The First Descendant: How to unlock or research new characters

Screenshots of The First Descendant
There are lots of different Descendants to earn. (Image credit: NEXON Games Co.)

In The First Descendant, players battle on behalf of humanity as a member of the Descendants, a powerful sub-race of humans that inherited powerful abilities through their connection to the Ancestors that once dominated the planet. At first, players will have to choose between one of three Descendants when beginning the game, but you can unlock many more either through playing the game... Or shelling out some of your real-world cash.

If you have your eye on a specific Descendant or want to experiment with new playstyles and more abilities, then you'll want to work on expanding your roster with new Descendants. There are two main ways to do that: by collecting valuable and rare resources during missions and completing research tasks, or by purchasing in-game currency and skipping the long research process entirely. Both methods have their pros and cons, but at least you have options.

Unlocking new Descendants through research

I chose Viessa as my first Descendant, but both Lepic and Ajax are excellent starting characters. (Image credit: Nexon)

Once you first begin playing The First Descendant, you'll be given a choice between three starting Descendants: Ajax, a Non-Attribute tank with tons of health and defensive abilities, Lepic, a Fire damage dealer with area-of-effect attacks, and Viessa, a Chill debuffer that slows and damages enemies with ice-based attacks. However, whichever Descendant you choose will be your only Descendant at first — the other two will be locked away until you unlock them through other means.

By playing the story, you'll also eventually unlock Bunny, the Electric damage dealer with high-speed lightning attacks that has become the unofficial mascot for The First Descendant. Unlocking Bunny will guide you through the research process for unlocking new Descendants in-game, but it may not give you all the information you need (or you may want to get started on this process even earlier). The one thing to keep in mind from the beginning, though: you can unlock all Descendants purely by playing the game, although it will take a lot of time and effort.

In order to research new Descendants, you'll need to find Anais at Albion HQ, the game's main hub for players. Anais is a Magister, or an allied Vulgus, that specializes in technology and the Arche that gives Descendants their power. She provides access to all research projects, which lets you unlock new Descendants, Ultimate Weapons, and crafting and upgrade materials. You'll find her on the far side of HQ, to the right of where you first come in.

Once you talk to Anais, you'll be introduced to the Research Institute. There are multiple categories here, with the first page dedicated to recommended research projects that may be popular or that you may already have some ingredients for. For our purposes, you'll want to head to the "Descendant" tab.

Every Descendant in the game will appear in the Research Institute, including Ultimate variants that have access to improved stats and exclusive outfits. You can research every Descendant without once pulling out your wallet, but it can take a lot of grinding for unique and rare resources to do so. That's because researching every Descendant requires:

  • Unique Enhanced Cells
  • Unique Stabilizer
  • Unique Spiral Catalyst
  • Unique Code
  • Gold

Gold is the main in-game currency in The First Descendant, and you'll collect plenty of that simply by playing the game. The rest of the research materials, however, are harder to find. Every single Descendant (including Ultimate variants) requires entirely unique materials for that Descendant, and all of those materials will be found in different locations.

The research materials for Descendants are often concentrated in specific areas of the world, though, so that at least makes it a little easier. Still, Enhanced Cells, Stabilizers, and Spiral Catalysts usually require grinding specific missions, operations, and even Colossi battles to obtain. Descendant Codes are the hardest to find, and almost always require that you battle a specific Colossi repeatedly to find. Some Descendants will even require that you collect and destroy specific Void Fragments, which themselves require Descendants of a specific element.

Fortunately, you can highlight the materials you need on the research page (or find them in the game's "Access Info" tab in the Map menu) to get acquisition info on locations, missions, and battles where you can potentially earn those materials. Before you start any mission or Colossi battle, you can also get an overview of potential rewards to see if there's a chance of obtaining materials for a Descendant you want. Finally, you can enable tracking on a Descendant you're interested in through the Research Institute to let the game help you keep track of when and where you might be able to earn those materials.

There's a good chance you'll have to battle Colossi to research new Descendants. (Image credit: Windows Central)

Just bear in mind that some of these materials have low chances of being dropped, meaning you may have to grind the same operation or Colossi battle multiple times to earn them. That's especially true when Descendant materials are exclusive to a specific Amorphous Material, which are varied, nondescript items that can become a number of valuable materials when redeemed (and so each have their own drop rates).

Many Descendants may also require materials that you simply cannot obtain until very late in the game (this is often Ultimate Descendants or Descendants that play some role in the story), which can limit your options. Fortunately, you do have the option to separately research specific Descendant materials with other less valuable resources, which can save you some time grinding missions.

Whenever you do collect all the materials to research a Descendant, you'll also have to wait hours or even days of real-world time for the project to be completed (although you can research as many projects simultaneously as you want). All of this means researching Descendants can be very time-consuming, and you're better off setting your sights on one at a time to avoid becoming overwhelmed.

Of course, you can also skip all of that by dipping into your bank account.

