Ascend: Hand of Kul was developed by Signal Studios and published by Microsoft Studios. It was released into public beta on September 25, 2013, free of charge. XBLAFans awarded the game a deserved Buy It! rating in our review.
Welcome to our Ascend: Hand of Kul guide! This guide aims to provide information on the many unique features in Ascend. In addition to the core mechanics, you’ll find tips on making use of Ascend‘s varied equipment, items and spells. You’ll find comprehensive lists of each area in the larger world, the many dungeons that populate it, the achievements you’ll earn for progressing through it and the game’s “collectibles” in the form Lore Stones hidden throughout it.
As Ascend: Hand of Kul is ongoing and new content is being planned and added, we can’t guarantee our guide will cover all aspects of the title in the future. But for those looking to get a foothold in the game and learn how to make the most of their time spent hacking, slashing, looting and learning, you’ve come to the right place. If you’ve yet to check out Ascend: Hand of Kul, you can find our impressions in the official review.
Many sections of this guide contain information that pertains to Ascend‘s story progression. Consider this a general blanket warning – this is spoiler country! Click on each image to visit that section of the guide.
Ascend: Hand of Kul houses Lore Stones scattered throughout the many areas of its much larger world. Each tablet contains short, lore-based writings regarding some of Ascend‘s key figures, the history of its world or the game’s varied features. There are a total of 48 stones to find, ranging from the very first area to the very last. Below you’ll find a list of all current Lore Stones, including: the location of each stone, its name, order in which you’ll encounter it, where to find it on the map, brief written directions and its associated lore text.
You’re required to discover all 48 Lore Stones to unlock an achievement. Visit the Achievements section of this guide for more information on achievements.
One of the many draws found within Ascend: Hand of Kul is the perpetual hunt for its arsenal of equipment. Each piece is stylish and dramatic, ranging from infernally horned helmets to suits of full plate, crackling with divine energy. That urge to find the perfect weapon or piece of armor to compliment your champion’s look might be half the fun, but it’s important that your gear serve a purpose. There’s no point in being the best looking Caos if you’re dressed for failure – substance over style is the name of the game. With that in mind, there are two major points to consider when choosing how to outfit your would-be champion.
Ascend: Hand of Kul is littered with dungeons comprised of multiple floors, increasingly difficult enemies and loot-filled chests. Some dungeons are required to complete in order to progress through Ascend‘s story, while others are completely optional and only serve as a means to earn experience, items and equipment.
Ascend‘s dungeons are randomly generated, meaning the layout and content changes and refreshes. This refresh period currently takes place at 11PM Pacific Standard Time, allowing you to gather each dungeon’s contents once per day. Below we’ve documented every dungeon currently available in Ascend: Hand of Kul, broken into non-alignment and alignment-specific categories, along with the number of floors and a loose approximation of loot contained therein. For more information on the best dungeons to farm for equipment, visit the Farming section of this guide.[Editor’s Note: The number and quality of chests for each dungeon listed below are represented as we encountered them and should only be used as a ballpark estimation of what to expect during your experience.]
The core of Ascend: Hand of Kul are the New Gods who’ve awoken to challenge the rule of the Titan and establish their dominion. You must choose one of these three deities to serve, striking out to increase their influence and your own power. Each God represents a different sphere of influence: Light, Dark, and Void, and by aligning yourself with them you’ll begin to siphon their power and shape the way your Caos looks and performs.
Though the weapons and armor associated with each alignment differ in look only, the spells and benefits among the three couldn’t be more different. Think of each God as representing their own loose play style: the fast and agile warrior; the armored, heavy-hitting juggernaut; and the spell-slinging caster. In addition to their own unique alignment theme, each God is also attuned to a natural element, which comes across in their spells and perks.
While the story doesn’t change with regard to which God your serve, the environment changes to reflect their themes as you begin claiming shrines in their names, completely altering the look and feel of each area. The presence of your God can be felt in most aspects of the game, and for this reason, it’s easy to get attached. However, you should strive to serve each of the Gods if you eventually want to become the most powerful Caos roaming the wilds.
Spells are a crucial part of Ascend: Hand of Kul, empowering each Caos with the magical wrath of the Gods they serve. While spells might not be as front-and-center as bone-crushing melee attacks, their potential and power can’t be disputed, lending themselves to a variety of situations with devastating effects.
Each God currently has four core spells which they gift to those serving them for completing milestones during the campaign. When that milestone – like completing the tutorial – has been fulfilled you’ll be awarded the corresponding spell for free depending on which God you’re serving. However that’s not the extent of your Caos’ magical prowess; by changing alignments through Ascension, you’ll be able to purchase the spells from other alignments, allowing you to build an entire arsenal from each dominion.
All spells can be upgraded by spending souls in order to enhance many different aspects, like: spell damage, spell duration, spell recharge rate and number of charges. Note that while spells do carry over through Ascension, they do not carry over when Transcending. Below is a list of all current spells and their corresponding alignments, along with their cost and any other requirements to purchase, in case you weren’t aligned when the spell became available.
Depending on what you’re looking to get out of Ascend: Hand of Kul, farming usually becomes a necessity at some point on your journey. Whether it be harvesting souls to purchase that next upgrade, gaining experience for your next Ascension or just cracking open chests for a better piece of gear, farming is an important part of the process.
While everyone has their own little corner they like when it comes to banging heads for experience and currency, there’s a spot in Ascend that is generally accepted as the best, or most accessible, location for grinding out. Due to the game’s constant influx of content and balance updates, the information below might not be the most time/cost-effective means of farming forever, but for now, if you follow along at home you’ll do just fine in the long run.
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.
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:
The world of Ascend: Hand of Kul ranges wildly in size, scale and variety. It is broken down into 26 distinct Levels, which form together to create 5 independent Zones, which are all part of the greater Region. Currently, there is only one playable Region, The Highlands, however the developer has stated that additional regions are in the works and will be deployed as free content at some point in the future.
Within The Highlands, the five Zones each employ a theme: mountainous terrain, forestland, and swampland, requiring the player to complete unique challenges and tasks to progress. Each zone is subdivided further into 5-6 Levels, where the player will spend the majority of their time fighting to convert altars and shrines in the name of their God. When all the altars and shrines in a particular level are captured in their favor, the entire level will be converted to display the alignment of their God.
Below you’ll find a list of every Level within The Highlands, the number and quality of chests contained within as well as the number and type of dominion points to control. Upon entering an area, all chests, dominion points and dungeons appear on the map for easy navigation. The only points of interest that do not initially appear on the map are Lore Stones, which must be discovered first. For the complete list of Lore Stones and their locations, visit the Lore Stones section of this guide.
Ascend: Hand of Kul contains 30 achievements for a total possible 400 Gamerscore. Fortunately, the vast majority of Ascend‘s achievements are attainable through intended gameplay, and should be unlocked gradually as you progress through the game’s story. While there are a few that require a deliberate effort to unlock, above and beyond natural gameplay, we’ve compiled every achievement below in alphabetical order with tips to help you along the way.
Please note that in some cases players’ achievement lists will be displayed slightly different as the “Dungeon Master” achievement was removed and replaced with the “Transcend” achievement after the initial closed beta.