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Hands on with Dawn of War 3

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This article is not sponsored in any way. We were invited to the event by Sega to take part in the event and got to have some time with the developers playing the game.

In the grim darkness of the 41st millennium, the age of war across the galaxy and the long-awaited return of the best RTS series to grace the Warhammer 40K franchise. Dawn of War has returned. We were invited by Sega to come have a look at the game’s multiplayer and get a few details from the developers themselves. A bit of background about the series as it stands before we go into detailing the game in it’s current state. The Dawn of war series is a set of real time strategy games. The first game and its expansions were taking the table top game of Warhammer 40k and converting that experience into the standard RTS style of base building, upgrading units and big fights. The first game became a cult classic with some players still going at it today thanks to services that host servers for them and modders bringing in new units and armies. The second game (DOW2) was more focusing on key units over base building. Players had squads manned with standard units and a hero with abilities giving the game a skirmish style which was a departure from the last game but still went down well with fans of the tabletop game. Each of the games allowed players to be able to take control of the iconic factions of the Warhammer universe including the Space Marines, Chaos, Eldar and the brutish Orks.

Dawn of war 3 is taking the best of both of these games and spawning something more intricate and deep but as fun and challenging as the previous entries in the series. Let’s break down the game from the build I managed to play. First off we’ve got 3 factions to play with more on the way later on. The Blood Angels are back led by Gabriel Angelos. Joining them in this fight are the Eldar from a nearby craft world and then Orks who just want to smash things because they like to do lots of fightin’ . Each of the faction has a very different playstyle and also a different set of Elite units, which we’ll get into later. We got to play the multiplayer so most of what I can explain is just general gameplay in context of multiplayer.

So the game plays a bit differently compared to the slow base crawl of the first game. Players will start a base and will deploy units from building structures and upgrading the same way however the main resources, power and requisition points are gained through outposts which is a huge change compared to before. Outposts are littered throughout the map and once captured they provide resources. It seems that this was designed in a way to have players always fighting in small-scale battles throughout the map but these engagements are crucial to the early game. You need to be able to reinforce your front line and take outposts in order to get anything good including the elite points to summon your trump cards which does mean that something is always going on.

The space marines are as standard are the most “new player” friendly of the three factions but they can be difficult to master depending on your playstyle. Elder are more about poking out the other team with long range damage and then making them explode when the wraithknights turn up and Orks… Orks just do lots of shooting and smashing in typical Ork fashion so the tactics early game will be very different for each race and obviously some are easier than others when it comes to early engagements.

The main objective of the multiplayer side was to destroy the other enemies’ core in their base area but first you have to take down the shield generator and the turret protecting it. If you are familiar with MOBA style games like DOTA, League of legends and others of the genre then that’s the idea they are running with. One thing I want to mention with the Orks is that they are the only faction out of the three that have a unique resource. Orks in the lore loving throwing machines together with scrap and it is canon that if they believe the thing they made will work then it will. The scrap they collect is pulled from space via “WAARGH” towers and any unit can take the scrap and upgrade themselves to have things like more armour or a new ability because Orks.

This is even going into the elite units and the Doctrines system either. Each faction has a set of elite units that can only be brought out by holding an outpost that generates elite points. Think the relic zones from the first DOW. Each elite unit costs x amount of points and the cost is to reflect what stage in the game you will probably be dropping that unit. For example, the hero unit Gabriel Angelos costs 4 so you should be bringing him in fairly early to lead the charge into the enemy. The Imperial Knight on the other hand is more of an end game unit designed to destroy anything in its path with a cost of 9. Each game you choose 3 of the possible elite choices and each of the elite units that you can get will have a set of keywords describing their playstyle and a level which goes up the more you play them. This unlocks more abilites and buffs for that unit so having a certain “build” so to speak plays to your benefit but only if you play it consistently.

This then plays into the Doctrines as well. Doctrines are global benefits that have a passive effect on certain units throughout the entire game so for example giving units more health near a transport unit so something along those lines. These are also unlocked by increasing the level of the elite units if I remember correctly from the developer’s explanation during the game session we had. It does seem that from playing and my interview with one of the developers that relic is taking influences of game genres that they are interested in and are actively trying to incorporate features into DOW3 but making sure to do it in a way that is transformative and makes sense with the universe. Giving players the options to play the armies how they want to play them is what the tabletop has always done and incorporating that here is really working out well. Especially the fact that ARMY PAINTER IS BACK. PINK SPACE MARINES WILL DESTROY EVERYTHING IN THEIR PATH. Sorry I let some of my excitement slip out there in that line.

My overall impressions were very positive. The game played out in a familiar way as DOW1 was one of my favourite RTS games of all time and I may not have stuck to DOW2 but there are some systems from that game which I did like and bringing the best of both into the new addition to the series and having some new features creates a refreshing experience. It’s like going on holiday somewhere new but you’ve got some home comforts with you in your suitcase. The resource meta game is more important that before considering how little you get and having to get them from outposts instead of in your base. The problem with that is that if a player rushes ahead and is able to get momentum then there isn’t much anyone can do about them which could be altered as this was a preview build but only time will tell. Increasing the amount of power output would be the best thing to do in my opinion as that was something everyone ran out of very quickly so I imagine balancing will be taking place between now and the game’s release. Overall it was great experience and any fan of the dawn of war franchise or just 40K in general will not be disappointed.

Dawn of War 3 will be releasing on PC on April 26th. Pre-order bonuses are live on steam so make sure to go take a look and I look forward of bringing the might of the emperor upon you on release.

*The interview I had with the developer will be uploaded later on this week as we are just finishing edits on it.




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A 22-year-old student based in south wales learning the art of game development at the University of South Wales. I’m one of those Jack of All Trades kind of guys, I do videos, podcasts, reviews, sometimes music, board games and I’ve made my home deep within the nerd cave as I’m also an avid role-player! I tend to play pretty much everything and every new game I play lets me learn a little bit more about how games work and hopefully compile that into my work later in life. I try and be very social on the internet so find me on twitter @GazOfAllTrades where I’ll link my reviews and other stuff I do!

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