Review | The Ascent: Cyber Heist (DLC)

The Ascent, a game I gave a 9.0 at launch (lowered from 9.7 after finding the Xbox version in far worse shape than Steam’s) has released its first mission DLC. It is titled Cyber Heist and is available for those who have a save set at the end of the game’s main campaign. It’s bombastic, fun, just as janky as everything else in the main game, and features some of the worst difficulty spikes and boss fights seen yet!  Let’s break it down in this small, spoiler-free review.

Poon Jr.

My first issue is that the DLC can only be accessed if you have a save that has been left at the end of the main campaign and you haven’t started a new game plus. I didn’t have a save set for this state, I was in the middle of a new game + run, thankfully my brother did though. So be warned, if you do not have a save that is still at the conclusion of the main campaign you cannot access this $10 mission expansion until you reach it.

The story itself takes place in the “Dark Playground” a greenish-yellow-infused new area that brings with it one new item, melee weapons. There are only a few of them, they’re pretty bad, and quite hard to use without dying. The main thing here is the over-the-top, absolutely gorgeous twin-stick shooter fun. There’s a short story, we got to the end boss in roughly two hours at 15 minutes. It’s all about stealing something called The Ruby. It was forgettable and featured someone with one of the most over-the-top British accents I’ve ever heard, and an attempt at a new main bad guy that fell flat. The Ascent’s story was never the main attraction, the incredible graphics, and fun-as-hell gameplay were.

A Visual Delight

The game shines here graphically, the new areas are as grimey, dank looking, and stunning as ever. Gameplay-wise it’s a mixed bag, mainly due to the massive difficulty spikes. The max level cap is increased and unless you feel like grinding things out and doing the few side stories available you’re going to run into some massive progression blocking walls that kill you in a shot or two multiple times. The bosses also have way too much hp, and even after upgrading appropriate weapons to take them on fights can last 5-10 minutes long. The first time we killed the final boss a few of his far more powerful minions were around and finished us off, requiring us to redo the fight completely.

These multiple issues drag down what otherwise is a worthy follow-up to the main campaign. The music is awesome, and while it doesn’t add anything new in the way of guns or abilities it is a solid excuse to jump back into one of my favorite games from last year. Unfortunately, it felt as buggy as ever on Series X with enemies and use items falling through the ground regularly, though no freezes or progression blocking quest errors happened which is sadly a big improvement over the launch experience.

In Conclusion

At only $10 US Cyber Heist is well worth a purchase if you enjoyed The Ascent in either solo or up to 4 player co-op. Graphically it’s still a stunner, the gameplay is fun as hell, and while damned annoying the balancing issues can be “solved” if you are willing to do a little side mission grinding. The base game is still on Xbox Game Pass at the time of this review as well, and at this price, you won’t find many better-looking experiences.

Reviewed onXbox Series X
Release DateAugust 18th, 2022
Available onXbox One & Series X|S, Playstation 4&5, PC
DeveloperCurve Digital
PublisherNeon Giant
RatedM for Mature

The Ascent: Cyber Heist





  • Gorgeous
  • Fun
  • Good Value


  • Massive Difficulty Spikes
  • Minor Bugs

Jesse 'Doncabesa' Norris

Proud father of two, lucky to have a wife far too good for me. I write a ton of reviews, am a host on the You Had Me At Halo podcast, and help fill out anywhere I can for our site.

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  1. Avatar for Mort Mort says:

    I haven’t played this game yet… But I think it interests me enough to perhaps pick up some sort of bundle with DLC on sale later on and put it in the backlog rather than rush through it whilst its still in Game Pass. Always good with some more time for patching anyways. As a backlogger I’m getting a bit used to more or less finished games and it has lowered my tolerance for bugs and lack of content a lot hehe.

    Good review as always, Jesse.

  2. Great review Jesse.

    I bought this last week. Played about four hours yesterday. So far so good.

