Screenshot of Ashes of the Singularity Cover Image

What is Ashes of the Singularity?

Ashes of the Singularity is a real-time strategy game developed by Stardock Entertainment and Oxide Games. Released exclusively for Microsoft Windows in March 2016, it was quickly followed by an expansion called Ashes of the Singularity Escalation. The game introduces new maps, more units and buildings, while also improving the game interface. Both games are suitable for multiplayer, but the expansion accommodates a maximum of 16.

Key facts about Ashes of the Singularity

  • Ashes of the Singularity is a videogame that emphasizes the importance of using broad strategies.
  • The game impressed the audience with its scope and scale, but also its steep learning curve.
  • Ashes of the Singularity has a spectacular multiplayer map design allowing up to eight players.
  • The single player campaign is short and aimed at getting players familiar with game mechanics.
  • Ashes of the Singularity was the first game to support Direct X 12 released in 2016.

Gameplay of Ashes of the Singularity

The Ashes of the Singularity gameplay slightly differs from other real-time strategy games. It was intentionally made more complex to encourage players to use more advanced tactics. There are plenty of units to command across the battlefield, ranging from heavy armored vehicles to light ones. It is not possible to dwell exclusively on a single type of unit or a handful. Instead players are compelled to raise a large army and use several units simultaneously to gain a competitive advantage.

Light units are small and agile but on their own they won’t last for long. If they are pit against heavy units without adequate support, they don’t stand a chance and are better used for harassment. At the opposite end of the spectrum, dreadnoughts provide plenty of firepower, but they are extremely slow. The complexity of the Ashes of the Singularity gameplay consists in the fact that a successful army needs to have an eclectic mix of units.

Slow and powerful units are used to control key points and prevent opponents from moving across the battlefield. There is obviously an indissoluble link between the size and strength of a unit and its price. Economy plays an important role in the equation and players who are able to control key notes are likely to emerge victorious. As all real-time strategy games, this one also has the gathering of resources at the cornerstone of any strategy.

The Ashes of the Singularity multiplayer is where the game shines brightly. Up to 6 teams can participate in a skirmish and try to annihilate their players. The control of key resources such as Turinium is usually a fast road to victory. This makes resource nodes highly contested on the battlefield regardless of map size.

Screenshot of Ashes of the Singularity Epic Fight
Screenshot of Ashes of the Singularity Epic Fight

Plot of Ashes of the Singularity

The Ashes of the Singularity plot is the exact opposite of its gameplay, in the sense that it’s rather simple. The single player campaign is so short that players don’t really have the chance to thoroughly understand the story. There are just 8 main missions and three more side quests, so players can complete them all in a couple of hours. The pack of missions is just long enough as to help players get familiar with the core game mechanics. It’s only when they start playing in multiplayer that the game reaches its full potential.

Essentially, players assume the roles of characters fighting in a war between the Post-Human Coalition and the AI controlled The Substrate. Action takes place in a dystopian future, where the surviving humans fight against the aggressive artificial intelligence. The game doesn’t have a proper tutorial, but the missions themselves serve this purpose. The absence of strong characters and a narrative capable of keeping players at the edge of their seats greatly hurts the Ashes of the Singularity single player.

Missions tend to get more difficult as players advance with the single player, but don’t pose serious challenges. The developers paid more attention to the gameplay for multiplayer and the result is an unambitious story. On the bright side, it looks like they plan on releasing new installments and this campaign is only Episode one. There are not many decisions to be made and they don’t impact the outcome of the single player.

Screenshot of Ashes of the Singularity Focused Fire
Screenshot of Ashes of the Singularity Focused Fire

Development of Ashes of the Singularity

Ashes of the Singularity was supposed to bring something new in the real-time strategy game industry. The developers didn’t hesitate to take a steep departure from the canons and introduce elements that are specific to MOBA titles. Work on the game started in early 2015 and the producers were kind enough to release an in development version. Players were able to test the game in October 2015 and some of their suggestions were used to make certain improvements.

Scheduled for release in March 2016, it was unveiled on time and required no patches or updates to be enjoyable. As the first video game released with Direct X 12 support, it can only be played on Windows powered computers. Players were able to preorder the game and then download it on Steam. The developers started working on the expansion while the main game was still in production. This explains how it was possible for Ashes of the Singularity Escalation to hit the stores in November 2016.

Where can I download Ashes of the Singularity?

Stardock Entertainment and Oxide Games are not among the leading videogame developers. However, they did a fine job with Ashes of the Singularity and the game can be downloaded from their website. Fans of real-time strategy games have many more options if they want to diversify their portfolio of RTS titles. StarCraft 2 Legacy of the Void, Total War Warhammer, Hearts of Iron 4 and Command & Conquer 4 Tiberian Twilight are also worth considering.

The developers wanted to give players a chance to test the waters and get a first look at their game. That’s why Ashes of the Singularity was first made available on Steam. This is also the place where the expansion can be acquired and where the fans can place preorders for future installments. At the time of writing, there is no concrete indication that the two developers are working on a new game. However, given the fact that first campaign set goes by the name of Episode 1, more expansions should follow.

Screenshot of Ashes of the Singularity Strategic Strike
Screenshot of Ashes of the Singularity Strategic Strike

What are others saying about Ashes of the Singularity?

Ashes of the Singularity was well received by real-time strategy fans at the time the game went live on Steam. Compared to most of its counterparts, this game is faster pace and compels players to use more complex strategies. In a world where RTS games tend to get ever easier to appeal to a broader audience, this one stood out from the crowd. In the wake of its official release, many of the fans claimed that their expectations were met and even exceeded.

The critical response was less enthusiastic, with the game receiving review scores of no more than 75 out of 100. The mixed Ashes of the Singularity reviews are the consequence of developers paid too little attention to the single player. All the blockbuster real-time strategy games have a strong campaign and characters that players can relate to. The game earned praise for its multiplayer and the fact that the expansion set made player versus player matches more competitive.

My rating of Ashes of the Singularity

I’ve been playing real-time strategy games for more than two decades and this remain my favorite genre. That’s why it was impossible for me to ignore the announcement of a new game that promised to bring something new to the industry. Ashes of the Singularity isn’t the breakthrough I was hoping for, but different enough to make itself noticed. I was pleasantly surprised by the broad spectrum of units and the synergy between them on the battlefield.

What I don’t like about this game is the single player campaign, which should be at the cornerstone of any RTS that plays the long game. It felt more like an extended tutorial, providing little incentive to care about the characters or the warring factions. The multiplayer is much better and Ashes of the Singularity scores high marks in terms of graphics, presentation and gameplay. Since these are all essential ingredients in the recipe for success of any real-time strategy game, I rate it 8 out of 10.

Overall Score