aspects, Confusing Elements, Faulty Systems, and Missed Opportunities. I did not seek any advice or look up any tutorials or walkthroughs, so consider all of this blind and objective gameplay observation from a first time player. Be wary there are spoilers within.(Fresh install after Update 3, ~30 hours)

Successful Aspects:

• Captures the essence of the Underworld setting and environment. The world feels authentic to the series.
• Art style is highly indicative of DOS-era box art, very aesthetically pleasing.
• Inventory/map/skill UI appearance and art is very attractive regardless of bugs present in the system.

Confusing Elements:

• Training: Either Cabirus or the Saurian mediator mentions returning to Marcaul for training, but there doesn’t seem to be a way to train there. There are three Saurians in front of murals that seems to indicate training in either Combat, Magic, or Stealth, with no quests tied to them or ways to inititiate training that I have found. Finished the game without it regardless.
• Factions: I heard one VO from Cabirus early in the game that my status with a faction had improved. That was essentially the only piece of narrative about faction status that I noticed. I don’t see anything in the UI to indicate my alignment status with the factions. I still have no idea how to join a faction or what each one represents. Finished the game regardless.
• Endgame: While aesthetically I enjoyed the Vault of Nyx, I was befuddled by the way the ending played out. The entire game builds to a fight with Typhon that culminates in a boss fight with Tyball and evidently a betrayal by Cabirus? I placed the keys appropriately, then defeated the animus and collected the core. Then a voice tells me to place a death mask on the pedestal. What death mask? Where did that come from. It certainly wasn’t in my inventory, and it doesn’t look like a mask, it looks like a book made of stone. Then I trap Cabirus in an orb while I cross the bridge and use the core in the modus to stop Typhon. It is somewhat reminiscent of thwarting the Trickster in Thief 1, but feels uninspired and to me just doesn’t make much sense. Maybe I missed some parts of narrative along the way?
• Game Breaking: This is old hat but some aspects of Ascendant make me feel like I’m playing an early access title versus an already released product. Specifically areas that should not be accessible but are. I used the Unseen Dash skill several times to leave the play area and noclip off the map. Sometimes moving along the tops of brushes to access other areas of the level. Also, while within the levels many pieces of terrain or assets would disappear and reappear depending on my viewpoint. There is nothing less immersive in my opinion.
• Asset Placement: There are countless places where assets are misaligned. This is much more evident if you have the glow stone equipped. I’m confused as to how so much of that made it past QA.

Faulty Systems:

• Feats and Skills: The skill tree is enticing but gravely underutilized. In my entire playthrough I collected about 25 memora and completed enough feats to unlock about 6 or 7 skills. Many of the feats appear to be broken and not achievable such as ‘On to Marcaul’ and ‘Meteoric Demise’. The amount of feats seems to be very thin compared the amount of skill points needed to get upgrades.
• Runes: Throughout the entire game I found maybe just over half of the runes. I felt like I explored well enough although I did not backtrack after getting the Sun key, so perhaps those runes are in those rooms, OR they only spawn after unlocking more of the Magic skill tree which as I mentioned above seems impossible given the state of the feats and skills system.
•Overpowered/Underpowered: I played on normal difficulty. For the first several hours I was immersed by the idea that I could easily get overwhelmed and killed by enemies, always scraping for supplies and trying to find enough to trade for what I wanted. After the quest that returns me back to Upper Erebus to fend off Typhon’s forces I noticed a huge turning point in my favor. Chests and dropped enemy loot became much more rewarding. I quickly amassed a fortune in coin. I always had thousands more than Aelita or Fane so all the supplies were at my disposal from then on and the game became very easy.

Missed Opportunities:

• New Game+: Considering I barely cracked the surface on feats and skill upgrades, a New Game+ mode would have been great to continue forward with the gear I had already gathered on the first run and attempt to unlock more.
• Stash Box: I may have missed narrative dialog on this but I did not discover the stash box until near the end of the game. I battled with a full inventory most of time not wanting to discard valuable items. I did make an assumption the first time I opened it that it was only there to keep pets in, so that blame is probably on me, but some dialog that it was to store items for later would have been handy.
• Audio: Or lack thereof. The musical cues that do happen are really well done, but overall the audio is very sparse and imbalanced. Considering how strong the audio was for Looking Glass titles I am surprised this area is so weak in Ascendant.

Anyway I am open to your thoughts on my interpretations, especially if I missed anything huge or game changing along the way.


Seems like an old topic...but what is the Faction answer
#2

Nice points well-made. Welcome, Phantom!

I might be able to address a couple of your notes.

  1. On the New Game+, that’s an option that shows up for me in the Main Menu. Are you saying there’s something you think is missing from that mode? Or is it literally not appearing in the menu for you?

  2. Regarding factions, apparently that got nerfed a bit in one of the most recent updates, but the Community Manager @sluangkhot commented today that at least some of this is planned for reinsertion in Update 4:


#3

Thanks for the response Flatfingers! I am happy to have played through the game and now contribute some feedback.