  3. Avatar for BRiT BRiT says:

    The Ascent is on sale for $15 or 50% off for the next week. This DLC is in the 10% discount from GamePass window for $9. For anyone without GamePass wanting to jump in, you cant go wrong picking up both for $25.

    Not sure if the base game being on sale is a sign of it leaving GamePass soon or not, but I’ll probably buy them both to show the developers some support.

  4. I bought both at launch. I first played The Ascent on Game Pass but since my subscription was expiring a few days after the game released last July, it was either spend $10 on Game Pass or just buy the game. Game was $24 but since I put the $10 from renewing Game Pass for last August towards the game, it was more like $14. Hehehe. And $10 for the expansion which I put on hold as im too hyped for Steel Rising and had work and bunch of house cleaning that I do every Fall and Spring.

    Great game. Expansion is more of the same based on the few hours I played but still great. Would love to see Microsoft acquire Neon Giant and for The Ascent 2 to be a massive third person cyberpunk action RPG with a $100m or so budget. Oh man!!! That would be awesome in my opinion!!!

  5. What difficulty did you play on? Not super encouraging to hear about intense difficulty spikes since even on easy mode this game is not exactly a cake walk. Or I might just suck at twin stick shooters.

  6. I’m not by the console to check, but I don’t recall changing the difficulty from default.

    When I ran in to issues, I needed to reassess my cover. The only problem with that could be AOE launchers.

    If you have aiming difficulty, look for super fast homing rifle plus critical hit set ups. Later in the game, grab the dealbreaker. I used the dealbreaker constantly after I got it, only switching to the homing energy rifle for shileds.

    Upgrade your powerful weapons at the toolsmith!

    Also, dodge. :wink:

    After those basic tips, I kept various armor on me if I needed to change, but in general a high ballistic defense seemed to do best for me in most situations.

    My mods were the rifle bot (ballistic pursuation initiating) and the life steal mod.

    Only had some trouble with bosses or if I was careless and dodged into big groups.

  7. Avatar for BRiT BRiT says:


    I’m near the end of the Cyber Heist DLC. The portion of it where you run into The Skullsquad before the final Boss was absolutely brutal. So many deaths. I had to switch up my tactics and switch to a huge melee weapon just to do enough damage at once while continuing to run and avoid the projectiles. Even then it took a couple attempts to get that timing down.

    Next up is the final Boss and I’m sure it’s going to be just as brutal.

    Such a HUGE difficulty spike.

    That’s my only real gripe about the game.

  8. Avatar for BRiT BRiT says:

    The last fight was just as brutal. I was level 35 going into the final stretch of the DLC.

    On all the failed runs, the final Boss had some sort of shield or buff on the entire time except for 5 seconds out of the entire time of running around avoiding his attacks. We’re talking anywhere from 5 to 8.5 minutes. This was by far worse than the early-stage CyberMech Spider Boss in the main game.

    On the successful run, that shield/buff was off and he was taking damage from my cyber-spider bots and a max level 10 Rock Crusher Hammer melee weapon. I rushed him and swung away. The successful run was maybe 45 seconds.

    I’ll still jump on any additional DLC if they make any more.

  9. I was caught off guard the first time. After that, I rushed to cover and used my rifle bot as a distraction and crouched while firing the dealbreaker overhead. After the bot died or timed out, I popped my life steal mod and spammed them with the dealbreaker.

    I may have been a couple levels higher. My biggest problem was a number of glitches where the game didn’t recognize the kill and start the cutscene even though I got the achievement.

    My tactic was to spam my rifle bot and life heal right away and take out the minions. Then, if you rush the boss while his shield is up he almost always jumped away and dropped the shield. Then, dealbreaker on the move to avoid his high powered shots. Once the next wave came in, I popped life steal and unloaded the dealbreaker. Then retuned to russhing the boss to make him jump and drop his shield.

    Wasn’t too bad for me, once I figured a few things out. The hardest part was the glitches where he died but the game didn’t progress.

    I, also, will look forward to more DLC. I really enjoyed the Ascent!

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