November 30, 2021

Playing The Ascent on Xbox Game Pass for PC makes me wish I was playing on Steam • Eurogamer.net

The Ascent is a bit of a mess on Windows 10.

I’ve already reported how the cyberpunk twin-stick shooter’s latest patch negatively affected the Windows 10 version of the game, with stuttering, poor framerate and other technical struggles experienced by players.

Here’s the Digital Foundry video breakdown for The Ascent, tested on all Xbox consoles – and PC.

I’m in the same boat. I’m playing The Ascent via Xbox Game Pass on PC, and therefore the Windows 10 version, and ever since the recently-released patch came out, it’s been pretty much unplayable.

Let’s remember, developer Neon Giant is a small indie team of just a dozen people. The Ascent is a remarkable achievement, with gorgeous, incredibly detailed environments and fun shooting. Honestly, the game is a marvel to look at, to explore and to move about in. It’s pretty special in this regard (check out Edwin’s wonderful The Ascent review for more).

But it’s had performance issues from the off, and suffered from many serious bugs. I’ve soldiered through these problems with the Game Pass for PC version, but the recent patch has put me off playing.

Now, Neon Giant has apologised for these Windows 10-specific issues, and offered workarounds – workarounds that make me wish I was playing the game on Steam.

In a post on Steam, Neon Giant told affected Windows 10 players “we sincerely apologise for the inconvenience and issues you may be experiencing”.

Here’s where things get remarkable. Neon Giant says in its post that the Microsoft Store version of The Ascent on PC currently only supports DX12, regardless of whether players see “DX11” displayed in the in-game menu.

I’ve been playing with DX11 selected the whole time, because, yes, the Windows 10 version has this option available and defaults to it.

So, what to do? The workaround Neon Giant suggests is similar to the workaround suggested by players last week.

If you don’t have a GeForce RTX or equivalent GPU, select DX12 mode in the game menu and check that ray tracing is disabled. Selecting DX11 doesn’t currently work (the game will still be in DX12 mode with ray tracing on, even if it displays DX11, unless you manually disable ray tracing and switch to DX12 mode).

If you have a GeForce RTX or equivalent GPU, you can turn on DLSS and play with ray tracing on.

Manually disable ray tracing and switch to DX12 mode.

I’ve tried this, and it does improve matters, although it doesn’t seem to straight away, with framerate and stuttering experienced upon boot.

This is a known issue, Neon Giant said:

“Please note that when booting the game in DX12, framerate takes a short time to stabilise fully. We are working on fixing this and improving performance for players across all platforms.”

It’s annoying enough to discover you have to manually disable ray tracing and switch to DX12 mode (how many people won’t see the developer’s workaround?) just to get okay performance, but what’s proper frustrating is the game update process.

As mentioned, I’m playing The Ascent via Game Pass on PC, so am using the official Xbox app. This app, dear reader, is a load of rubbish. Games do not automatically update even with that toggle selected. Clicking the button to manually update a game – even where the app shows the update is available – doesn’t work. It didn’t work for me with The Ascent and Tetris Effect: Connected, another Windows 10 game I have installed.

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I can’t seem to be able to update games via the Xbox app, annoyingly.

What’s the workaround here? If you’re not playing the right version of The Ascent, you have to uninstall the game completely and reinstall it to get the latest version of the game. Great.

The majority of my PC gaming experience is done via Steam, and the Steam version of The Ascent does not suffer many of these issues (as Neon Giant has said, The Ascent on Windows 10 and Steam are two different versions, and are updated separately). My experience of playing PC games via Xbox Game Pass for PC has not been a positive one. I love Game Pass, as I imagine many do, but Microsoft’s got a lot of work to do before Game Pass on PC is on par with Valve’s effort.

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