The Spire Rises introduces the Spire race, with some factions helping you into open warfare, and others being quiet neighbors or in their own war. There are new units and arks, a ton of new turrets to defend with, and the insidious Scourge. There are new mechanics, and modular ships!
This expansion adds a lot of welcome variety to every game you play, without being overwhelming. Thirty new kinds of turret make the various tech options more well-rounded, and make your own planets as well as enemy planets more unique and interesting. This doesn't increase the learning curve, since the normal method is to evaluate things as you go (rather than memorizing or coming up with a "perfect" meta) anyway.
Aside from the mass of new turrets, there are five new Arks that provide a variety of strange and interesting new abilities as fleet leaders. There are other new capturables to find in any campaign, and some fan-favorite strikecraft and frigates have been adapted from the original AI War into this game (and made even more interesting).
These aspects are part of any game once you have the DLC, and make the game a richer experience in general. There's also some new music! However, there are also several notable opt-in new factions:
Option For Open War
The Fallen Spire faction is another fan-favorite adapted from the original AI War, but massively expanded and overhauled in this sequel. The core premise is that you shift from hiding and fighting from the shadows to instead growing an increasing number of large alien cities that work under your orders. As you grow your Spire forces, you can either choose to just augment a normal-style campaign, or you can build so many cities and have such massive armies that the AI starts freaking out and recalling its own super-units from its other war outside the galaxy.
Seeing your massive Spire ships in battle against the dismayed Exo War Units of the AI can be... extremely satisfying. A year on after this DLC's initial release, and there are some players who just don't want to play the game any other way -- which is great! All of the normal features of the game, including any mods and other DLC, are compatible with this style of powerful Spire/Human empire.
For other players, a Spire game is something to play every so often as a change of pace, or to mix and match. It's really not a rigid game mode, and allows you to push as far as you feel like going.
The Scourge are another optional faction that can be enabled via the lobby, or by activating a beacon in any game.
- The Scourge provides a new way for the AI to be more active and attack the player in new ways. For example, they can build a few cloaked ships, then suicide them into your economic command stations behind your defenses.
- Give the player some juicy infrastructure targets that can be killed to weaken the enemy. It's always fun to destroy your enemies’ production facilities.
- The scourge's units can organize themselves into Fireteams, granting them unprecedented flexibility and the ability to coordinate their attacks across the galaxy. Fireteams were developed to power the Scourge, though they have now also been made to work for a number of other factions.
- A giant scary ship called the Nemesis can come around if you REALLY get into it with them, but running into Subjugators prior to that is bad enough.
- The Scourge are canonically allied to the AI, but you can have player-allied scourge or independently-teamed scourge (Marauders, Nanocaust and Scourge as a team is terrifying).
Lore: The AI felt a need for a subsidiary force to wipe out small annoyances, and not need to bother its main Processors with petty things. The AI took various races they have conquered in the Arcenverse, twisted them by genetic engineering, and fused them into a new and powerful force to crush its foes. The primary races the Scourge use are the Thoraxians, the Peltians, the Neinzul, the Evucks,the Burlusts… and even Spire.
The Fallen Spire are an optional faction that can be enabled via the lobby, or by activating a beacon in any game.
- The core of the gameplay is epic battles to capture the spire relics, and powerful ships and cities you get as a result.
- Get some Really Big Weapons that scare the mess out of the AI.
- Build entire spire cities of various complexities and styles, which upgrade as you build more cities and more structures.
- The AI now has a reason and ability to bring back extra-galactic forces from their mysterious "main war" to fight you and the spire openly.
- You have the freedom to push all the way to an alternative victory condition via this faction, or to just build up one or more cities and make use of the extra firepower.
- Experience the fallen spire on a gradient scale, doing some of it as you wish, not having to choose "completely fallen spire" or "completely not fallen spire."
- Let us explore a bit more of the spire lore than we have in prior games.
- Give players a chance to "smash the galaxy for fun and profit" by going for a mark 7 city, well above the mark 5 level that is needed for the alternative victory condition. At this point you're just rubbing it in, but it feels so satisfying to be the big one for a change.
