A:IR Ascent: Infinite Realm First Impressions
Yes, it finally happened. A:IR, or Ascent: Infinite Realm finally launched into closed beta. Granted, this is the Thai closed beta but it’s more or less the same game we’re going to be getting when it finally launches over here.
I managed to get a key to enter the closed beta and take the game for a test run. My wife MrsStix however wasn’t as lucky.
I saw that a friend of mine, Cryy – which if you don’t watch, you’re missing out by the way as the dude does amazing shit – had gotten into the beta as well.
So, I hit him up and asked if he wouldn’t mind my wife creating a character on his account so we could play through together. Naturally he was cool with it so we managed to capture footage of two different classes.
Now, I want to preface this by stating that to get into this closed beta and future Thai closed betas, you will need a Thai IP so a VPN is a must.
I use NoPing personally and I have a link to that in the description. They offer a free trial of the service so if you want to play A:IR right now, go ahead and sign up with the link in the description.
There are currently 4 races in-game as of right now: The Humans, Elves, Ein and Orcs. Each race with the exception of the little furries have both male and female genders.
I don’t know why they opted to not include female furries but whatever. Missed opportunity.
All the races look beautiful. I gotta say, even the female Orcs look amazing and I’m not traditionally a fan of Orcs after having played Lord of the Rings Online, the Elder Scrolls series and World of Warcraft.
There are 5 classes available at present: The 2-handed hammer-wielding Warlord, Stave wielding Elementalist, Wand wielding Mystic, Dagger-wielding Assassin and Gun-wielding Gunslinger.
I know the Mystic is a healer, or at the very least has heals because.. well, I mean they look like healers for starters. Then my wife played it so I know for a fact they can heal.
I’m not sure if there’s the holy trinity of tank/healer/DPS but I can safely say that… every class, even the Mystic is capable of pulling out some good damage.
I was very surprised by the character creator. I went into the game and figured it’d have a creator akin to Black Desert as that was the impression I was given based off of the information thus far.
However, the creator was like a hybrid between Black Desert and Blade & Soul. You don’t have nearly as much creative control over your character but you’re still capable of making a character that looks and feels.. yours.
You had the option to grab specific pieces of your character such as their cheeks, eyelids or lips and you could move the slider left or right but.. yeah, that was it.
Body sliders were a little limiting as well. I dunno, for a Korean MMORPG – when Korea pushed out games like BDO and Blade & Soul years ago, I guess I just had higher expectations.
Especially since this is from the people that brought us TERA.
Graphically though, holy crap. I was shocked by how good it actually looked on Unreal Engine 3. The backgrounds, the clouds, everything.
A:IR is supposed to take place primarily in the skies so I was.. curious, for lack of a better word, what would happen should I attempt to jump off the.. ship? Land mass? Whatever I spawned on.
Suffice it to say….
Yeah. The game does not stupid-proof anything so if you’re an idiot… see ya.
At first glance I thought the game looked just like ArcheAge. Like seriously, does this not resemble ArcheAge to you guys? If ArcheAge were released in 2019. It’s crazy the visual resemblance it has.
After a solid 15 to 20 minutes you get your first flying mount and that’s where the main focus of the game kicks in: Aerial combat. Aerial exploration. Aerial.. activities.
The flight animations, at least based off of what I saw from my pudgy little dragon were a little stiff and my character remained completely still while casting various skills with the odd arm movement here or there.
So my hope is that they work on aerial combat animations a little more. But I’m well aware that the game is still in beta testing so I know what we see right now isn’t final.
Regardless, the aerial combat was quite a bit of fun. I’ve long since been a fan of mounted combat in games so being able to mount my steed, albeit in the air, and mow down my enemies is a nice change of pace.
Plus it’ll make kiting a lot easier.
One thing I didn’t quite understand though was that skills that required my mage stand still also required my mount to remain still as well.
What this meant was that I couldn’t use my mount to circumvent the limitations on my class with regards to casting. Which is perfectly understandable but also a little disappointing.
I wanted to fly at high speeds on my trusty dragon lighting everything up with giant meteors!
Also, please be very well aware that your mount has stamina. You can only fly for a certain period of time before you have to either A. dismount and continue on foot until the mount regens its stamina or B. use a stamina potion.
I didn’t realize this and my mount’s stamina dropped down to.. like 8 at one point and almost flung me to my death in the middle of nowhere.
Combat, both on land and in the air was unusual. Not bad but not what I had expected from the game.
They had advertised A:IR as a tab-target MMORPG but then showed trailers that made it seem much more action than tab-target. So I wasn’t really sure what to expect.
After getting a first-hand feel though, I can safely say that like several things thus far, A:IR utilizes an interesting hybrid of both action and tab-target combat.
