Warhammer 40K: Dawn of War – The Hunt Begins Mod
THQ/Sega/Ultimate Apocalypse Mod Team
I love me some RTS games, that’s for sure. I’ve played so many in the past, that I can’t even remember the names of many of them. One RTS that stood out way back in the day though was Ensemble Studios’ Age of Empires II: The Age of Kings. Although the game’s graphics look ancient by today’s standards, they were pretty cutting edge back then.
What really drew me to Age of Kings wasn’t just the easy to manage economic system, fun combat tactics, and brilliant maps, but I really enjoyed the variety of civilizations that you could play as. 13 in total, each with their own individual strengths and weaknesses. When was the last time that you saw that many factions in an RTS game? You’re lucky to get two or three these days.
Then THQ’s Warhammer 40K: Dawn of War came along and shook the RTS world to its core. Not only were its visuals beautiful for 2006, but its combat looked spectacular. In addition to that, it had nine totally different factions (even more so than Age of Kings) to choose from. Each faction was really well-articulated into the digital realm from their board game origins. In fact, they were so well done that each match played out like a faithful rendition of the tabletop game, but with no expensive miniatures required for purchasing.
Although I really dug Dawn of War, I, like many gamers, couldn’t help but notice the conspicuous absence of several key factions from Warhammer 40K’s lore, chiefly among them the malevolent Tyranids. Where were they? These H.R. Geiger Alien-types were one of the scariest threats within the game’s universe, and you’re telling us that they’re not in the game?
Well, several modders noticed the curious omissions as well, and set about to doing something it—hence, the Ultimate Apocalypse Mod was born. The original UA Mod was conceived back in 2015, and it has gone through several iterations, most recently taking on the title Ultimate Apocalypse – The Hunt Begins, or just The Hunt Begins Mod.
All editions of the mod have included not only updated graphics, tons of new units and structures, and even massive titan units, but also (happily!) three of the main races that was missing from the vanilla version of DOW. But first, just to illustrate how diverse the faction roster is already, let me give a brief breakdown of each:
Space Marines: Powered armor clad genetically enhanced badasses who are pretty flexible and well-balanced. You can outfit them with a number of different buffs and weapons to suit your gameplay style.
Chaos Space Marines: Pretty much the evil counterparts to the Space Marines, what these corrupted warriors lack in armor and weapons they make up for with arcane sorcery.
Imperial Guard: The un-genetically enhanced regular rank and file soldiers of the Imperium of Man. My personal favorite, since they are just regular soldiers (lots of them) who rely on shrewd battle tactics, special forces units, all manner of vehicles (especially devastating armor), and throwing lots and lots of cannon fodder at the enemy in order to overwhelm them.
Orks: Similar to both the Tyranids and the Imperial Guard, the Orks are a multitudinous, swarmy faction that can smash their enemies with their sheer numbers. They also get stronger the more they stay aggressive, making them the perfect choice for attack-minded players.
Eldar: The space elves of the Warhammer 40K universe. With brittle bones and skin made of papier-mâché the Eldar make up for their frailty with their speedy hit and run tactics and devastating, high damage output weapons.
Dark Eldar: The evil brethren of the Eldar, these cruel yet beautiful creatures utilize dark magic, unlike their Psyker-based cousins.
Nekron: The undead terminators of the game. These metallic, malevolent monstrosities are the perfect embodiment of slow-moving, inexorable death. Although their Terminator-like units lumber across the battlefield like molasses, once they get to their objective, their gauss weapons are hard to withstand.
Sisters of Battle: Sadly, seemingly the result of feminist political correctness, this faction is all female, as if to say: “Hey, we can be in combat too!” They aren’t genetically altered like their male counterparts, the Space Marines, but do have powered armor and use pretty cool flame-based weapons.
Tau Empire: A conglomeration of many races, the Tau are a newer faction on the scene that uses its rapidly-advancing technology to design cutting edge vehicles, weapons, and armor.
The Ultimate Apocalypse/The Hunt Begins Mod adds three new factions:
Tyranids: Slimy bug-like aliens whose sole purpose is to take over every other living thing in the universe in order to absorb them or use them for breeding platforms.
Chaos Daemons: Hideous monstrosities from the Warp, who invade the known universe in order to destroy everything and anyone that they come across, or corrupt them.
Inquisition Daemonhunters: The secret police of Imperium of Man, tasked with the corrupted creatures of Chaos and any others it deems heretical.
As you can see, there are a total of 12 totally unique factions to play as when playing with this mod. That blows away anything you see in modern day RTS games, which usually feature a paltry 2 or (if you’re lucky) 3 factions to play as. The graphics have also aged well, so battles still look spectacular. Give it a try, its free with the base game and its expansions, which you can usually pick up on sale for $12 or $13 bucks.