Ok, does this sound like a review yet? Awesome. YOU GET TO SQUISH THINGS WITH FRIKKEN ORCS GUYS! No shit. Or, or, stay with me, you can use SPACE ELVES to laser beam dudes’ faces off. They call them Eldar, but seriously, Space. Elves.
I know that at this point there are Warhammer fans that think I’m taking the piss; to you I present my evidence otherwise. DoW3 for me, however, is an RTS killfest where you get to pit your favourite fantasy races against each other, except it’s the 41st century and you’re in space. None of that sounds bad to me. To be honest it sounds amazing, and it is.
Now that I’ve fan boy’d and squeed and all that, time to get back to it with the game play. It’s an RTS. I’m not trying to simplify this, but rather highlight that it really feels like an RTS, unlike DoW2. I mean DoW2 had all the right elements, but the campaign didn’t feel like I was playing an RTS, and unlike 90% of players that I’ve spoken to about it, I didn’t like that. It wasn’t what I signed up for. With DoW3, an RTS is exactly what I got. Base building, resource management, unit management, micro and macro engineering your strategy to squeeze out every advantage. That’s how the campaign plays for me. Now I’m going to fully admit, I’m not a hardcore RTS fan, but ever since I played both Warcraft 2 and M.AX. around 1996/97 I’ve had periods where I would fall in love with a particular RTS and my gaming life would revolve around that one game for weeks or months. DoW3 feels like it’ll do that to me again.
The campaign story is well-told, switching between each of the three factions between each mission while continuing the story from the previous mission. Each time, however, it’s from a different perspective, in the order of Human (Space Marines), Orc, and Eldar (henceforth to be known as Space Elves). It teaches you all the required mechanics for each faction by mission six before proceeding to let you basically have at it for the remainder of the campaign. This is all going on while the intertwining story line is somewhat elegantly, and sometimes not-so-elegantly told. The whole time all I could think about while this completely adequate story with fantastic voice acting was being told, is that I get to use orcs in trash-mech suits to smash in the faces of Inquisitor humans from some crazy cult/religion and weird-ass space elves. And I get to do it all in high detail, high def that looks amazing. The attention to detail by Relic is just breathtaking. The feel of the colour schemes, language, and tactics employed for each of the factions seems, to me, to suit perfectly how I would expect these factions to look, sound, and act. The resolute stoicism of the Marines, the batshit crazy aggressiveness of the Orcs, and the intelligent calculations of the Eldar that I remember so vividly from my old wargaming codexes have been brought to life by the development team responsible for this entire franchise, and they have yet again delivered.
DoW3 does have a small amount of persistent leveling/ability gain across missions in the form of the Elite unit and Doctrine systems. Elite units gain experience based on kills at the end of each campaign or multiplayer mission, which is persistent and allows them to gain more and better abilities, as well as some fancy outfits. Doctrines are army-based bonuses which can be purchased with in-game currency awarded at the end of each mission. This feels as though each system will in the long term become very ‘grindy’, however if you’re playing it long term it might just kind of happen. Only time will tell how well Relic have balanced the mechanics for these. The in-match HUD elements are easily edited from the game menus on the fly, however you probably should set it up however you feel comfortable before entering multiplayer matches.
At this stage I can’t comment on the multiplayer servers or community, as I can’t really judge them pre-release. The previous instalments have both been sound and stable, however I did receive a couple of disconnections from servers during my DoW3 campaign play which is mildly concerning. Along with some other glitches I’ve already experienced such as losing the ability to scroll the map without using mini map selection after ALT-Tabbing, I see either a day one patch or some very frustrated gamers during the first week of release.
SMASH THINGS AND KILL STUFF AND STRATEGISE!
Warhammer is a long term entrenched franchise of the war gaming world, and Dawn of War has proven to continue that stake hold in the RTS genre of video gaming. With good reason. DoW3 delivers everything I want in an RTS, even if it still requires a little spit and polish. At $59.99USD for PC exclusively, it’s definitely worth the pennies if you’re either an RTS or Warhammer fan and it’s a must if you’re both.