Gameplay

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Basics

Ashes of the Singularity: Escalation is a real-time strategy game set in the future where descendants of humans (called Post Humans) and a powerful artificial intelligence (called the Substrate) fight a war for control of a resource known as Turinium.

Players will engage in massive-scale land/air battles by commanding entire armies of their own design. Each game takes place on one area of a planet, with each player starting with a home base (known as a Nexus) and a single construction unit.

Victory is won by either eliminating the other player(s) by military means; or by capturing pre-placed Turinium Generators and converting a majority of the planet to this vital resource.

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Starting Conditions

When the game begins, the player starts with a home base called a Nexus and a single Engineer. The world is broken up into regions, each with its own power generator. These power generators are protected by neutral guardian units, more of which appear as time goes on. Taking control of a region grants the resources of that region to you, provided that you control all the regions between it and your Nexus. Using these resources, you construct various types of factories that can construct different types of units.

Economics

Your economy is driven by acquiring metal and radioactives. A region you control will typically have either metal or radioactive deposits. Each one will provide (+0.5) per second of its corresponding resource. If you place an extractor on that deposit, it will double the output to (+2) per second. If you build an amplifier on the power generator, it will double the output of the entire region.

As you construct units and buildings, resources are subtracted from your inventory. Much of the player’s skill boils down to managing these two resources to ensure that they are not overspending or allowing resources to be wasted. Through technology, you can increase the maximum inventory of resources to use during times of peak production.

Every unit or structure you build will gradually drain your Metal and Radioactive income respectively. Should you exceed your current resource production, your factories will pull from your Nexus storage. Once your Nexus is depleted, your Engineers and factories will split the available resource income evenly to the best of their ability. This runs the risk of crashing your economy, so you should try to avoid it! To help prevent this, you can pause construction at your factories.

Resources: Income, balance and maximum inventory displayed (see image on right).

The Resources

There are two primary resources:

  • Metal
    This is the raw construction material for buildings and units.
  • Radioactives
    This is the raw fuel you use for advanced units and advanced buildings.

In addition there are two other resources in the game:

  • Turinium
    Some regions don’t contain a power generator but instead, a Turinium generator. The player who controls the most of these will begin accumulating Turninium. If enough is collected, they win. Each Turinium Generator held also increases resource income by 10%
  • Quanta
    This is an artificial resource produced by Quantum Relays that the player constructs. They are spent on improving overall technology, making use of orbital global base abilities and drained by the production of juggernauts.

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Combat

Players construct a wide variety of units depending on their circumstances. Air units can provide radar and visual coverage, bomb strategic targets, or maintain air superiority. Ground units can be from small (50m long) frigates to gigantic, nearly kilometer long juggernauts. The planets being fought over have relatively low gravity, allowing both sides to employ units that hover, which allows them to navigate around each other in 3 dimensions.

Units tend to be differentiated based on weapon range, rate of fire, and damage capability. Each unit has a role to play in the counter system, the Athena cruiser is strong against other cruisers, but weak against frigates. Creating a well rounded unit composition and adapting it to opponent's is vital.

Map Exposure

It is important to always try to know where your enemy is and what they might be doing so that you can prepare for a possible assault. When setting up a game, there are a few different options that make this part either easier or a bit more challenging.

For Skirmish games, you may choose to play with either Hidden or Revealed maps in the fog of war. When Hidden, players start off with only a view of their immediate area and the map is completely hidden.

As you explore, map areas are revealed and you’ll retain the lay of the land. Revealed maps don’t hide the terrain at the start of a game, which is the mode used for ranked and most multiplayer matches. While you won’t be able to see enemy movements without radar or line of sight, you’ll at least know not to run into a mountain.

Terrain

Terrain and elevation behave how you would expect in the real world and play a huge strategic role in Ashes of the Singularity: Escalation. Each unit you control has its own line of sight based on the surrounding terrain: for example, you can’t see the other side of a mountain. Additionally, higher elevations grant greater vision ranges and provide a boost to weapon ranges.

