One of the main pillars that supports Ascend: Hand of Kul is the ability to cast off your character's mortal coil, reap the benefits of a short lifetime in service to your God, and begin anew. This cycle is known as Ascension, and it's a feature that drives your character's progression from fleshy infant to grizzled veteran, building the ranks of your personal army in the process.
What is Ascension?
Ascension is the opportunity to extend the power and progression of all future characters at specific level intervals – in this way, don't think of each Caos you create as separate entity, but rather as one stage of your overall character. Starting at level 5 and after you finish the tutorial, you'll receive the chance to Ascend, ending the career of the Caos you're currently playing and starting a new Caos, picking up where you left off.
However, the level required to Ascend increases by 5 every time you do it, starting from the level of your last Ascension. Additionally, each time you Ascend thereafter, your newly created Caos will start further away from your last Ascension level, meaning you have to make up that ground and the additional 5 levels before you get the opportunity to Ascend again. Here's an example:
- Your first Caos, we'll call him Fred, reaches level 5 and completes the tutorial. Awesome, good work! You can now Ascend Fred the Caos, which you do, and create a new Caos.
- Your new Caos, Barney, starts at level 3. Since the level required to Ascend increases by 5 from the level of your last Ascension, Barney can't Ascend until level 10 and must gain 7 levels before doing so.
- Now let's say somewhere down the line you didn't Ascend as soon as you got the opportunity; you got caught up in a dungeon or didn't see the notification telling you it was time. It's fine, it happens. This time you're playing as Jack and you Ascend at level 38.
- Your next Caos, named Burton, returns to the world and picks up where Jack left off. Since Jack was many levels higher than Fred or Barney were at the time of their Ascensions, Burton is going to be set back many more levels. He starts at level 31, and since the level required to Ascend increases by another 5, he'll have to trek all the way to 43 before he can Ascend.
That's the cycle and it continues to get more severe as you progress to the current max of level 60. On top of that, you'll lose all of the Equipment, Items, Curses and Blessings your Caos has collected when he Ascends, unless you spend souls to save them as legacy items, which you can then pass down to your next Caos.
So why would anyone choose to deliberately set themselves back time and time again? Glad you asked.
Why and when should I Ascend?
Ascending is vital to building the strongest Caos possible for one reason: Emblems. Each of the three Gods has 15 emblems that grant small, permanent enhancements to all your future Caos. Every time you Ascend under the service of a God, they bestow upon your character one of their emblems. To see a list of each God's emblems, visit the New Gods section of this guide.
In addition to emblems, Ascending a Caos places him in the service of the God he was serving at the time of Ascension. As an an AI-controlled champion in The Crusade, the persistent faction war between the three New Gods, he will automatically invade the worlds of other players and attempt to capture their shrines and altars. Regardless of whether or not he's successful, this will earn you Crusade Points, increasing your overall stature in The Crusade. The more Ascended Caos you create, the more force you'll have in the war.
For these reasons you should Ascend as often as possible, every 5 levels. It's important to note that it's possible to gain more than 5 levels during the tutorial, before you're allowed to Ascend. If this happens, you'll miss out on the chance to Ascend the maximum number of times before reaching the level cap. To prevent that from happening, avoid killing enemies that aren't required during the tutorial – there will be plenty of time to murder indiscriminately thereafter.
I'm ready to Ascend, what should I know?
Being prepared to Ascend is a two part process. One one hand, you'll want to maximize your current Caos' potential for his future in The Crusade. One the other, you'll want to recoup as many souls as possible and set yourself up for an easier time with your new Caos. Fortunately these two practices overlap in a lot of places, so here's what you need to know.
- Your Ascended champion fights with the armor, weapons and spells he was using at the time of Ascension. Before you take the plunge, outfit your Caos with the best possible weapon you can find or afford, then focus on armor. Make sure to equip any spells you'd like him using against other players before sealing the deal and setting him loose in The Crusade.
