Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War II

Collect resources. Build up your base. Climb the tech tree. Collect more resources. Pump out a ton of upgraded units and overwhelm the AI with an unstoppable army. Rinse, repeat, and you’ve got yourself a single-player campaign. That’s the way Dune II did it back in 1992. That’s the way StarCraft did it in 1998. And that’s the way the original Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War did it in 2004.

The formula seems to have worked pretty well so far. But Relic Entertainment isn’t interested in kowtowing to tradition with Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War II. It’s amputated everything it found tiresome about the RTS genre with a bloody chain saw sword, focusing on what it loves with the fine precision of an Eldar splinter rifle.

Above: Relic’s trying to distill their favorite elements from the RTS genre by focusing on fewer units in the single-player campaign

Gone are the laborious resource-gathering chores, the base building, and the legions of faceless cannon-fodder units. Instead: shorter missions, active cover mechanics and abilities, and controlling an elite set of squads that you’ll know on a first-name basis.

You’ll begin with a single Force Commander from the Space Marines’ Blood Raven chapter, cruising space in the Strike Cruiser Armageddon (your battle barge and home base for managing squads and selecting missions). Our first assignment dropped us on Calderis, helping Captain Davian Thule stave off an Ork invasion. On the surface, we were shoulder-deep in greenskins, so I jammed a hotkey to activate the “To Victory” skill. The Force Commander’s power armor crashed through the fray, stunning the space Orks. It felt like something you’d expect from a barbarian or an MMORPG tank, especially as the kills filled my experience bar.

Above: If you like cutesy Orcs that say “dabu” and “zug zug,” stick with Warcraft. DoW 2’s greenskins wield giant weapons and scream “WaaaAAAaaagh!”