It’s not traditional tab-target like WoW or Final Fantasy XIV but it’s far from action like Black Desert or TERA.
I can’t really put my finger on it exactly, but I can happily say that the combat is a lot better than Bless Online’s was when it released.
Plus, I’m a fan of tab-target combat as I played games like Perfect World, World of Warcraft and Final Fantasy XIV for years at a time.
I can definitely see this being a turn-off for some players though that have gotten used to fast-paced action titles.
This applies to my mage though. It could very well be more action-oriented for melee classes- I can’t say as I didn’t get to play one and as my wife MrsStix went Mystic.. yeah she had the same general playstyle as I did.
For the most part, the game played just like any other MMORPG.
You follow the story, pick up side quests, kill monsters, loot items and progress to the next NPC who asks you to do more or less the same thing.
But then again that’s to be expected as it’s the basis for the genre as a whole.
One thing that took me by surprise was the auto-pathing. You can simply click the “End” key on your keyboard and be auto-pathed to either the quest target or the next NPC in the quest chain, just like in a mobile MMO.
I’m not a fan of auto-pathing, auto-combat or auto-play in any capacity so this is definitely a little.. jarring to see and has me slightly disconcerted.
I understand auto-pathing isn’t that big a deal as it’s not really auto-play like combat or actual completion of quest objectives, but I remember what Revelation Online was like with its auto-pathing.
You’d see hundreds of “players” going around in a linear path alongside one another from quest giver to quest giver, the majority of them tabbed out watching something on Youtube or.. on their phone.
I get that you’re not required by any means to make use of it personally but it just takes a little away from the game.. ’cause you know a lotta people are just going to auto-path everywhere, disregarding everything else along the way.
But I mean if that’s what the developers had intended, then by all means. Let’s make our PC MMORPGs more like Mobile MMORPGs – if we do it a little at a time maybe people won’t notice.
Iunno. Are any of you bothered by the auto-pathing feature? I’ll probably use it just so I can work on the channel while leveling but I’m curious of your thoughts.
There is a very prominent story in the game from what I’ve experienced along the way from level 1.
Granted, I only made it to around.. level 10? I think before stopping there for now because the game is only available to play for 8 hours per day.. and that 8 hours begins at 5am for me.
Every thing we did was tied into the story in some form. Even the side quests. To proceed with the main story we were required to also hit up the nearby side-NPCs and do their tasks before we could continue.
There were tons of cutscenes and a lotta voice acting to go along with it. If the dub is anything like TERA then God help us, I hope they keep the dub in Korean.
The TERA dub makes me want to cut off my ears.
Like Blade & Soul some of the fights, some of the dungeons.. were instanced off. And difficult. I almost died in my first instanced off encounter because the dragons really screwed me over.
My blink skill kept teleporting me into their AoEs and it made it impossible to dodge.
Backtracking slightly, the story also takes place in instances. Not solo-instances, but instances that are still closed off from people that aren’t up to the same point in the story as you.
This means that you can do the story together with other players, but if there isn’t anyone at the same point as you, it’s unlikely for you to come across anyone else.
So, overall, what did I think of Ascent: Infinite Realm?
That’s a good question. Thankfully, after Revelation Online did so poorly and I was largely let down by the grindy nature of Black Desert Online my expectations for MMOs drastically decreased.
I went into Bless with some excitement and was very disappointed, and I went into A:IR thinking it would be an alright MMORPG to spend some time in in-between patches for Final Fantasy XIV.
And.. that was about what I’d experienced. But do note that this is my first impression of the game, and only of the first 10 levels.
As I continue deeper into the game, experience more it has to offer and hit endgame it could change completely.
But from this closed beta, I can safely say that improvements need to be made.
Thus far, A:IR doesn’t particularly stand out in any form. It isn’t a bad MMORPG but right now, it isn’t a good MMORPG either.
It’s pretty basic. Pretty generic. But that doesn’t mean it will remain that way, especially as you make progress through the game.
I know some other MMOTubers have a different opinion of the game to me and this is why you should watch a variety of people – you get different opinions, different views.
We cover different areas and are both impressed and disappointed by a different range of topics.
Am I excited for Ascent: Infinite Realm? Kinda. It has the makings of a fun game to waste time in. Do I believe it’ll compete with Final Fantasy XIV or World of Warcraft? Hardly.
It will likely replace Blade & Soul as the “free to play MMORPG that everyone plays” for a year or two though until something else comes along to take its place.
But I could be wrong. Maybe South Korean MMORPGs can sustain themselves long-term. Maybe they’re capable of breaking the mould and surprising us.
Either way, I’d love to hear your opinions and thoughts on the game. What do you think of each of the topics I covered? And do you think you’ll be playing it once it launches?
If not, what are you looking forward to?