The First Descendant Hands-On – 15 New Things You Should Know

Looter shooters aren’t exactly a dime a dozen these days, so seeing titles like Nexon’s The First Descendant is all the more intriguing. Launching on July 2nd for Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, PS4, PS5 and PC, the free-to-play title is set in a post-apocalyptic future where gifted humans battle the invading Vulguri. After going hands-on with a preview build and having a chance to sample the story and end-game, here are 15 things you should know about The First Descendant before jumping in.

Descendant Abilities and Unlocking Others

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From the outset, you can pick one of three Descendants – Lepic, Viessa and Ajax. Lepic is an all-rounder, capable of surviving fatal damage once every 10 minutes, while Viessa uses ice to crowd-control enemies. Ajax is your defensive powerhouse, creating walls and barriers to tank damage from enemies. Besides weapons and abilities, you also have melee attacks and a grappling hook for getting around. The latter also allows for closing the distance on enemies for melee strikes.

You can unlock other Descendants by completing tasks and gathering the blueprint and materials to craft each part. Once all the parts are gathered, there’s a Research Time and cost, and the Ascendant is yours.

Main Quests

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Following the initial story mission, players gain access to different Battlefields. These are like Patrol spaces, with various tasks to complete in that area (denoted by pink waypoints). Complete them all to open up the next area, and eventually, the Battlefield is cleared enough to progress the story. It’s also possible to perform other activities in between, including…

Sub Quests

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As the name indicates, Sub Quests are separate from the objectives necessary to complete a Main Quest. They award Credits and XP, with a chance to drop Modules to customize your Descendants and weapons. Think of them as the Patrol missions from Destiny and a way to garner XP between Main Mission objectives.

Objective Types

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Whether you complete the steps required for a Main Quest or mess about in the fields with different Sub Quests, there are multiple objectives. These involve defending a reactor from waves of enemies, while others require slaying foes and depositing the resources they drop. There’s also the usual “Slay X amount of enemies”, followed by an Elite to dispose of. Nothing too complicated, though you also encounter special missions like Zone Reconnaissance, Void Missions, Void Fusion Fusion Reactors and Encrypted Vaults to further spice up the gameplay.

World Difficulty

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While playing through, the World Difficulty is on Normal, but as you progress, Hard mode becomes available, upping the challenge alongside the rewards received. It also unlocks new content, like Infiltration Operations on Hard mode. Cruising through the story on Normal to get your bearings is the way to go initially.

Weapon Types

The First Descendant has multiple weapon types, including the usual Assault Rifles, Submachine Guns, Pistols, Shotguns, Sniper Rifles, Machine Guns, Scout Rifles, etc. They have different stats and rarities, with the end-game Ultimate weapons having signature perks. Each also has unique ammo types, but unlike the usual regular, Special and Ultimate ammo (which is called Ultimate ammo), you also have Impact Rounds. Balancing your loadout to ensure you’re not running out of ammo in the middle of combat is thus key.

Ascendant and Weapon Modules

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These are mods you can slot into your weapon and Ascendant to improve them in different ways. These range from increased firearm attack and critical hit damage to more rounds per magazine and increased damage depending on the status ailment afflicted on an enemy. The number of Modules you can equip depends on your Master Rank, which affects the capacity.

As you obtain higher rarity weapons, Module slots can have different Polarities – slot the matching Module into it, and the cost is halved, allowing for even more. Descendants also have Transcendent Modules which can alter their abilities. For instance, Lepic can change his Overclock to inflict Weaken Regeneration instead of Burn or modify his Grenade Throw to charge it up to three times. Only one Skill Module can be equipped at a time, though you can also have Sub Modules, which modify melee attacks.

Reactors and Components

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You also have Reactors and External Components, the former increasing Skill Power and Sub Attack Power while boosting the damage of certain Skill Types. They have certain optimization conditions, like equipping a certain weapon type and reaching a specific Skill Power, but can provide massive bonuses to your abilities if matched correctly. Components offer flat increases to stats like max HP, Defense, Resistance, and Shields.


Along with enhancing Modules to improve their effectiveness, players can use the Workbench to adjust their weapons while strengthening Reactors and Ultimate Weapons. What if you found a gun with great stats but its level isn’t high enough? Weapon Level Transmission allows for consuming a different weapon and transferring its level, thus raising the new weapon’s effectiveness.

Cosmetic Customization

There’s a fair bit of cosmetic customization available, from changing hairstyles and makeup to selecting different Descendant skins – from the sleek to the ridiculous, like panda suits. Within those options is the ability to recolor specific parts separately for the helmet, adjusting the arms, legs, highlights and more for a unique look. There’s a strange lack of patterns, but perhaps we’ll see more of those in the future. Other cosmetics include different weapon skins, emotes, name cards, spawn animations, UI themes and even the appearance of the grappling hook.

Infiltration Operations

With all this talk about the base game and options for customizing Descendants, what can looter shooter fans look forward to in the end game? First, there are Infiltration Operations – instanced dungeons with modifiers like increased Elite monster HP and movement speed. That’s on Normal difficulty – choose Hard mode, and the number of modifiers increases. You can also add more modifiers like reduced Descendant defense and health, increased enemy HP and whatnot to increase the Kill Score. The higher the Kill Score, the more likely you can earn the selected rewards. There’s no matchmaking on Hard, so be warned (or make your own team, whichever works).

Special Operations

Special Operations also have unique modifiers but function differently in terms of rewards. Upon reaching a set number of waves, you receive one of four drops. The chance of a reward dropping increases on further waves, though you can choose to leave the mission after receiving rewards.

Void Intercept Battle

The Colossus are towering bosses throughout the campaign, and Void Intercept is your means of farming them. Each has different elemental attack attributes and resistances, though you can also destroy certain parts of their bodies to expose weak points. Alongside the loot drops, you can also use the Reconstructing Device at the end to open Amorphous Material Patterns. Where do you get those Patterns? Why, from Infiltration Operations and Special Operations, of course, creating a continuous end-game loop. Some Colossus must be tackled with other players, but matchmaking is available, thankfully.

Post-Launch Plans

No matter how much content a looter shooter has on release, the question is always: What’s next? Though Nexon didn’t explicitly outline its plans for post-launch or provide a roadmap, it confirmed new Descendants and weapons in the future. Perhaps, these new Descendants could have quests associated with them. As always, time will tell.

Battle Pass and Seasons

However, two things are apparent from the preview – Battle Passes and seasons. You receive various rewards depending on the tier, from new emotes and badges to increased gold gain, weapon skins and even Ultimate weapons. Free and Premium tracks are available, but there’s also the Supply Shop. Upon completing Seasonal Weekly Challenges, you’ll net Supply Coins, used to purchase cosmetics from a separate shop like weapon skins, head skins (including hairstyles and masks), spawn animations, etc.

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