I greatly enjoyed playing a warlock in World of Warcraft because I like necromancers conceptually; I think it’s fun to roll around with a bunch of skeletons wreaking havoc, but some of the game’s current design is frustrating, and this aspect has been largely ignored, with Legion being the last point where this iconic mechanic got any love.
I randomly stumbled upon a video showcasing some of Project Ascension‘s features on YouTube, and the one feature that instantly had me on board was the expansion of the minion system.
Project Ascension promised to take World of Warcraft‘s framework and change it enough so that it can feel fresh again—not so different that it’s unrecognizable, but way more free and respectful of player choice.
What I didn’t realize is that this one feature was the very tip of an insanely deep iceberg of mechanical changes, as I fell into the MMORPG-sized rabbit hole that Ascension is.
Ascension is a classless server, and the server’s team reworked the game in its entirety by allowing players to make their own characters with whatever spells they want, some present in the original game, others completely new.
Characters in Ascension are known as heroes rather than paladins, mages, warriors, etc. Players can craft their own builds with whatever combination of skills they want, and through passives, mystic enchantments, and new skill tweaks, you can synergize almost any combination of spells you want.
Letting players choose whatever they want sounds like a balancing nightmare, and I bet it is, but somehow the Ascension team has managed to keep things together really well. It also helps that the raids have been reworked, so even though players have an insane amount of power in their hands, they still have to deal with challenges of their own.
World of Warcraft players know how important WoWDB is for figuring out quests, items, spells, and anything else you need to know about the game. Ascension also has its own database to ensure players aren’t lost when it comes to figuring out some of the new things.
Ascension is currently up-to-date with the Burning Crusade expansion, but modern assets are still used. A lot of the content you would see in World of Warcraft’s more recent expansions has been incorporated into the game as either seasonal rewards or endgame cosmetics.
Ascension is currently split into two servers: seasonal and free-pick. The seasonal server gives the player a random selection of skills that they can choose from every few levels, and free pick lets players decide on their build freely without being eligible for seasonal rewards.
Despite having seasonal rewards, there is no FOMO to be had, as the team makes sure to keep the game accessible even for people who don’t have a lot of free time. Nothing is going away permanently, so you can play at your own pace just fine.
The Ascension team is currently making sure that the game doesn’t turn into a theme park MMORPG where mechanics and content just get thrown aside as the game progresses; everything is relevant and worthwhile, and nothing gets tossed out in favor of the new shiny thing.
Project Ascension can feel daunting at first because of how many choices the player has and because of how big World of Warcraft is in general, but it honestly may be more welcoming than the official game. Ascension is a work of passion from fans who felt that they could do World of Warcraft in a different and more enjoyable way, and I have to say, they got it right.
The game does its best to guide even players who are completely new to World of Warcraft, leaving little breadcrumbs in the form of Ascension quests, and despite being a Burning Crusade server, Ascension has a lot of the modern World of Warcraft quality of life features, like the wardrobe system introduced in Legion, which makes acquiring different visuals much easier.
One of the main mechanics in Ascension is reaching max level and starting over again, so XP acquisition has been cranked up, but players can choose to undertake special game modes, which set the game back to its original XP values, as well as an Ironman mode, where you aren’t allowed any external help and dying makes you stop being an Ironman.
I am personally in the middle of an Ironman playthrough and having a blast. My love for World of Warcraft has faded a bit over the years, but Ascension‘s creative game modes have managed to rekindle it.
Ascension is preparing to move into Wrath of the Lich King as well as releasing their new Conquest of Azeroth servers, which will include 21 new classes, all with their own unique mechanics, talents, and specializations to choose from.
Project Ascension is a breath of fresh air for those who wanted the original experience from classic servers but felt like it was a monkey’s paw wish. You can download it right here and start crafting your own unique hero for free.