Dawn of War 3 is happening, over a decade after the original. While we sit tapping power-armoured feet in anticipation of a 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
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Dawn of War 3 trailer
Most of all you just want to see it, don’t you? Here's that brilliant cinematic trailer used for the reveal:
There's much more actual gameplay scattered below.
Dawn of War 3 release date
It will be this 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 in 2016.
With all three races now showcased and playable builds being shown to press and fans alike, we can't be too far from a release date announcement. The latter half of this year is looking mighty empty, but expect SEGA to want to avoid the August-November packed period. Summer looks likely, but we'll doubtless know more soon.
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.
Relic 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 (Imperial Knights, Morkanauts and Wraithknights) and weaponry (orbital death beams) than we’ve seen in the games before - 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, be it through tactical buffs from commander units or, y'know, massive guns, but they've got specific weaknesses. Never send a hero in alone if you're not prepared to lose them.
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. 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. That weapon is the Spear of Khaine, as laid out in the above trailer. 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.
Three missions - one for each faction - have been shown off since the announcement. While these are non-final and details may change before release, particularly regarding which units are available, they're the best look we've had at what it will be like to go up against the AI.
The first, for the Space Marines, involves roving through the icy plains in pursuit of the Eldar:
Or if you prefer, here's Matt managing to get his indestructible war machine killed:
Those things aren't free, Matt.
The Eldar return the favour, looking to draw out Gabriel Angelos by blowing up his stuff and threatening to kill his friends:
Finally the Orks are also picking a space-elf fight to destroy an Eldar base:
Throughout the theme is using the selection of elite units in combination with a swell of line troops to complete massive maps with multiple objectives. All three follow the theme of starting small, establishing a base then overwhelming an enemy. Hopefull there's more variety to come and rival the ever-changing campaigns we've seen from more recent RTS games.
What's still unknown is if any sort of meta-game or strategy map decisions are made between missions. The multi-faction nature of the campaign would make it more challenging, but it has been said that upgrading elites will play a factor in building up your forces.
Dawn of War 3 multiplayer
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? 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
Beyond the confirmed return of a multiplayer army painter, we don't have a lot of info on how customisable Dawn of War 3 will be. 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
We have a dedicated list of every Dawn of War 3 unit that's been confirmed or spotted so far. For a brief rundown of the three factions - and yes, it does seem like the game is limited to just three on launch - here's a video for each:
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.