Not my kind of game
I've been playing the game a while and thinking about what about it bothers me, so now that I've had time to think, here are my thoughts condensed:
1. Aesthetic: None of the units look especially epic or interesting. The model designs are all generic, boring RTS units we've seen over and over, decade after decade. The maps are generic and bland. There's very little interactivity with the map other than resource points.
2. Spammy, repetitive sounds: you hear a lot of the same sounds over and over again. There's very little variation in sounds. The sounds spam again and again if you move your camera away from the units then back onto them. Seems to be that the sounds play when the units get within your camera's field of view. Very weird.
3. Lack of hero units: The closest we come to any sort of capital ship are the dreadnoughts, and even they aren't that interesting. You can successfully play the game (and win) without building any dreadnoughts by just spamming the right composition of cruisers and managing resources well.
4. Lack of any sort of tech tree: The tech "tree", such that it is, is extremely limited. All you really have to "tech up" is increasing your supply limit, resource storage, and slight bonuses to your units' power that quickly gets prohibitively expensive.
5. Very weak defenses: The defensive buildings in the game are extremely weak and easily defeated. There's little point in building them because a bunch of artillery cruisers can instantly melt any defenses, and basic frigates can meatshield through them even without artillery cruisers. There's no way to upgrade the range or durability of these structures. Compare to games like SupCom or Total Annihilation, where anything short of an absolutely huge rush of units will easily get picked off at range by superior defensive buildings.
6. Air is binary: Air units are extremely fragile, and the lack of any higher tier air units means that your air units are "binary": either they're deadly effective (to the point that building a few of them can insta-kill the enemy's nexus), or they're totally impotent against a few ground based air defense towers, and nothing you do can fix that short of making a combined air/ground assault. There's very little room for a semi-successful air assault.
7. lolol gg: Most games are extremely short. The preferred tactic in multiplayer seems to be to bum rush the enemy with a neverending stream of frigates and cruisers. Either that, or build enough bombers that you can destroy their nexus in a single pass. Point is, the games are short and fairly shallow in strategy, aside from minor considerations about the ratios of different unit classes to put into your army, and how quickly you can APM through a couple resource points.
8. APM: Despite Brad and the devs claiming this is not an APM game, this is an APM game. Very much so. There's very little time to think with this game; you have to maximize the use of every second to expand as quickly as possible while monitoring enemy movement and building armies at breakneck pace. Units are extremely expendable, to the point that you want to just start throwing units *everywhere* on attack-move to maximize your chances of hitting something. It doesn't matter if they die because you can keep them on continuous build. If you are producing units faster than the enemy, you'll eventually win. Micro also plays a huge role in the game, which leads me to...
9. No automation tools: Although Brad and the devs claimed that "macro" strategy is more important, the game does very little to assist in automating the menial micro tasks that are often necessary. For example, there is no way to create a "template" of a series of buildings (basically a one-click drop of a bunch of buildings in a build queue in a consistent arrangement) -- this would save a lot of time by allowing you to set up the same defensive perimeter around each and every resource point you capture.
Unit AI is also fairly stupid, with units easily lured into a trap if you aren't microing them, and armies just make your units frustratingly turn around and move the opposite way that you're telling them to move for half the time.
There's no way to tell units to pop out of a factory on automatic attack-move.
There's no way to tell engineers to automatically replace destroyed resource extractors or base defenses. For that matter, they don't even seem to recognize basic orders like "repair the nexus" - they just go stand near it and might occasionally coincidentally toss a few repairs at it.
There's no way to tell the unit-producing buildings to automatically set your rally points intelligently so that units automatically assemble in armies at the borders of your base.
There's no way to give orders to an army to automatically seek out and capture uncontested resource nodes in a sort of branching exploration pattern (kill neutrals; capture node; roll on to the next one). This is a standard part of every single game that has to be carefully microed instead of being automated. Also, half the units don't even think to get within range of the power plant to attempt to capture it, so you end up waiting a lot longer than necessary to capture the node. Even right-clicking on the node doesn't seem to help your units realize that you want them to capture it.
10. Voiceovers: There are no voiceovers in the campaign. I know this is an indie game, but come on, guys - it's 2016. Get with the program. Even if you have to get the janitor to read voiceovers, some voiceovers are better than none. They really help with immersion.
11. Music: Just listen to the catchy music of Sins of a Solar Empire. Or any of the GalCiv games. There is nothing even close to that level of memorable and awesome music in AotS. I haven't played Sins since like, 2013-2014, and I can still hum one of the best TEC music tracks.
12. Customization: There are few to no parameters you can customize to distinguish yourself from other players. Sure, there's the general paintjob color of your units, but there are no persistent decals, no level-based buffs or unit unlocks, no pre-game "emphasis" or sub-factions (like the Rebels vs the Loyalists in Sins: Rebellion, or the points you can distribute among various attributes in GalCiv), no nothing. All the things I've come to love about Stardock games over the years just aren't there. Think of any random thing about GalCiv series or Sins that you loved. Is it in AotS? No. Of course it isn't, because AotS is an extremely simplistic APM strategy game, without even one of the four elements of "4x".
13. No economic, diplomatic, cultural or tech interaction with other players: The only interactions with other players are "shoot them" and "stop them from capturing all the Turindium nodes" (which boils down to shooting them so they can't). It's the simplest style of RTS, and simple is bad IMO, because the only real depth is acting faster than your opponent. So, basically an APM game.
14. No Stardock aesthetic: Despite the cute reference to "Drengi" in the last mission, this is not at all a Stardock title. There's very little about the game that harkens back to the design philosophy of Stardock's other seminal strategy games. Most of this boils down to a lack of tech tree depth, a lack of customization, and a lack of higher level unit and building orders (like the other stuff I've mentioned above).
15. Not friendly to casuals: The campaign is BRUTALLY hard. The AI may not cheat, true, but it does *technically* cheat, because it can give orders and determine what to do much faster than a human can. It's simply not possible for a human to click and think as fast as the computer. Even without getting resource gathering bonuses, the computer is always going to be way faster than a human. The difficulty is so amped up that most casual strategy game players will not be able to beat the campaign at all without using a trainer, even on the easiest difficulty.
16. No feeling of "commitment": In SoaSE, you often had to commit your main fleet to an attack, knowing full well that there's no way to back out once your ships start to jump. That feeling isn't here, because units aren't valuable and defenses are weak. You can always just turn around if you try to attack a force that's too hard for you, and 9 times out of 10 you won't lose the bulk of your units.
17. Campaign story: The story is just plain boring. Sorry, but it is. There's almost no personality, almost no intrigue, nothing relatable at all about the main "characters" (if you can call them that). A skirmish game of GalCiv 1 has a better story than the campaign of this game. The campaign just seems to be a way to slowly introduce you to the tech tree, like 90% of the strategy games out there. Except that strategy games from decades ago have infinitely better stories (see: original C&C).
18. End-game is pointless: There's little point in building stuff like the orbital strike or some of the more advanced orbital stuff. Most of it is so expensive, and the building housing it so fragile, that you're better off spending your resources on cruisers. Only in games where the players are extremely evenly matched do the end-game units ever come into play, and even then, it seems more like a tool to let the winning player win faster, instead of tipping the scales one way or the other. Army size, position, and composition is far more important than any of these higher tier orbital buildings.
Sorry to have to be critical of the game, but I'm really tired of these skin-deep strategy games, so to see Stardock build one is a little disappointing, especially in the wake of fantastic titles like SoaSE. I'm not happy with the game and will probably not give it another look.