The Warhammer 40.000: Dawn of War franchise isn’t exactly a tale of consistent core gameplay. The original game was a pretty straightforward RTS. The follow-up, Dark Crusade mixed RTS with grand strategy a little bit, giving the player a map full of meaningful choices of the next areas to conquer. Dawn of War 2 felt more like a tactical action-RPG with slightly larger squad, but then it got tossed aside in DoW2: Retribution, which featured both heroes with individual progression, and armies which could become quite large, depending on your choices.
The point is, Relic has always seemed eager to try different things. How does it work out for the long-awaited Dawn of War 3? Let’s find out. The game launches VERY soon, so it’s the last bell (of lost souls) to get an idea of what awaits us.
Mêlée à Trois
Dawn of War 3 seems very aware that waging a war against one enemy is boring, and the true fun begins when you have to fight at least two of them. To let the players have their fun, DoW3 will feature three distinct factions, hailing from various places of the galaxy
Imperial Space Marines
What do you get when you take a seven-foot genetically and cybernetically enhanced human and encase him in a sturdy, powered armor? You get a guy that can run through walls like they’re so much paper tissue. And a single Space Marine chapter has a thousand of them (usually). With guns shooting explosive bullets, and swords that are also chainsaws. Yeah.
In DoW3 we once again play as the Blood Ravens, a chapter that has been through so much since the first game that it’s a miracle they still exist. They are led by Gabriel Angelos, who needed extensive augmentations after the events of DoW2: Retribution just to survive.
Although the Eldar might seem like they are little more than “space elves”, they also have spaceships capable of sustaining an entire planet’s population with little problem. They are insanely agile, infuriatingly cryptic and absolutely convinced they are the sharpest tools in the shed.
In Dawn of War 3 we will face Eldar from Craftworld Biel-Tan, led by Farseer Macha. Their horse in the race is the Spear of Khaine, either named after an Eldar god, or actually owned by him. This long-lost relic has been rediscovered and the Eldar want to retrieve it. They hope it will aid their return from the brink of extinction. The Blood Ravens are there to stop them, because “die, Xeno scum” and “for the Emperor!”.
Led by old friend, Gorgutz ‘Ead’unter, the Orks want to grab the “pointy stick”. Orks are simple like that. They see something to wage a WAAAAGH! over and they’re going to have the time of their lives. But what can you expect from a species that sees no difference between “best friend” and “favourite enemy”?
Orks are basically a half-insane mesh of animal and fungus, operating in no small part on a “clap your hands if you believe” basis. They are monsters and comic relief in equal measure. Orks are awesome.
Dawn of War 3 seems to take some of the most iconic features from previous entries. DoW1 brings in large armies counting in the hundreds, while DoW2 brings hero units with specific, unique abilities. There will be a full campaign, for once not limiting itself to just one perspective. It will frequently have you switch from Marines to Eldar, to Orks, showing every side of the war for the stick.
War of the Elites
DoW3 has hero units and is very proud of them, but it will have you work for them in multiplayer because life is cruel. You will be able to deploy them to the field using special Elite points, which you’ll accumulate during the match – automatically or for specific activities.
There will be several Elites per army, each with an assigned, fixed Elite point cost, but to any single skirmish you’ll only be able to bring three, tops. Deciding how and when you use your Elite points most effectively will be a large part of the game’s strategic layer.
In addition to powerful elites, you’ll also get to pick war doctrines: a set of buffs and, possibly, ability modifications that can work a) globally at any time, b) when a given hero is in your loadout, or, finally, c) when a given hero is deployed on the battlefield. And to make matters even less clear, a hero-bound doctrine can over time be bumped up to a global one. It will probably be a mess, but some number crunchers and progression experts will likely enjoy it.
In the Emperor’s name!
Warhammer 40.000: Dawn of War 3 is probably going to split the fanbase over the changes made to the core gameplay, but that could have been said of Dawn of War 2 as well. We’ll see how it goes when it launches, but one thing is certain: it’s definitely a triple-A production and probably the best WH40k game to be launched since Battlefleet Gothic’s release.
Will you fight for the Emperor, the craftworld, or the pointy stick? Dawn of War 3 launches on April 27 this year, so you have WAY less than a week to polish your bolter.