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.
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.
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.
There are two primary resources:
In addition there are two other resources in the game:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.