Relic Entertainment returns to the universe of Warhammer 40,000 with Dawn of War III. Although it survived the death of publisher THQ, Dawn of War III experienced a tumultuous development. First discussed in 2013, only to fall off the face of the planet as THQ crumbled, it arose three years later under the banner of Sega. For the first time, Relic have put all three of their favourite factions on equal footing straight away instead of holding all but the Space Marines back for expansions.
The heavily armoured space fascists, Orks and Eldar share the spotlight in both the campaign and multiplayer – a relief after the spate of Space Marine-only affairs. And it’s in the design of these factions that Relic have done some of their strongest work. Dawn of War III offers a return to the broad, chaotic conflicts of the first game over smaller-scale real-time-tactics, and features an enormous unit cap as well as expansive, detailed maps to duke it out in. Matches start out slow, with teams participating in a land grab, and gradually shift into high gear as time goes on. Battles are won by crushing the enemy’s Power Core, which is protected by Shield Generators and Turrets. Every 10 minutes, the fight progresses to a new Escalation phase, making resource generators more valuable and increasing the health of objective structures. The game really shines when Escalation caps out at the 40-minute mark, at which point matches descend into hilarious, all-out bloodbaths. DOW triumvirate of factions feature greatly expanded mechanics over the previous games, with each offering a unique playstyle.
The Space Marines serve as an introductory point, with tough squads, explosive Elite Units, and the ability to orbitally drop troops just about anywhere on the field. Meanwhile, the Eldar focus on map control with teleportation networks and fleet-footed strike teams. Lastly, the Orks are all about charging into battle with huge mobs, as well as wielding a fourth resource in the form of Scrap, which is generated by their base buildings or pillaged from enemy vehicles and structures. It can be used to augment individual units with special abilites, such as throwing axes for Nobz and shield generators for Trukks, or even cobbled together into ramshackle vehicles on the spot.Each faction can be personalized with the use of Doctrines and Elite Units, which essentially act as perks and heroes that are selected before a match. If you favor a certain tactic or need some extra firepower, the right selection of Elites and Doctrines might just do the trick – Space Marine Terminators offer heavy fire support while the Eldar Phoenix Lord cuts a bloody path through enemy infantry, and standard units can be outfitted with powerful abilities such as smoke bombs for Ork Shoota Boyz and teleportation beacons for Eldar Dark Reapers. The variety of Elite Units and Doctrines offers options for a wide array of playstyles and tactics, and finding out what works best for you makes for a remarkably satisfying experience. Therefore DOW 3 will be a success under the band of Saga. Be sure to check out the game trailers and do not forget to sign up for the beta version of DOW 3.