Relic game director Philippe Boulle arrived at the studio ten years ago to work on what became Dawn of War: Dark Crusade and never left the series. But for the past two and a half years he’s had to keep schtum on Dawn of War III, while the rumours swirled and the company found a new home under Sega.
Here’s everything we know about Dawn of War III: release date, xenos types and all.
Now he can talk, he talks a lot: about mushing together the strengths of two rather different Dawn of Wars, learning from the MOBAs, and why Space Marines aren’t generic.
PCGamesN: Relic tend to support their multiplayer games for a long time, do you see Dawn of War III evolving online after it comes out?
Philippe Boulle: Multiplayer is the long-tail that has kept a lot of our games alive. People are still playing multiplayer for Dawn of War I and II and I would love to see that for Dawn of War III. We’re definitely going to launch with a full, robust multiplayer and we have plans for a healthy post-launch time.
Have you taken inspiration from any other RTS games, such as Company of Heroes 2?
Many of us have worked on Company of Heroes 2 and there’s definitely some things we have brought forward. Obviously the earlier Dawn of Wars are a huge source of inspiration. None of this is coming forward unexamined. Among other things, that means paying attention to what RTSs are doing: when they do things that are interesting and right we'll see what we can learn from that. We are hardcore RTS fans throughout the office: we play them all and we definitely take inspiration from them.
We're bring forward the large armies from Dawn of War I, bringing back base-building, which was a fan favourite feature. In the centre of that army we're also bringing forward the elite heroes, that were a part of Dawn of War II. That allows us to bring a hard core in the middle of a vast army.
Would you say that hidden depth is true of most of the elites in the game?
With Gabriel [Angelos, Blood Ravens captain and Dawn of War regular], we wanted him to be a really fun, dynamic melee powerhouse. Part of that comes from the gameplay role we wanted, part of it comes from the franchise where's he's always had this giant hammer, and we also wanted him to be an elite that you can pick up quite quickly.
His hammer swing at a basic level is just really good for clearing out guys who are surrounding you, but it also generates a shield that can reflect grenades and other projectiles if you time it right. He has quite simple gameplay at first blush, and then a bunch of depth there.
Looking at MOBA heroes is something we do. Our elites definitely have some of those elements that make MOBA heroes so compelling. We love MOBAs, but let me be clear: we're not making a MOBA.
How are you trying to make the campaign more accessible?
Dawn of War itself has its own 12 years of backstory that we definitely bring forward, but nobody needs to have played those games to understand what's going on. Even the die-hard fans won't have played the previous games recently, so we need to tell a story that stands on its own.
It's important that you understand the motivations for these heroes - you understand that they might have a backstory but what they're doing now makes sense, and you can get behind them.
So there are three races, how do you make them totally different from each other?
That's the fun part: taking that asymmetry and pushing it. We chose those three races [Space Marines, Orks, Eldar] because they’re the ones best suited to the story we wanted to tell, but also because we could create really crisp, distinct gameplay. When you’re playing Space Marines you're not a generic race, you’re playing a faction that’s defined by those drop-pods and orbital bombardments that create that tip of the spear feeling.
When you're playing as the Eldar you're playing in a different place, you're a faction whose mechanics are based around hit-and-run and moving quickly and feinting and bringing opponents into vulnerable positions.
It’s interesting because at the end of the original Dawn of War there were a lot of factions...
Absolutely, there's many more veins to mine out there in the IP. I’m a Warhammer and Dawn of War fan and I can't wait to get into those factions.