The makers of the popular RimWorld mod Combat Extended (opens in new tab) have formed a studio, Vivid Storm Interactive, and have been hard at work making their own game. Ascent of Ashes (opens in new tab) is a colony sim set on an alien planet where you can build a base, grow crops, tame alien creatures, explore a procedurally generated post-apocalyptic landscape, and salvage technology to beef up your defenses.
Along with growing and managing your colony on a hostile alien world, you'll engage in real-time tactics combat, a lot of which you can see in the reveal trailer above. Despite being real-time with pause, it's got a definite XCOM feel to it as you draw a path to guide your warriors in and out of cover, rush attackers for close-range or flanking shots, and throw grenades.
Even in those quick glimpses, it looks pretty stellar. I particularly like the moment in the trailer where two soldiers are moving down a street when a colonist in cover around a corner lobs a grenade at their feet. One soldier dives through a hole in a wall, the other rolls over a concrete barricade to avoid the blast, then one pins the enemy down with fire while the other quickly flanks him. Those AI-controlled soldiers aren't going to be pushovers, even when ambushed, though other enemies might be easier and less organized:
"Enemies will possess varying degrees of intelligence," says developer Vivid Storm Interactive on the Ascent of Ashes Steam page (opens in new tab). "Taking on a disorganized band of raiders will play very differently from fighting a squad of well-trained Remnant soldiers."
Grenades and gunfire aren't your only options when dealing with enemies. Using stealth to avoid confrontation and even negotiating with enemy factions is also possible. It all depends what kind of approach you want to take as the leader of your colony. Meanwhile, your colonists will have different personality traits, needs, and motivations, as in RimWorld and other colony sims. Exploration, scavenging resources, and restoring and driving vehicles around are also shown in the trailer amidst all those big firefights.
And since the game is coming from modders, Ascent of Ashes will also be modder-friendly. "We're building the game's engine from the ground up to be easily extendable, and thanks to our extensive experience in creating mods ourselves we know exactly what kind of support mod-makers need," says the developer.
Ascent of Ashes underwent a successful Kickstarter campaign last month and now has a Steam page (opens in new tab) for you to check out. The release is currently planned for late 2023.