New Features Coming To Dawn Of War III That Will Shake Up The Franchise

Get ready for a whole new Dawn Of War experience in April!

Poor old Warhammer. It's a license that gets tossed around all willy nilly far, far too often, getting abused and battered and then sent off again to another developer to start the process over.

For every triumph of gaming in the Warhammer 40K universe, there's a crop of failures -- in addition host of weird mobile and social media games that don't really add anything to the universe. Some of the latest entries include the absurdly fast (and still in need of a few quality passes) Space Hulk: Deathwing as well as the much slower, turn-based Sanctus Reach.

Companies that produce truly great 40K content are few and far between these days. Sadly, one of the best iterations was recently yanked away in the gaming world's equivalent of a divorce, with Fantasy Flight no longer handling the Games Workshop tabletop lines, such as Inquisition and Black Crusade, after eight years of pumping out high quality books.

One developer that has managed to maintain a high level of deserved hype in this grimdark universe is Relic, with the much-praised Dawn Of War RTS series. It's weird to think it was almost a year ago the announcement trailer for Dawn Of War III finally arrived, offering a glimpse into what is (presumably) the opening cinematic.

That clip didn't give a good idea of what to expect on the gameplay front however, but now that hours of beta footage and interview clips have come online, we have a much better idea of what to expect from Dawn Of War's impending third iteration.

What's Changing And What's Not

It seems yet again the Imperium of Man, Orks, and Eldar are battling one another for control over a planet with a devastating secret, and while that may be a similar trope, there's a lot of gameplay that's changing.

The previous second main entry in the series -- if you don't count the nearly full game expansions like Dark Crusade and Soul Storm as main entries -- saw a big leap in style. While still unquestionably a real time strategy game, it got rid of most of the base management aspects in favor of squad control and a cover system.

If you didn't care for that change then you're in for a treat, because the more typical RTS elements are now returning. Additionally, there will be the appearance of some standards you've come to expect: space marines will have jetpack abilities to jump up and down terrain, the Eldar will use webway portals to instantly travel from one end of the map to the other, and so on.

Breaking with tradition, there will be only three factions at launch. And while it's possible other races like the Tau or Necrons might show up in DLC, there's nothing confirmed on that front -- so Relic may be following in Starcraft's footsteps and only giving us the big three this time around.

Super Weapon

On the subject of that other behemoth of the RTS style, it was always such a satisfying (or, if you were the other player, terrifying) sound when you heard "nuclear launch detected" in a match of Star Craft.

Get ready to relive that joy on a much more destructive scale with each faction's super weapon! Although taking time to power up and use, these faction-specific attacks can radically change the layout of the map and give you the upper hand.

The Space Marines will have an orbital that is slow moving, but gains in power and can annihilate structures and armies caught in its path. The Orks, being typical brutes without much thought as to the science behind anything, just use tractor beams to rain down meteors from space. It's primitive, but effective. For something a bit more strategic, the sneaky Eldar deploy an eldritch storm that slows units and damages anything caught in the area with electricity.

Target Destroyed

Elites/Super Units

Dawn Of War III features the biggest characters unleashed in the franchise so far, in terms of both power and size. Each faction now has two different tiers of enhanced soldiers above the usual cannon fodder: super units and elites. Both are selected before the match even starts from a pool of different options with varying costs.

These specialized units are absolutely devastating and able to quickly change the tide of combat, but each has a specific weakness or counterpoint so they aren't invincible. Deploying an elite is a good way to get ahead, but doesn't assure victory unless your opponent doesn't know what they are doing. For instance, some can be taken down quickly by close range melee, which means planning ahead to have a bulwark of troops to protect the elite while it gets to a higher ground.

Bringing out your elites requires capturing specific points, and they generate at a slower rate than your typical requisition points -- meaning you'll need to decide whether protecting such points is worth the cost. Should you hold a spot that isn't helpful now but will give you something devastating later, or let it go in favor of rushing your normal units to a more strategically viable location?

In another change to the series, the Doctrines you unlock and equip over time will change both how your elites and your army in general work. All of these haven't been revealed yet, but we do know that one Doctrine will give Space Marine drop pods and aura that heals nearby units.

Super Unit Solaria

Power Cores

Of course there continue to be strategic points to capture across the map as with the previous two games, but now in a variation on the MOBA tower system, there are specific objects you must destroy in a match to win.

To achieve victory, your faction must destroy the opposing side's shield generators, turrets, and finally the power core to end the match in multiplayer mode.

In another nod to the MOBA craze, multiplayer maps feature a strong lane control element, which makes strategic usage of your super weapon and elites absolutely necessary to dominate your opponent.

Ready To Go To War? 

Dawn Of War III officially drops on April 27th, and of course arrives in normal editions through all the usual platforms like Steam and Microsoft Windows.

For those with some extra cash burning a hole in the pocket, there's also the absurd $129.99 Collector's Edition featuring a 14 inch tall replica of Gabriel Angelos’s Godsplitter Daemon Hammer.

What version of the game are you planning on getting, and what faction will you lead to victory when Dawn Of War III arrives?

 Buy it... for the Emperor!

Published Mar. 17th 2017

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