Lore: The AI has crushed the Spire empire in their home galaxy. Some Spire units have landed in our galaxy and they can rebuild their empire and take revenge. The AI has captured a lot of Spire reactors and is experimenting to harness their power in cloaked research laboratories. There are also some hidden spire relics scattered about the galaxy from past battles.
In the base game, a couple of weapon technologies are missing turrets, and the defensive options to both you and the AI felt quite limiting. The turrets introduced in The Spire Rises aim to fix this by adding in 30 new turrets to the game. Some highlights include the Acid Turret, a supportive turret that causes any enemy it splashes in acid to take more damage from every source, the Crusher Turret, which functions like a miniature black hole, the Counter Sniper Turret which can obliterate those pesky Sentinel Gunboats and the Mini Fortress which can challenge whole fleets of AI ships and come out on top.
Returning ships from Fleet Command
Veterans of the first game may recognize these ships, as they are among the most popular and remoriable units from Fleet Command. They have made the transition into glorious 3d, and are ready to destroy all that oppose them again!
- The Bombard fires off single shots at a very VERY slow rate… but whatever it hits isn’t gonna be there anymore!
- The Tackle Drone Launcher Frigate itself only has a modest weapon. But as its name implies, it shoots out Tackle Drones. These drones can grab hostile units and pull them to the edge of the gravity well, taking them out of the fight, or pull them right into your awaiting units to get blown up!
- Viral Shredders are a melee based unit that dish out a moderate amount of damage, but when they attack enough times, they replicate themselves for free. And then those fresh replications begin replicating themselves. And then THOSE replications begin replicating themselves. And then… you get the idea.
- Tesla Torpedo Frigates are slow, and have a rather lackluster weapon… But their main source of damage comes from their devastating Lighting Torpedoes they spawn for truly disgusting area of effect damage. Swarmer type ships shudder at the thought of engaging these bad boys!
Over the course of the Human civil war, many exotic and unique ships called Arks were developed and used in combat. Many were destroyed during the brutal infighting, others were scrapped by the AI, and a few were simply lost to time. Well some of the missing ones have been detected and they are still salvageable for use to fight against the AI. They may not be as powerful as when they were in their prime, and some of the technology required to bring them back to fully operational status is missing, but with enough investment, they can become the powerful ships they once were. They also bring some unique gimmicks to the table, not found in vanilla.
- Belle Prime is an ambush specialist, boasting a very large amount of cloaking points and a surprisingly weak weapon for its weight class… But its main strength lies in its ambushing capabilities, dealing large damage if it has just arrived on a planet and outright eviscerating anything that has just arrived on a planet it is at. This makes it the ultimate wave destroyer or hacking response exterminator.
- Grand Salvage is an absolute menace to groups of smaller ships, pulling them in magnetically and then crushing them with the power of artificial gravity. It also projects a stronger than average gravity field, ensuring most ships do not escape its wrath.
- Great A’Thomek functions as a tank for your entire fleet, drawing in fire from hostiles directed at your nearby ships with its attractant field, and shrugging it off with its defensive bonuses. This makes your fleet ridiculously hard to kill, outside of AoE weapons.
- Nodorion Tortid may just be an artillery piece at first glance, but it also comes equipped with an attrition generator, damaging EVERYTHING that’s mobile over time. While the attrition damage is quite slow, over the course of a battle, attrition damage can very quickly add up.
- Sol Ater has rather lackluster weaponry, but its main utility lies in its ability to more efficiently subvert AI firewalls whenever it hacks something, causing the AI to have a decreased response to your hacking.
Base Game Integration
Several of the base game factions such as the Nanocaust, Macrophages and Marauders have new interactions with the Fallen Spire game mode. Whenever these factions are in play together, they may acquire some new spire themed units to empower themselves. Additionally, the Dark Spire aren’t… exactly happy that their Imperial cousins have arrived and may have some… shall we say violent opinions of them. We won’t spoil what happens, as that is best left for you to find out!
