Stardock's RTS Ashes of the Singularity is an impressive technical accomplishment, but it fell a bit short as a single-player experience because of "drab" maps and a brief, "forgettable" campaign. That's something the studio aims to address with the game's first standalone expansion, entitled Escalation, that's set to come out in November.
Escalation will expand the backstory of the Substrate, an enemy faction dedicated to the absolute annihilation of humanity, through two new campaigns that will give players the option of controlling either side. The original campaign will also be "fleshed out further based on the game's background lore, " and new maps for both single-player and multiplayer modes will be much larger than those in the original release. The expansion will also add a new "strategic zoom" option that will provide a big-picture overview of the battlefield.
"We really resisted strategic zoom during the betas," Stardock CEO Brad Wardell said. "We use strategic zoom in Sins of a Solar Empire and Galactic Civilizations but there is a downside—you alienate players who dislike abstract representations of the battlefield. With Escalation, we ultimately decided that we can't be all things to all people. There is no way you can find a global war via a mini-map. You need to be able to zoom out and see the world abstractly too."
It seems odd to me that including a strategic zoom function would be a point of contention for a game whose key selling point is the sheer, massive size of its battles, but I also got mad when BioWare cut the inventory out of Mass Effect, so what do I know? Ashes of the Singularity: Escalation is set to come out on November 3 and is available for preorder now at 25 percent off its $40 standalone price, while owners of the original can upgrade for $20. The original Ashes of the Singularity will remain available as a separate, "introductory" game, for $25.
Update: The post originally referred to Escalation as DLC. It is in fact a standalone expansion.