The Ascent, a cyberpunk-themed twin stick shooter released last week for Xbox and PC, has long been billed as a single- and multiplayer game by developer Neon Giant. Thing is, for some players, the various multiplayer modes aren’t exactly working.
First announced during a May 2020 Xbox showcase, The Ascent was planned as a launch title for last fall’s Xbox Series X/S. It was then delayed indefinitely, before eventually getting a July 29 release date, where it’d launch as part of the Xbox Game Pass library. Initial reception has largely leaned positive so far: By most accounts, The Ascent is a rock-solid twin-stick shooter, offering crunchy shooting, satisfying RPG mechanics, and a deliciously realized techno-chic setting.
But the promise of multiplayer hasn’t exactly borne out. Since the game launched late last week, players have taken to social media en masse to report issues with hosting new games, joining new games, stalled connections in crossplay, invites that kick players back to the title screen, recognizing keyboard inputs for only one party member, and more.
When provided a list of questions regarding the state of cooperative play in The Ascent, representatives for Neon Giant told Kotaku that “the items you’ve mentioned are on our list of known issues and we’re actively working on fixes. We’re not able to provide a timeline at this stage but we are fully committed to fixing and improving all these items and we will aim to let you know once we have more details.”
I can attest to some of this personally. The Ascent has been on my radar since the second it was confirmed as a game that supports local multiplayer. I’m a huge sucker for good couch co-op and am more than willing to overlook a game’s flaws if it’s, y’know, fun. Make no mistake: The Ascent’s local co-op is an absolute blast, but I’ve run into near-nonstop problems getting it to work—a flaw that’s pretty hard to overlook.
First, two of my roommates and I tried to get a local co-op game going on launch dayThursday. We were able to load single-player games individually without issue, buthen we tried to start a local co-op lobby—in various permutations of party makeup—The Ascent would close. After uninstalling and reinstalling the game, we were able to get it working. We played for about two hours, and I can confidently say that it clicked, hard. On a fundamental level, as Alex Walker put it for Kotaku, “it’s staggering how good The Ascent really is.”
So, last night, we tried to get our game going again. Though all three of us could pop into the lobby without issue, only the host’s character appeared to save any progress. And here’s the weird part: When we cycled through who hosted the game and who joined, the host would have their leveled-up, customized character show up. Anyone else had to start a new one from scratch. But when pivoting to have that player host, their primary character would show up. So all of the data was clearly there—it apparently just couldn’t mesh in the same lobby.
We’re by no means the only three-member party that’s struggled to reliably get a session off the ground. As one player detailed on Reddit yesterday, the poster and their friend could get a two-player game up and running without resistance. When trying to add a third player, The Ascent would reportedly stall on the “joining” screen. The group eventually came across that age-old “uninstall and reinstall” trick my friends and I tried. Still: No dice.
One of the most recent posts on The Ascent’s subreddit is indeed about the game’s multiplayer, simply asking if it’s “working yet?” As of this writing, no one has responded.