Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War III Review
Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War III is the newest stand-alone real-time strategy game in the Dawn of War series and the first new release in the series since the Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War II – Retribution second expansion in 2011. The game is set in the Warhammer 40,000 tabletop miniature wargame universe, where many players are familiar with the dystopian sci-fi world. It is made in partnership with Relic Entertainment, Sega, and Games Workshop.
Like many other RTS games, you control a group of soldiers trying to command and conquer a battlefield against another race. The currently available races are the Space Marines, the Orks, and the Eldar. In each instance, you will control an “elite” character that you either receive from the beginning or must farm to attain. This elite acts as your commander and has the most powerful abilities in your group. It follows a very traditional RTS basebuilding concept, where you must use your engineer troops to build fortresses/buildings to give you more troops and make your base stronger while attacking the opposition.
The storyline of Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War III follows all three current factions as they duke it out for supremacy on the battlefield. You’re not going to get much explanation of why these groups are fighting, but that’s the basis of it and you can justify it as you see fit. You start as Gabriel Angelos of the Space Marines (Blood Ravens) and try to survive out on the battlefield. Throughout the campaign you’ll play as all of the races, controlling elites such as Farseer Macha of the Eldar and Gorgutz ‘Ead’unter of the Orks. While the story isn’t as interesting, this really isn’t the main driving force behind an RTS. The missions within the campaign and unique routes you take to get through them was the bread and butter of the gameplay as it was just repetitive enough to allow you to strategize differently in each scenario.
If you appreciate the Warhammer 40,000 universe, you’ll find this game fitting for your needs. Is it revolutionary and irreplaceable? Probably not, but it fits and that’s all that really matters. You’re going to want to keep playing because everything is straightforward and there aren’t extraneous missions that have you playing just to get some type of upgrade. Depending on the difficulty, you’ll find that keeping all of your units separated or together can cost you the mission. Cinematics are very simple and I wish they had a little more action and detail, but it doesn’t ruin the game in any way. It does, however, make the campaign not as enjoyable or fulfilling.
This is probably the area that will be the most problematic for Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War III. The art is very 3D cartoon-ish and wasn’t minding blowing. For a game that some people have been waiting for for over 6 years, you’d think it’d be a huge step in the graphics department, but it isn’t. Fans of the series won’t have an issue, but those new to the series (such as myself) are probably going to expect a little more out of it. I get it, it’s an RTS, it doesn’t need amazing graphics, but it wouldn’t hurt if it was a little more stunning. Take this with a grain of salt. It’s really up to you to decide if the game is visually competent or not.
Dawn of War III opens with a three step tutorial that takes you through all of the commands that you’ll need to play the game. At the time of this review, multiplayer was not live. You do the very basic trend of: build, farm, prepare, attack, repeat. The game has a mix of old with new as it tries to capture an audience that wants a pure RTS game, without all of the hassles of over-micromanaging forces or building. You have your scouts for patrolling areas, marines to take out enemies, snipers as your range personnel, builders to create new spawns, and an elite to do all of the major damage. Strategizing to attack as a big group or small militias could be your best forthcoming or biggest downfall.
For me, this is the first traditional RTS I’ve played since the Company of Heroes series (also produced by Relic Entertainment) and I must say that it has been extremely enjoyable. You have basic commands and a few special abilities for each squad, and grouping everyone together is relatively easy with on-screen commands and/or simple keyboard shortcuts. I really like the aspect of having multiple groups for different types of attacks/defense and knowing that if a group doesn’t work, I can always add or swap troops into each with a click-drag-assign. For a lot of beginners, it will be frustrating to not continuous click somewhere or accidentally click a single squad when you actually wanted to assign groups to a task. The slow methodical pace at some points can be annoying, but that’s a love/hate relationship with any RTS that requires you spread out your troops properly to attack and defend. The leveling of maps also changes the game up quite a lot, as only certain troops and your elite can reach higher up areas of the map and the rest of your team has to sit back until there is a clear way there.
Most of the time, I found myself fighting with the idea if I should spend my farmed currency on more troops or enhancing my team and focus more on healing. I absolutely love this because it’s so basic and I wasn’t struggling to determine whether or not you should/shouldn’t do it. You have so many ways to complete a mission and accomplish any of the achievements, but it isn’t overwhelming. I will say that sometimes it is a little buggy with controls/commands. At one point, I lost all control of one of my groups and didn’t realize they weren’t attacking anymore until half of them were annihilated, as I was just trying to farm more troops. Loading times weren’t an issue and building/spawning wasn’t as tedious as I would have thought. I wished there was a fast-forward for some of the downtime in the game after clearing out a hoard of enemies, but I guess that defeats the traditional RTS standpoint.
Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War III is everything you’d expect out of a traditional RTS game and fans of the series are going to enjoy it. You won’t be mesmerized by any of the cinematics or visuals, but you’ll get most of your satisfaction from the great gameplay and the fun campaign elements. The game isn’t groundbreaking, but it does its job in creating a new chapter in the Dawn of War series that is inviting to all that play. Yes, it is still a little buggy and you might get frustrated, but that is overshadowed by everything else in the game. If you’re thinking about picking this game up, you’ll want to way out how much of a “new” game you want or if you want familiarity with a gameplay that you know you’ll love.
Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War III is out now at retailers or Steam!