Believe it or not, it has been almost a decade since Dawn of War II, the second installment of the strategy games based on Warhammer 40,000 released. There weren’t news about the sequel for years, and it seemed that the developers gave up on the third sequel. Fortunately for all the fans out there, Dawn of War 3 was announced last year. On 27 April it has finally hit the (virtual) shelves.
When the first Dawn of War appeared, it was your typical real-time strategy with building armies through building base units and gathering resources. However, the second game was a breath of fresh air because the developers tried to offer something new to the genre that lacked freshness for a while (although for a good reason, the formula worked and there was no need to change anything). Dawn of War 2 was well-received by the majority of the fans. Even though the innovations also caused some people to complain that they went too far off the established RTS track. With the first game being more of a strategy and the second bringing more action, it was a mystery what Dawn of War 3 would bring. Let’s take a look at what the new game is like and was it worth the wait.
A combination of the previous two games
The first impression you get when you start playing Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War 3 is that you can find traces of both first games in it. Those of you who loved the first part because of the resource gathering and base building will be thrilled to hear that most of that part of the game should look and feel familiar. On the other hand, there are some RPG elements included for all fans who loved the second installment of the series. Elite units with special abilities will be at your disposal. These skills can be improved whether you play the game in a single or a multiplayer mode.
Details about stronghold, army, and resources
In most cases, you will begin with a Stronghold, which will be, as the name suggests, your stronghold and the core of your operations. You will start with some basic builder units and squads of a soldier. Your goal is to expand and acquire heavy infantry, various facilities, and vehicles. Three different factions are there – Orks, Space Marines, and Eldar. The core game mechanics are similar regardless of which one you choose, but there are also some significant differences. For example, Elard can build Webway gates all over the map, which enables you to teleport the entire base depending on your current objectives. On the other hand, you can use Orks to get to Waaagh! towers, where you can earn a resource needed to upgrade your weapons.
If you ask me, Dawn of War 3 managed to find the perfect balance here. You need to take care of your bases as they are a foundation for success. However, you don’t have to worry about a significant number of buildings, which enables you to focus on the fight.
As for your army, you will have infantry and vehicles units at your disposal. Their strengths and weaknesses vary, so you will have to make the most of what you have. Depending on the faction you choose, you will have the strongest firepower (Space Marines), the largest quantity of units (Orks), or the greatest speed (Eldar). Aside from that, you can construct Listening Posts, which remind me of defense turrets. You can only build these posts on Resource points, which are particular locations that secure the earning of valuable resources at a higher rate.
While we are on the topic of resources, let’s mention that there are three different types in the game: Power, Requisition, and Elite points. If you’ve played the previous installments, power and requisition will sound familiar. You will spend them to build various structures, upgrade your army and deploy troops. You will need more requisition points for infantry, while heavier forces and vehicles will demand to spend more power points. Unfortunately, the game still hasn’t solved a small issue that can occasionally frustrate you. The way you acquire resources seems unbalanced at times, which can lead to you having a lot of power points and little requisition or the other way around. That leads to the game dragging at some points, but that is fortunately not the case often.
How to get Elite points and Elite characters
As for the third resource type (elite points), it’s a new addition that Dawn of War 3 brings to the series. You will earn them just by playing the game, but you get them at a pretty slow rate. Although you can make things go faster by using elite resource points, which you will rarely encounter. Elite points are to be spent on your elite units. Those are special characters with enough power to turn the entire battle around. Aside from spending the points on deploying them, you will also be able to summon unique abilities such as Eldritch storms or Orbital Strikes.
Each of the faction has a pool of seven elite characters and, before you enter the battlefield, you can choose three of them. There is a wide variety of different elites, including Titanic walkers, elite soldier squads, and powerful generals. The cost of elite points you need to spend to deploy them depends on their skills. For example, you will quickly earn enough points to send a Farseer Macha, but you will need to save for a long time to send in the powerful Wraithlord.
The good news is that each time you use one of the elite characters, you will acquire experience points. These can be spent on unlocking Doctrines, which bring new abilities or buffs to your troops, or new skins. Advancing through levels will also earn you the in-game currency called Skulls. This fictional money can also be used to unlock Doctrines and extra elite stuff.
Elite characters are what makes Dawn of War 3 a unique game and helps it stand out from the crowd. They successfully do two things, one of them being adding the tension to the battle because they can turn the tide at any given moment. The other great thing they do is to prevent you from simply sending all your troops to the battle. Instead, they remind all of us playing that our army forces are a collection of units. Each of them having different strengths and weaknesses.
Don’t get me wrong; you can still field a big army in DOW 3. In fact, you can build larger armies than it was the case in the previous game. But you still won’t have as many units like you would in Total War or Command and Conquer. That means that micromanagement is not only important for your strategy on the battlefield, but it is also something that can be done, which is not the case in some other games of the genre.
I believe that the developers made a move in the right direction by preventing brute force to be the dominant factor on the playing field. Instead of sending a bunch of troops, Dawn of War 3 requires you to think about the particular strengths of your army you can use. Even regular units have different abilities, and you simply must learn how to use them to your advantage. Otherwise, you will be stuck even in the single player campaign, let alone playing against experienced players online.
Could Graphics Be Better?
When you are reviewing a game made in the 21st century, you expect a lot from the graphics. Gone are the times when we were thrilled with how beautiful animations are despite the fact that mouth moving is out of sync. We focus more on details, and we demand everything to be perfect. That being said, Dawn of War 3 manages to deliver an aesthetically pleasing game. While it’s not the prettiest you can see today, everything seems to run without any problems. There are no glitches even with a big number of units on the screen.
After all, this type of game doesn’t put a primary focus on graphics. I guess we can understand that it’s not exactly state of the art. The only problem some players encountered is that their customized settings are reset after they restart their PCs. But we expect this to be fixed considering that the game recently released. As for the sound, it also fits nice and most of the times it seems appropriate and adds to the atmosphere.
Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War 3 is a real-time strategy game that you can play both offline and online. Offline through a single-player campaign and in online multiplayer modes. The bad news for all the console players is that they probably can’t expect the game to be released for their devices, considering that it only appeared on PC so far.
The overall impression of the game is that it does an excellent job of delivering an addictive and worthwhile RTS. Although it doesn’t offer as much innovation as the previous installment. It prevents autopilot battles where the quantity of the units plays the most important role. But instead, it requires you to use the particular strengths of your army to your advantage. People who appreciate strategy on the battlefield will definitely like this game, which mainly offers a fantastic single player campaign. Dawn of War 3’s multiplayer mode has some limits because it includes just one mode. The graphics could be a bit better, but despite that, it is still an excellent addition to the 40k series.