The Ascent: 7 tips to get you started

Looking for a The Ascent guide to help you survive it's dark, cyberpunk world? This isometric shooter is set in a futuristic metropolis where you are a slave to a corporation. A catastrophic event throws the entire city into chaos, and it's up to you to protect your district in this dystopian undercity.

But the neon lights aren't the only things that might overwhelm you in The Ascent. The game does a good job of pointing you in the right direction to start with, but you might find yourself struggling early on. So, here are seven The Ascent tips to help get you started.

Know when to abandon cover 

While you're equipped with a cyberdeck and various augmentations, you don't have infinite health, so you're going to fall if you soak up too many bullets. The game encourages you to use cover whenever you can, but I found this quite awkward and went for constantly evading instead. 

Cover works well for stationary objects such as turrets, but dodging feels like a far more viable tactic in most scenarios as enemies often try to surround you.

You can use the environment to your advantage, too. Exploding barrels are often dotted around contested areas, and abandoned vehicles will also explode to deal a decent amount of damage when targeted.

But prepare to die (a lot) 

Fighting thugs and ferals can be tricky, especially at the beginning when you have limited weapons. But killing enemies nets you much-needed experience points, so each time you get backed into a corner, overwhelmed by a swarm of enemies, or taken out by a particularly vicious enemy turret, you're getting stronger.

There are a few points where the difficulty seems to spike later on, especially on some boss fights. Trying out different weapon combinations can help, but mostly, it's just a matter of adjusting to the learning curve and getting used to the boss' abilities.

Check your equipment often 

This is especially important early on. You start with an adequate pistol and armour, but getting yourself a better weapon makes those first few levels that much easier. It's worth testing out the different weapons, too. You can have two equipped—as well as one type of grenade—so it makes sense to experiment.

You'll generally get weapon and armour drops from enemies, but in the heat of battle, you may not always notice when you've picked up something new. Once the fighting has died down, hit the character menu and look out for an exclamation point on the 'loadout' and 'armour' sections.

Make use of your Augmentations 

The first Augmentation you get is Hydraulic Slam, and you should equip it right away. It's really handy early on as the AoE damage can get you out of tricky situations, especially if you're still trying to get to grips with the controls.

Aug Slots works as an extra skill and uses energy as a resource. As you pick up energy refills from enemies and crates—you should use these abilities as often as you can. You have a second slot for another Augmentation, which can be bought from a Grafter—indicated by a fuse symbol on the map—or dropped by enemies.

(Image credit: Neon Giant)

Explore areas fully 

Check every corner for crates filled with Ucreds, health, or stamina top-ups. You can also find weapon skins or upgrade currency inside closed lockers or tucked away on shelves inside deserted stores, so it's well worth fully exploring an area before proceeding.

You're likely to come across enemies, too, and everything you kill helps you level up to make missions objectives or tough bosses just a little bit easier.

Pick up sidequests 

When in the populated safe zones, it's worth talking to NPCs to see if they have any side missions for you to take on. These can be useful to help you level up if you're finding a boss or an area a little tricky or if the recommended level of the next main mission is a little high.

You can upgrade your weapons too, by visiting a Gun Smith. You'll need specific components, but you'll pick up many of these as you progress through the game. Word of warning, though: It might be wise to keep some back, as different enemies are susceptible to certain damage types. Especially bosses. Once you upgrade a weapon, enemies will drop the upgraded version, so you don't need to worry about accidentally selling it.

(Image credit: Neon Giant)

Sell bounties and weapon duplicates for extra cash 

Bounties are specific, more formidable enemies you'll come across as you explore and complete missions. They'll generally have a red skull marker above their head, making them easier to spot. Kill and loot these enemies whenever you come across them, then sell the bounty to a bartender for a decent amount of Ucreds.

There isn't a massive variety of guns, and you'll find you end up with a lot of duplicates. Sell any extras at any vendor to earn some extra Ucreds.  

Sarah James
Guides Writer

Sarah started as a freelance writer in 2018, writing for PCGamesN, TechRadar, GamingBible, Red Bull Gaming and more. In 2021, she was offered a full-time position on the PC Gamer team where she takes every possible opportunity to talk about World of Warcraft and Elden Ring. When not writing guides, most of her spare time is spent in Azeroth—though she's quite partial to JRPGs too. One of her fondest hopes is to one day play through the ending of Final Fantasy X without breaking down into a sobbing heap. She probably has more wolves in Valheim than you.