Review: Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War III

There hasn’t been a new Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War game in eight years. Dawn of War II launched in 2009, and the series went quiet following the dissolution of THQ. The franchise’s dormancy is coming to an end, however, with Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War III. With original developer Relic Entertainment developing the title, Dawn of War III is the culmination of work and experience from the previous two games mashed together to make the ultimate RTS game. Finally, after all these years, a new Dawn of War rises, but is this a war you’ll want to participate in?

Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War III’s campaign follows the Space Marines led by Blood Raven Chapter Master Gabriel Angelos, the Eldar led by Farseer Macha, and the Orks led by Gorgutz as the all clash on Cyprus Ultima. A legendary prophecy involving the Spear of Khaine has drawn all three armies to this planet, and their own individual fates. Dawn of War III’s campaign is filled with intrigue, espionage, betrayal, camaraderie, and a sprinkling of humor. The twists are easy to see coming, especially if you’re a fan of the lore, and the circumstances leading up to the final missions feel a bit forced like something one would find in a fan-fiction with an unsatisfying ending. Still, the campaign is entertaining, will keep your attention for over fifteen hours, and is the best tutorial one can play before jumping online.

While told in a linear fashion, the campaign’s chapters are split up to give each faction enough time in the spotlight. There is a total of seventeen chapters in Dawn of War III, and players will switch between the Space Marines, Orks, and Eldar with each chapter. It’s a clever way to give players experience with each of the races. The Space Marines and Eldar can be too serious most of the time, but the Orks, particularly Gorgutz, are just a blast to play thanks to their brand of humor. The writers and voice actors for the Orks nailed it.

The campaign ultimately serves as a tutorial for the rest of the game. Each chapter introduces new mechanics, Elites, and Doctrines related to each faction. By the time the credits roll, each player should have the fundamental knowledge to succeed in combat as any of the three factions.

Space Marines come adorned in ancient power armor. Though their numbers on the battlefield may be small, each battalion of troops can pack a punch. Unlike the other factions, Space Marines care capable of calling in reinforcements via drop pods, which, if properly aimed, can also deal massive damage to the enemy. Orks are brutal warriors that gain strength in numbers. With the power of their ‘WAAAAGH’ battle cry, a large army of Orks can quickly sweep away the enemy. They’re also great at utilizing scrap to build and upgrades units for cheap. Finally, there’s the Eldar, an ancient civilization that uses psychic abilities and very futuristic weaponry. They are the hit-and-run faction, capable of descending on unsuspecting enemies and then retreating into the Fog of War.

How you play will determine what faction is your favorite. Those who want a more rounded experience will be more apt to play as Space Marines. Anyone who likes to raise large armies and overwhelm enemies with a large force of enemies will like the Orks. If sabotage and striking from afar is your thing, then the Eldar are for you. Each faction is fun with its own units, Elites, super weapons, Doctrines, and mechanics. No matter who you choose, you won’t ever feel like you drew the short stick.

Fundamentally, anyone who has played an RTS game should be able to jump into Dawn of War III. The game is very much about managing squads of soldiers, collecting resources, and taking control of the map. The UI is clean, relegating most of the information to the sides of the screen, and displaying all your playable units at the bottom. Unlike other RTS games, players won’t be collecting resources through mining. Instead, players will need to battle and capture resource nodes across the map, which can be upgraded to provide more (blank) and energy over time. It’s an interesting change that encourages players to be more offensive at the start of the game rather than waiting at their base.

Dawn of War III takes the best elements of Dawn of War and Dawn of War II to make an experience that speaks to both players. From Dawn of War, players can build their bases anywhere, and build additional buildings elsewhere on the map. From Dawn of War II, players can take advantage of advanced AI, and an emphasis on taking cover and preserving your units. Players can have their units take cover at specific points on the map, giving their units considerable defensive bonuses. However, enemies do have means to retaliate, including units that can bypass those defenses.

Also from Dawn of War II is the focus on hero units. Known as Elites in Dawn of War III, these powerful units come equipped with special and passive abilities that can dramatically alter your playstyle. Players can take any three into a match (three per faction are unlocked from the get-go) but will need to spend Elite Points to summon them. Represented by a purple diamond, Elite Points accumulate over time, but, in multiplayer, can be farmed at resource nodes. The amount of points an Elite needs to be summoned will depend on their abilities, which make them early, mid, or late game entrants. Players will need to pick and choose Elites carefully, as they can make a big difference on the battlefield. A team made up of entirely late-game Elites can be a recipe for disaster.

