Stardock has always been an interesting developer and publisher, as a studio that has been willing to push conventional wisdom and technology in many ways. You hear the shouts of RTS is dying, but Stardock keeps releasing them. These titles range from Galactic Civilization 3 to their newest release earlier this year, Ashes of the Singularity.
One of the things that stood out about Ashes of the Singularity was that it was designed to push technological limits. While it is playable on lower mid-end gaming rigs, it really wants a higher mid-end or better one with Windows 10 and DirectX 12 to showcase its power as the first game designed from the ground up to make use of the new technologies. It generally garnered good, but not standout reviews on release and is owned by about 80 000 people on Steam who have given it mostly positive reviews.
However, Real-Time Strategy games are rarely done at launch, as expansions are a tried and true part of the genre. These often flesh out new ideas and fix old problems, and Stardock has announced a stand-alone expansion that is designed to include the full base game as well as try new ideas and take community feedback. One of the big things is a renewed focus on singleplayer content that many users felt was a bit lacking at launch as there are two new story-driven campaigns entitled Memories and Escalation.
Gameplay-wise the biggest change is a change in focus in regards to size. Ashes of the Singularity: Escalation will double the size of the largest maps in the game and allow up to 16 players to play on them. This has also been complemented by an addition of a strategic zoom to better manage world-sized battles, as they listened to feedback from players.
A lot of it comes down to where the RTS market is. Ashes is our first terrestrial RTS and it’s interesting to how that market is split up. The original release of Ashes straddled in-between a more tactical RTS like StarCraft and Company of Heroes and a large scale RTS like Supreme Commander, but players are really looking for one or the other. If you try to blend the two you end up with some compromises that limit where you want to take the game. So Escalation, we decided to expand in the area that no other RTS can match it and that’s scale. —Brad Wardell