This release is unreservedly huge. It’s a full re-imagining of AI
War, practically a sequel (but free to existing customers). Frankly
there were more updates here than in a lot of sequels we’ve seen. So it
is with some difficulty that we compile these highlights, as even the
list of highlights is enormous, yet omits a lot of major changes.
Listed here are just the things that have changed in the base game
itself, this isn’t even including all the stuff that was added as part
of the new Children of Neinzul micro-expansion. So here we go:
- A grand total of 147 new ships have been added to the game.
Again, this is NOT counting the new ones added as part of CoN. Most of
these new ships went to the AI or are things that the players must
capture, but there are also dozens and dozens of goodies for the players
in the form of new warheads, new mercenaries, new turrets, and new
lines of command stations.
- An enormous graphical overhaul has taken place. Every special
effect in the game has been replaced and majorly improved, the HUD and
GUI has been completely redesigned and has a cleaner feel to it, and the
starfields/nebulae have seen a rather startling improvement as well.
Those new ships come with a bunch of new prerendered-3D graphics, as
- The soundtrack to both AI War and The Zenith Remnant have been
completely remastered and re-edited, and in a number of cases have new
live performances for trumpet and electric guitar (adding to the
existing live vocals and piano). The soundtrack for Children of Neinzul
was also done at this new quality level, of course. Additionally, two
completely-new bonus tracks have been added for free to the base AI War
game, and an old track (“Thor”) that had been dropped due to quality
issues is back and awesome with a live performance.
- The interface has been streamlined all over the place, in ways
that have really been exciting our hardcore fanbase (who helped design
some of the changes). The biggest amongst these changes are perhaps the
more-readable galaxy map, the new context menu (alt+right-click) with
things like Auto-Gather-Knowledge and special Transport-Unloading logic,
the complete removal of “control nodes” in favor of a much cleaner set
of menus, and a larger display-on-demand minimap replacement (hold T).
- Many new teach-yourself-to-play-better features have been
added: or, as we like to call them, “discoverability features.” The new
Objectives and References tabs provide a lot of guidance for players
without hand-holding them, a new Tip of the Day system on the main menu
shows player-submitted tips, and all of the tutorials in the game have
been completely redone and updated, and are more helpful than ever
before. A fan even did some awesome new video tutorials for us, which
replaced our older 2.0-era series of the same.
- Along the theme of streamlining: Knowledge raiding has been
completely rebalanced to no longer be easy or necessary, returning it to
the proper role of “last ditch effort to get out of a hole”. This was a
really tedious activity since players were embarking on it too often.
Similarly, the endgame was ALWAYS a grind in the old versions, to the
point where very few players actually won games, but now the endgame has
been completely redone and is more exciting and full of back-and-forth
power struggles than ever. Gameplay activities that were tedious have
been cropped and replaced with something more fun, with a great deal of
public player testing and feedback.
- Brace yourself: but the entire combat, repair, economic, and
construction models have been almost completely rewritten. To the
novice player these changes are subtle enough that it feels like
basically the same game. To the more experienced player, these changes
are a dream come true, shaving off rough edges left and right and
leaving something simpler and more elegant in its place. We had a corps
of 95 community members giving us feedback, after all, so there’s been a
lot of vetting of this from both newer and experienced players. The
main benefits of these particular changes are simplicity,
transparency-to-the-player, and internal accuracy in outlier situations.
- As part of the new combat model, the old concept of “shields”
(as distinct from “force fields”) has been removed, and the
random-hit-chance and range-related components of the hit chance
calculations are gone. In place of this is a new, simpler, and far
better “armor” system that affects damage output instead of hit chance.
- One key simplification in this new version is the removal of
all the internal ship-specific damage multipliers. In their place, we
now have a small number of new “hull types,” and ships get visible
bonuses against them. This also removes the “Strong Vs and Weak Vs”
display in favor of both the raw hull attack multipliers display and a
new Reference tab when really detailed data is needed (presumably not
- Following on with those massive changes, every last ship in the
game has been rebalanced to a heavy degree, sometimes pretty much
completely. With a game of this scope, we expect there are still some
rough edges in there, but overall it’s far better balanced — and easier
to understand the balance in a meaningful way — than ever before. As
part of this, the turrets and starships have both become a lot more
specialized and interesting, and more of them are available to players
right from the start of the game.
- Performance has gotten a major boost in general with the new
version, but additionally we now have new “Performance Profiles” that
let the game more easily run on a variety of hardware. Best of all,
these profiles can be swapped in and out in realtime while playing.