It is with Elites where the majority of the game’s progression comes from. Each faction has about Elites that are locked and require Skulls to unlock. These can be earned by playing the campaign and multiplayer. Elites will gain experience for participating in battle, which grant players more Skulls, Doctrines, and eventually unlock an Elite’s mastery skin. Doctrines are passive abilities that provide battlefield bonuses and come in two flavors, Elite and Army. An Elite Doctrine is only usable when the Elite is on the field, but an Army Doctrine is available from the get-go. A good example of Gabriel Angelos’ Slam Barrier Doctrine, which gives Dreadnaughts’ Slam ability the power to put up a temporary barrier that absorbs shots. Elites are a fun addition, and learning which ones work best for your playstyle adds new layers of strategy.

Of course, an RTS game’s main attraction is the multiplayer, and Dawn of War III provides the tools for an in-depth experience. Players will be able to engage in 1v1, 2v2, and 3v3 matches across eight different maps against either AI or human players. This flexibility is great, giving players the opportunity to take the fight straight to other players or fine-tune their skills against AI opponents.

A multiplayer match boils down to two teams facing off against each other and trying to destroy their opponent’s Power Core. To do that, both teams will need to do a little legwork. Players will first need to destroy their opponents Shield Generators, then they’re Turrets, and then they will get access the Power Core. Destroying the core is the only way to end the match. All the while, a select number of resource nodes are made available, which leads to a mad dash to control them and get as many units on the field as possible. Dawn of War III’s multiplayer is an intense experience that will truly test a player’s knowledge of their faction, but we do wish there were more victory conditions. While the current model is fun, it would have been nice to see some additional game modes like destroying the main fortress ending the battle.

Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War III’s presentation is one of splendor. Maps and units are well detailed with some extraordinary animation work. Also impressive are the numerous effects that litter the screen at any given time. Watching a Wraithlord go up against an Imperial Knight is a spectacular sight. Less spectacular are the cutscenes, which are just still images with some voice-over and only a bit of animation. They’re lifeless with a dull narrator. At least the briefings at the beginning and end of each chapter have a bit more personality thanks to some solid voice work. Though the writing can be corny at times, the actors do their best to ham it up. The Orks, in particular, are excellent at this.

Closing Comments:

A new Dawn of War has risen, and it’s an exciting return from a long dormant franchise. Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War III successfully takes the best elements from the previous two games and blends them with traditional RTS mechanics to create a game with deep strategic gameplay. The campaign, which ultimately serves as a glorified tutorial, is entertaining and lengthy enough to keep players hooked for hours even though it’s predictable. The focus on Elite units differentiates Dawn of War III from its competitors by introducing a new sense of depth and progression into the game. Multiplayer is as strong as it has ever been, and players will be immediately sucked into it as they seek to dominate their opponents with their favorite factions. It would have been nice to have more victory conditions than the one we’re presented, but the one we have is still capable of soaking up a dangerous amount of time from players. Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War III has risen, and the time of Space Marine, Eldar, and Ork has begun.

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Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War III

  • O.k., now I’m excited.

  • Mano Uptheironz

    Lol at the review this is a moba first with some rts elements , An abnominstion to rts , i suggest everyone to try the open beta before buying

    • Nicholas Rado

      Have you ever played a moba? You control a single unit from the same perspective as RTS. Mobas were born out of the RTS genre. This is an RTS with some moba elements not the other way around Relic has literally worked exclusively on RTS games for two decades.

      • Vladimir Mesarovic

        Working for a century on something doesn’t mean you cant mess up, and Relic sadly just did. This isn’t what DOW or any good RTS game should be. Who likes MOBAs plays MOBAs, but just for the difference between MOBAs and RTS games you described no elements of MOBA should be forced on RTS game, specially DOW game. Yes, MOBAs did evolve from RTS , just as ARPGs did from RPGs or birds from dinos, but they are not even close to be the same. Also having campaign that “ultimately serves as a tutorial” is something that DOW or any Relic game most certainly should NOT have.

        • Nicholas Rado

          Plenty of fans hyped for the series, sorry they missed the mark for you. Doesn’t change the fact that it is still much more RTS than Moba.

