Underworld Ascendant (opens in new tab) was a disaster. "Riddled with bugs and bizarre mechanics, Underworld Ascendant is a bafflingly poor debut from OtherSide Entertainment" was how Rick put it in his 25/100 review (opens in new tab), and since release in November the development team has been trying to fix what is essentially a broken game. The second major update, released this week, completely remodels the world structure and adds new stories, to the point where OtherSide encourages you to start a new game to see what's changed.
On release, the game world was made up of seven large, semi-open levels connected via portals, and you picked up missions at a notice board in a central hub. Following the latest update the entire world is now connected, with levels branching off of The Grand Staircase, which spirals down through the dungeon.
A companion called Haprukala will travel with you up and down the staircase (she won't go into the levels), and you get quests directly from her. She also keeps a portal with her at all times to get back to the main hub, where you can upgrade your skills and shop for items.
You can now freely explore all the levels via the staircase, whether you have a quest to complete or not, and you'll be able to reach the endgame much quicker, if you want to. The main quests will now focus on "important narrative" events, and contain both new and refined stories, OtherSide said in a Steam post (opens in new tab).
That's the biggest part of the update, but the team has essentially left no aspect of the game untouched. The lighting has been redone, enemy patrol AI remodeled, and new high-level weapons have been added as loot. The update contains bug fixes, skill changes, combat animation tweaks and new UI tool-tips, and you can read about all of them in the patch notes (opens in new tab). You can also watch the team talk about the update in the video at the top of this story.
I highly doubt it's turned Underworld Ascendant into the game that fans hoped it would be, but hopefully it's a step in the right direction.