  1. I don’t have a New Game+ option in the menu after completing the game. I’ve now completed the ending twice after going back and exploring a bit with a previous save before entering the Vault of Nyx. So, something weird does happen and I’m not sure if it’s a bug or not… For me, after I place Tyball’s core in the modus, Typhon says his last words and the screen fades black. Then I get a black screen with a cursor dot in the center and nothing else happens. I hit ESC and the credits roll. Is that how it should be or am I inadvertently skipping something?

  2. Excellent. I suppose since update 3 was my first I have missed anything that was removed from previous updates. I look forward to that coming back.


#4

Now that’s odd…

  1. New Game+ is available in the main menu once you beat the game on any ending. It allows you to entirely skip Pluto’s Gate and start at the Siege of Marcaul with some extra skill points, money, and some basic gear.

1.1 Typhon says his last words, the screen fades, and then you have to hit ESC to see the credits? You should have seen a slideshow of images showing your repercussions, if I recall correctly. Can follow up on this too to make sure you’re not skipping anything very important. I haven’t played through the entire game recently, so I’m curious if this was a part of our cutscene issue that we thought we fixed from Update 2 -> 3.

  1. Yep, we sort of left the Faction influence stuff hanging in favor of stabilizing the game for Update 3, and some bonus content such as the framework for the additional NPCs. Now that there’s some time, we’re working on re-introducing Faction favor as a sort of side goal. (Previously it was MANDATORY to have a certain amount of influence per Faction in order to achieve certain endings. This didn’t quite feel fair, and many players were aggravated farming side quests, so we removed it while we thought about how we might improve these interactions.)

#5
  1. Hmm, ok. It is definitely not there for me after two end games. I started a 2nd New Game twice with different options thinking I was selecting something wrong, both games started from the original point before Pluto’s Gate. The menu options are Continue, New Game, and Load Game.

1.1 Are there other cutscenes in the game too? I haven’t seen anything other than the loading screens with gameplay tips and the game world itself. Maybe I have some type of codec issue that’s not playing them. I will attempt to capture video to upload so you can see exactly what is happening for me.

  1. Sounds good. I like the idea of faction favor whether it’s mandatory or not. So long as it’s coupled with some in-game feedback such as a meter to show faction alignment and an explanation of what each one represents.

#6
  1. Would you be able to send us your save games, actually? Might be useful for us to take a look at why your New Game+ doesn’t trigger. They definitely should have.
    EDIT: You can find your save files here:
    C:\My Documents\My Games\Underworld Ascendant
    and then you can send the save files to support@otherside-e.com !

1.1 Nope, we really wanted to stay away from a cutscene-heavy game, so there’s only cutscenes in the beginning (the opening premise) and the ending cutscene depending on what you unlocked or revealed. The video might be useful just so we can make sure we’re understanding what you’re seeing.

  1. I should check in on how faction favor is represented again. I don’t recall if it was previously only visible on the quest board, or if you could check it at any time from your menu. There’s been some suggestions for updating the UI to make things clearer for our existing systems, but I don’t recall how much we’ve done with representing the faction favor yet.

#7
  1. No problem. I emailed you my entire save folder and details.

1.1 I did see the opening sequence about waking up in the abyss, so that function is working for me.


#8
  1. Just played through your save file on Daily and on the live branch, and both times I triggered the cutscenes. Are you able to share with us your system specs, just to be safe?

However, after completing the game even with the cutscenes and sitting through the credits, it didn’t unlock New Game+ for us either. We’ll definitely be investigating this later this afternoon.

While playing through your save file, I was also able to confirm a couple of your Vault of Nyx bugs, which will be nice to get another pass on, since I don’t think we’ve fixed up the Cabirus Mask inclusion in quite some time.

Spoilers Below this Tag

Initially, it would spawn in front of you depending on whether all the Factions trusted you or not. Now, I believe it’s automatically granted IF you’ve witnessed enough Memora pieces. There will be a discussion in-office whether we should simply give the player the item (is it worth taking up an inventory slot for if it’s a key item, like an Abyssal Key?) and then allow the player the option of physically placing the mask or ignoring it, and locking Typhon away.


#9
  1. Sure. This is the best I can gather right now but I can get more info tonight once I’m home if you need it.

Intel i7-3820 3.6ghz
16gb DDR3 1866Mhz
Win 7 Pro 64bit
GTX 1070
1TB Samsung EVO 970 NVMe SSD

Spoiler

That does make sense now that you’ve explained the mask intention. I think I had collected around 25 or so memora, I just had no idea why it was there to begin with. Perhaps with the factions being involved it could just be spawned in with a voice over explaining why. Alternatively, I personally would prefer a quest to retrieve it from Cabirus’ body location.


#10

Thanks for the specs! I’ll follow up if I need more information once we’ve had a chance to look at it.

Cabirus Spoilers:

Yep, 25 should be enough. I believe the minimum you need is 20, since you should have enough information from past adventurers and the Factions to discern that Cabirus doesn’t have your best interests at heart.

Alternatively, I personally would prefer a quest to retrieve it from Cabirus’ body location.

It would certainly be interesting… his body is long gone, but perhaps finding the mask on the ground where he perished would be nice. Will bring it up to see if we have the bandwidth!