- If you followed the above point, you're already wearing the best gear you've ever owned. Capitalize on this by turning as much of it as you can into Legacy items that will be passed down to your next Caos. During the Ascension process, you get one free slot to save an item, the rest must be purchased. The price of additional slots doubles with each purchase (1k, 2k, 4k, 8k, etc.), so to save a weapon and a full set of armor, it will cost you 15,000 souls. Be sure to save enough souls to keep what you want before starting this process, but don't waste souls on saving equipment that you can easily replace in the next cycle.
- When you Ascend, you lose everything but your souls, spells and legacy items. Give your new Caos some spending souls by selling everything that isn't nailed down. Sell everything you're not going to turn into a legacy item: equipment, runes, curses and blessings – you can't take them with you and it's just leaving money on the table if you Ascend without liquidating.
- You're going to be offered the chance to choose a new god, or stick with the one you've been serving. It's an important decision as you're only able to Ascend so many times before reaching the cap, and you'll want to select the emblems that best suit your play style. At this point, each God will offer you an incentive to join their ranks, and the God that is short on players will offer a better reward for signing up. Ignore these incentives. In the long run, a few thousands souls or a couple free Crusade spells don't outweigh the importance of collecting the emblems you want to progress your character.
What is Transcending?
Reaching the max level of 60 in Ascend: Hand of Kul isn't the end of the journey. When your next Ascension level would be greater than level 60, the option to Ascend is replaced with Transcend. Transcending is similar in concept to Ascending, but with much higher stakes.
- Transcending resets your story progress meaning you'll have to go through the campaign again from level 1.
- Transcending removes everything your character has collected and earned, including: all your equipment, even legacy items; all your spells and associated upgrades; and all your items. It's essentially a clean slate, and the only things that carry over are your souls and the emblems you've acquired while Ascending under various Gods.
- Transcending will also increase enemy levels by 1 each time you Transcend.
- Just like Ascending, Transcending will still reward you with the next appropriate emblem from the god you're serving. Likewise, your character will still become an Ascended Champion and fight for you in The Crusade.
- You'll also receive an emblem for Transcending, which appears next your name, displaying how many times you've Transcended. Currently, emblems earned for Transcending do not carry any benefits. That feature is planned and could come in a later update, retroactively applying the benefits to players who've Transcended.
- You get the opportunity to Ascend all over again, earning more emblems from each god. To earn all the current 45 emblems, you must Transcend several times.
Why and when should I Transcend?
Transcending should only be done if you're intent on building the strongest Caos possible. There are few benefits to Transcending for the casual player, requiring hours of work to get back to the maximum level. The prospect of starting over with only your emblems to keep to you warm is daunting, and with new content continuously being added to the game you may find yourself in too weak a position to participate as it rolls out, unless you spend the time to march back to the top of the food chain. Bottom line: You should only Transcend if you want more God emblem.
I'm ready to Transcend, what should I know?
Similar to Ascending, before you Transcend there are a few steps to take in order to set your new Caos up with an advantage. Since you carry nothing tangible over to your new Caos, you'll want to load up on as many souls as possible in order to smooth the transition and deal with the tougher enemies Transcending offers.
- As you're now max level, and loaded for bear with upgraded spells and the most powerful equipment currently available, it's time to build your nest egg. Spend some time farming souls, running dungeons and looting chests. Higher level equipment is worth more souls, so you'll never be in a better position to capitalize on selling easily obtained gear than you are right now. If you plan on grabbing spells and upgrading them early, you'll want to tally up the total cost you'll need in order to avoid waiting. Set that as your starting goal and start slaying.
- Since you can't carry anything over to your new life, it's time to liquidate. Sell everything that you aren't planning on leaving for your Ascended Champion. Remember, they only use the spells and gear that are equipped at the time of Ascension, so decide what those are going to be and sell everything else, even the additional spells.
- Plan your route. Now that you've been around the block and know what you're doing, be sure to take a look at the list of emblems and know how far you've progressed in each. Since the first few Ascensions going fairly quickly, the first few emblems you're after will be earned similarly quickly. Now's the time to know which Gods you're going to serve and plan ahead for some quick Emblems. Also remember that the God you serve will award a free spell for completing parts of the campaign, so if you're after a specific set of spells you should plan for that with your choice of deity.