I don't know how OTC plays but the designer is Soren Johnson and it has to be said he's a bit of a legend at this point I think, so I'm not surprised the game is good and I'm glad it is.
I will make a quick comment on 2 things you said after taking a quick look at ATC.
"But OTC is a 32-bit DX11 game": Yep, Ashes has the potential to, and perhaps for some rigs does, look and perform better. This doesn't trump gameplay depth for me.
I don't know how this is that relevant. Not all games need 64bit. Would solitaire benefit from being 64bit? Of course not. It doesn't look like this game would benefit from it either. Ashes on the hand does and will more so in the future. They are really very different games and that requires different ways of accommodating those needs. This comment seems more of a reaction to the game advertising on its tech merits more than the game itself. Most websites which took an early look at Ashes were tech orientated and its free PR so it is not surprising, even if it did come across as unbalanced.
"But OTC didn't have to spend a lot of money on art assets": Yep, Ashes did. Art costs lots of money which takes money away from other aspects of the game, like gameplay depth.
Actually the Devs said Ashes had a tiny art team and that is one reason they had to scrap all the asymmetrical units originally blueprinted (which they have shown off). Also part of the reason for the generated maps was that hand made maps take a long time and need more artists and a bigger budget. From what I have read the Homeworld team was a lot bigger than the Ashes one and they only had 5 MP maps at launch due to the time and costs it takes to make them.
It is also an odd comparison, looking at OTC there only seems to be a couple of unit types and they look very simple. Ashes by its nature, just like Supcom or Starcraft, has to have many units and they have to look different. Again, the very different needs rather weaken the comparison.
Having said that the atmosphere and buildings do look very good and the interface looks more interesting in OTC. Clouds, dust storms, solar flares, day-night cycles sound good too.
(Edit: for some reason I thought part of learning the lessons also included EA so added this bit, I'll leave it in though it has been on my mind a bit lately) Frogboy mentioned they would think long and hard about using Early Access again because of people trying the incomplete version and reviewing it like a complete one so it hurt their Steam review %. That is likely true but for me I think the biggest problem with EA is that unless it is a mainstream game you lose momentum. If a whole bunch of people buy the game in the first few days of release then MP games are easy to find and a community is far easier to form. Loads of people bought Ashes before and during the EA and tried it on and off so there was never a mass group all at once. Then the release price was too high and loads of people who wanted it had already got it so the initial surge of players at release that many games get was lost. In an ideal world they should have waited until Q4 of this year to release and polish the game a whole lot more, but they didn't so we get the riskier long play model Stardock seem to often use. As a more MP orientated experience over GalCiv and SINS I am not sure the long play model was the best one for Ashes, time will tell I guess.