Dawn of War 3 is happening, over a decade after the original. While we sit tapping power-armoured feet in anticipation of the release date for Relic Entertainment’s next game, allow us to bring you everything we know about the third iteration in the Warhammer 40,000 strategy series. Despite the relatively early age of the announcement, there’s quite a bit of information out there already.
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Dawn of War 3 trailer
Most of all you just want to see it, don’t you? Well, here’s what we’ve got so far:
We’ll update this with any further videos released - hopefully some involving a little more gameplay - so check back regularly.
Dawn of War 3 release date
2017's your year, but we know nothing beyond that. There was a certain amount of design work done in the past, with the dying days of THQ revealing that Relic were already working on the game as early as 2011. They didn’t just kick development off last week, and based on Sega’s release schedule for this year, they are in need of games for the Christmas rush.
However, given we haven’t seen so much as a screenshot yet the 2017 date mentioned in the first press release shouldn't come as a surprise. It's a shame to wait, but given 2016 is already packed with great games - and great 40k games - it's nice to know there'll be something left for later on.
Dawn of War 3 gameplay
This was the first big question coming into the announcement - would a third Dawn of War follow the model of the first’s large armies and control-point capture, the second’s hands-on tactics at squad-level, or reinvent itself once again? The answer is a little of all three. As you can see in the video above, there's a new focus on scale and super-sized units, but retaining the clashing armies of the first game and the heroes of the second.
In the initial press release, Relic/Sega say that DoW3 will have “the epic scale of Dawn of War” combined with “the customization and elite heroes of Dawn of War II.” They also mention larger units (“super-walkers”) and weaponry (“giant orbital lasers”) than we’ve seen in the games before, suggesting it’s doubling down on the increased scale. If you’re looking for a simple answer as to whether the game is closer to DoW1 or 2, the original is the answer, but it’s certainly shaping up as its own thing.
While the overall strategy of a map will still be controlled by power generators and capture points, just as in the first game, massive units with unique special abilities are how DoW2 is brought into things. They're called elites, and in singleplayer will be collected and upgraded as you progress. They're meant to dominate battlefields single-handedly, be it through tactical buffs from commander units or, y'know, massive guns.
Cover is also returning, but simplified so that squads of units capture areas, becoming more resistant to range fire but easier to clear out with assaults, rather than flat buffs in certain areas of the map. Those that have seen the game say that being in cover is close to immunity from ranged damage, so jetpacking/charging/teleporting in really is the only option to clear out the entrenched - but, obviously, assault troops have a massive advantage once close-quarters are achieved, so it won't take much to counter.
Dawn of War 3 campaign
Dawn of War 3's campaign will feature each faction converging "when a catastrophic weapon is found on the mysterious world of Acheron" according to the official site. Through the narrative you'll move from Space Marine, to Ork, to Eldar as each go about their business of trying to absolutely slaughter the others. As for the missions themselves, and how they'll be connected, there's less info on that out there right now.
Relic have used such varied formula over the years it’s anyone’s guess what we’ll get this time. Dawn of War 2’s expansion, Chaos Rising, was choice-heavy and had multiple paths through its story of corruption and redemption. Dawn of War had narrative campaigns for its base and first expansion, but non-linear strategic battle maps after that where a series of skirmishes against a faction would eventually build to their core province for a special, one-off battle. It let each race have their own story but could get highly repetitive. Homeworld famously uses a consistent army setup through a series of story missions, letting you build and customise your force and then carry it between encounters. A line on the Steam page would suggest that's happening again.
Of course, they also have to contend with the work other companies have done in the genre since their first games, with StarCraft II pushing how varied RTS mission design can be much further forward - a few too many death-ball marches or skirmish-likes will be disappointing in the modern era.
Dawn of War 3 multiplayer
We can definitely make some more assumptions here - like that a modern, big-budget RTS will have a multiplayer component. We know that Relic see multiplayer as important for Dawn of War, however, beyond 1v1 and team modes, plus co-op as mentioned on the Steam page, there are a lot of options for the developer. Will they provide a co-op version of whatever campaign structure they go with, or some separate missions ala SC2’s Allied Commanders? Will a unique mode like Last Stand return, as hugely popular as it was? How well will the inevitable competitive community be supported, and how much effort do a company that isn’t Blizzard want to put into trying to revive strategy eSports?
Perhaps most importantly, how will it expand? This moves into business model questions, and while we’re assuming that the base game will be a full-price all-in-one, Warhammer is so ripe for addons that DLC is inevitable. The Company of Heroes 2 model seems most likely, with factions added as paid upgrades every so often, letting anyone face against them in multiplayer without paying, but to play as them you cough up the cash. On the previous topic, the Ardennes Assault expansion also added a new campaign, so DLC in that area is possible as well.
