In recent years, the real-time strategy genre has pretty much fallen by the wayside. Most publishers and developers have moved on to the MOBA due to its easier design and popularity, and only a handful of RTS games even remain relevant today. With that being said, it’s a breath of fresh air to know that Warhammer 40k: Dawn of War 3 is coming along nicely.
After the fall of THQ in 2013, the prospect of another Dawn of War title seemed highly unlikely. To the surprise of many Warhammer 40k fans, earlier this year Sega announced that it would be publishing Dawn of War 3 with Relic Entertainment returning as the developers. And while at PAX West 2016, I had the opportunity to discuss a few of the elements of the game with Relic designer Carolina Mastretta and communications manager Ben Boudreau.
Nick Shively: Let’s start things off with an introduction. What’s your job at Relic Entertainment and your role with Warhammer 40k: Dawn of War 3?
Carolina Mastretta: My name is Carol, I work at Relic as a game designer for Dawn of War 3. I work specifically on progression systems and more of the metagame part of it.
Not much regarding progression in Dawn of War 3 has been revealed. Can you give us any details?
We haven’t shared too many details on what progression looks like. I can actually talk about something that we accidentally leaked. We have those amazing elite heroes [from Dawn of War 2] with abilities and one of the things that we’re bringing forward from Dawn of War 1 was the base building that allowed players to build big armies.
So, the goal for the gameplay is to have those synergize really well. In Dawn of War 3, elite units needs to feel like a part of the whole when it comes to how you’re operating your army. That is where progression comes in. We focus on crafting really particular roles and abilities for those elite units. Where they can grow and where the player can customize is how they can impact the field with the rest of the units.
To give you an example, in the demo that my creative director Phil played, that is on our YouTube channel, you can see that when Gabriel Angelos is on the field he actually causes drop pods to heal units when they’re dropped in. Instead of needing to bring units back to your base and reinforcing them, you can basically bring drop pods into the field and as they drop in they’d have the same effect. You can see that by bringing Gabriel Angelos in your elite loadout, you would have a very different approach to your entire strategy.
That gives you an idea of what we’re going towards. Each elite unit is going to have something like that.
Will elite units level up or gain new abilities as you progress through the campaign?
What we’re focusing on is crafting unique roles and unique abilities. What you’re customizing is how they impact your army as a whole but not in ways that will change their [the elite units’] role. Basically, you saw the Imperial Knight. You have that Imperial Knight, which is ranged and absolutely amazing. Then we’ll give you another Imperial Knight, which is more focused on melee damage with melee abilities. You’re building a roster of elite heroes.
Will the single-player campaign focus entirely on Space Marines or will players get to control the other races as well?
The frozen planet is called Acheron and it’s said to be the home to a very mysterious weapon. That weapon, because it’s so powerful, has caught the attention of all the three warring factions: Eldar, Space Marines, and Orks. In particular, their leaders, so Gabriel Angelos, Farseer Macha, and the Warlord Gorgutz; they’re all franchise characters.
These three have brought their armies forward to Acheron in pursuit of this weapon. What they find, though, is that this weapon actually holds a much larger threat. What this means to the campaign is that as a player, you’re not going to be just playing through the campaign with Space Marines. You’re going to be playing through with all three different factions in a linear manner.
It doesn’t mean that we’re going to be changing points of view. The mission that you just played was Space Marines versus Eldar. The next mission might have the Eldar following up with what you just did.
Ben Boudreau: We’ve only shown Acheron so far, one environment. Acheron is actually introduced around the second act of the campaign. Part of the campaign journey is these units and these factions trying to get to Acheron. We’re taking you to some different environments, different planets, and the journey to getting to this planet.
It’s been nearly a decade since the last true Dawn of War RTS release. Why should players return to Dawn of War 3?
One of the things that people ask a lot about is ‘why should I return? What is this game bringing to my experience if I’ve played Dawn of War and Dawn of War 2?’ What I always say is that we’re really making a mark in what the RTS genre is doing. We’re taking a genre that has gone through a lot of evolution and change in the past few years. Also learning what we’ve done really well before: big armies, epic elite heroes, and finding the strategic depth between them.
In Dawn of War 3, what players are going to be finding is that the elite heroes and a big army is only the starting point. You’re going to be crafting your own strategies and putting your name on them, and other players are going to bring the same into the field. So, it’s going to be a very competitive game.
MMOGames would like to thank Relic Entertainment for providing us with the opportunity to speak with Carol and getting a chance to test out Warhammer 40k: Dawn of War 3.Related: Dawn of War 3, Interview, PAX West 2016, Relic Entertainment, RTS, Warhammer 40k