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Let Ashes of the Singularity change your notion of large-scale RTS

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Strength in numbers

Real-time strategy titles often feel large-scale by design. There are a whole bunch of units on the battlefield, and the player's tasked with directing them all simultaneously. Even if there aren't that many actual parts in the faction, controlling an entire army is powerful by nature.

Ashes of the Singularity laughs in the face of that model. The upcoming RTS from Oxide Games operates under an ambitious mindset: If you're billing these combat scenarios as epic, let's actually make them epic. Sheer quantity is Ashes' greatest strength, and it's certainly nothing to laugh at.

This is all possible because of Nitrous, an engine that Oxide put years into building from the ground up. It was created with the real-time strategy genre in mind, specifically to forge battlegrounds where there are more than 10,000 units on-screen all performing individual and unique actions.

Let's slow this down and dwell on that for a second: More than 10,000 units on-screen.

While the demo we were shown wasn't playable, it was a real-time simulation of a game. The developer could pull the camera out until the various troops were nothing more than barely-visible dots. The size of everything was simply enormous. I was told that it was one of the smaller maps.

If controlling 10,000 of anything sounds unwieldy to you, you're probably right. Each unit can be controlled directly, but Ashes of the Singularity gives the player to group various troops into meta-units. Meta-units are made up of any arrangement of troops the player desires. They function as a cohesive whole that are much more manageable in theory.

The example given to me was that of a meta-unit consisting of tanks and artillery mortars. Without player input, that make-up will automatically put the tanks in front to provide defense, allowing the mortars to lob artillery shells from the safe cover. The player can tinker with that on an individual basis, which offers a nice sense of customization. However, it wouldn't make much sense to, given that a single unit out of thousands is the equivalent to a proverbial drop of water in a bucket.

In all honesty, the demo seemed more like a boasting session for Nitrous than it did a glimpse at Ashes. Maybe, given that it's the first title on the engine, they'll become synonymous in a sense. But, it's impossible to not be impressed by the infrastructure. Thousands of units individually tracked, and creating unique shots and explosions is a solid framework for any game.

However, that doesn't mean Ashes of the Singularity will necessarily be good. We have to wait a bit longer to find that out. Oxide Games and Stardock are going the Early Access route with this one, taking feedback into consideration to mold a better final product. Ashes of the Singularity will hit Early Access in the summer, and it's shooting for a proper retail release later this year. Even if we don't know how it'll ultimately turn out, we know for certain that its strength lies in its numbers.

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Brett Makedonski
Brett MakedonskiManaging Editor   gamer profile

While you laughing, we're passing, passing away. So y'all go rest y'all souls, 'Cause I know I'ma meet you up at the crossroads. Y'all know y'all forever got love from them Bone Thugs baby... ... more + disclosures


 


 


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  • Let Ashes of the Singularity change your notion of large-scale RTS - Brett Makedonski
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    Filed under... #GDC #Previews #Real Time Strategy #Stardock #Strategy games #Top Stories

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