Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War III PC Review
After nearly a decade, Relic Entertainment have released another Chaos-Inducing Adrenaline-Overflowing Installment to their iconic Post-Apocalyptic Warhammer 40,000 Franchise with Dawn of War III. I would lie if I told you that I was not overwhelmed with nostalgia, and that I did not shed a tear after experiencing the total chaos of war I have been craving since finishing Dawn of War I many years ago.
The first Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War game was released in 2004, and was a ridiculously intense RTS (Real-Time Strategy) for it’s time. Some may even say, it pioneered the development of many of the current favorite RTS titles, by taking what perceptions the world had about a Strategy Game and improved on that, finally blending it with Harmonious balance between Careful Planning and Pure Chaos Management on the Battlefield. I will never forget my mixed emotions after finishing the first game. The final blow made me breathe a huge sigh of relief, as if I had just finished a Triathlon. The pace changed greatly with the release of Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War II in 2009, seeing a drastic change in game mechanics, where the focus was shifted from the 2004 inspired RTS to a more “Hero Focused” RPG (Role-Playing Game). Though very different, it was not horrible, but left me feeling like the franchise had lost it’s enticing factor. Did Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War III redeem the franchise for me personally? Let’s break it down and see.
Back to Basics
Whether you are New to the Dawn of War Universe or an Experienced/Seasoned Veteran, it is recommended that you start off the game with the Three Basic Tutorials. Basic Combat, Advanced Combat, Structures, Battle and Multiplayer Mechanics are covered to get you started in the right direction, and also give you an indication of what to expect with this title. So Let’s Build a Base, then construct some Grunt Units and Scouts, and finally, we can also Upgrade Unit Damage and Armor! This was a relief, after suffering the loss of large scale armies in Dawn of War II to the more “focused” squad tactics mentioned above.
Here you also realize the importance of your Elite Units, who are crazy powerful individual units that are also Central Figures in the Single Player Campaign, and who often tip the scale between Victory or Defeat throughout the Single Player or Multiplayer Game Modes. The more “largely played and recognized” RTS titles have taught us to play a Faction Story finished before continuing the Story through a different Faction, but this mindset is challenged in Dawn of War III, as you play the Story Mode through the eyes of each Faction, namely the Space Marines, Orks and Eldar one Mission at a time. Not bringing a different perspective, but by progressing the story the way a Movie would play out. You aid each Faction equally as you push the Story Development further, which I quite enjoyed.
Story and Changes
When starting the Campaign, you are thrust straight into a chaotically violent scenario, sparing no time for pleasant character introductions, and boldly sets the tone and focus of Dawn of War III, being war, fighting and large-scale battles. As the story progresses, the justifiable direction of the mass faction slaughters is revealed to become a mutually shared hunt for an Ancient Relic, The Spear of Khaine, which would pretty much grant the lucky faction owner Omnipotent Power over the other factions, and hence a power struggle ensues to control the surface of the Ominous Wandering Planet, Acheron, the last known location of the Spear.
As a long time RTS Fan, having started my “training” way back when a different Orc-Themed title came out as well as when a widely loved Historic Scarlet War title was still good, I feel I have earned the right to say with authority, that for the best part, the Campaign Story had me entertained and wanting more, even though at times the story bordered dancing on the lip of a double-edged sword and became dangerously monotonous, which in my opinion only served to test the depths of my Warhammer 40,000 Franchise Devotion, ultimately to reward me with a magnificent finale that I so desperately want to discuss but need to “Zip-ma-Githole!” (Ork Tankbusta Unit Voice) in order for you to experience the same euphoria. The melodic serious tone is sporadically interrupted with classy comic reprieve, thanks to the humor and voice acting of the Ork Faction Units, especially the Ork “Hero” Gorgutz’s Brain-Numbing Banter (Voiced by Popular Video Game Voice Actor, Nathan Constance).
Few things can be likened to the thrill and satisfaction of commanding Humongous Giants (Biggest Characters in Dawn of War History) while waging Epic-Scaled War with Massive Armies (250 Unit Limit) across Volcanic Landscapes or on Battle-Damaged Space-Cruiser Terrains in Lunar Orbit! That being said, I can finally draw my synopsis on Dawn of War III for you, by stating that it is a Revolutionary Pioneer that is again Unique from Dawn of War I and Dawn of War II, but also meshes the best of both previous installments to create a masterpiece of pure fast-paced chaos spliced with a fantastic Multiplayer Mode that lends itself to many familiar Online Arena Styled Titles. The Multiplayer section will be discussed momentarily, but before we get to that, I should justify my statement to help you appreciate Dawn of War III for what it truly is.