A lot of this could also depend on how successful the game is in its first year. A Dawn of War 3 that sells a couple of million copies is a far steadier base on which to build a constantly expanding service model than one that limps its way to a couple of hundred thousand, getting a single expansion before being shelved for the next big game. Relic have said that Elite units will be worked in by being selected beforehand, and they're considering MOBA-style picking, but haven't worked out the details yet.
Dawn of War 3 modding
What is more ripe for modding than a Warhammer 40,000 game? No matter how long Relic spend building a base version, within three months Games Workshop will have released some new army, unit or special character that someone would want to use. Even if GW gave up on the franchise tomorrow, Relic aren’t going to cram everything that currently exists within the massive universe into the game - the community will gather up their favourite factions and get them working, if allowed.
Such it was for the first two games, with mods like Ultimate Apocalypse still being regularly updated by committed development teams. While neither ever had the legacy of something like Skyrim or the long-running map-making pedigree of Blizzard's games, there was a tonne of interest there and will undoubtedly be for the third iteration. The previous versions didn't have the support structure of the Steam workshop, nor the modern internet speeds and level of modder capability that's pushed mods into such a mainstream area of gaming.
It's up to Relic if it's even possible of course, but there's always been a vein of customisation, from getting to choose army colour schemes in DoW 1 to picking out equipment and abilities in the sequel. It would be out of character to not see some amount of support for it and, given how much value it adds to a game like this, a fairly poor move from a purely mercenary standpoint to. If players know that modders will be developing for it over the next 10 years, they're far more likely to buy.
Dawn of War 3 units and races
Here’s our rundown of everything we’ve seen so far. We’ll expand this as often as we see something new in trailers, screenshots and interviews. Most notable at this early stage is the addition of larger walker units to Dawn of War 3’s arsenal.
- Reflecting the tabletop, there's to be various kinds of Space Marine trooper. Expect assault units wielding chainblades and bolt pistols, heavy units with rocket launchers and the happy middle ground of man-with-bolter.
- Dreadnoughts, the entombed remains of long-dead Space Marines still serving with the help of giant powerfists/autocannons/other killing implements.
- Imperial Knights, massive single-person walkers that operate as mini-titans and mega-dreadnoughts. Expect these to be towards the top of the tech tree, dueling it out with Wraithlords and Deth Dredds as seen in the cinematic trailer.
- We've just been shows our first proper glimpse of this unit with the reveal of Imperial Knight Solaria:
Despite sounding like a brand of ice cream, Solaria is one of the Space Marine’s new Super Units and head of House Varlock. Powered by pilots, Imperial Knights are ancient battlesuits that tower over friend and foe alike, making up the largest in-game unit in the series so far. Standing up to forty feet tall, these units are outfitted with Titan-class weaponry, such as the missile launcher.
Lady Solaria brings her looming Imperial Knight, Drakaina, to support the forces of the Blood Ravens. Unleashing screen-shaking assaults from her twin Gatling cannons, she is the terror of all those who would stand against the Space Marines.
The unit is a high damage tank with reasonable health and works better from long range. Gatling Barrage has Solaria sweep the Imperial Knight’s twin cannons, peppering the battlefield in a 90-degree arc in front of her. Her Ironstorm Missiles allow her to pick up to six locations, hammering the ground with potent missiles. Stacking the missiles on a single area deals massive damage.
- Gabriel Angelos, hero of the previous games, returns as the Commander. Expect special abilities and orbital strikes, as well as his signature massive hammer.
- Guardians and Wraithguard, the basic men of the Eldar empire and their heavy-weapon-toting friends. Not as formidable in firepower as a squad of Space Marines, but quicker and more reactionary.
- Howling Banshees, the sword-wielding, screaming Eldar shock troops. They're assault specialists and terrifying, able to take on multiple enemy combatants from either of the other factions with ease.
- Falcon grav tanks, the floating battle-vehicles, and Jetbikes, their smaller, equally physics-defying counterparts.
- Wraithknight, the Eldar's own massive walker unit, also wielding swords as seen in the trailer. Likely to be more expensive, harder to take down and dish out more punishment than their equivelants elsewhere.
- Boyz of all shapes and sizes, likely including your standard, dumb-but-swarming Ork all the way up to powerful Warbosses with masses of wargear.
- Gretchin/Grots, 40k's answer to the goblin and little more than nuisances on the battlefield - but likely serving great roles as builders and scouts.
- Deff Dreads and Killa Kans, the stitched together masses of metal that are Ork walkers. They're unrefined but deadly, armoured to hell and back and unlikely to ever stop charging.
That's everything we know - so far. Check back when you can for more info, and let us know what you're excited about in the comments below.