AI War - Ancient Shadows

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What exactly is added in the Ancient Shadows expansion?

A: The main anchor feature is Champions, which is basically our take on the "hero unit" concept from other RTS games. Champions are the only units that can travel into the newly-added backwater nebulae that are inhabited not by the AI but by various Human, Zenith, Neinzul, and Spire splinter factions. There are also new bonus ship types, AI types, map styles, core guard posts, modular fortresses, a new minor faction, and a lot more music from Pablo Vega. This expansion is slated for official release on Friday, October 19th, 2012.

Champions and Nebulae

A player slot can now be occupied by a "Champion" that controls a single modular super-starship. Champions can gain experience, and with experience can upgrade modules. More importantly, the champions have the unique ability to travel through "nebula" wormholes, and interact with the splinter factions of Humans, Zenith, Neinzul, and Spire that are found in those nebulae. Successfully helping a splinter faction can (among other rewards) unlock whole new lines of modules and even new and bigger hulls that your champion can switch to. For the lore-inclined among you, these "offroad" scenarios also reveal more of the backstory through journal entries, and you'll run into some old friends and foes.

  • Note: adding a champion to a singleplayer game is easy: just set your player role to "Normal+Champion" and you'll be given both the normal human home command station (and related units) and the champion unit.
  • Thanks to HitmanN for the champion-module art!

New Bonus Ship Classes

  • Tackle Drone Launcher
    • Has guns of its own but primarily attacks by launching small tractor-equipped drones. The drones fly in a straight line dragging any enemy they can tractor along with them and explode when they reach their maximum range or the edge of the gravity well, dealing damage to nearby targets. The drones are thus very effective at taking smaller craft out of a fight, but cannot damage tractor-immune ships in any way.
  • Saboteur
    • Fires hostile nanites at enemy ships. Unlike reclamation nanites, these focus on overloading the target's power systems with the goal of causing it to explode violently. This target does not go critical until its health is reduced to zero normally, but once that happens it will explode and damage nearby friendly (to the exploding ship) units. The damage done to each victim of the explosion is based on how much damage the exploding ship took from overload-nanites.
  • Zenith Medic Frigate
    • Moderately large frigate with capable weaponry, but the main point of a medic frigate is the multiplex repair beam emitter that allows it to heal nearby ships.
  • Zenith Siege Engine
    • Moderately large vessel built around an outsized plasma siege cannon. The ship does not have enough power to both move and keep the weapon online, so it must remain immobile for a full reload cycle before it can fire. When it fires, however, the enemy will feel it.
  • Zenith Reprocessor
    • A larger, specialized version of the Acid Sprayer, this ship's shots actually "metabolize" the enemy target. When the target dies, a portion of the target's metal+crystal construction cost will be granted to the player that did the most reprocessing damage to it.
  • Neinzul Scapegoat
    • Mature Neinzul organism without the short lifespan of a Youngling. Capable combatant in its own right, but also sacrifices itself to regenerate military fleet ships on the same planet when they take critical damage.
  • Youngling Firefly
    • Small, shortlived ship that builds up a charge as it successfully attacks other units. When it dies it explodes violently to damage nearby enemy units. The explosion damge done to each victim starts at one quarter the strength of the Firefly's normal shot, but increases with the charge the ship has accumulated.
  • Spire Railcluster
    • Large Spire fleet ship mounting multiple short-range railcannons. Highly effective against very small ships.
  • Spire Corvette
    • A starship-sized vessel developed by retrofitting the smallest Imperial Spire combat design with human technology. Has a moderately powerful photon lance, but can also mount a small number of modules.
      • Built from the starship constructor, making this the first "Bonus Starship", a concept long requested by players.

New Minor Faction

  • Dark Spire
    • Several mysterious, ancient structures exist on AI planets throughout the galaxy. They cannot be harmed, and do not have any weapons, but they absorb energy when a ship dies on the same planet. What happens when they absorb too much?
      • Hint: they spawn lots of angry ships that want to attack both the humans and the AI. And if a big enough cascade-effect gets going...

New Core AI Guard Posts

  • Wrath Lance
    • As long as it detects hostile military ships on the planet, fires several massive long-range continuous beam weapon cannons in different directions. Does not actually aim, but the beams move as the post rotates.
  • Teuthida
    • An AI/Neinzul hybrid experiment gone wrong. When hostiles are present, this post continuously generates nanoswarm-like drones. Instead of merely doing reclamation damage, however, the organisms released by these drones instantly transform the targets into "zombie" vessels.
      • Ships immune to reclamation are spared this fate, but are not spared from the extremely powerful cluster of railcannons mounted on the post itself.
  • Grav Reactor
    • An enormously powerful reactor based on some kind of gravitational energy manipulation. Generates a strong gravity well that prevents most enemy ships from leaving the system, and greatly slows enemy ships that stray too near the reactor itself. Also builds gravity drones that rush hostile ships to slow them down and damage them upon detonation.
      • The bright side is that the gravitational effect is too strong for this guard post to benefit from Core Shield Generator protection. So it may be taken out before the CSG network is down, if you dare.

New Player Units

  • Modular Fortresses
    • These are similar to the massive and expensive fortresses already available to players, but are modular.
      • Can mount Needler, Laser, MLRS, Missile, Shield, and Heavy Beam modules.
      • Further, the modules are not directly researched but become available through the corresponding turret/forcefield research.
      • Variants based on Zenith, Neinzul, and Spire tech are also available as rewards from nebulae.

New AI Types

  • Fortress King
    • Has Modular Fortresses in place of most command stations. Expect grievous pain.
  • Heroic
    • Adds powerful Champion ships to each wave. Also periodically spawns a Champion ship on one of its own planets that joins the general AI forces threatening you. At higher tech levels it uses bigger Champion ships.

New Map Styles

  • Clusters
    • Planets are organized into a small number of clusters, each of which has only a few wormholes that lead to other clusters. Planets within a cluster each have a moderate number of connections to other planets within that cluster.
      • One of the most requested map types... ever.
  • Microcosm Clusters
    • Planets are organized into a small number of clusters, each of which has only a few wormholes that lead to other clusters. Intra-cluster organization varies from cluster to cluster (including simple, concentric, crosshatch, and grid layouts).

New Music Tracks

The expansion has 98 minutes and 5 seconds of music in all. Here's the full track list:

Chapter I: The Human Awakening

  • 1. Arise Sleeping Warriors
  • 2. An Unfamiliar World
  • 3. A War Worth Fighting
  • 4. Ambitious Design
  • 5. AI Revolution
  • 6. Ancient Shadows

Chapter II: The Zenith Revival

  • 7. Immortal
  • 8. Imminent Annihilation
  • 9. Inquisition Of The Stars
  • 10. Incarnate Race
  • 11. Imitated And Integrated
  • 12. Ironclad

Chapter III: Revenge Of The Spire

  • 13. Waking To Darkness
  • 14. Worshipped Wasteland
  • 15. Watching The Night Sky
  • 16. Whispers Of Hope
  • 17. Wrath Of The Spire
  • 18. Welcome To The End

Bonus Track: 19. Ancient Shadows - Title

Other Miscellaneous Additions

  • 32 New Achievements.

AI_War:Fleet_Command

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