“Death comes for all.” That’s the tagline for the latest Warhammer RTS, and we can definitely expect lots and lots of it. And you did read that correctly, Dawn of War III will be a full-fledged RTS this time around. There will still be plenty of story-driven campaign mechanics and elite/hero units, but base-building depth has been thoroughly added back in. This will be great news for diehard Warhammer and RTS fans, but those who entered the series with Dawn of War II might be a bit overwhelmed with the addition of macro mechanics.
Regardless of your genre preference, Dawn of War III looks absolutely amazing even in its pre-alpha state. In addition to ramped up textures, lighting, and gore, each race is finally gaining access to a set of “super units.” So far, the announcement trailer revealed the Wraithknight for the Eldar, and today we got to see the Imperial Knight for the Space Marines. The Orks will also get the Gorkanaut, which we haven’t got to see in action yet. Not only can these walking monstrosities soak up tons of damage for your light units, but they also pack a punch.
I command in the name of the Emperor
In addition to receiving an overview of the Space Marine units, we were shown in-game footage of a campaign mission and got to speak with game director Phil Boulle. The game will once again feature Gabriel Angelos with his Blood Ravens and take “place around a mysterious planet called Acheron that’s said to contain a deadly and ultra-powerful weapon,” according to Boulle. “So our three armies, the Space Marines, the Orks, and The Eldar, are fighting to get to that weapon and things go a little sideways.”
While I take personal satisfaction in slaying Eldar and Orks as the mighty Blood Ravens, not to mention capturing shiny new artifacts, it sounds like we won’t have the chance to face off against Chaos Space Marines or the Tyranids. At least at launch.
“I’ve been a 40k fan for a long time… worked on Dawn of War for a long time. I’d love to get to all the areas that are out there but the Orks, Eldar and Space Marines are what we’re shipping with. They give us the solid foundation of interesting gameplay and interesting story that we can build upon later to get to every race under the sun, I hope,” Boulle added.
The revealed units for the Space Marines so far include: Gabriel Angelos, Imperial Knight Solaria, Scouts, Snipers, Assault Marines, Devastator Squads, and Dreadnoughts. Of course, hero units wouldn’t be special without unique abilities. Angelos will be wielding the mighty hammer God-Splitter, which he can use to leap across the battlefield and knock back enemies. He can also swing his hammer around and cast Retribution, which knocks away enemy projectiles. While Gabriel is more of a tank or defensive unit, Solaria is all about raw power. Her abilities include a 90-degree arc Gatling Barrage that decimates enemy infantry units and Ironstorm Missiles, which can devastate up to six targeted areas.
The standard units are what anyone can expect from a typical Warhammer game. Scouts are the basic units that can use stealth to infiltrate enemy territory. Snipers are long-ranged sharpshooters. If you want to get up close and personal, Assault Marines will handle the job with chainswords and jump-packs. Then there are the Devestator Squads, which come in Heavy Bolter and Lascannon flavors. Finally, Dreadnoughts are the second largest Space Marine unit and wield twin melee claws.
Choose Your Heroes Wisely
Now, Dawn of War III won’t solely focus on a Space Marine campaign. Players will rotate through the different factions as the game progresses, instead of playing specific race campaigns in a linear fashion, but the main focus of this preview was Gabriel Angelos and his Blood Ravens. Although the game will be an RTS at its roots, hero and elite units will be included like in Dawn of War II. The biggest difference is that players will be able to pick and choose their hero units and they will have an associated cost that must be met before they can be deployed onto the battlefield.
This means that players who chose the same faction can have completely different experiences based on their pre-mission loadouts. One player may choose to only bring heavy units, which will only be accessible during the later parts of a match or mission, and another can attempt to swarm enemies with cheaper, lighter units.
“Instead of heroes just being part of your tech tree, they’re things you choose before the match and you have a separate resource to deploy them. The choices you’ve made really influence your play style. If you were to choose the Imperial Knight, for example, she’s quite expensive to deploy. That means in a multiplayer situation, or even in the campaign, you’re not going to get her on the field for 10 or 15 minutes. That leaves your opponent with a big window to take advantage of if he’s chosen aggressive, early game units. That means we’re both playing Space Marines but we’re playing different styles and that’s really what the elite selection process will bring.”
Back to RTS Roots
While I enjoyed the campaign modes in Dawn of War II, the merging of hero units and RTS mode is definitely one of the aspects I’m personally looking forward to the most in Dawn of War III. In addition to base management and elite units, players will also need to capture resources and take advantage of hard cover points. Unlike the previous game, which had a directional cover system, players can now capture strategic locations that can’t be penetrated with weapon fire. Instead, they have a set amount of hit points or they can be infiltrated by melee units.
When asked why the team decided to switch the series back to an RTS style, Boulle responded: “It took us some time to figure out what we wanted to bring forward from the previous games. What stood the test of time? Although the heroes and progression in Dawn of War II sort of did that, it was the big armies from Dawn of War I that we really wanted to capture again.”
We really appreciate the time that Relic Entertainment spent setting up this presentation and Phil Boulle for personally discussing Dawn of War III with us. We can’t wait to learn more about the other factions and see the game in its finished state. If there’s anything about Dawn of War III that you can’t wait to hear about, let us know in the comments below!Related: Dawn of War 3, Developer, E3, E3 2016, Interview