The dawn of a sick RTS experience.
I had the incredible joy of trying the multiplayer for Dawn Of War 3 last week during GDC. Much to the jealousy of my colleagues, what I played was an incredibly fast paced and slick take on the RTS genre. While there are elements that feel iterative this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, because the unique setting and mechanics certainly stick out among other modern RTS games. I am a person who very much enjoyed the original Dawn Of War and didn’t care much for Dawn of War 2, but from what I’ve heard beforehand I was excited to try out the third installment. What I played for an extensive amount of time was the multiplayer aspect of Dawn Of War 3, so I partook in a variety of pvp game modes. This includes – but is not limited to – 1v1 and 2v2 matches. I played both of the game modes mentioned above and had an absolute blast.
Dawn of War 3 is the third game in the long running Dawn Of War RTS games, based on the Warhammer 40k universe by Games Workshop. Dawn of War 3 hopes to see a return to form after a long hiatus. The last expansion for Dawn of War 2 was released back in 2010, so it has been a good minute since we’ve last seen an entry from this series. There is legitimate concern among my colleagues and fans who wonder how the direction of the game will be handled. Dawn of War and Dawn of War 2 are very different games in terms of exposition and mechanics, so many wonder what the game will be like. Hopefully with this article I can dispel or at the very least have an answer for some of these concerns.
Let’s start with the races: there are three in the game, starting with Space Marines, Eldar, and the Orks. One of the big concerns that fans have is if the races are a carbon copy of the three playable races in Starcraft. The original Dawn of War had over 9 playable factions after expansions, and many people were worried. I can say as a former Starcraft 2 player, that while there are some similarities, all the factions do feel unique to the lore of Warhammer 40k and are not just carbon copies. For example I played the Eldar, primarily because they remind a lot of my favorite race Starcraft: the Protoss. However, the faction played nothing like I thought it would, and playing with a Protoss mindset landed me in hot water multiple times.
The Space Marines are your general jack of all trades faction that are overall balanced in terms of traits and the easiest to pick up (just as the developers claimed). The Eldar are slightly squishier than the Space Marines, but have shields that regenerate over time. Their main playstyle is to attack while their shields are up, and use their mobility to retreat and wait for the shield to fully regenerate. Orks function differently than every faction; they can produce a crap ton of units and overwhelm the opponent just with numbers, with the caveat being that they are incredibly squishy and almost feel like sacrificial lambs. So while they are similar to other RTS factions, the way they function in the actual game makes them stick out, mostly in relation to the way macro management in the game works.
Macro-management, or how you control the economy, throughout the game is different than that your standard RTS affair. Many strategy games have resources spread out on the map and you gain those resources when you assign workers to those resources. DoW 3 works differently in that there are resources, but they are gathered from strategic resource nodes that can be captured by having a unit stay on the point for a set period of time. After capturing, the node is under your control until the enemy takes it. This completely changes the pace of the game throughout all stages. The only way to get resources is to either get them at the start by sending small squads of units to get them, or to take your opponent’s resources through skirmishes. This means there will be a fights over resource points throughout the game. Even the way building works is very simplified; there are very few types of building and some of them are locked until you upgrade your base. So while macro-management has an influence, it is much faster paced without sacrificing depth.
The biggest change to Dawn of War 3 from the previous installments is the new heroes. Each faction has a set of playable heroes, and three can be chosen before each match. Each of the heroes have a different set of abilities to accommodate a variety of playstyles. The caveat with heroes is that they require points to be summoned that can be gained from doing a variety actions on the map, or slowly overtime. So while it is possible by gaining points by being defensive, aggressive for assertive players will be rewarded as we. Some heroes require more points than others so it is best to have three heroes for every stage of the game. While heroes are very powerful they are not invincible, heroes are more than likely to die if focused down by an enemy army. Heroes are not a win condition alone, they should be used in tangent with the composition of your army and overall strategy. The heroes add a cool mechanic to an already fast paced games throughout the early, and mid game, but also encourage different play styles and variety.
While I am by no means a veteran RTS player, I have played Starcraft 2 extensively and I am not even very good at that. Despite my lack of mechanical finesse I enjoyed the hell out of the game, even if I got scraped multiple times. It is a joy to see an RTS with so much promise and polish in both its presentation and mechanics. Dawn of War 3 may not be trying to reinvent the genre, but it sure as hell is a breath of fresh air, and I am genuinely excited to see what becomes of the title. Dawn of War 3 is slated for a April 2017 release, for more info as it arrives, check back here at Hey Poor Player!