By Chris Melchin / September 3rd, 2016
If there’s one thing I learned from my roughly 30 minutes with Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War III at PAX West, it’s that I really suck at Dawn of War. Not that this is anything particularly new to me, since my experience with the RTS genre is mostly confined to some very, very limited success with StarCraft II several years ago (pre-Heart of the Swarm), and I really haven’t played a lot of the Dawn of War series in the past at all. My interest in the series mostly comes from Warhammer itself, although even then I have much more experience with Warhammer Fantasy than 40K. In any case, I gave it a fair shake during my demo session.
What is there to say about it? It’s Dawn of War. Based on what I remember from my very short time with Dawn of War II, the new installment plays quite similarly. In general, a well-made RTS, although I can’t say much about the depth of the strategy because the mission in the demo was largely combat-focused rather than base-focused. I personally have an even harder time with troop micromanagement than in other games, since units come in squads rather than individuals. The HUD has also been changed, now confined to the corners of the screen rather than the full lower edge.
The art style is the same as any game in the Warhammer 40K series, with sound design as loud and bombastic as something as over-the-top as the Space Marines deserves. Seeing the massive Imperial Knight towering over the Space Marines and Eldar as explosions fill the screen, while your Assault Marines hack away at the enemies with chainswords and Gabriel Angelos fights with the thunder of the God-Emperor himself, drives home the distinctive style of the Warhammer 40K world.
I’m not good at it, but Dawn of War III definitely seems like a well-made RTS. It very clearly is based on the previous entries in the series, while building upon and refining them as a sequel should. The new HUD design does take some getting used to, as does the gameplay in general if you’re more used to other games of its genre, but if you’re the type who is into real-time strategy I would recommend you take a look at it when it releases in 2017.
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