2015 seems to be the year we are all getting involved in space simulators. Until this point most of them seem to be PVP along the style of Elite or Eve but Ascent: The Space Game has decided to go the other way and be an all PVE MMO. Fluffy Kitten, the company behind Ascent launched via a successful Kickstarter last year and last week came out for Early Access on Steam.
So how is it? The best way to think of Ascent is as an accurate space sandbox and exploration MMO. I started in a small runabout and moved from system to system running messages, taking packages and trading. This moved on to asteroid mining, aeroscooping on gas giants and exploring moving my way out of the starter zone. Later on I’m promised manufacturing, a stock market, colony building, ships, space combat and user designed space stations. Its a clear successor to the original Wing Commander and Elite school of thought – everything a good space opera should have.
Visually Ascent doesn’t have the most impressive graphics but they’re not bad either and from looking at the change log they’re being improved on rapidly. The lower quality graphics and the fact that is programmed in the Unity Web player also mean it will run on a lower spec machine or laptop which will appeal to some. The UI is more accessible than I had expect being resizable and generally sensible, but there are still some obvious design bugs such as windows opening on top of each other and making it hard to figure out which one to close and some poor choices in text coloration. From a control perspective a combination of mouse and keyboard is needed and keys are remappable. The space flight sections of the game benefit from a joystick or flightstick.
Ascent: The Space Game is available on Steam as an Early Access now for £14.99. The basic game is functional and a lot of fun and they’re patching regularly. If you enjoy intricate sandboxes or space sims you should have an eye on this one and give it a go. It entered early access last week and the devs are looking at a full launch for June.