Warhammer 40K: Dawn of War 3
I’ve been playing real time strategy games for some time now. Ever since I first played 1997’s Age of Empires, and its sequel which I still consider to be one of the best RTS games ever created, 1999’s classic Age of Empires II: The Age of Kings.
When 2004 arrived, it brought with it Relic’s Warhammer 40K: Dawn of War. It was possibly the best incarnation of Games Workshop’s tabletop miniature wargame, Warhammer 40,000. To be honest, WH40K didn’t initially impress me at all. Since I’m much more of a defensive player who likes to carefully build up my forces, its rush-y, point-capture-based gameplay just didn’t appeal to me. It forced turtler’s like me to have to roll out with my army in order to maintain map control, or else find myself quickly running out of resources (Requisition Points in this case).
I actually came back to WH40K years later, actually 11 to be exact, after learning about 2015’s Ultimate Apocalypse mod. The UA mod introduced three new races, tons of units and additional buildings for all of the factions, and titans. It really drew me in because there was so much variety going on that I really didn’t mind the more aggressive point capture elements of it. Actually, since the UA mod also features even more defensive structures I was pretty much a happy camper. To this day, I consider WH40K along with the UA mod (now called Ultimate Apocalypse: The Hunt Begins) to be the finest RTS game I’ve ever experienced, and one that I have poured countless hours into it.
Although I did purchase 2009’s Warhammer 40K: Dawn of War 2, I only played it for a few days. I really grew to detest the small maps, equally tiny armies, and focus on MOBA-like hero management. I considered it a weak attempt to cash in on the emerging MOBA craze. If there was any doubt, I’m not a fan of MOBA’s in the least, as I’m not into dumbed-down games that appeal to the 11 to 12 year old, hotkey-mashing set. I like to actually utilize that grey matter up there in the ol’ noggin and plan out strategies.
When I’d first heard that Relic was going to be coming out with a new Warhammer 40K game I was a little skeptical. That’s because ever since the original DOW, people’s attention spans as a whole have diminished substantially. In this age where people constantly have to have their faces glued to some sort of screen, attention spans are now measured in milliseconds. Many gaming developers have realized this unfortunate trend but instead of trying to mitigate it or show people another way of playing games (by slowing down the pace), they’ve caved into the tween masses and facilitated their bottomless thirsts for constant stimulation.
Not surprisingly, after watching a few gameplay videos of DOW 3 I came away thinking “oh no.” Many gamers echoed my thoughts, as most of the DOW 3 YouTube videos had almost as many dislikes as they did likes. But, I still kept a little bit of hope alive that we’d be getting a proper update to the original DOW which is what people loyal to the franchise, wanted.
After playing DOW 3 I can now say that I have a very mixed opinion of it. On one hand, it has incredible graphics, and it does still feature the point capture gameplay of DOW 1 and DOW 2. On the other, it is a full-fledged MOBA with some skimpy RTS dressing tacked-on. What do I mean by that? Well, there is base building, but it seems like Relic threw that in as a way to assuage all of the gamers out there who wanted the base building elements of DOW 1. Your main base really doesn’t come into play, it’s really just a place to pump out more and more of your units. There are also no defensive structures to set up, albeit players begin each game with a turret but that’s it.
The game also follows the MOBA formula in that you have to first take out a shield generator, then the turret, then the enemy’s main power core. That’s it. There are no other objectives to choose from. Gone are the dozens of objectives and options to tinker around with. There is also no way to adjust the game’s speed, as its default speed is really fast (obviously to appeal to hyperactive tween gamers).
This is all from my subjective point of view, however. I do believe that DOW 3 will still appeal to many gamers out there who are either really into MOBA’s or are looking for a more simplistic and entry level strategy game experience to get into. It does feature very fast gameplay which is also attractive to all of the button-mashers out there—this is hotkey heaven.
And visually, DOW 3 is one of the best looking strategy games out there. Although it doesn’t really evoke the grimdark theme of the Warhammer 40K universe, the graphics are very cute and shiny. The units themselves are detailed enough, and have an almost anime look to them. They also perform all sorts of acrobatic maneuvers which will certainly garner some raised eyebrows. The 8 or 9 maps on hand (as opposed to over 100 featured in the original) are pretty well done as well, and are very tiny just as they are in most MOBAs. If you like intense micro-ing of your armies, you’ll be right at home here, although everything moves at such a breakneck pace that more mature gamers such as myself may find this factor rather problematic.
In all, Warhammer 40K: Dawn of War 3 is a fun game, don’t get me wrong, it’s just not what fans of the original DOW wanted. Hopefully, in the coming months we’ll see some updates to the base game that will introduce more defensive options, additional game modes, and more content overall.
Warhammer 40K: Dawn of War 3 is loaded with great visuals that will really immerse you in its science fiction world, but you may need a powerful gaming PC or gaming laptop to play it properly, such as: