Hello i bought Ashes Escalation this week because of the sale. In general i quite like the game once you get into it; however i have some issues with it:
Disclaimer: GPU: GTX 1060 6GB, 8GB ram, cpui5-4590, most graphics settings on ultra except AA which is turned off; avg 40 FPS.
The amount of units this game can handle without fps issues is quite impressive my main complaints are towards the artistic direction, not the technical aspects of the engine.
1.1) There are too many effects besides weapons fire, e.g. the substrate healing cruiser (caregiver), has a big glowing light underneath which is really distracting especially if you play on ice maps. The regenerator building has a big purple/red pulse, again really distracting.
==> effects should correlate in visibility to their gameplay impact, i.e. big weapons fire, devastating orbital abilities should be comparability a lot more visible than some small support cruisers engine. In general i would scale a lot of the passive lights down a lot, especially the glows underneath cruisers.
1.2) Many weapon effects lack impact, instead a lot of weapons fire is light projectile spam. this is related to the fact that most weapons are energy based. i would like to see more projectile weapons where you can see the impact, i.e. dust clouds on the muzzle and on impact. I also never got the impression that weapon lethality scales well with visibility (except for the juggernauts). In general weapon effects are very visible between the weapon and the target but i never saw effects on the gun/target itself, e.g. a weapon charging up (starts to glow), discharges it's projectile (flash) and shows some impact on the target (flash, smoke clouds, whatever is fitting for that weapon).
1.3) related to to 1.2) the sound effects are somewhat lacking when it comes to weapons fire, there is no charge up, no impact, it is mostly pew pew (like is star wars)
1.4) Map cliffs could use more detail both in geometry and texture quality. currently the cliffs look like terrain generated from height maps where the texture is usually stretched out, i.e. the ratio of the area of the terrain geometry to texture size is greater on cliffs than on flat terrain.
Related to map graphics the trees don't look very good: they stick out too much on the terrain and are not detailed enough for their visibility, personally i was always more of a fan of "texture" trees such as in Age of Wonders 3 or Civ5 than trees with bad geometry such as in Ashes or Total War (campaign map trees). The former just fit in the terrain a lot more smoothly imho.
2.1) My main issue is that you have no real base, due to the orbital ability that inserts point capturing units i usually build an orbital blocker, 2 anti air towers and a support building (recharger or drone repair) next to every resource node. so i spread a lot of buildings across the map (add quanta generators and refineries to the mix) just so i don't have to deal with harassment.
On the other side my main base is just a bunch of production buildings.
In comparison to supreme commander there are buildings that synergize with proximity, e.g. generators next to production buildings. Imho base building could use a lot more depth, e.g. instead of quanta upgrades for the phc that increase the resource stockpile you could add silos that would also support nearby production buildings.
Then there are the tech buildings. Do they actually do something besides unlocking abilities/units? i usually build one of each kind and that is it. Again this could be an opportunity for some base building mechanics, e.g. each armoury could slowly work towards hitpoint upgrades and the more you have the faster it goes (each would consume a certain amount of quanta/sec and you can turn them off if you need more quanta). such a mechanic could replace the current upgrade mechanic which lacks depth (a simple click for a global upgrade). Again you could introduce some minor synergies, e.g. quanta generators in the vicinity could provide a slight boost to foster base building.
2.2) Resource Nodes: In general i like the sector mechanic, however you don't really see where a sector ends and the other starts which is important for refineries. Personally i would like to see less but bigger sectors with more resources, so each has an bigger impact. Coming back to base building i woud like to see some buildings that connect sectors instead of the passive connectors. this would foster consolidation of each resource node within your grid instead of racing to every node.
2.3) Economy: while the resource nodes are inspired by company of heroes one game mechanic is not: upkeep. In CoH each unit would have some upkeep, to combat snowballing, e.g. a player with a big army could have less income than a player with a few units and less territory. In ashes i often get the impression that the winning player has all cards on his/her side, more units and more income. The last half of the game feels too often like steamrolling the enemy where the outcome is certain. In CoH there was always the chance of comebacks.
What i do like is the asymmetry in resource generation of the factions, although refinery spam feels a bit more mindless the options of the substrate. In Supreme Commander you would get an income bonus if you build silos besides resource extractors, which naturally limited the boost you could get from any resource node.
2.4) Depth: In general i feel the game is a bit too flat when it come to units. it is not that there are not enough unit types but that you can unlock them very easily, there is no long term progression or research tree or something equivalent that spaces unit progression out a bit.
Again, i really like the game, so for a list of gripes this post is quite short