I’ll be honest, when The Ascent was initially released on Xbox Game Pass I was hesitant to really dive into it. So much so that upon revisiting both the main campaign and Cyber Heist DLC for this review I found the game to be completely different from what I remembered it as. While I still find the overall main game’s story to be hard to follow and ripe with conversational dumps of exposition that make it hard to really feel like a part of The Ascent‘s world I still found the overall gameplay loop to show a lot of promise. So, did The Ascent: Cyber Heist improve on the base game’s gameplay and story?
The Ascent: Cyber Heist‘s main story isn’t available until the completion of the main campaign which means it acts as a direct continuation of the main story. Previously mentioned groups like Malhorst-Gelb play a bigger part in the overall plot which was nice to see as they were only ever really alluded to in the base game. From the get-go, Cyber Heist‘s story is presented and told a lot better than the base game’s story. Clear and direct goals are laid out for the player and the cyberpunk techno-jargon of the base game has been replaced with more accessible and easy-to-understand dialogue. As a newly independent contractor, Kira, your former employer, has tasked you with collecting some groundbreaking tech in a new arcology section owned by the Malhorst-Gelb Group. What follows is an entertaining heist story infused with elements of spy flicks like James Bond and Jason Bourne. It also revisits more developed characters from the base campaign while also doing a fantastic job at introducing new friends and adversaries that you’ll ultimately come to face.
The world of The Ascent is as visually stunning as it was in the base game but adds new areas to explore that are extremely detailed and a pleasure to look at. Cyber Heist‘s main missions utilize cinematic cutscenes a lot more effectively than the original campaign and there’s a certain level of directorial flair to the way shots and scenes are captured as opposed to the ‘A shot – B shot’ style of the base game. However, there are some minor faults that still affect the DLC. Character models will at times clip through objects either in cutscenes or in some gameplay instances and certain armour pieces will clip through the player’s body in cutscenes. Alongside this there were times when the game’s subtitles didn’t match up with what the characters were actually saying and on one occasion character voices and facial animations were completely out of sync.
The main draw of The Ascent in the first place for me was the gameplay. I’m happy to say that the DLC is pretty much more of the same with a few new weapons. My only major problem is the insane difficultly spikes that plague the final sections of Cyber Heist. This was a problem in the base game as well but given how enjoyable I’d been finding the progression of combat throughout the DLC up until the final stages it came as a shock that I had to resort to using almost balance-breaking mods to just finish some encounters. Bar the one or two instances where this was a problem I still had a lot of fun with the game’s combat loop and especially the new melee items.
The Ascent: Cyber Heist is a definitive improvement and expansion of the base game. New weapon and location inclusions along with a more succinct and easy-to-understand narrative present a more accessible and enjoyable experience. Despite a few presentational bugs and gameplay grievances, I’d thoroughly recommend The Ascent: Cyber Heist to those who enjoyed the base game and are looking for more.
The Ascent: Cyber Heist: The Ascent: Cyber Heist is a definitive improvement and expansion of the base game. New weapon and location inclusions along with a more succinct and easy-to-understand narrative present a more accessible and enjoyable experience. Despite a few presentational bugs and gameplay grievances, I'd thoroughly recommend The Ascent: Cyber Heist to those who enjoyed the base game and are looking for more. – odhranjohnson
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Reviewed on: Xbox
Developer: Neon Giant
Publisher: Curve Games