Ashes of the Singularity: New RTS from Stardock and Oxide Games


It reminds me of one of the titans in sins.


That is beautiful!


Back in the late 1990s and maybe early 2000s I played quite a lot of Age if Empires and a few other RTSs, even multiplayer over lunch with coworkers. I definitely wouldn’t have called myself an expert or anything, but I was OK.

I fired up Ashes Escalation and started playing the Ascendancy Wars campaign and am about 5 scenarios in. For some reason it just doesn’t click with me like Age of Empires did. It don’t know if it’s because the game reduces some of the micro, but it doesn’t feel like I’m making a lot of decisions. Maybe it’s because it’s a beginner campaign, or maybe its because the units just aren’t as intuitive as swordsman, archer, catapult (even though I see their equivalencies). Maybe it’s because there are a lot more units and I just end up making a bunch of this and a bunch of that and throwing them together.

It could also just be that my tastes have changed (as I know they have in many areas) and I would have likes Ashes a lot back then, or it could be that I just don’t see the details of Ashes yet and haven’t ‘got it’.

Does anyone have a similar gaming background with RTSs as me and have any opinions on Ashes, or maybe some insight as to getting more enjoyment out of Ashes? There are definitely some conveniences I like, such as ordering reinforcements directly from the armies.


Just remember that the Ascendancy Wars campaign was a very late add to the development cycle, and while it received a lot of post release attention to improve it, it’s mostly just some linked scenarios.


Yes this is very similar to how I felt. I picked it up over the winter sale and am having trouble connecting with it. However in particular for me I’m just less clear on what’s happening and how the game works. For instance: there’s an ability you can use to heal your troops, but I don’t see health bars so I don’t know if my troops actually need healing. It’s also not clear to me how the tech tree works and how I get to those cool sounding juggernaut units. I also remember this idea of combining troops into some sort of army structure being a selling point (and I can find a lot of info on it in the wiki) but it wasn’t mentioned in the tutorial and I don’t know how to do it. I’m using control groups at the moment which feels wrong, but I didn’t find the controls to build an army.

I went from the tutorial straight into skirmishes. Sounds like going straight into Ascendancy Wars is also the wrong way to go. What’s a good progression for someone completely new to Ashes that will teach me how to think about the game effectively?

The nugget I did understand and enjoyed was how the different nodes on the battlefield have different resources so you can plan your territory acquisition around what your current resources needs are. It also changed which ones I was careful about defending. That’s a fun decision that seems to get at that feeling of the game being more macro focused.

In Supreme Commander I would always put my factories on autobuild with a series of orders looped. Is there a way to do that in Ashes? Managing the factories periodically was a bit annoying and I bet there’s some interface smarts there I’m missing.

Maybe a better question is if there’s some sort of good youtube tutorial series that explains the game well?


I’ve warmed up to it, but it’s taken some time. It’s still not a game that I could obsess over or play all evening, but I do enjoy firing it up every now and then.

I think the game just needs more. More units, more options, more decisions, more personality. In terms of character and distinctiveness, the dreadnoughts really don’t hold a candle the Experimentals in the Supreme Commander series. There’s nothing like having a giant UFO crashing into your base, or a Fatboy spewing out units while shelling the crap out of your forces. Hopefully the T4 juggernauts add some of that, as it seems like they’re probably a closer analog.

I really like the direction the game is going, and hopefully the updates planned this year take it from “fun for a couple games” to “I want to get home from work and play this game!”.


There is an option to turn on health bats so that may help. Also when you have an army selected it seems to how some type of health info by shading the unit icons in red when they have damage.

When you selected multiple units, there are some small buttons on the info panel - like patrol and delete. One of those is create army. I usually assign a control group to an army.

It seems like the ascendancy wars is a decent way to go because there is still some hand holding and tutorial type of messages / objectives.


I kind of agree with you Kevin. It’s not like it’s bad, but I’m not sure how much I want to choose playing this over something else. It almost makes me wish I picked up the Age of Empires package over the holidays. I had so much fun with that game.


Have you seen the writeups that Brad has done on this topic? It’s been linked (and possibly discussed) in this thread. He talks about how tough the RTS market is when you’re competing about older RTS games like Age of Empires or Supreme Commander, and what they need to do with Ashes.

EDIT: This is the dev diary I was thinking of, I believe.


I think I did read that a little while ago. Even ignoring price, there is just something about Age of Empires that feels like there is more to do. Maybe part of it is that you needed to pay attention to positioning more - protect those archers from a flanking attack. Grouping the units into an army, while making management much more convenient, just lets you point the blob at something and attack.

