“I’ll give you your money back if I’m wrong” – Mark Gerhard ASCENDANT Interview

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“I’ll give you your money back if I’m wrong” – Mark Gerhard ASCENDANT Interview

One of the most hyped shooter releases for 2024, in this ASCENDANT Interview we'll look at just why so many people are raving about the title.


Below is our chat with Mark Gerhard: PlayFusion Studio Co-Founder. You can also watch the game's latest trailer after the break.

ASCENDANT Interview

What games are the team’s biggest inspiration?

Mark Gerhard: At its core, ASCENDANT.COM has been inspired by a mix of modern day multi-team, multi-objective shooters, but with a deliberate attempt to reflect the fun we all had playing some of the classic ‘old-school’ arcade & arena shooters that many of us played growing up. The crucial thing has been for us to blend multiple engaging elements such as gunplay, moment-to-moment tactics, varied play styles and more into one potent package. Ultimately, we relied on our own experience as gamers and considered the very best elements of other AAA competitive shooters, multiplayer co-op games, and even MMOs when developing ASCENDANT. The results can be seen in our deep customisation and progression systems, and compelling core gameplay loop that emphasises player fun, accessibility, and endless replayability at every turn.

There are plenty of multiplayer shooters on the market. What makes ASCENDANT stand out? 

Mark Gerhard: There are numerous aspects that make ASCENDANT.COM unique. The first thing players will notice is the cool playful aesthetic. The universe is set in a vibrant, ‘80s-inspired, retro-futuristic Biopunk alternative reality, where the wider world beyond the safety of the social lobby is hostile and everything, and everyone, is out to kill you.  We wanted to create something distinct, fresh and with a sense of humour, instead of the all-too-common dark, depressing, gritty, worlds with androgynous characters. We don’t take ourselves too seriously, and we believe our players will love the playful, social, vibrant world and innovative gameplay.

Secondly, we are far more than a run-and-gunner or looter-shooter.  We mischievously refer to ourselves as the world’s first ‘adaption shooter’ and that’s because one of the fundamental gameplay mechanics is that players have to use their skills to adapt to unpredictable in-game events and a dynamic environment that constantly presents the players new challenges and opportunities to play in new ways. “Adapt or Die” is our motto.

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Ascendant Infinity Environment

This adaptive gameplay is presented to the players through a unique and lovingly engineered system that we call our ‘Game Director’; that seamlessly manages the game sessions to pit teams against unpredictable and dynamic events that can tip the balance of play depending how you react or take advantage of them. For example, in one match, you might find that the Airstrike Tower is active, allowing you to target and bombard enemy teams with a rainstorm of missiles. In another match, perhaps the Toxic Gas event is available to allow you to spew poison into the underground bunkers. The Game Director is never random, nor is anything else in the game; it always fairly balances the events in such a way that teams are never disadvantaged by an event, or a spawn-point, or loot drop, so that skill matters, not luck.

Finally, whilst we are certainly a competitive shooter with lots to discover, one big aim with ASCENDANT is to be more accessible and forgiving to first-person shooter newcomers.  As of right now, players will have numerous ‘lives’ so not the common one-kill and you’re out, also we have no friendly-fire and no fall-damage.  All the things make the gameplay more fun and team play more rewarding.

What would you say are the biggest differences between ASCENDANT and other games?

7 STYLE YOUR WAY TO GLORY

Mark Gerhard: There are two sides to ASCENDANT.COM that set us apart. The most obvious is that we are a high energy, squad-based action shooter with a very simple game objective called Battle for the Biocores. Imagine a modern twist on Capture The Flag, but on steroids.  Four teams are battling it out across a changing map to secure as many biocores as they can.  But there are only three biocores in total. Of course, there are not enough Biocores for everyone, so the battles get more intense as the match counts down to its conclusion.

For eSports and multiplayer enthusiasts, this competitive element around securing the Biocores will have a lot of appeal. But, we also couple this competitive, multiplayer gameplay mode with a persistent, social world that allows the players to also enjoy a less frenetic gaming experience in between matches. Hang-out in the lobby, meet your friends, create squads, take part in mini-games, customise your character, upgrade weapons, try out guns in the shooting range… the list goes on – and all this makes the world of ASCENDANT.COM much more engaging.

How are you planning to monetize the game, and what have you learned from games that have similar styles

6 CUSTOMIZE TO DOMINATE

Mark Gerhard: ASCENDANT.COM is a premium game, so prepay-to-play (currently targeting around $30 USD for an introductory Early Access price). It’s important to stress that we put competitive integrity at the forefront of our game design philosophy, so we are deliberately avoiding any pay-to-win mechanics. Making sure the full community is always on an even playing field is extremely important to us and at the forefront of every decision we make around design. We’ll have more to share with players closer to release alongside additional information around our regularly scheduled content drops.

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What are the plans for the game post-release, do you expect to follow a seasonal update style system?

Mark Gerhard: Absolutely.  As I previously mentioned, ASCENDANT.COM will have a development roadmap of regular content drops and post-release support, similar to many other ongoing competitive multiplayer games to ensure there are always new and exciting in-game features for players to enjoy and explore together.

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Ascendant Infinity Environment

About the gameplay itself. Each character will have their own unique abilities? How do you come through that process without feeling like you’ve “copied” an idea from another game

Mark Gerhard: In ASCENDANT.COM we do not have set character classes or ‘heroes’ that have predetermined abilities. Instead we want the players to have the choice to customise and build their own characters and loadouts according to their personal playstyles. This will allow for more player expression as they become used to the game and its tactics. In addition to that, they can really blend together the social aspects of the game with costumes and such alongside their character builds.

Tactical FPS can be difficult to master. What is one bit of advice (or multiple) you’d want to give all players before they play?

Mark Gerhard: Teamwork makes the dream work 😀 Don’t feel the pressure to rush in, all guns blazing. Form your squad with friends or meet new players in the lobby and work together as a team to leverage the dynamic events that the Game Director uniquely presents in every game session. Be prepared to adapt… or die!

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Ascendant Infinity Environment

If people take away one thing from this interview about the game, what do you hope it is?

Mark Gerhard: I promise it’s the best investment you can make for $30, so try it!

I’ll give you your money back if I’m wrong.

ASCENDENT.COM genuinely offers something new and fresh to the FPS genre. For anyone who’s into competitive shooters and wants to try out a game that offers a mix of entertaining multiplayer mayhem, plus some great social co-op team action, keep an eye out for our next Beta, coming soon this summer.

Sign up at ASCENDANT.COM for more info and Wishlist the game now!

“I’ll give you your money back if I’m wrong” – Mark Gerhard ASCENDANT Interview
David Hollingsworth
David has written for games media outlets for the last ten years. With his first major esports role being with Esports News UK covering mostly UK League of Legends. David is also a member of the British Esports Association and is an advisor to them on World of Warcraft Esports. More recently David has worked for Esports Insider and Red Bull as an esports journalist. David later became Editor at ESTNN and now leads the current team.