Warhammer 40k: Dawn of War III

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Warhammer 40k: Dawn of War III


E3: RTS goodness in the style of Dawn of War

Third Dawn of War

With Warhammer 40k games being released with greater regularity, there is one series that is returning to the forefront after being absent for several years. Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War III, developed by Relic Entertainment, is the upcoming sequel to the much beloved Dawn of War and Dawn of War II, For those unaware, the Dawn of War series are real-time strategy games where the various factions in the 40k universe battled each other for supremacy.

Looking Back

Dawn of War III’s campaign focuses on the planet of Archeron, where a devastating weapon has been found, with three armies seeking to control it – the Blood Ravens Space Marine Chapter, the Eldar and the Orkz. All three factions are led by Dawn of War mainstays, with Gabriel Angeles commanding the Blood Ravens once again, Farseer Macha returning from the first game and everyone’s favourite Ork, Warlord Gorgutz, leading his brothers to battle. To have these characters return calls back to the series past, something that the gameplay is seeking to do as well.

The gameplay of Dawn of War III is a mixture of the original and its sequel, with the massive armies and base building of the first game combined with the individually powerful heroes of the second. Phillipe Boulle, Game Director on Dawn of War III, said that Relic took a look at what features from previous titles “stood the test of time” and incorporated them into the game. Some, like the cover system from Dawn of War II, were reworked as a result of the number of units in play. Now, instead of cover that you can position squads behind that only cover a single direction, there are 360 degree cover zones that slowly wear down over time. Considering that the use of the earlier version of cover would have been problematic in a game of this scale, the change is a welcome one in my opinion.

In Action

The mission in the E3 presentation took place about two-thirds of the way through the campaign, where the Angelos and his Blood Ravens fought through fierce Eldar resistance to destroy several portals. Space Marine infantry were divided into a variety of roles, from heavy weapon specialist Devastator squads to the more nimble and terrifying Assault squads, who are armed with a jump packs and chainswords to kill the Emperor’s enemies up close. Angelos himself was a force to be reckoned with, wielding a mighty Warhammer that tore through packs of Eldar infantry easily, though his special ability which sent enemies flying was much more fearsome.

But the biggest addition unit wise would be the super units, massive weapons of war that tower over every other unit in the game. The Blood Ravens had an Imperial Knight named Solana on their side, who could unleash a barrage of missiles at will and featured two gigantic chainguns on both arms. Solana is a walking army by herself, though Boulle told me that in most matches it will take some work and time before a faction could bring their specific super units into play.

The end of the presentation culminated in a massive battle between the Space Marines and Eldar, with dozens of units firing at each other with shells and lasers. It was suitably epic, made more so by the deployment of the Blood Ravens orbital beam, which annihilated the last remaining Eldar defenders in quick fashion. Alongside these end game weapons, each faction will contain their own mechanics which will affect how you deploy them. In the final battle, the Space Marines dropped in pods filled with reinforcements directly into the front lines, scattering the xenos and bolstering their offensive power. As the demo focused on the Blood Ravens, we will have to wait and see what mechanics and units the other two factions bring to the table.

Secrets of Multiplayer

Dawn of War III will also be launching with a full multiplayer component, details of which Relic and Boulle were not yet ready to reveal at E3. I asked Boulle whether or not the Last Stand multiplayer mode from Dawn of War II would make a return, but he confirmed that Dawn of War III will not ship with the mode when the game launches.

After taking a look at Dawn of War III, I am very excited at the prospect of returning to one my favourite RTS series of all time.