The final addition worth mentioning in Dawn of War III is the introduction of Doctrines, which allows you to bolt three strategy-morphing modifications to your faction before a battle, both in Campaign Mode and Multiplayer Mode alike. These Doctrines act as Match Specific Buffs/Benefits that if well chosen, can make for a fairly smooth and effortless victory, however, on the downside, can also prolong your inevitable doom if poorly selected, forcing you study the breadth of Elite and Basic/Advanced Battle Unit Active and Passive Abilities to make Smart, Calculated and Attention Demandingly Difficult Decisions work in your favor.
The Plethora of Special Abilities across all units within your command is very difficult to keep track of, and each specifically grants strategic advantages to either Rushing, Crowd Control or Cover Tactics which we got introduced to in Dawn of War II, being much easier to manage when they were Elite Exclusive. I often found myself loosing track of which beneficial ability to use in each scenario and ended up winging it. Mostly I depended the diversity of my army grunts taking the brunt of the casualties and letting my Elite(s) swoop in for the Gloriously Animated Special Ability Attacks that would send either corpses/body parts flying or hurl clusters of enemy forces into the air.
Enough tip-toe’ing, let me put it bluntly. Dawn of War III’s longevity depends on your dedication to knowing your skills more than knowing the skills of your enemy and does in a sense require a little more Franchise knowledge (but is not essential to enjoyment), (Temet Nosce anyone?). Airing the room, my statement does not detract from the fearless stance Relic Entertainment have made by again producing a different type of game, albeit the fact that it is currently part of a Trilogy, and I can honestly state that I admire a developer that does not really “care” whether they stick to traditions to keep the masses happy. To me, this boldness makes me want to play more to try and find the problems with their unorthodox approach.
The MOBA Multiplayer
The Single Player Campaign can also be set or interpreted as a training session for the Multiplayer Mode, as many of the strategies employed in the Campaign can be applied to eliminating Online Opponents in either 1v1, 2v2, or 3v3 Matches. When using the term MOBA (Multiplayer Online Battle Arena) to describe the Multiplayer Mode, you would agree with me when I explain it like this; the map consists of there being a Single Power Core in your Base that you need to defend, a couple of Turrets further outside of your Base in narrow corridors to Slow Down Lane Progression and finally Shield Generators in front of those for Resource Production, plus you can consider your Elite to be a MOBA Styled Champion or Hero with their special skills mapped to the classic WASD Keys.
Again, this is very risky. It can either offend the current Franchise fan-base on the 40K Games, which there are exceptionally many of, or it can stimulate a whole new type of following and become wildly successful. In the Multiplayer Mode, I found the best strategy to be Prevention. As a result of there not being a particular resource gathering mechanic other than the capture and defense of a Shield Generator, what better way is there to easily sweep your opponents away and create desperation in their camp than to cut off their supply? Let them fight for control of a point, only to destroy their “Resource Extractors” shortly after gaining control. Without the ability to generate Power or Requisition, you can easily pile drive through the opposing team’s Turrets without much resistance and Blow their Power Core to Smithereens! This tactic may have worked for me, coupled with my desired Doctrines, but again, it is dependent on your Play Style and your Team Mates, so each match, much like other MOBA matches, is it’s own exclusive experience.
Dawn of War III was released exclusively for PC on 27 April 2017, and is currently selling for R555,00 at BT Games at the time of writing this review and does require you to be continually connected to the Internet through Steam. The game graphics are really detailed, specifically during the signature cut scenes that are basically animated comic strips, and go as far as they can go with a title of this magnitude in army size. If the graphics were any more intense, it would immediately prevent the majority of gamers from enjoying large scale battles, specifically when the particle and shadow densities clash during battles, not to mention the multiple explosions. I was also very satisfied with the sound, effects and the voice acting quality throughout the game and cannot fault the game on that. All things considered and most of which have been discussed, I thoroughly enjoyed playing Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War III, and for the current selling price, I would happily spend the cash, but should you still be a little apprehensive, perhaps give it a chance to drop slightly in price or wait for a Steam Sale to add this to your game library.