Terrain Types:

  • Plains: Relatively flat and considered the normal ground level for a world. Plains don’t block line of sight or provide any tactical advantages.
  • Hills: Broken and bumpy terrain of varying heights, it’s possible for smaller units to ‘hide’ in some of these areas. Hills can sometimes hinder line of sight for smaller units while providing a slight advantage against enemies in plains.
  • Plateaus: These are generally level areas that rise higher than plains or hills. Plateaus make good defensive terrain since they grant excellent line of sight and range advantages.
  • Mountains: Mountains are impassable to ground units, but pose no obstacle to your fliers. As mentioned previously, mountains block line of sight and any direct weapons fire.
  • Crevasses: Crevasses are also impassible to ground units and are well below the ground level of plains. However, unlike mountains, they don’t obstruct line of sight or weapons fire.


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Building Armies

Ashes introduces the concept of a Meta-unit. When a player forms an army, all of the units in that army behave as if they are a single unit. Selecting one will select all of them. Each unit is aware of every other unit in its army and automatically engages enemies and protects allies based on the needs of the army. When someone forms an army, each child unit is effectively just part of a single big unit that can and should be controlled as such.

Information Panel

When forming armies, you can check the information of a particular unit by selecting it and viewing the information panel that appears on the bottom of the screen. The information panel gives you relevant details over the selected unit or structure.

  • Unit Level / XP: As command units, dreadnoughts and juggernauts have the ability to retain their combat experience. As they defeat more enemies, they’ll eventually gain new abilities through leveling.
  • Armor: Armor is equipped to heavy units in order to reduce damage from basic attacks. Armor-piercing weaponry can negate armor partially or completely, meaning certain units are required to cost efficiently deal with high tier units
  • Weapon Modules: Both the PHC and Substrate field a variety of deadly weapons in their arsenals. You can mouseover the modules here to get more details on what the selected item is using.
  • Hit Points: This is an indication of how much damage the selected item can take before being destroyed. PHC units can be repaired by Engineers or Repair Bays; however, Substrate units have no such ability.
  • Energy: Many Substrate units use special reserves of Energy to power up weapons. Energy replenishes itself over time automatically, or Capacitor frigates can be used to rapidly replace in combat.
  • Shields: Shields are the primary defense for the Substrate and are an ultimate counter to any offensive strike. Unlike Armor, Shields mitigate all incoming damage until they’re depleted. Once this happens, the unit is defenseless and begins to suffer hit point damage.

Empire Tree

The Empire Tree shows any control groups you’ve created to help manage your armies and factories. Control groups are displayed with their associated number in the shield along the left. By default, groups start off with the tree condensed.

In this state, ground units are shown as simple pips by size with air units denoted as chevrons. In the expanded view, you can get more details on the individual units present. Each unit has its own symbol and it’s current HP are shown beneath. In either view, units that are currently under fire will flash red.
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Veterancy

Dreadnoughts and juggernauts are expensive and take a long time to produce, which is reason enough to keep them around, but there’s another important aspect to them besides their giant guns. All dreadnoughts gain experience and level up every time they survive a battle. A dreadnought can gain up to 5 levels. If a dreadnought is maintained for a significant amount of time, it can be devastating for the enemy. Thanks to a feature called Veterancy, the value of keeping these monstrous units alive and functional for as long as possible is huge.

Dreadnoughts and juggernauts are units you care about. As they survive battles they gain experience, which allows them to level up and gain new abilities. A high level Dreadnought may be substantially more powerful than one that has been newly produced. Hence, if one is in trouble, you will want to retrieve it.

The PHC Dreadnoughts and the Substrate Dreadnoughts both have different sets of abilities that are gained through leveling up. Juggernauts have no limit to the amount of times they can level up, each time unlocking a 5% bonus to their health and damage.

Quantum Upgrades

Quantum Upgrades provide economy and combat bonuses, ranging from increased metal storage capacity to additional weapons damage and unit health. Quantum Upgrades cost Quanta, and ramp up in price every time they are used.

Orbital Abilities

Orbitals are offensive strikes that have an often-dramatic effect on the battlefield or can used in support such as calling down engineers. Additionally, both the PHC and Substrate have economic orbitals that have subtler but equally important effects.

See a full list of Substrate Orbital Abilities, and a full list of PHC Orbital Abilities. Every time you call an orbital or install a global upgrade, that action’s cost increases. Orbitals also have cooldowns between uses.

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