The 2022 Update
With the release of Zenith Onslaught and the upcoming Neinzul Abyss being chock full of content, we felt that The Spire Rises needed a bit more to stand beside those peers, and thus the free 2022 update aims to fill out even more content for you to experience and enjoy! The most notable part of this update are the new “Player Type” options. These radically change how you play the game from the start, and can switch up your entire strategy from the get go. Additionally, there are some new Spire minor factions to add some more chaos to your games, and they can drastically alter the tempo of the game. Without further ado, let’s meet the meat of the product!
New Player Types
With The Spire Rises, you’ll be able to play as 2 different empire types, those being the Ark Empire, and the Spire Infused Empire. Both require having a diverging mindset and strategies to be played effectively, as they redefine how you will play the game. This also opens up an avenue for more player types in the future, as well as give modders another toy to play around with!
- Ark Empire: The Ark Empire may be familiar to those of you who played the AI War during its earliest incarnations. Instead of having a Home Command Station, you are instead given an Ark and 5 shiplines of your choosing to begin your resistance against the AI. However, unlike other flagships, if your starting flagship reaches 0 HP, then it's curtains for you. This type of empire can be considered more challenging than the normal empire because even though you have a starting Ark, you don’t start with a world claimed and you will lack starting battlestations. This empire type can be used in multiplayer games for players who want to take a more supporting role instead of an empire building one.
- Spire Infused Empire: This type of empire is intended for those who dislike the relic chasing aspect of the basic Fallen Spire mode, as this type of empire allows you to build Spire related ships and structures without having to use artifacts to start building Spire cities. Although you are still restricted from just pumping out cities like no tomorrow, this “cutting out the middleman” aspect means you and the AI can get to blasting each other to pieces much faster than normal.
Back by popular demand, certain ships and ship lines can now be customized! This offers you unparalleled flexibility and adaptability in combating your enemies! You can even switch up your weapons mid battle to adapt as the battle progresses. Whenever you have a modular shipline, you can edit its loadout by selecting its relevant fleet, and clicking on the Modules button.
From here, you can then pick which weapons and bonuses you’d like to apply to the ship/ship line. Maybe you want yourself some infinite range harassment loadout, or a tanky heavy hull to weather some extra damage. The modular ship system is point based. You start with a certain amount and as you mark up a modular ship/ship line, it gains additional points to spend, as well as more modules to use.
And of course, the modding possibilities with this are endless. When it comes to modding modular ships, the only limit is your imagination!
More Spire Factions!
Some new Spire entities have arrived in our galaxy, but these ones aren’t exactly friendly. They can quite easily swing the entire state of the game on a whim, as befitting the Spire race’s power. What they are exactly doing in our region of space isn’t known, as there should be nothing of note to them, yet here they are. This just goes to show how unknowingly incomprehensible the Spire race truly is when we compare ourselves to them.
The Chromatic Horror
Rivaling the Devourer Golem shock factor, the Chromatic Horror is an absolutely massive Spire entity, with inscrutable motives. Unlike the Zenith Devourer Golem which simply eats to survive, the Chromatic Horror appears to bend space and time around itself. Simply being near it causes those affected to be randomly warped to a different location in the gravity well. This can shift an entire gravity well’s defenses from neat and orderly to chaotic and random. You, the AI and even other minor factions are not safe from this otherworldly entity. While it can be taken down, it will merely appear elsewhere some time later. Perhaps it went back in time before it was about to be destroyed? Either way, this… thing… is here to stay and ruin everyone’s defensive setups.
The Spire Dyson Spheres
The Zenith aren’t the only ones with Dyson Spheres. The Spire’s version of the dyson sphere however appears to be much more “active”, and are much more territorial. While they may adopt a “You don’t bother me, I don’t bother you” attitude, they are also a treasure trove of technology. If you’re feeling particularly brave (or crazy) you can attempt to hack the spheres for a chance to obtain warheads or interplanetary weapons based off of their technology.
Be aware though… these Spire spheres will definitely hold a grudge towards you for doing these hacks. Above all however, they absolutely hate the Dark Spire, and will engage in warfare with them if they are present. This can very quickly turn the entire galaxy into one full of endless mayhem, as everyone begins shooting at everyone. While there are more intricacies in how they work, that is best left unsaid so you can get the full experience in game!
What Else Is There?
