Dawn of War: Soulstorm - hands-on

Jan 11, 2008

When Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War debuted, it broke the unspoken rule that any videogame based on a Games Workshop property is required to completely suck. Since then, the franchise has carved a nice space for itself, gaining an army of faithful RTS fans over the years with two great follow-up expansions: Winter Assault and Dark Crusade.

Now a new stand-alone expansion is just around the corner. Scheduled for an early March release, Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War - Soulstorm walks the expected path that RTS expansions tend to follow with two new factions, a new singleplayer campaign, and more units.

Call us crazy, but we don't think Dawn of War needs more factions. Its roster already feels crowded with Space Marines, Chaos Space Marines, Eldar, Orks, the Imperial Guard, the Necron, and the Tau Empire. Now enter Soulstorm, which introduces yet another two. Get ready for the Dark Eldar and the Sisters of Battle or as we prefer to call them, Evil Eldar and Space Marine nuns.

Above: Soulstorm's Dark Eldar aren't as visually striking as the factions included with Dark Crusade. But their new commander unit is pretty powerful

We got to play through the tutorial and two sample missions with the Dark Eldar. And while they've got new units and an additional resource to manage, they don't really look like a new class. Instead, they seem a little bland and remind us too much of regular Eldar dipped in black with a few Chaos-inspired units thrown in for good measure.

Fortunately, the Archon commander unit helps the Dark Eldar stand out more from the rest of Dawn of War's armies with kickass powers that turn enemy units against each other, poisons their squads, and reveal invisible cloaked units. The catch is that all these powers rely on the Dark Eldar's third resource, Soul Essence.