Taking a shortcut and buying new Descendants

Every Descendant can also be purchased for real money, and they don't come cheap. (Image credit: Windows Central)

The First Descendant's in-game shop has been the source of some contention, seeing as it's filled with microtransactions with rather aggressive pricing. Not everything is cosmetic, either, as a lot of these shop items can directly help you gain an advantage in the game. Still, they are optional, and that includes being able to obtain new Descendants without grinding for in-game resources and rare materials. First, though, here's a quick overview of The First Descendant's pricey premium currency, which doesn't go nearly as far as I'd like.

  • $4.99 nets you exactly 250 Caliber, and is your cheapest option
  • $9.99 nets you 520 Caliber, and is enough to buy some of the Descendants
  • $19.99 nets you 1,060 Caliber, and could get you any of the regular Descendants
  • $49.99 nets you 2,750 Caliber, which is enough for any regular Descendant, the Battle Pass, and even some extra cosmetic items or support materials
  • $69.99 nets you 3,920 Caliber, which is the cheapest option if you want to purchase any of the Ultimate Descendants
  • $99.99 nets you 5,750 Caliber, which can get you one of the Ultimate Descendant bundles and the Battle Pass

Under the Descendant tab, you'll basically have four different options. There are Descendant's Tickets, which are bundles that instantly give you one random Descendant from a pre-determined pool, as well as some growth support boosts to help you level up that Descendant. There are three of these, and each bundle is more expensive than the last (450, 700, and 950 Caliber, respectively). If you'd rather purchase a specific Descendant, they're more or less divided into three categories.

There are common Descendants that can usually be obtained very early in game, including the starting Descendants like Viessa, Lepic, and Ajax, as well as some other story-related Descendants like Bunny, Sharen, or Freyna. These Descendants are usually 300 Caliber, but shouldn't be too difficult to obtain in-game (especially Bunny — don't buy the regular Bunny). Most of the other regular Descendants are usually 600 Caliber, and may require late game materials to research. Finally, there are the Ultimate Descendants.

This is Ultimate Bunny with her infamous exclusive outfit. (Image credit: Nexon)

There are five Ultimate Descendants right now, and these are unique variants of existing Descendants (Viessa, Bunny, Gley, Lepic, and Ajax) that have exclusive outfits and more powerful stats. These Descendants can be obtained in-game, too, but will require an absurd amount of grinding. They're also very expensive, though, costing a whopping 3,000 Caliber for just the Ultimate Descendant and one additional outfit, or 5,000 Caliber for the bundle with additional cosmetics and support items.

Yes, that's extremely expensive. If you successfully research an Ultimate Descendant or purchase the non-bundle version of an Ultimate Descendant, though, you will get a discount on the rest of the items bundled with the Descendant should you choose to buy them.

Finally, I want to end with one final piece of information: you have limited slots for Descendants, meaning you'll eventually be told you can't add anymore to your roster. The default is 10 Descendants, and after that you'll have to spend in-game currency to expand that limit. If you purchase any Descendant from the store, though, you'll get an additional Descendant slot with your purchase so you don't lose any slots.

Every Descendant provides a unique experience

Each Descendant is very different to the others.  (Image credit: Windows Central)

The First Descendant has a very healthy initial roster of Descendants, and each one brings a unique set of abilities that can mix up the gameplay loop. It's part of why this title could be one of the best Xbox games of the year, although the expensive premium currency and microtransactions definitely knock some points off. At least you're never told you can't have a Descendant unless you shell out the cash, as every character can be obtained solely through research.

Once you unlock the Descendant of your dreams, be sure to level up your Descendant as quickly as possible to stay competitive. If you're not sure which Descendant to pursue, you can check out our The First Descendant character tier list for some extra guidance. Whether you grind for the materials or pull out the wallet, all the Descendants can help you emerge victorious against the Vulgus.

It's a little sad that you basically have to spend money to customize your Descendants with new cosmetics, though. I wish there were in-game options to research or earn more cosmetic items, or at least earn in-game currency, but that's a conversation for another day.

The First Descendant — Free to play at Steam (PC) | Microsoft Store (Xbox)

The First Descendant — Free to play at Steam (PC) | Microsoft Store (Xbox)

Explore a sci-fi world pitting the remnants of humanity against the terrifying might of the Vulgus and the mysterious Colossi. Refine your abilities with over a dozen powerful, diverse characters in this free-to-play, MMORPG looter shooter.

Zachary Boddy
Staff Writer

Zachary Boddy (They / Them) is a Staff Writer for Windows Central, primarily focused on covering the latest news in tech and gaming, the best Xbox and PC games, and the most interesting Windows and Xbox hardware. They have been gaming and writing for most of their life starting with the original Xbox, and started out as a freelancer for Windows Central and its sister sites in 2019. Now a full-fledged Staff Writer, Zachary has expanded from only writing about all things Minecraft to covering practically everything on which Windows Central is an expert, especially when it comes to Microsoft. You can find Zachary on Twitter @BoddyZachary.