Maybe that isn’t how it plays out if up against a human. Maybe a good human would make positioning much more important in Ashes. It’s funny because I don’t want something that is too stressful or frantic, but Ashes is just missing … something.

Also, and this is just personal preference, I do like historical / real world stuff much better than scifi.


A game like Ashes is way harder to design in some ways, because you don’t have the instant recognition/familiarity of nouns like archer/spearman/cavalry that most player instantly grok. It’s a tough job. On the plus side, lasers and shit.

Also, you guys have no idea how many posts I type and delete in this thread. No idea! Heh.

I’ll limit myself to saying that, as the guy who built the vast majority of Ashes single-player content, the vanilla Ashes campaign is by far the weakest of the offerings on tap.

It’s funny. The first stuff you make is by far the most impactful (to most players’ experiences) - say, the Ashes tutorial and Imminent Crisis campaign. But you learn so much from the experience and the tools get so much better for subsequent efforts, and you want so badly to go back and re-write the original. But in no universe is that a better use of your time than making cool new stuff. So geht das Leben, I suppose.


So if the vanilla single player campaign is weak, and I don’t play multiplayer, what should I be playing if not that SP campaign? I played that campaign a bit when the game came out, but it didn’t really grab me, so I shelved it. Has something been added that I should give a try?


Escalation (expandalone) has 12 new scenarios across two new campaigns, which I feel are much superior.

But if you kinda bounced of Ashes, I mean, I can tell you all day that Escalation is better in so very many ways but it’s still a $20 ask.

And honestly, my best efforts aside, Ashes is at its heart a skirmish game. I’ve done my damnedest to make some damn fine skirmish maps for all kinds of different team/pvp/compstomp scenarios, but the game still is what it is. I’m awfully proud of what I’ve made, but I’m also not going to come here and be like, “You just don’t know good RTS games! Rargh!”

Personally, Ashes has totally ruined me for Starcraft-style RTS because what I enjoy is the larger-picture stuff: extracting resources here, defending there, sending reinforcements yonder. It’s absolutely not in the same league as Starcraft when it comes to, say, doing weird Mutalisk kiting or Baneling nonsense or whatever. But I don’t enjoy the micro, and freeing my attention for the macro/econ stuff makes it a game I, personally, thoroughly enjoy.

I suck at micro. But I do pretty well in Ashes because I queue up engineers (or later, teams of same) to build a bunch of defenses and infrastructure in my backcourt, form up some armies around my Dreadnoughts, and blow through my precious Quanta to turn the tide of individual battles by dropping drone swarms or nukes or fields of SCIENCE that heal my units because SCIENCE.

Not in marketing anymore, professionally. Just trying to explain why I honestly like Ashes today. Apologies for shilling, if anyone takes it that way.

And this is what you get when I don’t delete my posts in this thread ;)


Not at all. I like seeing passion for something that someone has worked on.


Thanks @robc04! I appreciate the help. I’m guessing this stuff is explained in the campaign more and I should just jump into that.

@Adam_B I also appreciate your response. I think Ashes is the kind of game I will like when I understand it. Reading why you’re proud of it emphasizes the parts I should be thinking about more and is very helpful.


Like everyone else, I’m glad you participate here @Adam_B. Regardless of whether it ends up clicking for me, I admire the talent you all have and the hard work that goes into making a game.


FWIW, I enjoyed the original Ashes campaign and I finished it before most of the polish was added. Haven’t tried the Ascendancy stuff yet, as we’re remodeling and I can’t really game on the gaming rig for another month or two.


Maybe I’m misunderstanding the above quote, but there is a button that makes the build order for a factory continuously repeat. I can’t imagine playing without it. :)

When you have selected a building and ordered it to build some units, a set of buttons should pop up that allow you to toggle repeat queue/or stop, pause production, or delete the queue.


That’s exactly what I was looking for! I figured it was hidden in a hotkey, but it’s actually a totally obvious UI element I somehow missed. Thanks!


For me this game has a lot of positives: the scope, the graphics, how smoothly it runs, the resource node system, what feels like a competent AI (although I haven’t been a game pro since StarCraft).

The one massive negative which makes it just luke warm for me is the lack of personality. Even the simple units in Total Annihilation had personality. Not sure about Supreme Commanders, but it sounds like there too? If they can add a bit more personality to the game that would be a huge help. I think the solution is in giving armies of robots a AI-personality that speaks back to you ala Deserts of Kharak (not implying they are actually controlled by AI!).