In addition to all of these big bulky additions, there are several smaller scale ones. Not everything needs to be grand in size to be enjoyed, and good things come in small packages as well.
- Minor Capturables can now be found around the galaxy, such as the Lost Energy Reactor, which boosts your energy by a minor amount. These small structures can provide a modest bonus to your empire, but also increase AIP by 1 upon death, making them almost inconsequential to lose.
- Several new mechanics are introduced in this DLC. Harmonic increases the damage of a unit if more of the same unit are on the same planet gravity well. Damage amplification increases the amount of damage taken by a target by either a base amount (+25 damage from all attacks) or a multiplier (attacks deal 1.5x damage against this target). Drone guns shoot out a controllable unit that attritions slowly over time, allowing for carrier type units. There are a few more, but that would require me to write an entire short essay.
- Doomsday approaches! Something is tearing the galaxy apart piece by piece, causing entire planets to be outright destroyed without any forewarning. This will over the course of the game cause the galaxy to shrink in size, and things may end up claustrophobic with you and the AI literally within spitting distance at one another. You don’t have to worry about any planets you control or the AI HW being destroyed during Doomsday, but careful consideration of your position should still be taken, as all planets will always be insured to connect to at least one other planet, meaning no, you can’t just get lucky and seal off a troublesome minor faction. This option is enabled in the General tab in lobby setup.
- More music, courtesy of the amazing and talented Pablo Vega, who has worked on prior Arcen titles, including AI War: Fleet Command! Hear the sheer awe inspiring Spire race’s testaments transcribed into music form! The Scourge also have their own sinister theme as well!
Added To The Base Game Concurrent With This Expansion
A lot of things for the base game got major upgrades, at no charge to you, as we created this expansion.
- “Fire teams” from the scourge were backported into the AI itself, and the scariest other factions, making the AI vastly smarter in general.
- Improvements to targeting and other AI efficiency and performance improvements benefit all the factions, expansion or otherwise.
- A major upgrade to the lighting and materials used in the game makes everything prettier. We had to retouch all of the existing ships and structures from the base game to make this happen.
- Loads of requested features, such as the ability to load quick starts (or even savegames) into the lobby for further customization before starting a new game.
- The Extragalactic War features that the AI brings out against the Fallen Spire are technically part of the base game, so that any other faction or mod can use them in the future if desired. We didn’t want to gate that off.
How Does This Compare To AI War Classic?
AI War 2 grows even larger with this new massive expansion, bringing this plus the base game roughly on par with the amount of content in AI War Classic plus its first four expansions. But that downplays the fact that we’re really emphasizing quality over quantity, despite the sheer scope of things.
There was never a faction like the Scourge in AI War Classic, because that was one of the many things that the old engine simply couldn’t support -- however, the “hybrid hives” that were a fan favorite were the original inspiration for the Scourge. The “fire teams” concept that is used in the Scourge was such a massive upgrade to the general AI that we backported it to most of the base game factions in AI War 2. But even so, the Scourge stands alone as your most adaptable and devious enemy, thanks largely to its ship design and distributed economy and upgrade mechanics.
The first AI War did have the Fallen Spire in its third expansion, and that faction is now returning with this expansion, and that was always a fan-favorite item. We thought that the original Fallen Spire was great, but it was also pretty narrow in the experiences it could provide simply due to the constraints of the original game. The sequel’s version introduces more ways to capture relics (train robberies!), vastly more interesting and unique AI forces to fight your titans (Extragalactic War units!), and a ton more Spire City buildings for far more unique and interesting construction on your part.
Beyond that, some favorite strikecraft/frigates from the first game are returning with this expansion, but then the turrets and Arks that this expansion adds are all-new and use a variety of new mechanics (deathgrip, where ships do extra damage to ships they tractor, is a favorite).
The first game tended to include a bit of everything in every expansion (ships, maps, AI types, factions, etc), and sometimes that led to some of the elements being kind of watered-down, especially in later expansions. With this sequel, our approach is a lot more custom-tailored for any expansions we do. We pack in a ton of value for the price to anything we do, but we also keep things more thematic and focused, and hope to have each expansion feel more unique and rich because of it.