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Warhammer 40,000 Dawn of War II: Chaos Rising

Weighing the benefits of a corrupt decision (and any attributes it may buff or remove) raises the stakes on one of DOW2’s best traits: the emotional attachment to your squads and wargear (don’t worry - it all transfers into the expansion if you import your campaign). Pondering the tradeoff between a valuable plasma cannon and the added Corruption it’ll stick to your Space Marines puts a moral twist on the existing wargear system.

We’re hoping the new missions produce a wider variety of objectives; repeating base defenses and samey “kill the boss at the end-of-map” missions was one of our criticisms of the original campaign, and Relic seems to agree. “One of the things that fans enjoyed the most from DOW2 were the unique events and objectives in many of the missions; Tyranids overwhelming Captain Thule, recovering the stolen parts of the Astronomicon from Ork saboteurs - they wanted more of these types of memorable moments in the game,” says Kading. One later skirmish fills that category: We start out with a pair of Predator tanks to patrol a frozen planet, using their cannon turrets and mounted heavy bolters to plow a clean drop zone for our marines.

New mission elements emerge from Chaos’ nefarious personality, too. On our first Angel Forge mission, we click-drag to send our four squads to cap a control point (the vital respawn safe zones scattered on maps). Steps away from reaching it, four fireteams of Chaos troopers warp-teleport in to ambush us, brak-brakking their bolters without restraint. Then we chased Eliphas, a Chaos commander (you may remember him from the original Dawn of War’s Dark Crusade expansion), across a map until we cornered him on a flat platform. Another boss fight showdown? Not quite - seconds later, he teleports a missile-spitting Chaos Dreadnought right on top of us.

We’re already liking the Chaos more than the Tyranids, Orks or Eldar. As Kading puts it, it’s refreshing when the archenemy taunting you over the radio is “ten feet tall, covered in skulls, and wants to murder you.” The Chaos daemons we got a peek at immediately stand out against any xenos you’ve fought - abominations like the Bloodletter, a maniacal crimson imp that swings a flaming broadsword. At one point, it rode atop a cursed mechanical bull with shark teeth (proper name: a Juggernaut).

This is the type of content that will justify Chaos Rising as an expansion - enemies we haven’t jumppack-stomped before, a Corruption system that augments our units (and rolls out a wider set of mission objectives) and an opponent that fills that “evil stepbrother” role for the Space Marines with moustache-twirling poise.

Oct 20, 2009