Dawn of War III is All About The Base(s), Big Armies, and Badass Tactics

Relic’s gift to we Warhammer 40K enthusiasts at E3 2016 was actual in-game footage of what to expect from the new Dawn of War. Though excited, I was skeptical. I didn’t want another DoW 2. I wanted my beloved original Dawn of War with its sweeping battles, massive armies, and base-building. And oh, how the team at Relic is looking to deliver.

There is a lot going on in that demo, so let’s break it down a bit. 

Massive Armies & Base Building Make Their Return

If there’s one thing about Dawn of War (Original Flavour) that I loved the most, it was how closely it emulated a real-time version of Warhammer 40K. And though the Original Flavour lacked finesse when it came to army management and base structuring, it always felt true to its 40K roots. Less so, Dawn of War II.

As I sat in the little meeting room, pen poised and notebook at-the-ready, I couldn’t take my eyes off the re-introduction of my favourite pieces of Dawn of War: big, bad bases with bigger, badder armies.

Relic knew that although Dawn of War II had a number of things going for it (not the least of which was the story), it wasn’t able to capture the core quality of the 40K experience. 40K’s strategic qualities don’t revolve around a single squad, no matter how many special characters or elite single units are attached to it. 40K is about the armies and the tightly wound skirmishes that are the result of two clashing factions.

And so, they’re back. Thank the Emperor’s good graces: they’re back.

But Don’t Forget About the Elites & Super Elites

Relic didn’t want us to forget about the powerful characters that they had gotten us used to in previous iterations of the game. Gabriel Angelos, Chapter Master of the Blood Ravens, makes his return in this demo, showcasing his powerful attacks.

At his side is Lady Solaria, a fourteen metre tall Imperial Knight — she towers over the Space Marine Dreadnoughts and Eldar Wraithlords. Her immense size on the battlefield creates an impressive display, as she unleashes holy fury on the remaining Eldar forces, mowing down the army in swathes of gunfire.

Forward Assaults, Drop Pods, and Cover

The core of a 40K game is built on a strong cover system. Armies fight their way through a battlefield littered with cover opportunities, yielding them to press advantage or harassing enemies long enough to draw them out. Dawn of War III’s cover system provides considerable bonuses and isn’t easily subverted. Unless you have jump-pack Assault Marines that is. The Assault Marines can hop right behind cover, shoot the Warp out of the enemy’s hides, and take the cover for themselves. 

Handy mechanic, that.

Death From Above, a special tactic that only Space Marines can employ, drops reinforcements directly on the battlefield.Limited numbers of a Space Marine army will need to run up to join a press. There’s something deeply satisfying about dropping a Devastator Squad (with heavy bolters) in the middle of a bunch of Howling Banshees to light their heretical faces on fire.

Orbital Bombardment!

In previous iterations of Dawn of War, the orbital bombardment animations were pretty flash-bang.

HOLY SMOKES WHAT IT IS HAPPEN— and it’s over. And my dudes are dead.”

The new version of orbital bombardment is an enormous improvement over what it used to be. The player controls the bombardment, mayhem ensues, and the enemy has the opportunity to move their troops out of the way as the bombardment moves across the battlefield. If troops get too close to the beam, gravity becomes distorted and they’re sucked into the vortex. All in all: death, death, death.

So, What’s It All Mean?

Dawn of War III is primed to take back the hearts of 40K generals who have lapsed from the franchise for one reason or another.The improved overall experience, from the UI to the re-introduction of massive armies and base-building, will provide enough of a cushion for new players to wade into the chaotic frenzy of the 41st millennium. Limited cognitive overwhelm means greater accessibility.

I can’t wait for more details about multiplayer skirmishes, the campaign’s story, and how they’ve improved the army structure for Eldar and Orkz, as well.

Dawn of War III is a testament to what happens when developers are forced to take their time. Instead of pushing to get a new game out the door, the team at Relic sat back and examined every inch of both previous Dawn of War games. The result? A game that, at first look, appears to be equal parts thoughtful and artful. 

(Original Post: The Daily Crate)

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