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Dawn of War II

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We like what Relic Entertainment’s doing with Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War II. Instead of tossing us a few new units with slightly snazzier graphics and calling it a day, they’re making some sweeping changes to the singleplayer campaign, killing some of the RTS genre’s most sacred cows by removing resource-gathering chores, and base management. They’re also shifting the focus away from amassing swarms of cannon fodder units to controlling an elite regiment of battle hardened Space Marines.

Dawn of War II’s singleplayer campaign feels great and we love dead cows, so we were pleased to see that their multiplayer matches are messing with tradition as well. As expected, 1 vs. 1 games will be available, but Relic’s focusing on making Dawn of War II’s 3 vs. 3 matches the mode of choice.

You’ll start by choosing your faction: Space Marines, Orks, Eldar, and Tyranids will be available. Next, you’ll choose a commander unit. Each faction features three types of commanders that are focused on offense, defense, or support. For example, the Space Marines let you choose between the Force Commander, who has strong melee attacks, the Techmarine, who can lay down turrets and structures that help heal allies, and the Apothecary, who can heal and revive fallen commanders.


Above: If you want to build a city, play a sim. If you want to command an army, keep an eye on Dawn of War II

Instead of constructing a series of buildings to produce units, upgrade equipment, and climb the tech tree, you’ll have a single base structure that fills all these roles. This small change makes a world of difference. With a few convenient clicks, you can quickly spend your resources to unlock vehicles and purchase reinforcements. Without the need to worry about meticulously your base and clicking your way through its buildings, you can focus on controlling your army, flanking the enemy, capturing control points, and helping your teammates.

And when it comes to helping your teammates, Dawn of War II looks like it’s shaping up to be the RTS equivalent of our favorite team-based shooter, Team Fortress 2. The commander units are powerful on their own, but it’s when players work together that they truly become a force to be reckoned with. An Ork Warboss may pose a minor threat to a heavily defended control point, but combine his powerful melee attacks with an Ork Mekboy, who can buff allies with Waaagh! Banners, and they’ll be able to steamroll their way through a line of tough Space Marines.

You’ll be able to form teams with any combination of factions, and during our brief hands-on time with Dawn of War II’s multiplayer, we got to see some beautiful class synergy. At one point, our Force Commander was overwhelmed by enemy Tyranids and Orks.  We retreated towards our base and passed a friendly Techmarine who had fortified one of our control points with a turret and a teleporter relay. The relay healed our commander and the turret managed to fend off the first waves of Orks and Tyranids charging after us. This bought us some valuable time, allowing our reinforcements to flank our opponents. Soon our enemy found themselves trapped between our turret and a powerful squad of Terminator Space Marines. The enemy commander units fled with their tails between their legs and it was our team’s turn to push forward in order to capture another control point.

Integrated voice chat will be available when Dawn of War II ships. But not a word was spoken between us and our teammates during this exchange. The fact that two newbies were able to combine the strengths of their commander units to fend off an attack without any direct communication speaks to the potential of Dawn of War II’s co-op-focused multiplayer matches. From what we’ve seen so far, it’s intuitive, streamlined, and most importantly, a whole lot of fun.

Dec 18, 2008

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9 comments

  • FancyRat - December 19, 2008 2:48 a.m.

    Sounds almost DotA-ish. Which is great!
  • dialga1 - February 6, 2009 11:05 a.m.

    cant wait till monday when it comes out
  • Samm - February 5, 2009 5:08 p.m.

    I know they're not popular, but i sure hope the "dark Eldar" Show up in another expansion. They were dang fun to play in soulstorm.
  • Reubenguy - December 26, 2008 5:04 a.m.

    *Real(RTS)
  • Reubenguy - December 26, 2008 5:03 a.m.

    Oh yea this is gonna rock. Loved all the originals up to Dark Crusade(Soulstorm wasn't as good) and this just looks like, as they say in the article, the best Rea Time Strategy game of all time (so far) Can't wait for the Necrons(go n00b factions!!)
  • crusading-geek - December 20, 2008 12:41 a.m.

    chog, the first DOW game was exactly that, and i still play that even today. I think it is one pf the greater RTS that has ever come out. Relic knows this, and instead of adding more races, they are creating a whole new experience.
  • ChogWolf - December 19, 2008 6:18 p.m.

    Dawn of War and Company of Heroes were both great games but I still enjoy the old school, base building, resource gathering hours to build up your army kind of game. I spent way more time with Sins of SOlar Empire and SUPCOM than anything else.
  • Gotxxrock - December 19, 2008 3:56 a.m.

    Ah... Diablo gameplay + Company Of Heroes + Warhammer 40K universe... I'm having as big an orgasm as you can on the internet right now. One thing that makes me happy is that I know Chaos will get the attention and finesse it deserved in the first place. Also... maybe Pathfinders will finally be more useful in later expansions... hhhhmmmmm. PURGE!!
  • swordworld04 - December 19, 2008 1:09 a.m.

    Can't wait for this game.

Showing 1-9 of 9 comments

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