Stardock's new massive-scale RTS Ashes of the Singularity has left its Alpha stage and headed into Early Access beta. The move adds a second faction, as well as ranked multiplayer to give you something to brag about. There's also new maps, abilities and progression systems been added, along with a host of smaller changes to bring it from impressive tech demo to fully-functioning game.
For some fully-formed army management, have a look at our list of the best strategy games.
The new faction are the Substrate, unsurprisingly mortal enemies of the Post-Human Coalition they are the bluer folks you see above, an collection of AIs bent on war. They've 30+ units and buildings to their name, doubling the amount of possiblities in the game just on their lonesome.
Meanwhile, orbital abilities have come into play, letting you strike anywhere on the map to kill single units, blow up entire areas, scout enemy forces or increase your own production power. You'll also be able to upgrade your forces with a new system attached to the Dreadnought-class units that will buff your army and take you along different tech paths.
There's also loads of smaller changes, from balance updates to performance improvements - something the game rather badly needed. Stardock seem to want to sell it on its use of cutting edge technology, like being the first major release to exploit DirectX 12 to the fullest, but I'm far more interested in it as the spiritual successor to Supreme Commander than how good its 10,000 laser beams look.
Beta 2 is scheduled for some time next month and will include a benchmarking tool to help you pick the right settings, as well as support for more hardware and doubtlessly a lot of in-game alterations as well. You can buy Ashes of the Singularity through Steam Early Access or via GOG's new Games In Development program. It's 25% off to £29.99/$37.49/€37.49 until the end of next week, too, but have a read of Fraser's thoughts on the Ashes Alpha before you do.