Ashen, More Details Emerge from PAX East 2018
An open-world, non-linear progression and high-risk combat. These are three elements which promise a rewarding game,
particularly when matched with multiplayer capability. Ashen, an upcoming game developed by AURORA44 was recently showcased at PAX East. The creative director even agreed to answer some of Shacknews’ questions on the matter. The link to the full interview will follow this article.
It looks like action RPG fans have one more reason to get excited about 2018 releases.
The game’s story seems intimately linked to Ashen’s world. Visually, the game is impressively stylized and reminds me of the recently released Absolver. The landscape is bleak, the colours washed out. Indeed, the studio’s description of the landscape reflects such a commitment:
“There is no sun and the natural light that exists comes from eruptions that cover the land in ash. This is a world where nothing lasts, no matter how tightly you cling to it.”
However bleak the landscape, the studio has built-in glimmers of hope for the player. Ashen‘s story is centred on the “Town”, an area where NPC’s rest and which will develop as the player progresses in the story. Find a vulnerable stranger in the wilderness, and they might just return and establish themselves in the town. Over time, they might even build a home or shop for the player to use (Queue visions of Majula). However, these characters won’t be staying still for long. NPC’s can also join players during quests and offer modifiers. One example of this which was highlighted is a “treasure hunter” who can lead the player to special loot.
It was also made clear that high-risk combat is central to Ashen‘s gameplay. It’s been confirmed that player XP is dropped upon death, with a single chance to reclaim it, but this much could now be expected from a game of the genre. The most interesting developments concern the weapons made available to players in Ashen. There are, no swords. Why? Because swords limit combat design, and the use of steel is frivolous in such an apocalyptic world. Forcing designers to come up with varied, and interesting weapons without relying on this fantasy staple is a promising commitment. The difference in weapon interactions and attack speed is important in such an action game. The downfall of many such titles has hinged on it, and whether the player feels rewarded for experimenting with weapon builds. Ashen looks very promising in that regard.
In terms of boss design, it seems clear from the footage that they’re looking to establish diversity. A giant mermaid, an elder being is just one such creature which was showcased. Such creatures appear to use size to their advantage and tower over the player. Others, however, are much more insidious. A boss called the “Elder Dark” crawls in a dark room and latches onto walls in an attempt to ambush the player. The player must then seek him out with a torch, sacrificing the possibility of a shield for the necessary tool.
Overall, it seems that the game is centred on an immersive world and brutal combat experience. Bosses also seem fleshed out, both visually and in terms of lore. The world seeks to reward exploration, and NPC’s relations with the player are promised to feel organic. Time will tell if AURORA44 can deliver on these expectations, lofty as they are.
Ashen is set to release in 2018 on Xbox One and PC.
Full interview by Shacknews: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ugvNC-DXRXQ&t=263s