This lets borderline computers lower their simulation/graphics load
temporarily during a massive battle, then turn those factors back up
when the battle concludes. The game in general also now does a better
job of degrading its framerate instead of its overall run speed, which
is an enormous boon for multiplayer games where one player is on iffy
hardware. And as if all that wasn’t enough, we also have a variety of
simple new performance-diagnosing tools right in the Players tab that
lets players see each others’ framerates, how fast the game is running
at the moment compared to realtime, and other helpful things like that.
- This next change is also a shocker: we’ve reduced the default
ship caps in the game. The game has always advertised having 30,000+
ships in realtime, but the truth was that often players were running
more like 70,000 to 120,000 ships in large games. This was simply more
of a CPU drain than it needed to be, and tended to make a lot of the AI
worlds a grind. We now have Unit Cap Scales that you can set in the
lobby — and the old “High” option is still there — but the new default
uses about half as many ships, which is still significantly more than
we’ve ever advertised as supporting. And for iffy hardware, you can
actually quarter the number of ships in the game, which is ideal for
slower laptops or similar.
- Part of the reason for the shift away from just huge numbers of
fleet ships is our new emphasis on larger centerpieces. The AIs have
massive new command stations and guard posts, as well as mobile
Guardians that not only defend but launch often-brutal counterattacks.
Going along with these are the exciting new AI Eye that emphasizes
de-blobbing, the new AI Barracks that lets the AIs store up overflow
reinforcements for later use, and the AI Carriers which are the
late-game AI equivalent of transports. All of these new things take the
place of turrets, which the AI no longer uses at all, and in general
they lead to a vastly different feel of game. It’s a lot quicker to
resolve battles (without making you rushed — just no longer a grind),
and in general it makes planets feel more unique and fun before you even
get into the various special weapons that have always been a
cornerstone of AI War.
- The AIs aren’t the only ones who have been getting a makeover,
though. We already mentioned that players now get a lot more starting
turrets and starships for free (and both of those unit classes are now
far more central to the game). Players also now get a lot more
knowledge in general (3,000 per planet now, instead of 2,000), and the
player economy — especially in the early game — has had a massive
boost. Your typical income without economic upgrades will be almost
double what it used to be, meaning you can field far more ships, faster,
including starships. Speaking of faster, the player ships used to be
1.4x faster than the AI ships, but now they are a full 2x faster. This
asymmetry plays well into the enhanced feel of the player as a guerrilla
warrior against a superior foe. This unique aspect of the game is
really emphasized a lot more, now, and players have responded really
well to it in beta.
- Did we mention Mac OSX support? Thanks to our switch to the
Unity 3D engine, AI War is no longer just for Windows. And while Linux
isn’t directly supported, we have word that it runs flawlessly in the
latest versions of WINE. And, along these lines, AI War no longer has
any prerequisites — installation and setup is far more painless than in
And these were just the highlights. Read the full release notes if you want all
the gory details: it’s taken us 170 days, 81 releases, 95 testers, and
untold man-months to get this awesome new version out. We’re really
excited not only about what is represented here already, but what this
re-launch of the game will enable us to do both with future free updates
and future paid expansions. Thanks to everyone for their support
during this long process!
Read on for information about Children of Neinzul.
Today I am born, today I die.
The Neinzul are an insectoid race of perpetual “younglings” that live for an extremely short span before
dying and being superseded by fully-aware and vicious replacements. Their Enclaves form mini-collectives
with their own personalities, goals, and desires. In this second expansion to AI War,
players face off against the Neinzul minor factions, against new AI types in general, and enlist the help of the
friendlier members of this new alien presence.
Enclave Starships bring a long-awaited feature: mobile space docks. New map types and new capturables
add more excitement. Optionally, Hybrid Hives bring a new type of AI logic to the game: these free agents are like
a coordinated pack of velociraptors hunting you against the backdrop of the regular AI forces. For advanced players,
the Hybrid Hives provide more cut-throat opposition than ever.
When you purchase AI War: Children Of Neinzul, you’re not only
getting an exciting new expansion, you’re also supporting an important cause. Arcen Games has partnered with the
Child’s Play charity, pledging 100% of the profits from sale of
Children of Neinzul (excepting any taxes and distributor fees) to helping sick kids in need. The staff at Arcen has long admired
the work done by Child’s Play, and we’re very excited to finally be able to contribute in a substantial manner.
* 36 new ships, including:
* 5 new ship classes with a variety of abilities.
* Enclave Starships and Regeneration Chambers for direct unlock.
* 6 new AI special weapons.
* 6 new AI Types.
* 3 Neinzul alien minor factions (NPCs).
* Devastating new Hybrid Hives AI plot.
* 3 new in-game music tracks, plus a new title music track.
* Two new map styles: X and Concentric Circles.