Ascent: Infinite Realm - pay to win concerns, NA/EU launch date, closed beta, open beta and more!
It’s been a while since you guys last had any info on Ascent: Infinite Realm, right?
Like seriously, I feel like the last time we received an update was.. probably back in August when they revealed some new information regarding the pets you’ll be able to obtain in-game.
Now I have some new information I’d like to talk about, along with some additional thoughts and concerns pertaining to the game, the state it’s currently in and the future.
But before we go any further, for those of you unaware, Ascent: Infinite Realm, or A:IR for short, is an upcoming MMORPG developed by Bluehole Studio – a developer I’m sure the vast majority of you are familiar with.
I mean they did make both TERA and PubG – and if you haven’t played TERA.. then I’d probably suggest at least trying it out as you probably missed out. Or maybe not since TERA isn’t really in a good state right now either.. whoops.
A:IR was originally slated for release this year – or at the very least, we were told that the game would have some form of testing period in the West this year, likely in the final quarter.
There have been two versions released thus far – both the Thai version, and the South Korean version.
While plenty of us got into the Thai version, there was a noticeably smaller selection chosen for the South Korean beta test.. of which they expressed they were not happy with the product.
The general consensus was that the game was not in a state fitting of a release in any capacity. Yes, players were actually voicing their concerns that the game.. was just not up to par.
Was in no way ready for a release in South Korea, let alone in North America or Europe. Not even for a testing period.
This has forced Kakao, yes, that Kakao, to push the game’s Western test phase back repeatedly, meaning that what would’ve been accessible had they stuck to their original timeline, is now no longer the case.
Players were so upset with the kind of game it turned out to be that they’ve had to completely overhaul various aspects of the game to attempt to appease the playerbase.
Now I’m going to be honest here – I played the Thai version of the game. Both Mrs Stix and I logged in and played until level 30-ish, and I can admit there were aspects of the game that needed work.
Combat was free-aim tab-targeting – meaning that you’re capable of aiming like you would an action game, but still needed a target to lock onto.
While I’m a fan of tab-target combat, as I enjoy it in ArcheAge, World of Warcraft and Final Fantasy XIV.. the fact is that the combat was fairly slow, a little clunky and overall not nearly as good as it should’ve been for an MMORPG releasing in 2020.
Character animations were overall pretty stiff, often feeling somewhat robotic when we moved.
And flight – which is one of the most important parts of the game – a feature that they’re claiming is a focal point of everything; PvE and PvP alike, was just.. equally as slow and underwhelming as the combat.
A lot of people claim that this means the game is terrible and that they should trash it because that’s going to be the final product, and claim anyone that defends the game – which I should remind you is still in testing and receiving updates, are just white knighting the game.
But the reason the game is being delayed time and time again is because they’re aiming to improve on the areas of the game that players are showing alarm for.
Trust me, if they wanted to release a half-assed MMO to rake in some cash they would.
Look at how many crappy cash-grab MMOs have released over the last couple years: Bless, Warlords Awakening, DK Online, Eternal Magic, Guardians of Ember. I can continue listing games but there’s no need. You get my point.
Bluehole and Kakao both are trying their utmost to release an MMO that will remain relevant for at least a couple years. A:IR is no cheap cash-grab. It’s definitely no Bless Online.
As stated, updates have continued to be pushed out on both the Thai and South Korean versions of the game.
They’re often smaller updates like additional housing items, new outfits, expansion on the lore behind factions. Things that we don’t necessarily care about but they feel the need to work on.
But just because they’re the updates they’re focusing on publicly, doesn’t mean a lot of work isn’t going on behind the scenes.
To elaborate on that, South Korea has a final closed beta test scheduled for November 2019.
After their final closed beta test, the game will go into open beta testing allowing for everyone to log in without beta access to play the game fully.
This is expected sometime at the end of December, possibly at the beginning of Jaunary 2020. The Thai open beta will also begin within a similar time frame, giving players the ability to choose between versions of the game.
There’s an NDA in place right now preventing players from sharing additional gameplay or pictures, but open beta is coming, meaning that regardless of what happens.. they’re pushing out a final version of the game and it’s expected to be fully live within the next couple months.
Even with the NDA in effect, I managed to Google around and happen across some information pertaining to the updates made in relation to some of the issues players have.