          • Vladimir Mesarovic

            Even if that would be so, what you are saying is that something that’s more Wolfhound then Chihuahua is therefore Wolfhound , Its not. Mongrel all the way, it may be cute, funny and playful , and this mongrel is not and actually has very little true charm, but not really interesting to either Wolfhound or Chihuahua fans so to say. Were this some new developer with low budget game lot could be forgiven, but as it comes from franchise that had more substance in its first outing than this one there is lot of reason to be angry. Lastly DOW3 has in essence nothing similar with those before. Sure setting is the same, there is very simple RTS mechanics at work, but really it has more in common with StarCraft or Dune 2000 than any DOW game. Even elements that look similar on first glance have actually been mutated into something else entirely when you play the game.

          • Nicholas Rado

            “Lastly DOW3 has in essence nothing similar with those before”

            Lol let me get your dealers number, there are tons of similarities to DoW 1 and 2.

            The game is a ton of fun and looks like sex in 3440×1440. Consider this fan of the franchise satisfied.

          • Vladimir Mesarovic

            I’m glad for you, honestly. Still, there is no similarities in ESSENCE.

          • Nicholas Rado

            Game has so many elements from the first two you guys must be high out of your mind to not see that.

          • Vladimir Mesarovic

            Just about as remakes of movies ” Magnificent seven”, ” Conan””, ” Fog” or ” The day earth stood still “, or games like ” ME Andromeda” have elements from the originals. Story, mechanics and characters might be there in shallowest and rawest form but soul is totally absent from it.

      • BigJimbo

        You really think the folks that worked on the first worked on this lump of turd? They knew what made warhammer 40k and what drove RTS innovation.
        This game is just an attempt at making a cash cow to get onto the MOBA band wagon with a recognized IP. It has nothing in common with the other two games besides the IP…which isn’t even their own.

        • Nicholas Rado

          lol I played the crap out of 1 and 2 there are plenty of similarities. Game is a ton of fun sorry they missed the mark for you.

          • BigJimbo

            Same….and it has almost none. Besides the setting which is due to Games Workshop, the game has nothing in common.
            Cover mechanics? Gone.
            Proper melee combat? Gone.
            Good graphics for its time? Gone.
            Units with strong purpose e.g. anti vehicle, anti heavy, anti light etc? Gone

            But apparently there are plenty of similarities….

          • Nicholas Rado

            Literally none of your points are accurate have you even played DoW3?

          • BigJimbo

            Of course I have. Go on, explain why they are not accurate rather than “derp, they not accurate cuz ima fanboi”.
            And yes, that includes comparing the graphics to DOW2 and current RTS games. Gl hf with claiming that they have improved!

    • Matt Karwoski

      u r litural retirded

  • S.O.T.O.S

    DOW III is a horrible soulless piece of trash and MOBA wannabe with casuals and cashing in with it’s lazy design in mind. There is no strategy in this the player that has the most units in the game is the winner also aesthetically remidns me Starcraft .As a Warhammer fan i am very disappointed

  • Lord451

    Did you even play the game before writing the review or did you just cash the check before writing this? I’m fairly certain you’re describing the promos and not the actual game.

  • Ben Lawler

    This game is rubbish, did you even play before reviewing, I’m never buying a game based on this sites reviews again.

  • BigJimbo

    Oh another pathetic “pay-to-be-nice” review.
    The game is awful. It’s mechanics are more simple then the first game, the entire style is more MOBA then RTS, and the graphics are worst then the second!

    As for the conclusion in which you just lie, time to call you out;
    – Best elements of the previous two? It has none! Barely any base building, awful volume of upgrades, simplified combat, simplified cover mechanics/no cover mechanics, and less races.
    – Traditional RTS?! It has TOWERS and a CORE. That is MOBA, not RTS. Get your genre right.

    • Vladimir Mesarovic

      I agree totally.
      Just look at flipping Chapter master and his vaulting Terminators or Spider-Man like Orc Warboss and you can easily guess for what kind of audience it was made. Not DOW fans in particular or RTS fans in general, maybe likers of Clash Royal and Clash of Kings and such.

  • Павел Смирнов

    Sponsored marketing! Game have a 56% on Sream and 4,8 on Metacritic

  • Павел Смирнов