A number of people have asked me to describe what the gameplay for Ascent of Ashes will look like. So I figured I’d demonstrate using screenshots taken from the current tech demo.

Disclaimer: Since this is only a tech demo, it is in no way representative of the quality of the finished product. Graphics and any gameplay shown/described here is subject to change throughout development.

We start the game in control of a couple apocalypse survivors in the woods. Standing around and staring into the distance is hungry work and we’ll have to sleep at some point as well. We need to do something about this.

What a future needs menu may look like.

AoA will feature an in-depth needs system, simulating a variety of physical and psychological needs such as hunger, sleep, recreation and security. These come in the form of bars that need regular filling and constant conditions that need to be provided and are divided into two categories: psyche and morale.

Fail to meet your survivors’ base needs and it will have physical consequences such as starvation, as well as take a toll on their psyche. This can cause them to develop serious mental issues and breakdowns.

On the other hand, lack of creature comforts may not send someone into a berserk rage, but it will bring down overall morale. This in turn will affect things like work performance or their willingness to execute risky combat maneuvers. Too low and survivors may even decide to desert you in the middle of a firefight. After all, is a place without a table really worth dying for?

Returning to our band, let’s look into covering their need for food. Fortunately, these woods come with free food in the form of berries, so we can take care of our most immediate needs by foraging some.

To gather them, we open up the designator menu and click a few nearby shrubs. We also designate a few trees for chopping so we can use the wood to build a basic camp.

The goal for AoA base building is to have you, the player, making the big decisions, rather than micromanaging everyone’s day down to the last detail. You get to worry about the big picture. Do we have enough food to last the winter? Enough ammo to last the next firefight? Where do we store our valuables to prevent raiders from stealing them? The minutiae are best left to the AI, so you can focus on the fun things.

Thus, a lot of management will be done through these kinds of assignments. Much like other management sims you set work priorities for individual survivors where you designate them as wood cutters, cooks, growers, etc. based on their skills and work preferences, then designate what you want chopped, cooked or constructed and watch them go about their business.

While our survivors chop away we place a few build orders for a storage box, fire pit and some bedrolls. The box holds up to 1000 liters of items and will allow us to keep our collected berries and wood nearby. Eventually we’ll want larger storage and organize it to streamline workflows, for example by storing food near our cooking area. But for now a single box is enough.

The fire pit will allow us to set up a bill for cooking meals. To do that we simply specify the amount of meals we want to have in storage and if we’re below the quota, a designated cook will grab some berries and turn them into tasty meals.

Once the trees have been chopped down our workers use the wood to start construction. While this is happening we can use the time controls to speed things up a bit.

Berries and wood can only get us so far. To progress, we’ll need to go out and explore the world. AoA is set in a post-apocalyptic world and in order to survive we will need to scavenge all kinds of scrap, raw materials, heavy machinery, blueprints and other artifacts of pre-war society and bring them back to our base.

Of course these things do not come free and the world is filled with raiders, giant alien spiders and homicidal robots who all want a piece of you. Luckily we started with a few hunting rifles we can equip before heading out.

Expeditions will be a major part of AoA. The finished game will finish an expansive overworld for you to explore on foot or in a vehicle, filled with ruined cities, military installations, other survivors and factions you can interact with and more. All of this procedurally generated, so no two playthroughs will be the same.

Our expedition discovers a small group of survivors camping out in a ruined building of some kind. AoA will feature various types of NPC’s and ways to interact with them. In your travels you might run into trade caravans and lone scavengers you can trade with or rob, remnant military patrols, bands of raiders, etc.

The way you interact with your fellow man will affect both your faction’s standing as a whole and your survivors individually. Robbing traders might seem like an easy way to get free loot, but if they’re associated with a faction it will seek retribution. Survivors who partake in acts of murder might be shocked at first but will eventually get desensitized to violence. This means they have no qualms about pulling a gun on a friendly traveler, but they’ll have just as few qualms to do it in a social fight. Whether you decide to cooperate with other factions peacefully or take what you want by force will play a major role in shaping your faction and the course of your gameplay.

In our case the group we found consists of raiders, who are immediately hostile to us. We use the northern wall to stay out of their sight as we make it to a good firing position.

AoA will feature a lot of real-time pausable combat. While the tech demo starts with the entire map revealed, the final game will feature in-depth visibility mechanics where you have to scout the map for loot and hostiles. You will have to employ stealth, visibility and noise mechanics to get the drop on your enemies by setting up crossfires. Various types of equipment from simple hand grenades to high-tech stealth generators will turn the tide of battle, provided you use them intelligently.

The design philosophy for AoA is that better gear should not just make numbers bigger. Gear will play a transformative role and players will employ characters with high end gear in a completely different manner from their starting survivors.

A few good hits drop the enemies’ health to zero. The finished game will feature a more in-depth simulation of injury where individual limbs and organs can be targeted, hit, crippled or severed. Your survivors might go down bleeding and you will need to triage and evacuate them in the middle of combat.

Once the raiders are dispatched we loot their boxes and get 20 potato seeds and 5 medicine. Once back home we use the medicine to patch up our wounds and plant the seeds. With this we no longer have to rely on foraging for our food supply. Other things we might have gotten would be better weapons and armor, prisoners who join our faction or we might have captured one of the raiders for interrogation or slavery.

This concludes our first expedition. Going forward we’d want to get better gear so we can take on higher tier locations, upgrade our base and recruit more survivors to our cause.

Hopefully this post gave you a better idea of what the vision for Ascent of Ashes and its gameplay is. If you like what you heard please consider funding us on Patreon. If you have more questions or wish to join the discussion feel free to comment below or join our Discord server.

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One Response

  1. wain mundt says:

    geez, I hope that -100 for no table is a joke, I know its a sin to eat with out one but damn!

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