According to testers, the performance has been significantly improved, the introductory area was completely altered, combat has been overhauled, feeling much faster and more responsive, a lot of new content not found in the closed beta tests has been added, and their final cash shop has been introduced.
And people are.. noticeably upset with what is available in the cash shop, claiming that the contents are as bad as Black Desert’s currently.
Make of those updates what you will.
And that’s everything in the way of additional information leading up to the final closed beta and the inevitable open beta launch.
There has been a lot of content added to the game, both in the way of PvE and PvP-oriented questing, dungeons, and dailies – although not much has been detailed. A:IR is looking to be a very promising release, however if they really do go ahead with a cash shop as bad as Black Desert’s the game will be dead on arrival.
Hopefully the Western publisher makes changes accordingly to prevent it from becoming a mess because honestly, with TERA being dead in the West right now.. we need a solid replacement for it.
And I know, they’re technically different kinds of games – one being tab-target and the other being action, but they’re both done by the same studio and both aiming to be a large, open-world PvP MMORPG.
With the recent success of Astellia and ArcheAge Unchained – which, granted, I’m referring only to the fact that both games still remain with fairly active communities a month after release, it’s clear that A:IR definitely has a willing market.
Whether or not they impress and can retain player attention remains to be seen as we’ve honestly never had a steampunk MMO actually succeed in the West. And steampunk is one of my favorite genres!
One final thing I would like to note is that unlike several releases in recent memory, A:IR has been announced to not have gender-locked classes.
With that announcement came the release of new class-specific posters showcasing what we have to look forward to. The Warlord, Assassin, Elementalist, Mystic, and Gungslinger.
I believe I’ll be going Elementalist as I did back during the Thai beta while Mrs Stix will be going Mystic as she loves playing healer, but I might go Warlord so I can tank dungeons and raids for her.
That way we don’t have to rely on crappy tanks – she’ll have her very own crappy tank to pull wall-to-wall and die to trash mobs. But then again.. Assassin looks like a lotta fun.. crap. Well what’re you guys planning on going?
Ascent: Infinite Realm will be completely free-to-play. I actually held a poll on the channel recently asking between buy-to-play, pay-to-play and free-to-play, what was your favorite business model?
And surprisingly free-to-play MMORPGs were the fan favorite. This struck me as a little unusual, as MMOs like WoW and Final Fantasy XIV are two of the most played MMOs in the scene, and they’re both pay-to-play.
But buy-to-play wasn’t very far behind, so I guess it’s more or less even between the two. But with so many of you appreciating the free-to-play aspect of MMOs you’ll be glad that that’s the business model being adopted.
This is I’m guessing where the pay-to-win issues from the cash shop arise: As MMO players we all know that you can’t really have a free-to-play MMO without pay-to-win. So I guess that’s technically an evil of our own creation.
A:IR looks like an incredibly fun, highly addicting open-world PvP MMORPG. A full, open-world MMO – not a hub-based, instanced or segregated world. Completely open, featuring land and aerial combat, PvP and more.
It’s something that might actually offer something unique, new and interesting. But on the flip-side it could be a terrible, pay-to-win mess. The game is beautiful, and I’m excited. I know a lotta you guys are excited as well.
We should be – not being excited for an MMO of this caliber – of this size, this magnitude would be inane. This could be the biggest release since Black Desert. Again, I’m excited.
I’ll be playing the South Korean version once it goes into Open Beta as I have a login for the game I can use to record footage.
But, I’ll also be playing during the official Western release, which, yes, we still don’t have information on but supposedly that is the next step after the South Korean open beta.
That should give you guys a little timeline for those of you interested.
However if A:IR doesn’t look like something you’ll find entertaining, then that’s not a problem.
I actually just did a video on Lost Ark – which had the Russian version of the game go live allowing players to enter with a Russian IP completely free.
Granted, you need to use a VPN to access the game like you will for the South Korean version of A:IR but hey – at least you can apply the English patch and jump into Lost Ark right now.
Especially if you have nothing else to play and you’re bored while waiting. Because, and I’ll be real here, it’ll still be a little while before we get a closed beta. And even then, the closed beta could take months.
But, still, we have other MMOs like Phantasy Star Online 2 coming in a few months to North America, and Blue Protocol in Japan next year.. yeah, it’s gonna be a pretty good looking year.